Max Klemens von Hausen, 1846-1922

General Max von Hausen (1846-1922) was a German general who commanded the Third Army from the start of the First World War until the end of the battle of the Aisne.

Hausen was a Saxon, who fought in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). In 1914 he had command of the Third Army, next in line after von Kluck's First Army and von Bülow's Second Army. It started the war with the 12th, 12th Reserve, 11th and 19th Corps, and were at the left-flank of the advance into Belgium, with orders to advance through the southern Ardennes. Next in line was the Fourth Army, commanded by Duke Albrecht of Würtemberg, which was to advance into the southern Ardennes.

At the start of the German advance the French were concentrated along the Franco-German border, with General Lanrezac's Fifth Army at the northern end of the line. Lanrezac was concerned that his line might be outflanked, and he was eventually able to convince the French High Command to allow him to move north to guard the line of the Sambre.

As the French worried, Hausen made steady progress. His first attempt to capture Dinant on the Meuse failed (15 August), and on 21 August he had to detach his 11th Corps, which was needed at Namur, but he was still making good progress.

The Germans decided to carry out a two pronged attack on Lanrezac's men, with von Bülow attacking from the north and von Hausen from the east. The battle of the Sambre (21-23 August 1914) didn't go entirely according to plan - von Bülow's lead troops found some intact bridges across the Sambre and were able to establish a series of footholds south of the river. Lanrezac ordered a foolish counter-attack that weakened his position and helped open up a gap on his right flank. Von Hausen's army then threatened to advance into the gap, forcing the French to retreat. Lanrezac's movement also forced the BEF to begin their long retreat.

Over the next two weeks von Hausen's men continued to advance as part of the great German flanking movement, pushing the French back. Their main target at the start of this advance was Langle's Fourth Army. During the battle of the Marne (5-10 September 1914) von Hausen carried out a series of attacks on Foch's Ninth Army (formed around a core from the Fourth Army), but when von Bülow began to retreat von Hausen was forced to pull back to avoid having his own right flank exposed. During this period of advance von Hausen was constantly being asked for assistance by the armies on his flanks, and his own advance was later judged to have been rather sluggish.

Von Hausen retained command of the Third Army during the retreat to the Aisne and the battle of the Aisne (12-18 September 1914), where the front stabilised. He was then removed from command and didn’t get another combat command.

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 August 2014), Max Klemens von Hausen, 1846-1922 ,

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