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Max von Hoffmann
Max Hoffmann was born in 1869.  He was an Oberstleutnant in East Prussia in early 1914, serving as the VIII. Army's Deputy Chief of Staff--it is he who planned the brilliant Tannenberg double-enveloping encirclement that crushed the Russian army of General Samsonov and allowed the Germans to send Rennenkampf packing.  (Ludendorff gets the credit for post-dating the victory telegramme from Tannenberg rather than the village of Frogenau where he was situated, as a matter of historic retribution for the famous defeat of the Teutonic Knights at Tannenberg (Grünwald) by the Lithuanian/Polish armies in 1410.)  Later, Hoffmann planned the subsequent Battles of the Masurian Lakes. 

He was promoted to Oberst in 1916, and situated himself at HQ in Brest-Litovsk to eventually succeed Ludendorff as the primary authority on the Eastern Front.  Hoffmann was then promoted to Generalmajor in 1917, by which time he commanded the Eastern Front Armies as the Chief of Staff to
Prinz Leopold.  

He was particularly interested in bringing all fighting forces on the Eastern Front under his direct control, including all Austrian commands.  From his headquarters in Brest-Litovsk, Hoffmann gradually won his demands thanks to pressure on Austrian
Kaiser Karl from the whole German diplomatic and military machinery. 

By the spring of 1918, Hoffmann was assured of total cooperation by the Austrians on Eastern Front matters.  In fact, threats by the Austrian Foreign Ministry to make peace with Ukraine separately in February 1918 caused Hoffmann to threaten removal of all German support on the Eastern Front; such an ultimatum had the desired effect of causing the Austrians to follow his lead in the invasion of Soviet Russia in March 1918. 

In all, Generalmajor Hoffmann was probably Germany's most brilliant military mind.   Hoffmann was the uncredited genius behind the formidable Hindenburg-Ludendorff, and he spared no ink in criticizing both commanders in his memoirs.  Max Hoffmann died in Homberg in 1927.

GWS, 4/01
Oskar Bruch's 1915 lithograph of General Hoffmann is far more flattering than his photo.