- May 18, 2001
Berlin, German Reich: January 13, 1932
Reichpräsident Paul von HindenburgPaul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg was an old and tired man. He had never been enthusiastic about entering politics, and he was even less happy to be mixed up in politics now. He certainly felt that at the age of 84 it was more than past time for him to go into retirement, and in darker moments he would quietly admit to himself that he was no longer capable of performing his duties as reichpräsident; his memory was failing him. At first it had just been a few minor things but now it was beginning to become a serious problem, lately he was becoming more and more dependent on his advisors and political allies, everything just seemed so much more complicated and confusing lately.
But as much as he disliked politics and desperately wished to retire he could not, or at least that was what all his advisors and political allies kept telling him. Von Hindenburg agreed with them, for only a man of renowned military service and the highest reputation could stand up to Hitler in the upcoming election in March. Von Hindenburg had done everything he could to find a better candidate, but he was becoming resigned to the fact that he was the only viable choice. As much as von Hindenburg would have loved to finally retire he had a duty to Germany, and for him duty came before all else, but he could not help but wish that he could pass this duty on to someone else.
To all appearances though he was simply out of options, certainly career politicians like Franz von Papen stood no chance against of winning an election against Hitler. What von Hindenburg needed, he concluded with only a bit of hubris, was more or less a younger version of himself. However, Germany was sadly lacking in staunchly conservative career warriors with no ties to the Nazi party who would be willing to run for the Presidency, and would actually have a good enough reputation to have a chance of winning.
However, the lack was not quite so severe as von Hindenburg first thought, for there was in fact one man who almost perfectly fit these criteria. A man who had been hailed as a war hero, and who was hated the Nazis with an impressive passion. This man also had the important willingness to involve himself in the political game, at least enough to hold a seat in Reichstag for a time, and was a solid monarchist who had lost his position in the military for being too supportive of the Kapp Putsch. When a letter from the former Kaiser Wilhelm II, with whom von Hindenburg occaisionally exchanged letters, happened to make a passing reference to the exploits of the young Major General during the war von Hindenburg could only attribute his failure to think of such a well suited candidate to his advanced age and failing mind.
The next day he arranged a meeting with the other conservative leaders, and after some initial hesitance and discussion all agreed that to accept the candidate suggested by von Hindenburg. While none there would ever admit it, the main reason they desired to keep von Hindenburg in power was that his age had made him easy to manipulate, while a younger reichpräsident would not fall for such trickery. However, von Hindenburg was adamant and his suggested candidate was an excellent choice, and in the end there were no objections left. With the decision made von Hindenburg set out to the residence of his chosen successor, ready to offer him the chance of a lifetime.
During the short drive von Hindenburg felt quite relieved, though he had been honored to render such long and distinguished service to Germany he was quite ready to finally have a chance to relax and enjoy his retirement. He felt a small twinge of pity for the man who would soon take his place and carry the massive burden of the fate of the German people on his shoulders, but that pity soon faded as he was distracted by casual musing on just what he would do with all the free time he would have on his hands soon. Maybe he could take up golf...