Ludwig von Falkenhausen

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Ludwig von Falkenhausen
Born(1844-09-13)13 September 1844
Guben, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia
Died4 May 1936(1936-05-04) (aged 91)
Görlitz, Lower Silesia, Nazi Germany
AllegianceKingdom of Prussia Prussia
German Empire German Empire
Service/branchPrussian Army
Years of service1862–1902
Commands heldGarde-Grenadier Regiment 4
29th Infantry Brigade
XIII Corps
6th Army
Battles/warsSecond Schleswig War
Austro-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
World War I
AwardsPour le Mérite
Other workRepresentative in the Reichsrat

Ludwig Alexander Friedrich August Philipp Freiherr[1] von Falkenhausen (13 September 1844 – 4 May 1936) was a German Generaloberst most notable for his activities during World War I.


Early life[edit]

Falkenhausen was born in Guben. His parents were the Prussian Lieutenant-General D. Alexander von Falkenhausen (1821–1889) and his wife Catherine née Rouanet (1825–1907). Falkenhausen first attended a private school in Berlin and then, from May 1856, was a Cadet in Potsdam. In 1859 he moved to the main military academy in Berlin. In May 1862 he was attached to the 1st Foot Guards. Later, he was regimental adjutant of the combined Guards Reserve Infantry Regiment. He also took part in an 1866 campaign with the main army. Between October 1868 and May 1869, he served with the Guards Field Artillery as regimental adjutant.

In the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) he participated in the battles of Gravelotte-St.Privat, Beaumont and Sedan and at the Siege of Paris. At the end of 1870, he was released from the position as regimental adjutant, from July 1871 he served as adjutant of the 28th Division in Karlsruhe.

In subsequent years, he was transferred several times: from the 40th Fusiliers to the Army General Staff, then to the General Staff of the 16th Division in Trier and the General Staff of the VIII Army Corps (Koblenz). In 1885 he was transferred as commander of the First Battalion (Cologne) in the 65th Infantry.

In March 1887 Falkenhausen was Chief of Staff of the Guards Corps (Berlin). In June 1890 he commanded the Queen Augusta Garde-Grenadier Regiment Nr 4 (Koblenz). Two years later he led the 29th Infantry Brigade (Cologne) and 1893 was chief quartermaster of the Chief of General Staff of the Army. Between 1893 and 1895, he was also a member of the Study Commission of the Military Academy.

After working at the War Department, in January 1895 he became director of the General War Department in the Ministry of War. In February 1895 he was appointed representative in the Bundesrat. In January 1897 he became commander of the 2nd Guards Infantry Division (Berlin) in 1899 and commanding general of the XIII (Royal Württemberg) Corps. In March 1902 he retired, but kept busy with military science studies.

World War I[edit]

Falkenhausen's grave at Invalidenfriedhof, Berlin

Upon mobilization in August 1914, Falkenhausen became commanding general of the Ersatz Corps of the 6th Army. As commander of Armee-Abteilung Falkenhausen he commanded the German troops during the battles for the 1914/15 Delmer back and in the trench warfare in Lorraine (1915-1916).

He was highly successful during the first half of World War I and was awarded the Pour le Mérite on 23 August 1915, with oak leaves following on 15 April 1916.[2]

After having commanded the coastal defenses near Hamburg (April–September 1916), on 28 September 1916 Falkenhausen was given command of the 6th Army at the Battle of Arras in April 1917. He failed to deploy correctly the newly developed defence in depth to counter new British and Dominion tactics and was removed from field command by General Erich Ludendorff.

Thereafter, he succeeded Moritz von Bissing and served as governor-general of the General Governorate of Belgium during the German occupation, from May 1917 until November 1918. In early 1918, The Times published an article – entitled Falkenhausen's reign of terror – describing 170 military executions of Belgian civilians that had taken place since he had been appointed governor.[3]

He died in Görlitz.

During the Second World War, his nephew Alexander von Falkenhausen served as military governor of Belgium (22 May 1940 - 15 July 1944).

Awards and decorations[edit]


Regarding personal names: Freiherr was a title before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Baron. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a legal class, titles preceded the full name when given (Graf Helmuth James von Moltke). Since 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), can be used, but are regarded as a dependent part of the surname, and thus come after any given names (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke). Titles and all dependent parts of surnames are ignored in alphabetical sorting. The feminine forms are Freifrau and Freiin.


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Pour Le Mérite website
  3. ^ The Times, 6 January 1918, page 9

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
New Formation
Commander, Ersatz Corps
18 August – 18 September, 1914
Succeeded by
Upgraded to Armee-Abteilung Falkenhausen
Preceded by
From Ersatz corps
Commander, Armee-Abteilung Falkenhausen
17 September 1914 – 17 April 1916
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Karl d'Elsa
Preceded by
New Formation
Commander, High Command of Coastal Defence
15 April – 29 August, 1916
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Josias von Heeringen
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria
Commander, 6th Army
28 August 1916 – 23 April 1917
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Otto von Below