Hans Hartwig von Beseler
Hans Hartwig von Beseler (27 April 1850 – 20 December 1921) was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Colonel General
Colonel General
Colonel General is a senior rank of General. North Korea and Russia are two countries which have used the rank extensively throughout their histories...



Beseler was born in Greifswald
Greifswald , officially, the University and Hanseatic City of Greifswald is a town in northeastern Germany. It is situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, at an equal distance of about from Germany's two largest cities, Berlin and Hamburg. The town borders the Baltic Sea, and is crossed...

, Pomerania. His father, Georg Beseler
Georg Beseler
Carl Georg Christoph Beseler was a Prussian jurist and politician....

, was a law professor at the University of Greifswald. He entered the Prussian Army
Prussian Army
The Royal Prussian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.The Prussian Army had its roots in the meager mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years' War...

 in 1868, fought in the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 of 1870-1871, and had a successful military career until his retirement in 1910. Beseler was ennobled in 1904 by William II, German Emperor
William II, German Emperor
Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe...

. He was recalled to active service and became commander of the third reserve corps in the German army
German Army (German Empire)
The German Army was the name given the combined land forces of the German Empire, also known as the National Army , Imperial Army or Imperial German Army. The term "Deutsches Heer" is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the German Bundeswehr...

 when World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 broke out. In 1915 he was Military Governor of the German-occupied part of Congress Poland
Congress Poland
The Kingdom of Poland , informally known as Congress Poland , created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna, was a personal union of the Russian parcel of Poland with the Russian Empire...

 and served as such until the end of the war.

In 1914 Beseler was brought out of retirement and was given command of the 3rd Reserve Corps in the German First Army led by Generaloberst Alexander von Kluck
Alexander von Kluck
Alexander Heinrich Rudolph von Kluck was a German general during World War I.- Military career :He enlisted in the Prussian army in time to serve in the seven-week Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War, where he was wounded twice in the Battle of Colombey-Neuilly...

. The German Army took Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 on 20 August, and the German command considered the Belgian Army defeated. The main force of the German armies marched toward France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, leaving the 3rd Reserve Corps behind. Beseler was ordered to take possession of the city of Antwerp on 9 September. The Siege of Antwerp
Siege of Antwerp
The Siege of Antwerp was an engagement between the German and the Belgian armies during World War I. A small number of British and Austrian troops took part as well.-Strategic Context:...

 ended on 10 October, when the Antwerp Mayor, Jan De Vos
Jan De Vos
Jan Baptist De Vos was mayor of Antwerp from 15 March 1909 until 21 July 1921. He stayed on as mayor after the capture of Antwerp by German forces during World War I, and remained in office after the end of German occupation and World War I.Jan Baptist De Vos was born in Dendermonde...

, surrendered the city. Beseler followed the Belgian army and was halted in the Battle of the Yser
Battle of the Yser
The Battle of the Yser secured part of the coastline of Belgium for the allies in the "Race to the Sea" after the first three months of World War I.-Strategic Context:As part of the execution of the Schlieffen Plan, Belgium had been invaded by Germany...


In Spring 1915, Beseler was sent to the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War I)
The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

 with Max von Gallwitz
Max von Gallwitz
Max Karl Wilhelm von Gallwitz was a German general from Breslau , Silesia, who served with distinction during World War I on both the Eastern and Western Fronts.-Biography:...

's 9th Army where he led the successful siege of Novogeorgievsk
Modlin Fortress
Modlin Fortress is one of the biggest 19th century fortresses in Poland. It is located the town of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki in district Modlin on the Narew river, some 50 kilometres north of Warsaw...

. On August 27, he was named Governor-general of Generalgouvernement Warschau, the zone of Polish lands under german military rule. Beseler hoped to gain three divisions for use by Central Powers from Polish volunteers, and to this end wanted to present a "facade of independent Poland". He also gave his support to the Polish Border Strip
Polish Border Strip
The Polish Border Strip , also known as the Polish Frontier Strip, refers to those territories which the German Empire wanted to annex from Congress Poland during World War I. It appeared in some plans proposed by German officials as a territory to be ceded by the Kingdom of Poland to the German...

 plan, which would see mass expulsions of Poles and Jews from territory annexed by German Empire from Russian held parts of Poland, and subsequent colonization of this area by German settlers

Beseler reopened the University of Warsaw
University of Warsaw
The University of Warsaw is the largest university in Poland and one of the most prestigious, ranked as best Polish university in 2010 and 2011...

 and the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute in November 1915 and allowed the usage of Polish at the University for the first time since 1869. Municipal councils were elected and the lower jurisdiction was organized by Polish locals. Despite these efforts, the Germans intentions were transparent and German rule wasn't tolerated by the Poles, while calls for Polish volunteers produced disappointing results;for majority of Poles an Allied victory was seen as the best hope for genuine independence

After the Act of 5th November of 1916, Beseler, now a full general, stayed and still wielded real power as the General Governor of the Government General of Warsaw
Government General of Warsaw
The Imperial German General Government of Warsaw was an administrative civil district created by the German Empire in World War I. It encompassed most of the north-western parts of the erstwhile Russian-ruled Vistula Land , covering nearly its entire half.Although initially a part of Ober Ost...

, the
German-occupied part of the Kingdom of Poland
Kingdom of Poland (1916–1918)
The Kingdom of Poland, also informally called the Regency Kingdom of Poland , was a proposed puppet state during World War I by Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1916 after their conquest of the former Congress Poland from Russia...

, alongside the Austrian Governor General Karl Kuk, who resided in Lublin
Lublin is the ninth largest city in Poland. It is the capital of Lublin Voivodeship with a population of 350,392 . Lublin is also the largest Polish city east of the Vistula river...

. He was also the titular commander of the so-called Polnische Wehrmacht
Polnische Wehrmacht
Polska Siła Zbrojna, was a military formation created by Imperial Germany during World War I, as the armed forces of their puppet Kingdom of Poland. Polska Siła Zbrojna was established a part of the German Army, under German command...

. After the Act of 5 November was declared, he organized a ceremony in Warsaw's Royal Castle with such gestures as unfurling Polish flag and Polish national anthem being played;the event backfired as the Polish crowds started shouting "Out with the Germans!".
On 4 October 1916 Beseler issued a decree allowing forced labour of Polish men aged between 18 and 45

After Poland declared independence on 11 November 1918, and all German soldiers in Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 were disarmed, Beseler fled in disguise to Germany. A broken and disillusioned man, attacked by the German Conservatives and Nationalists as having been too liberal against the Poles and disliked in Poland for being too Prussian, Beseler died in 1921 in Neu-Babelsberg near Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

. He was buried at the Invalidenfriedhof in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...



Beseler, besides many minor decorations, received the Pour le Mérite
Pour le Mérite
The Pour le Mérite, known informally as the Blue Max , was the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order for German soldiers until the end of World War I....

 and the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

 (1st and 2nd Classes), and was a Commander with Star and Crown of the Prussian Order of the House of Hohenzollern.

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