German military officer. Born 1849, died 1945.
A career officer, von Mackensen joined the élite Totenkopf hussars as a young man, in 1869, and distinguished himself during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.
Rising in the ranks, he joined the German general staff in 1880, and became a close personal friend of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Von Mackensen came to play a central rôle during World War I. He participated in the 1914 battles at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes. As a Generalfeldmarschall (field marshal) he led the 11th Army in 1915 when it took Brest-Litovsk. Later the same year, he was in charge of the campaign in Serbia, and, in 1916, of the Rumanian campaign. Until the end of the war, he commanded the German forces occupying Rumania.
With the end of the war, von Mackensen retired (1920) and became politically active as an opponent of the Weimar Republic (he remained a staunch royalist). Later, he joined Adolf Hitler's German National Socialist Party. By participating actively in Nazi parades, von Mackensen greatly helped to legitimise Hitler's regime. In 1933, he held a Nazi seat in the Prussian Staatsrat.
By this time, von Mackensen was truly an old soldier (unfortunately not quite fading away gracefully), and with Hindenburg's death in 1934, he was the last surviving German field marshal from the First World War. To honour him, Hitler gave him lands and named him head of the 5th Cavalry Regiment.
August von Mackensen had two sons: Hans Georges von Mackensen (1883-1947), a Nazi diplomat; and Eberhard von Mackensen (1889-1969), a World War II general, later convicted of war crimes.