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Moritz von Bissing
Moritz von Bissing
Born (1844-01-30)30 January 1844
Died 18 April 1917(1917-04-18) (aged 73)
Place of birth Ober Bellmannsdorf, Prussia
Place of death Trois Fontaines near Brussels, Belgium
Allegiance Kingdom of Prussia Prussia
German Empire Imperial Germany
Service/branch Prussian Army
Years of service 1865-1908
Rank General der Kavallerie
Commands held VII Army Corps
Battles/wars Franco-Prussian War
World War I

Moritz Ferdinand Freiherr von Bissing (30 January 1844 – 18 April 1917) was a Prussian General der Kavallerie.

Early life

Bissing was born at Ober Bellmannsdorf in the Province of Silesia. In 1865 Bissing entered the Prussian Army and raised steadily through the ranks until he became major-general in 1894, lieutenant-general in 1897 and General der Kavallerie. From 1901 to 1907 von Bissing commanded the VII Army Corps in Münster. He retired from the army in 1908. During his retirement, he participated in the 1912 Wimbledon Championships, losing in the 2nd round.

World War I

Upon the outbreak of the war, von Bissing was recalled to active duty as deputy commander of the VII Army Corps from August 1914 until November 1914. After the fall of Belgium during the First World War, Bissing was promoted to colonel-general and appointed governor-general of occupied Belgium, serving from December 1914 until his death near Brussels. He signed the warrant for the execution of Edith Cavell.

As governor-general von Bissing executed the German Flamenpolitik during which he netherlandized the Ghent University as the first solely Dutch-speaking university. As German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg encouraged Flemish nationalist leaders to declare independence and to integrate into the German sphere, Von Bissing convened a commission to organise the division Belgium, and in a decree issed on 21 March 1917, separated Belgium into two administrative areas: Flanders and Wallonia.

Taking into account the 1912 decision by Walloon nationalists to recognize Namur as the most central city of Wallonia, he established the Walloon administration there. Wallonia then consisted of four southern Belgian provinces and one part of the province of Brabant: the district of Nivelles, realizing also another revendication of the Walloon movement: the creation of the Walloon Brabant. The Flemish region had Brussels as its capital, and was made up of the four northern provinces of Belgium, as well as the districts of Brussels and Leuven. This was the first attempt at dividing Belgium along linguistic lines.

He is buried at the Invalidenfriedhof.


  • Larry Zuckerman, The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I, New York University Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8147-9704-4.


Regarding personal names: Freiherr was a title, before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Baron. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a separate estate, titles preceded the full name when given (Prinz Otto von Bismarck). After 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), could be used, but were regarded as part of the surname, and thus came after a first name (Otto Prinz von Bismarck). The feminine forms are Freifrau and Freiin.

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