The ‘Victor of Tannenberg’
This chapter discusses the sudden emergence of the Hindenburg myth after the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914. It shows that the German population played a central role in exalting this little-known General to mythical heights from below. Once public passion had caught fire, however, the government happily stoked the flames of the cult. The chapter examines popular manifestations of the Hindenburg myth in some detail, including memorabilia and the ‘Iron Hindenburg’ nailing statue erected in central Berlin in 1915. Special attention is also given to the myth's impact on Kaiser Wilhelm II's public standing. While the Kaiser's government actively encouraged Hindenburg's popularity, his myth quickly developed its own momentum; Hindenburg started to eclipse the Kaiser in the eyes of the public, eventually undermining the monarchical idea.
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