- Headed the OHL in World War I
- Elected Reichspräsident (President of the Reich) in 1925
- Helped Hitler rise to power in 1933
Paul von Hindenburg was already retired when World War I broke out. He was called back to active duty because the Russian army was advancing on the Eastern Front. With the victory of Tannenberg, he saved the Eastern Front and the Hindenburg myth was born. In 1916, he was appointed head of the OHL, with practically dictatorial power. In line with this, he fiercely opposed the revolution and the new republic. Knowing it was not true, he claimed that the German army had not been defeated by the enemy; instead, its ability to fight on had been destroyed by the unrest within Germany (“stab-in-the-back myth”). In the presidential elections’ second round of voting, he was nominated by the right-wing parties - and won by a slim majority. This led to a paradox: an open opponent of the republic becoming its head of state. At first, Hindenburg respected the legal framework and laws of the republic. Yet with the crises starting at the end of the 1920s, he weakening the democracy more and more via emergency decrees and dictatorial presidential cabinets. Finally, at the beginning of 1933, he appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor, plunging Germany into a dark dictatorship.