POSTCARD – AUTOGRAPHED – GENERALOBERST ALEXANDER VON KLUCK. Alexander von Kluck (1846-1934) was a Generaloberst (Colonel General) during WW I’s early stages. [A Generaloberst was the equivalent of a four-star U.S. Army General]. He first entered the Prussian Army in 1865. He served during the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, as well as the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War, during which he was wounded twice and awarded the 1870 Iron Cross 2nd Class. He was knighted in 1909, becoming Alexander von Kluck, then continued to steadily progress through the Imperial German Army’s ranks. In 1914 he was promoted to Generaloberst from General der Infanterie.
Prior to the buildup for WW I, an Armeekorps was the Imperial Germany’s largest military organization (although Armees had been created for the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War). This was in accordance with the von Schlieffen Plan attributed to Generalfeldmarschall Graf Alfred von Schlieffen, the Chief of the General Staff from 1891 to 1906. Von Schlieffen had observed the 1905 Russo Japanese War and came up with a strategy to avoid a possible two-front war against France and Russia. Realizing that the Russian military was weak, von Schlieffen’s plan called for two German Armees to sweep through Belgium and knock France out of the war by quickly capturing Paris. This would take place before the British could muster a big enough army on the continent, and before Russia could effectively enter the war. It was not used when von Schlieffen was in power, but remained as a strategy if another war developed with France.
So, during the pre WW I buildup, Berlin’s General Staff created two Armees from the various Armeekorps. When the war began, the German I. Armee’s command was given to von Kluck. The II. German Armee was commanded by Generaloberst Karl von Bülow. Von Kluck was by far the more aggressive commander, while von Bülow was more conservative. Once the plan was enacted, poor communication, interference from Berlin, and lack of aggressiveness by von Bülow caused problems. Instead of the quick victory von Schlieffen had projected, (although von Kluck was within thirteen miles of Paris at one point), the campaign devolved to the first Battle of Marne in September 1914. Eventually, this led to both sides staking out territory protected by trenches, and four years of trench warfare, no real movement of the lines, and millions of lives lost.
Von Kluck was considered not only an aggressive, but a fearless commander. While inspecting forward areas in March 1915, he received numerous wounds from shrapnel. Von Kluck received the Orden Pour le Mérite on 28 March 1915. He had a son killed that same year, then went into retirement, never receiving another command. After the war he wrote his memoirs, questioning the lack of cooperation between von Bülow and Berlin, which led to defeat instead of a clear-cut, early German victory.
Today we are offering you a postcard signed by von Kluck. The postcard is a pen and ink portrait of him. He is a stern, no nonsense looking man. He is everything that you would expect a Prussian General to look like. His very bold signature in black ink appears across his chest. The postcard has been matted onto a piece of pasteboard that measures 6 ½” x 4 ½.” It could be popped right into a 5″ x 7″ frame for a fine display. The card and signature are excellent and show one of Germany’s earliest WW I military commanders.