Luttwitz, Walther Freiherr von

(1859-1942)
   general; a central participant in the March 1920 Kapp* Putsch. Born in Silesia, where his father was a Prussian Oberförster (chief forester), he was commissioned in 1878. After the customary transition between General Staff service and troop com-mand, he was chief quartermaster with the General Staff when war erupted. He had an eventful and heroic wartime experience. Serving as chief-of-staff to Crown Prince Wilhelm and as a corps commander in his own right, he was active at Verdun and in the Champagne region in late 1916. His Pour le Merite (Germany's highest honor), bestowed in 1916, was adorned with an oak-leaf cluster after Erich Ludendorff's* March 1918 offensive.
   Following the war, Lüttwitz chose to stay with the army until the leftist threat had been broken. In December 1918 he received command of the Mark Bran-denburg (the First Army District), which included troops in and around Berlin.* Initially commanding few reliable troops, he gradually erased the Communist threat with assistance from Defense Minister Gustav Noske.* Erroneously styl-ized "Savior of the Fatherland," he received special status from President Fried-rich Ebert*—one of several republicans to misjudge his politics. The Versailles Treaty* fed his anxiety over reorganizing Germany's army, and he was angered by the Allied resolution that war criminals be tried and that Germany be held responsible for the war.
   Pressing in early 1920 for new elections, Lüttwitz discredited himself with Noske and was relieved of his command on 11 March 1920. Turning to Hans von Seeckt,* Chief of the Truppenamt, for help, he was frustrated by the latter's veto. While their ideas were not in total harmony, his association with Wolfgang Kapp led him to press the latter into an ill-advised putsch on 13 March. Poorly planned and with limited support, the event was an initial success but a long-term fiasco. Although the brigade of Hermann Ehrhardt* came to his assistance, a general strike and the passive resistance of Berlin's bureaucracy induced the putsch's collapse. Using false passports, Lüttwitz and Kapp fled to Sweden on 17 March.
   The Kapp Putsch was the most serious instance of treason in the Republic's fourteen-year history. Nonetheless, legal proceedings against Lüttwitz were dropped on the ground that he and his cohorts had acted "under the banner of selfless love for the fatherland." Soon back in Germany, he was dismissed from the army but was granted his pension retroactive to the putsch itself. He played no further public role.
   REFERENCES:Carsten, Reichswehr and Politics; Feldman, "Big Business"; Harold Gor-don, Reichswehr; NDB, vol. 15; Waite, Vanguard of Nazism.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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