Field Marshal Karl von Bülow

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About Field Marshal Karl von Bülow

Karl von Bülow (24 April 1846 – 31 August 1921) was a German Field Marshal commanding the German 2nd Army during World War I from 1914 to 1915.


Born in Berlin to a distinguished Prussian military family, Bülow enlisted in the Prussian Army and was assigned to the 2nd Guards regiment of infantry in 1864. He saw action during the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 and gained distinction at Koniggratz. Bülow served through the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 as a junior officer, winning the Iron Cross (2nd class). A Captain of the German General Staff in 1877, Bülow was promoted to Colonel and assigned to the 9th Guards Regiment in 1894. In 1897, Bülow was a major-general and became director of the Central Department in the German War Ministry. In 1900 he was promoted to lieutenant-general and in 1901 was general commanding the Guards division. He was Commander of the German III Corps from 1903 until his appointment as Inspector of the German 3rd Army in 1912.

Assigned to the German 2nd Army at the beginning of World War I in August 1914, Bülow's army was part of the German force that invaded Belgium. He occupied Liege on 7 August and captured the fortress of Namur on 22–23 August. In France, Bülow defeated General Charles Lanrezac of the French Fifth Army at Charleroi on 23–24 August and again at St. Quentin on 29–30 August.

As the 2nd Army and General Alexander von Kluck's 1st Army neared Paris from 31 August to 2 September, Bülow, concerned about the growing gap between the two armies, ordered Kluck to turn the 1st Army on his right towards him. This decision, however, resulted in Kluck's advancing south and east of Paris, instead of north and west as specified in the Schlieffen Plan. Bülow crossed the Marne on 4 September, but decided to retreat to Aisne after the successful counterattack by combined French and British forces against Kluck's 1st Army at the First Battle of the Marne from 5–10 September. Bülow was believed by the German public to be responsible for the German failure to capture Paris.

Bülow was promoted to Field Marshal in January of the following year. After suffering a heart attack two months later, he was allowed to retire in early 1916, living in Berlin until his death.

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Field Marshal Karl von Bülow's Timeline

March 24, 1846
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
July 31, 1884
March 15, 1886
May 10, 1891
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
August 31, 1921
Age 75
Berlin, Berlin, Germany