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Fritz von Below
Fritz von Below
Born (1853-09-23)23 September 1853
Died 23 November 1918(1918-11-23) (aged 65)
Place of birth Danzig, Prussia
Place of death Weimar, Germany
Allegiance German Empire Imperial Germany
Service/branch Prussian Army
Years of service 1873–1918
Rank General der Infanterie
Commands held

World War I

Awards Pour le Mérite with Oakleaves

Fritz Theodor Carl von Below (23 September 1853 – 23 November 1918)[1] was a Prussian general in the German Army during the First World War.


Below's tomb at Berlin Invalidenfriedhof Cemetery

Born in Danzig (Gdańsk), in 1912 Below was appointed to the command of XXI Corps. In this capacity, he fought along with the 6th Army[2] on the Western Front at the beginning of World War I. His corps was transferred in 1915 to the Eastern Front where it participated in the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes.[3] Below was awarded the Pour le Mérite medal on 16 February 1915 for successful campaigns on the Western Front and in the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes.[4]

He was then elevated to command of the 2nd Army at the beginning of the Somme offensive in 1916. 2nd Army bore the brunt of the Allied attack in the Battle of the Somme. It had grown to such an extent that a decision was made to split it into two still-powerful armies. Therefore, 1st Army was reformed on 19 July 1916 from the right (northern) wing of the 2nd Army. Below took command of 1st Army and 2nd Army got a new commander General der Artillerie Max von Gallwitz. Von Gallwitz was also installed as commander of Heeresgruppe Gallwitz-Somme to co-ordinate the actions of both armies on the Somme.[5] Below was awarded the Oakleaves to the Pour le Mérite (signifying a second award) on 11 August 1916 for his success in operations during the Battle of the Somme.[6]

Finally, he was appointed to command the 9th Army in June 1918, still on the Western Front. However, von Below had contracted pneumonia so its former commander, General der Infanterie Johannes von Eben, remained in provisional command.[7]

Below died in Weimar on 23 November 1918, shortly after Germany had signed the armistice. He is buried in the Invalidenfriedhof Cemetery in Berlin.


Below was the cousin of Otto von Below, another German commander during the war. The two generals are often confused.


  • Armee-Abteilung or Army Detachment in the sense of "something detached from an Army". It is not under the command of an Army so is in itself a small Army.[8]
  • Armee-Gruppe or Army Group in the sense of a group within an Army and under its command, generally formed as a temporary measure for a specific task.
  • Heeresgruppe or Army Group in the sense of a number of armies under a single commander.

See also

  • List of people from Danzig


  1. Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1922). "Below, Fritz von". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York. 
  2. Cron 2002, pp. 317–320
  3. "Who's Who Fritz von Below". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  4. "Orden Pour le Mérite". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  5. Cron 2002, p. 49
  6. "Orden Pour le Mérite". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  7. "Biography on The Prussian Machine". Retrieved 2 Novermber 2012. 
  8. Cron 2002, p. 84


  • Cron, Hermann (2002) [1937]. Imperial German Army 1914–18: Organisation, Structure, Orders-of-Battle. Helion & Co. ISBN 1-874622-70-1. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
New Formation
Commander, XXI Corps
1 October 1912 – 4 April 1915
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Oskar von Hutier
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Karl von Bülow
Commander, 2nd Army
4 April 1915 – 19 July 1916
Succeeded by
General der Artillerie Max von Gallwitz
Preceded by
Generaloberst Alexander von Kluck
Commander, 1st Army
19 July 1916 – 9 June 1918
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Bruno von Mudra
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Johannes von Eben
Commander, 9th Army
9 June 1918 – 6 August 1918
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Adolph von Carlowitz

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