Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein
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|Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein|
|Born||24 April 1870
|Died||16 October 1948
|Years of service||1888–1929|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
|Awards||Pour le Mérite, Iron Cross First class|
Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein (24 April 1870 – 16 October 1948) was a German general from Nuremberg. He was a member of the group of German officers who assisted in the direction of the Ottoman Army during World War I. Kress von Kressenstein was part of Otto Liman von Sanders military mission to Turkey, which arrived in Turkey shortly before World War I broke out.
Von Kressenstein came from a patrician family in Nuremberg. His father Georg Kress von Kressenstein (1840–1911) was a high court judge. Von Kressenstein joined the Bavarian army as an ensign in the artillery in 1888.
World War I
He joined Djemal Pasha's army in Palestine as a military engineer and later chief of staff. Djemal Pasha was given the job by the Turkish leader Enver Pasha of capturing or disabling the Suez Canal. This effort is called the First Suez Offensive and it occurred in January 1915. Kress von Kressenstein was responsible for creating special boats for crossing the canal (pontoons) as well as organizing the crossing of the Sinai desert. While the desert was crossed with little loss of life, the British were aware of their approach and their attack on the Suez came as no surprise to the defenders. The Turkish forces were repulsed easily and after two days of fighting, they retreated. Kress von Kressenstein's special pontoons were never used.
More than a year passed when the Turks tried a second attack on the Suez. With Djemal Pasha directing affairs from his base in Damascus, Kress von Kressenstein led a larger Ottoman army across the Sinai desert, again. This attack ran into a strong British defensive fortification at Romani, 40 kilometres (25 mi) east of the canal. The Ottoman army prepared a major set-piece assault on Romani, scheduled for 3 August 1916 (see the Battle of Romani for a detailed description). The attack was beaten off and again the Turks retreated back to their bases in Palestine.
The British responded with an attack of their own. They captured some small Turkish forts in the Sinai, built a railroad and water pipe across the desert and then launched an assault on the Ottoman fort at Gaza. Kress von Kressenstein was in charge of the Ottoman defences along with an Ottoman General Tala Bey. In the First Battle of Gaza (March 1917), the British were defeated, largely due to their own errors. In the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917, the British were defeated again, the credit for this victory largely going to Kress von Kressenstein.
The British removed their unsuccessful generals and replaced them with General Allenby. The Ottomans also replaced their top leadership, bringing in the former Chief of the German General Staff, General von Falkenhayn. Kress von Kressenstein was kept on as commander of the Turkish 8th Army defending Gaza and he was also awarded Prussia's highest order, the Pour le Mérite.
In November 1917, the British under General Allenby breached the Ottoman defensive positions at the Battle of Beersheba and the Third Battle of Gaza. Kreß von Kressenstein was able to withdraw his defeated troops in fairly good order to new defensive positions in the north.
In the middle of 1918, with the Ottoman-German alliance breaking down, Kress von Kressenstein was sent with a small German force to Georgia, that was protected by Germany after its independence. He helped to frustrate the Red Army's invasion of Georgian region Abkhazia.
Kress von Kressenstein retired from the German army in 1929 and died in Munich in 1948.
He wrote at least one paper 'The Campaign in Palestine from the Enemy's Side' published in the Royal United Services Institute Journal, and also memoirs My Mission in Caucasus which were published in 2001 in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Decorations and awards
- Pour le Mérite (Prussia)
- Knight of the Military Order of Max Joseph (Bavaria)
- Officer of the Order of Military Merit (Bavaria)
- Knight of the House Order of Hohenzollern
- Iron Cross of 1914, 1st class (Prussia)
- Order of the Medjidie, 4th class (Ottoman Empire)
- Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a former title (translated as Baron). In Germany since 1919, it forms part of family names. The feminine forms are Freifrau and Freiin.
- "Kress" is part of the family name, not a given name; hence, "Kress von Kressenstein" is the full family, or last, name.
- Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace. Avon Books.
- von Kressenstein, F.Kress (1921). "Zwicken Kaukasus und Sinai". Jahrbuch des Bundes der Aisenkampfer (in German).
- von Kressenstein, F.Kress (1938). Mit dem Turken zum Suezkanal (in German). Berlin.
- "Biography of Kreß von Kressenstein from First World War.com" (downloaded January 9, 2006)
- "The Great War and the only Triumphant Campaign of 1917" About Allenby's Palestine campaign of 1917 (downloaded January 9, 2006; link updated 10/20/2011)
- "Journal of the T. E. Lawrence Society – Autumn 1997" Lists Von Kressenstein's monograph on the campaign.