Fritz von Below

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Fritz von Below
Born(1853-09-23)23 September 1853
Danzig, Province of Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia
Died23 November 1918(1918-11-23) (aged 65)
Weimar, Free State of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Weimar Republic
Allegiance German Empire
 Kingdom of Prussia
Service/branch Imperial German Army
 Prussian Army
Years of service1873–1918
RankGeneral der Infanterie
Commands held
AwardsPour 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. He commanded troops during the Battle of the Somme, the Second Battle of the Aisne, and the German spring offensive in 1918.


Below's tomb at Berlin Invalidenfriedhof Cemetery

Born in Danzig (Gdańsk), Below was appointed to the command of XXI Corps in 1912. In this capacity, he fought along with the 6th Army on the Western Front at the beginning of World War I.[2] 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 on 16 February 1915 for successful campaigns on the Western Front and in the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes.[4]

Below was elevated to command of the 2nd Army on 4 April 1915. In 1916 the 2nd Army bore the brunt of the Allied attack in the Battle of the Somme. Reinforcements increased the size of the 2nd Army to such an extent that a decision was made to split it. The 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, who was also installed as commander of armeegruppe Gallwitz-Somme to co-ordinate the actions of both armies.[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]

Below was appointed to command the 9th Army in June 1918, still on the Western Front. Below had contracted pneumonia and 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.[citation needed]


  • 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[edit]


  1. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Below, Fritz von" . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company.
  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". Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 2 November 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[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Quartermaster-General of the German Army
13 February 1906 – 22 February 1906
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New Formation
Commander, XXI Corps
1 October 1912 – 4 April 1915
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander, 2nd Army
4 April 1915 – 19 July 1916
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander, 1st Army
19 July 1916 – 9 June 1918
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander, 9th Army
9 June 1918 – 6 August 1918
Succeeded by