On October 2, 1847, Paul von Hindenburg, German field marshal and president, was born. His full name was Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, and he was born in the Prussian city of Posen (today’s Poznań in Poland). At the time of Hindenburg’s birth, this city was part of the Kingdom of Prussia, which was ruled by Frederick William IV. from the Hohenzollern dynasty. Hindenburg’s family on the male side belonged to the most distinguished Prussian noble lineages, and Paul was destined for military service.
At the time of the unification of Germany under the Hohenzollern dynasty (German Empire) in 1871, young Hindenburg was only 23 years old. He received the rank of general in 1897, and during the First World War he became a national hero, especially because of his victory over the Russian Imperial Army at the Battle of Tannenberg. As early as November 1914, he was given the rank of field marshal, the highest in the German military forces.
In 1916, he became commander of the German Supreme Military Command (Oberste Heeresleitung), replacing Erich von Falkenhayn. Hindenburg and his younger colleague Ludendorff were in the last years of the First World War the most important persons in Germany, more powerful than the civilian authorities and even than the emperor himself. After the war he retired for some time, but in 1925 he was elected German president, and in 1933 he formally handed over power to the Nazis giving Hitler the mandate of chancellor. He remained in the presidency until his death in 1934.