Otto von Lossow

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Otto von Lossow
Major v. Lossow.jpg
Born 15 January 1868
Hof, Bavaria
Died 25 November 1938(1938-11-25) (aged 70)
Munich, Germany
Allegiance  Kingdom of Bavaria
 Germany
Service/branch Kingdom of Bavaria Bavarian Army
Reichswehr
Years of service 1888-1924
Rank Generalmajor
Commands held Wehrkreis VII (1923-1924)
Battles/wars Gallipoli
Awards Bavaria: Military Merit Order, 2nd Class with Swords
Prussia: Order of the Red Eagle, 2nd Class with Crown and Swords
Austria-Hungary: Military Merit Cross, 2nd Class with War Decoration
Ottoman Empire: Liakat Medal in Gold with Sabers
Ottoman Empire: Order of Osmanieh
Ottoman Empire: Order of Medjidie
Ottoman Empire: Turkish War Medal (so-called "Gallipoli Star")

General Otto von Lossow (January 15, 1868 – November 25, 1938) was a Bavarian Army and then German Army officer who played a prominent role in the events surrounding the attempted Beer Hall Putsch by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in November 1923.

Military career[edit]

Lossow was born in Hof in the Kingdom of Bavaria. He entered the Bavarian Army in 1888. He served in a variety of assignments, and was trained as a general staff officer. He served with the German contingent of the relief expedition during the Boxer Rebellion.

Immediately prior to World War I, Lossow was a lieutenant colonel and a general staff officer without a specific assignment. On mobilization in August 1914, he was assigned to be the chief of the general staff of the II. Bavarian Reserve Corps. Lossow served with the corps until July 1915, when he became the German military attaché in Istanbul (then still called Constantinople in German records) in the Ottoman Empire, where he assisted the Ottoman Army and the German military mission in planning the ongoing response to Allied landings in Gallipoli. He remained in the Ottoman Empire for the rest of the war, becoming in April 1916 the "German Military Plenipotentiary at the Imperial Embassy in Constantinople." Despite the title, he was junior to many of the German officers in the Ottoman Empire serving as advisors to and commanders of Ottoman military formations.[1]

In 1919, Lossow, now a major general (Generalmajor), was part of the transitional force which would become the Reichswehr, the 100,000-man army permitted to Germany under the Treaty of Versailles.

  • From 1920 to 1923, he was the commander of the infantry school.
  • On January 1, 1923, he became the commander (Befehlshaber) in Wehrkreis VII, the Reichswehr military region which covered Bavaria. He held this assignment through the attempted Beer Hall Putsch until his replacement in March 1924.[2]
  • 1935 Portrait bust Otto von Lossow by Arno Breker.
  • 1938 death in Munich.

Beer Hall Putsch[edit]

Main article: Beer Hall Putsch

Generalmajor von Lossow became briefly prominent in German history as being, with Gustav Ritter von Kahr, Minister President of Bavaria and Colonel Hans Ritter von Seisser (Seißer), head of the Bavarian State Police (Landespolizei), part of the triumvirate who at that time exercised political control in Bavaria.[3]

The political situation in Germany was one of turmoil and political violence. The Bavarian Government under Ritter von Kahr tended to take a line independent of that of the national government of the Weimar Republic in Berlin. When ordered to arrest three of the leaders of some of the armed groups then currently operating in Bavaria, the triumvirate refused. General von Lossow was ordered by the Commander-in-Chief of the army, General Hans von Seeckt, to arrest the three men and to suppress the daily newspaper of the Nazi Party, the Völkischer Beobachter. This he hesitated to do, and was sacked from his command by General von Seeckt and replaced by General Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein. However, Ritter von Kahr defied Seeckt and announced that von Lossow would retain the command.

In 1923, many right-wing groups wanted to emulate Mussolini's "March on Rome" by a "March on Berlin". Among these were the wartime General Erich Ludendorff and also the Nazi (NSDAP) group, led by Adolf Hitler. Hitler decided to try and seize power in what was later known as the "Hitler Putsch" or Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler and Ludendorff sought support of the triumvirate. However, Kahr, Seisser and Lossow had their own plan to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler.[4]

On 8 November 1923, Hitler and the SA stormed a public meeting of 3,000 people which had been organized by Kahr in the Bürgerbräukeller, a large beer hall in Munich. Hitler interrupted Kahr's speech and announced that the national revolution had begun, declaring the formation of a new government with Ludendorff.[5] While waving his gun around, Hitler demanded the support of Kahr, Seisser and Lossow.[6] Lossow, Kahr and Seisser were detained.

After Hitler left the Beer Hall to supervise the activities of the putschists, Kahr, Seisser and Lossow were released, ostensibly to fulfill Hitler's orders at their respective offices. Instead, the men fled to join the opposition to Hitler.[7] They went to the barracks of the local infantry regiment, where General Jakob Ritter von Danner, Munich garrison commandant and technically Lossow's deputy, met them. Ritter von Danner, who had been directed independently by General von Seeckt to put down the coup, asked if their statements at the Beer Hall was merely a ruse to escape Nazi custody. The triumvirate agreed, fearing the consequences of their initial cooperation with the putschists, and acted to put down the putsch attempt. Lossow ultimately escaped any disciplinary action for his behavior during the putsch attempt, but never held another command.[8]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ World War I career details are from Das Bayernbuch vom Weltkriege, Vol. 1, published by the Bavarian War Archives in 1930.
  2. ^ Post-World War I career details are from Günter Wegner, Stellenbesetzung der deutschen Heere 1815-1839, Vol. 1 (Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück 1990).
  3. ^ "Ritter von" (roughly "Knight of") was a lesser German title of nobility. Bavarian commoners who received their kingdom's highest military order, the Military Max Joseph Order, such as Hans Seisser, or the Merit Order of the Bavarian Crown, such as Gustav Kahr, received a non-hereditary patent of nobility and added "Ritter von" to their names. After the fall of the German Empire, when noble titles were abolished, most nobles simply changed their names so that the former title became part of their surname. Thus Kahr and Seisser are properly referred to as "Ritter von Kahr" and "Ritter von Seisser" rather than "Kahr" and "Seisser".
  4. ^ Kershaw, Ian (2008), Hitler: A Biography, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, p. 126, ISBN 0-393-06757-2 
  5. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 128
  6. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 128
  7. ^ Shirer, William L. (1961, 1990 reprint), The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Schuster, p. 109, ISBN 0-671-72868-7 
  8. ^ See: Read, Anthony (2004), The Devil's Disciples: Hitler's Inner Circle, Chapter IV, W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0-393-04800-4, for more on the personalities involved in the Beer Hall Putsch. Read misidentifies Jakob Ritter von Danner as "Hans".