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Alexander von Kluck

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Alexander Heinrich Rudolph von Kluck (May 20, 1846 - October 19, 1934) was a German general during World War I. He was born in Münster, Westphalia. He saw service during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War. He advanced steadily through the ranks of the German Army and in 1913 was appointed Inspector General of the Seventh Army District.

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Alexander von Kluck

With the outbreak of the war he was placed in command of the German First Army. According to the Schlieffen Plan, the First Army was part of the strong right wing and positioned on the outer western edge of the German advance through Belgium and France. This western flank was to advance alongside Karl von Bülow's Second Army to Paris. Upon reaching Paris in concert, the First and Second army's were to threaten Paris from both the west and east.

After fighting the British at Mons and Le Cateau, the First Army pursued Lanrezac's French Fifth Army during the great retreat. However, thirty miles from Paris and anticipating an encounter with the French Fifth Army (commanded by Lanzerac), the cautious von Bulow halted his Second Army's advance and demanded von Kluck's direct support. By this time, the aggressive von Kluck had advanced his First Army well south of von Bulow's position to 13 miles north of Paris. Although frustrated by von Bulow's caution, on 31 August von Kluck turned his army southeast to support the Second Army.

In so doing, von Kluck explosed his own right flank in the direction of Paris and also created a 30 mile gap in the German line extending toward von Bulow's stalled Second Army.

As a result of passing to the east of Paris, on 5 September General Maunoury's Sixth Army was able to launch an attack against Kluck's flank from Paris, thereby marking the opening of the First Battle of the Marne. A surprise attack on 8 September by Franchet D'Esperey's (who had replaced Lanrezac) Fifth Army against Bülow's Second widened the gap which the British Expeditionary Force marched to exploit. By September 10 the combined Allied stand pushed the weakened German line back forty miles to the River Aisne. There, the front would remain for years in the form of entrenched positions as World War I continued.

von Kluck and Bülow's failure to maintain an effective offensive live was a primary contribution to the failure of the Schlieffen Plan which was to intedend to deliver a decisive blow against France. Instead, and the long stalemate of trench warfare was ready to begin. Because of von Kluck's failure, the phrase "dumb Kluck" (or more commonly "dumb cluck") has become a well-known insult.

Kluck was seriously injured in the leg in March 1915 and retired from active service in October 1916. His post war memoirs, The March on Paris and the Battle of the Marne, were published in 1920. Alexander von Kluck died in Berlin on October 19, 1934.de:Alexander von Kluck fr:Alexandre von Kluck

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