Hermann Von Francois

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Hermann von Francois

Hermann von Francois was a German General der Infanterie (General of the Infantry) best known for his significance for the many victories on the Eastern Front. Both of his grandfathers served as generals in the Prussian Army and his father was a Prussian general. Francois was the commander of the I Corps of the German Eighth Army and he was to defend against the attacks from the Russians while stationed in the province of East Prussia. In 1914, the war broke out and on August 17th of that year, Maximilian von Prittwitz (German theater commander) commanded Francois to retreat while under attack from the army led by Paul von Rennenkampf (Russian general). Francois was unwilling to give up Prussia and felt that retreating would be deadly. He disobeyed the order he received and responded with the famous reply, “General von Francois will withdraw when he has defeated the Russians!” He continued on by launching an attack on Rennenkampf's army that was uncalled for, but resulted in victory. This battle was called the Battle of Stalluponen.

Francois' recklessness in commanding was notorious. After the success of his decision at Stalluponen, Prittwitz was encouraged to attack Rennenkampf's army at the Battle of Gumbinnen. This turned out as a failure and resulted in Prittwitz being replaced by Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff. Francois was not trusted by these new commanders, but was still the decisive role in the Battle of Tannenberg with Alexander Samsonov as the second Russian army to invade East Prussia. Ludendorff feared a counterattack from Rennenkampf's army, but Francois once again disobeyed the orders of retreating. This helped in defeating Samsonov's army. Ludendorff viewed Francois as a “loose cannon”, and distrusted him. There was also distrust with Hindenburg because of Francois' disobedience.

Hermann von Francois was given the command of the 8th Army after impressing the Kaiser with a telegram stating that the previous...
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