Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein



Friedrich Siegmund Georg Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein (also ; 24 April 1870 – 16 October 1948) was a German
general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, and marines or naval infantry. In some usages the term "general officer" refers to a rank above colonel."general, adj. and n.". OED ...
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the German state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants make it the 14th-largest c ...
. He was a member of the group of German officers who assisted in the direction of the
Ottoman Army The military of the Ottoman Empire ( tr, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun silahlı kuvvetleri) was the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire. Army The military of the Ottoman Empire can be divided in five main periods. The foundation era covers the ...
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
. Kress von Kressenstein was part of the military mission of Otto Liman von Sanders to the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University ...
, which arrived shortly before World War I broke out. He was also the main leader for the Ottoman Desert Command Force (DCF).

Early life

Kress came from a patrician family in
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the German state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants make it the 14th-largest c ...
. His father, Georg Kress von Kressenstein (1840–1911), was a high court judge. Kress von Kressenstein joined the
Bavarian army The Bavarian Army was the army of the Electorate (1682–1806) and then Kingdom (1806–1919) of Bavaria. It existed from 1682 as the standing army of Bavaria until the merger of the military sovereignty (''Wehrhoheit'') of Bavaria into that of ...
as an ensign in the artillery in 1888. He was appointed as Second Lieutenant on 6 March 1890. On 1 October 1895, he joined the Bavarian War Academy and graduated in September 1898. He continued his general staff education until 1914. With Otto Liman von Sanders, Kressenstein was sent to
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University ...
and served as the commander of the Ottoman field artillery school.

World War I


Kress joined Djemal Pasha's army in Palestine as a military engineer and was later chief of staff. Djemal Pasha was given the job by the war minister
Enver Pasha İsmail Enver, better known as Enver Pasha ( ota, اسماعیل انور پاشا; tr, İsmail Enver Paşa; 22 November 1881 – 4 August 1922) was an Ottoman military officer, revolutionary, and convicted war criminal who formed one-third ...
of capturing or disabling the
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( arz, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez and dividing Africa and Asia. The long canal is a popul ...
. This effort is called the
First Suez Offensive The Raid on the Suez Canal, also known as Actions on the Suez Canal, took place between 26 January and 4 February 1915 when a German-led Ottoman Army force advanced from Southern Palestine to attack the British Empire-protected Suez Canal, mar ...
, and it occurred in January 1915. Kress von Kressenstein was responsible for creating special boats for crossing the canal (pontoons) as well as organizing the crossing of the Sinai desert. While the desert was crossed with little loss of life, the British were aware of their approach and their attack on the Suez came as no surprise to the defenders. The Ottoman forces were repulsed easily and after two days of fighting, they retreated. Kress von Kressenstein's special pontoons were never used. More than a year passed when the Ottomans tried a second attack on the Suez. With Djemal Pasha directing affairs from his base in
Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_flag = Flag of Damascus.svg , image_seal = Emblem of Damascus.svg , seal_type = Seal , map_caption = , ...
, Kress von Kressenstein led a larger Ottoman army across the Sinai desert, again. This attack ran into a strong British defensive fortification at Romani, east of the canal. The Ottoman army prepared a major set-piece assault on Romani, scheduled for 3 August 1916 (see the Battle of Romani for a detailed description). The attack was beaten off and again the Ottomans retreated back to their bases in Palestine. The British responded with an attack of their own. They captured some small Ottoman forts in the Sinai, built a railroad and water pipe across the desert and then launched an assault on the Ottoman fort at Gaza. Kress von Kressenstein was in charge of the Ottoman defences along with General Tala Bey. In the First Battle of Gaza (March 1917), the British were defeated, largely due to their own errors. In the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917, the British were defeated again, the credit for this victory largely going to Kress von Kressenstein. The British removed their unsuccessful generals and replaced them with General Allenby. The Ottomans also replaced their top leadership, bringing in the former Chief of the German General Staff, General von Falkenhayn. Kress von Kressenstein was kept on as commander of the Ottoman 8th Army defending Gaza and he was also awarded Prussia's highest order, the Pour le Mérite. In November 1917, the British under General Allenby breached the Ottoman defensive positions at the Battle of Beersheba and the Third Battle of Gaza. Kress von Kressenstein was able to withdraw his defeated troops in fairly good order to new defensive positions in the north.


In the middle of 1918, with the Ottoman-German alliance breaking down, Kress von Kressenstein was sent with a small German force to
Georgia Georgia most commonly refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), a state in the Southeast United States Georgia may also refer to: Places Historical states and entities * Related to th ...
, that was protected by Germany after its independence. He helped to frustrate the
Red Army The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army ( Russian: Рабо́че-крестья́нская Кра́сная армия),) often shortened to the Red Army, was the army and air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and, afte ...
's invasion of the Georgian region Abkhazia.

Later life

Kress von Kressenstein retired from the German army in 1929 and died in Munich in 1948. He wrote in several articles about his experiences in Palestine and the Caucasus, and published in 1938 a full book about the war in the Sinai and Palestine. At least two of his articles have been translated to English. 'The Campaign in Palestine from the Enemy's Side', published in the
Royal United Services Institute The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI, Rusi), registered as Royal United Service Institute for Defence and Security Studies and formerly the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, is a British defence and security think tank. ...
Journal, and his 1936 article about the 'war in the desert', in which he discussed also the use of poison gas in the war, both in the Sinai Desert during WW1 and in the Italian conquest of Ethiopia (called Abyssinia at the time). His memoirs ''My Mission in Caucasus'' were published posthumously in 2001 in
Tbilisi Tbilisi ( ; ka, თბილისი ), in some languages still known by its pre-1936 name Tiflis ( ), is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Kura River with a population of approximately 1.5 million pe ...
, Georgia.

In Popular Culture

He was played by Ralph Cotterill in the film '' The Lighthorsemen'' (1987).

Decorations and awards

* Pour le Mérite (Prussia) * Knight of the
Military Order of Max Joseph The Military Order of Max Joseph (german: Militär-Max-Joseph-Orden) was the highest military order of the Kingdom of Bavaria. It was founded on 1 January 1806 by Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, the first king of Bavaria. The order came in t ...
(Bavaria) * Officer of the Order of Military Merit (Bavaria) * Knight of the House Order of Hohenzollern * Iron Cross of 1914, 1st and 2rd class (Prussia) * Military Merit Cross, 3rd class with war decoration (Austria-Hungary) * Imtiyaz Medal With Swords and Clasp (Ottoman Empire) * Order of the Medjidie, 4th class (Ottoman Empire) * Gallipoli Star, (Ottoman Empire)

See also

* Sinai and Palestine Campaign


* * "Kress" is part of the family name, not a given name; hence, "Kress von Kressenstein" is the full family, or last, name.



* Fromkin, David (1989). '' A Peace to End All Peace''. Avon Books. * * * * * *

External links

"Biography of Kreß von Kressenstein from First World"
(downloaded January 9, 2006)

About Allenby's Palestine campaign of 1917 (downloaded January 9, 2006; link updated 10/20/2011)

Lists Von Kressenstein's monograph on the campaign.

{{DEFAULTSORT:Kress Von Kressenstein, Friedrich Freiherr 1870 births 1948 deaths Military personnel from Nuremberg People from the Kingdom of Bavaria Generals of Artillery (Reichswehr) German Army personnel of World War I Ottoman military personnel of World War I Barons of Germany Military personnel of Bavaria Recipients of the Pour le Mérite (military class) Commanders of the Military Order of Max Joseph Officers Crosses of the Military Merit Order (Bavaria) Recipients of the Order of the Medjidie, 4th class Witnesses of the Armenian genocide