Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, known simply as Paul von Hindenburg; 2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934), was a German general and statesman who commanded the Imperial German Army during World War I and later became President of Germany from 1925 until his death, during the Weimar Republic. He played a key role in the Nazi Machtergreifung in January 1933 when, under pressure from advisers, he appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany.
Born to a family of minor Prussian nobility, Hindenburg joined the Prussian army in 1866 where he saw combat during the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars. He retired with the rank of General of the Infantry in 1911, but was recalled to military service at the age of 66 following the outbreak of World War I in July 1914 and shortly thereafter received nationwide attention as the victor of the Battle of Tannenberg. Upon later being named Chief of the General Staff in 1916, his popularity among the German public dramatically increased and produced a large cult of personality. As Wilhelm II increasingly delegated his authority to the Army High Command, Hindenburg and his deputy, General Erich Ludendorff, established a de facto military dictatorship that controlled Germany for the rest of the war.
Hindenburg retired again in 1919, but returned to public life in 1925 to be elected the second President of Germany. He defeated Hitler in a runoff to win reelection in 1932. He was opposed to Hitler and was a major player in the increasing political instability in the Weimar Republic that ended with Hitler's rise to power. He dissolved the Reichstag twice in 1932 and finally agreed to appoint Hitler Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Hindenburg did this to satisfy Hitler's demands that he should play a part in the Weimar government, for Hitler was the leader of the Nazi party, which had won a plurality in the November 1932 elections. In February he approved the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended various civil liberties, and in March signed the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave Hitler's regime arbitrary powers. Hindenburg died the following year, after which Hitler declared himself Führer und Reichskanzler, or Supreme Leader and Chancellor, which superseded both the Presidency and Chancellorship.