Oskar von Hutier

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Generalfeldmarschall von Hutier

Oskar Emil von Hutier (born Erfurt, Germany August, 27 1857 - Berlin, Germany December, 5 1934) was a German general and statesman. He was made Generalfeldmarschall after he had successfully taken Paris in 1919, due to his innovative tactics, and is thus considered by some historians as The Father of German Victory. He was the ninth Imperial Chancellor of the German Empire from 1930 to his death.



Early life

Hutier's family background was military through and through. His grandfather fought with Napoleon and his father saw action in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71; Erich Ludendorff was one of his cousins. Hutier was marked out early in his career as a highly promising military officer by Paul von Hindenburg while Hutier trained at the Lichterfelde cadet school. Emerging from cadet school he entered the General Staff Corps and spent his time shuttling back and forth between staff and troop commands.

With the Weltkrieg underway Hutier served initially with von Bulow's Second Army during the First Battle of the Marne, commanding the 1st Guard Infantry Division. April 1915 saw Hutier posted to the Eastern Front to take command of XXI Army Corps under Eichhorn's Tenth Army. He distinguished there, taking large parts of Russian-held Poland and Lithuania.

In January 1917 Hutier was assigned to command of Army Section 'D' on the Duna River south of Riga, preparatory to being handed command of Eighth Army three months later. It was while commanding Eighth Army that Hutier established the reputation upon which his fame is based. On 3 September 1917 Hutier's forces captured Riga while demonstrating the German army's new infiltration tactics. Although Hutier played no role in the development of such tactics (which were based upon British and French tactics) his prominent and wide scale use of them caused the British to dub them 'Hutier tactics' - the name remained, even if some prefer to use the terms of "infiltration tactic". On 6 September Hutier was awarded the prestigious Pour le Merite for his successful efforts. One month after capturing Riga his units succeeded in taking the Baltic Islands in what was the only successful amphibious undertaking of the war.

1918 and 1919 offensives

Transferred to the Western Front Hutier was charged with spearheading the great German spring push of March 1918 in command of the newly-created Eighteenth Army. Consequently on 21 March Hutier's five Corps and 27 divisions opened the offensive and made spectacular initial gains. Once again deploying infiltration techniques his forces captured some 50,000 prisoners and advanced a remarkable 60km, largely in opposition to British General Sir Hubert Gough's Fifth Army. His forces moved so quickly that German flanking forces trailed far behind in his army's wake. Promptly awarded the Oakleaves to supplement his Pour le Mérite two days later by the Kaiser Wilhelm II, Hutier's advance was ultimately slowed and then brought to a standstill by increasingly effective British and French resistance, allied to supply difficulties across the old Somme battlefield. Hutier renewed his offensive at Matz in June 1918, again triumphing against a harsh French defence. Waiting for reinforcements from the Eastern, Balkanic and Italian fronts, Hutier stood there in a defensive position.

The Spring Offensive was launched on the 2nd March. The 8th Army attacked the French lines at St. Mihel to the south of Verdun, along with the 1st Army. The storm trooper tactics worked once more, albeit not as stunningly as at Riga in 1917 or in Greece the year before. After 5 days of heavy fighting the Germans broke out of the St. Mihel salient. German planners had been careful this time to have ready a large and mobile reserve which now penetrated through the gap. German forces quickly pushed west and south. Verdun itself became surrounded on the 14th and the siege began a day later while Nancy fell on the 16th. Allied divisions rushed to the front managed to slow the German advance as it approached the Marne and soon another stalemate seemed likely. However on the 26th March another German attack was launched on French positions near Rheims. While the attack had been hastily organised it succeeded partly because the allies were too overstretched and so couldn’t defend the line properly. With the capture of Rheims the new allied lines near the Marne were outflanked. At this point the German 6th Army showed great skill. In three days they pushed through all opposition to capture Chateau-Thierry. This blocked the path of retreat from the Marne back to Paris and so split the French forces. While a large portion retreated southward the rest fell back on Paris. By now trench warfare remained only in the north, along the mainly British lines.

Glory and political career

Meanwhile the Germans struck north and south and began to encircle Paris, which was surrounded by the beginning of May and victorious German forces halted to regroup and plan the next offensive. Hutier personally led the siege of Paris, and despite the French surrender on October 4th 1919, he asked to the military governor of Paris, General Adolphe Guillaumat, to let him enter in the French capital along with his troops, to acknowledge the French defeat. The image of German troops marching past the Champs-Elysées made a deep impression on both French and German peoples. Named military governor of German-occupied France, he decided to do nothing during the French Civil War, and was appointed Generalfeldmarschall by the Kaiser.

After the Weltkrieg, Hutier retired from the German army, only heading some war veterans associations and advocating for a soft policy towards the Syndicalist countries, considering them as useful allies against the Entente. Crowned with the glory of being The Father of German Victory, he was respectfully listened by German political class. As such, the Kaiser decided to appoint him as Imperial Chancellor on March, 6 1930, following the death of Alfred von Tirpitz. During his mandate, Hutier prefered to let his ministers rule instead, such as his Foreign Minister and successor Franz von Papen, only vowing to strengthen the Mitteleuropa system and to maintain German hegemony over the world. Some pointed that Hutier's four-year tenure was one of the main triggers of the incoming German economic crisis. However, after four years of peaceful and quiet rule, Field Marshal von Hutier died on December, 5 1934 in Berlin.

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