Walter von Loë
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Baron Friedrich Karl Walter Degenhard von Loë (1828-1908), was a Prussian soldier and aristocrat. Loë had the distinction of being one of the few Roman Catholics to reach the rank of Generalfeldmarschall, or field marshal.
Early life and military careerEdit
Loë was born into the Westphalian aristocracy on September 9, 1828 in Schloss Allner, in Hennef. His wealthy, Catholic family held a baronial title, and his father sent him to be educated at the Ritterakademie in Bedburg. In 1845, Loë served his required year in the military, allowing him to enter the reserves. After graduating from the academy, he studied at Bonn University. Loë was not to stay at the university for long, however, as war with Denmark broke out over a border dispute known as the Schleswig-Holstein Question. The duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, located along the Danish border, were claimed by both Prussia and Denmark. When German Schleswig-Holsteiners rebelled, Prussia and other German states sent forces to intervene.
Loë served as a lieutenant of German cavalry during the conflict, eventually transferring to the Prussian Third Hussars. In 1851, the war with Denmark concluded with an agreement, the 1852 London Protocol, which allowed the Danes to retain Schleswig-Holstein. Loë remained in the military, however, fighting rebels in Baden before becoming adjutant of Prussia's Army Riding School. A major by 1861, Loë became an aide to William I of Prussia, serving in this capacity for one year, upon which he accompanied the King's brother Albert to the Caucasus. In 1863, Loë was appointed military attaché to the French army in Algeria. While in North Africa, he participated in a French campaign against Arab rebels.
Returning to Prussia, Loë was promoted, first to lieutenant colonel (1867) and then to full colonel (1868), and commanded the Seventh Hussars during the Franco-Prussian War, after which Germany was united under King William, now Emperor of the entire German nation. Loë's forces performed satisfactorily during the war, and he advanced to the level of brigade commander. Serving in both command and staff roles, Loë (now Baron Loë after succeeding to his father's title) rose to major general and then to lieutenant general. He became the commander of the 5th Division in 1879. From 1880 to 1884, Loë was the Prussian adjutant general. After leaving this position in 1884, he was given command of the VIII Army Corps.
In 1893, Loë was sent to Rome in a diplomatic capacity. While in the Italian city, he met with Pope Leo XIII. Upon successful completion of this mission, Loë was made Colonel General of the Cavalry. After spending two years in charge of the cavalry branch, he was promoted to field marshal, becoming one of the few Catholics to receive this highest rank after service in the Protestant-dominated Prussian army. Loë was given the position of Governor of Berlin along with his new rank.
In 1859, Loë married Countess Franziska von Hatzfeld, who had three children of her own from a previous marriage. The couple had three children of their own: Helen and twins Margaret and Hubert. Loë's brother was Otto von Loë, a legislator. Loë was given an honorary doctorate by the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University in 1907.
Loë's promotion to field marshal was exceptional in that this honor was rarely given to Catholics. Traditionally a Protestant state, Prussia allowed few Catholics to rise that high in rank.
Although a believer in Catholicism, Loë supported practices such as dueling, often embracing the traditions of Prussian Protestant officers.