Hindenburg was a senior military figure in Germany during World War One and second president of the Weimar Republic (1925 - 1934).
Paul von Hindenburg was born on 2 October 1847 in Posen, Prussia (now Poznan, Poland) into an aristocratic German family. During an honourable but undistinguished military career, he served in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, retiring in 1911. However, in 1914 he was recalled as the nominal superior of Erich Ludendorff, a talented military strategist. Credit for Ludendorff's invasion of Russia was misdirected to Hindenburg, who was appointed field marshal and commander of all German land forces, with Ludendorff at his side. Hindenburg oversaw the mobilisation of the whole German state for war, and became immensely popular throughout the country. Kaiser Wilhelm II was sidelined.
After Germany's defeat in 1918 Hindenburg retired, but in 1925, largely because of his status as a war hero, he was elected president of Germany. In 1930, as economic depression took hold and another government fell, he appointed a cabinet accountable only to him and in July authorised Chancellor Heinrich Brüning to dissolve the Reichstag. New elections saw the National Socialists emerge as the second largest party and with parliamentary cooperation withering, Brüning governed almost exclusively by decree. His deflationist policies aggravated the economic difficulties and unrest mounted, fuelled by the Nazis. Hindenburg was re-elected president in 1932, mainly with the support of those who saw him as a protection against Nazi lawlessness and brutality. Yet Hindenburg's own circle thought the Nazis as a useful - albeit unpleasant - group, who were worth accommodating.
Two successive governments failed to win Nazi support as Adolf Hitler insisted on becoming chancellor in any government in which his party participated. Despite considerable pressure, Hindenburg refused to appoint him. But in November 1932 an agreement was reached between Hitler and Franz von Papen - a former chancellor - to form a government with Hitler as chancellor, but with non-Nazis in most other posts. Once in office, Hitler quickly secured almost unlimited political power through terror and manipulations. Hitler was publicly respectful to Hindenburg, who remained in office until his death on 2 August 1934.
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