Max Montgelas

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General der Infanterie a. D. Dr. h. c. Max Graf von Montgelas (c. 1928)

Maximilian "Max " Maria Karl Desiderius de Garnerin de la Thuille Graf[1] von Montgelas (b. 23 May 1860 in Saint Petersburg; d. 4 February 1938 in Munich) was a German diplomat, politician, historian and officer of the Bavarian Army, at last General der Infanterie in WWI.


Generalleutnant Graf Montgelas as commander of the 4. Königlich Bayerische Infanterie-Division
Graf von Montgelas[2] 1929 in Berlin with Marie Julia Mathilde Mumm von Schwarzenstein, née von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen, and Hedwig Gräfin Schaffgotsch

Max joined the army in 1879, became personal adjutant to Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria in 1887, served in 1900 during the Boxer Expedition (Boxeraufstand) to China (as commander of the II. Bataillon/4. Ostasiatischen Infanterie-Regiment) and was military attaché (Militärattaché) in Peking until 1903.

In 1908, he became commander of the 7. Königlich Bayerische Infanterie-Brigade in Würzburg. From 1910 to 1912 he was posted to Berlin. In 1914, during the early phase of World War I, he commanded the 4th Bavarian Infantry Division (from 22 March 1912 until 5 November 1914) of the 6th Army but was put at disposal (zur Disposition) on 8 April 1915 to devote himself to careful study of the matters relating to the outbreak of the war and responsibility for it. On 25 January 1917, he would receive the honorary rank Charakter als General der Infanterie.

In that capacity, he was official adviser to the Reichstag Committee of Enquiry specially to investigate the question of responsibility for the war, having been a member of the Commission sent to Versailles by the new German Government in 1919. He was one of the four signatories to the Memorandum, presented on 29th May that year in reply to the allegations made by the Commission appointed by the Allied and Associated Governments, and he was jointly responsible, with Hans Delbruck, for the Memorandum replying to the "Allied Note" of 16th June 1919.

He and Professor Walther Schücking had edited The Outbreak of the World War - German Documents collected by Karl Kautsky, commonly known as The Kautsky Documents. The English-language edition was published by the Oxford University Press in 1924. The following year Montgelas's own famous book The Case for the Central Powers: An Impeachment of the Versailles Verdict, was published in English by George, Allen & Unwin Ltd., in London.


Graf von Montgelas died 1938 and was buried in the Alter Nordfriedhof cemetery in Munich, where there is an inscribed white marble gravestone.


His father, Ludwig Max Joseph Evaristus Graf von Montgelas (1814–1892), had been the Bavarian Government’s Ambassador in St. Petersburg, where Max was born. Max was the first of five children. His siblings were

  • Theodor Maria Maximilian Franz von (de) Paula Ferdinand,
  • Maria Ernestine Anna Amelie Beate,
  • Amalia Maria Anna Kunigunda Kasimira Franziska and
  • Adolf Maria Maximilian[3]


Hauptmann Graf von Montgelas married on 3 July 1897 his fiancée Pauline Mathilde Sophie Gräfin von Wimpffen (b. 28 February 1874 in Rom; d. 10 May 1961 in Rottach-Egern). She was active in the Catholic women's movement, chairwoman of the "Social Section" of the "Bavarian State Association of the German Catholic Women's League", chairwoman of the "National Commission in the Catholic German Women's League" and publicist. The marriage remained childless. Pauline traveled to China at the end of 1900 to be with her husband. His wife uses this time to travel to Mongolia, to the German leased area of ​​Kiautschou, to Shanghai and up the Yangtze River to Hankou, as well as to China's southern provinces, where she visits Canton, Macao and Hong Kong. Contrary to the prevailing Zeitgeist, she had understanding for the Chinese people and the behavior of the Chinese government. In 1905, she published in München her book Ostasiatische Skizzen. In her article Das Reich (in: "Die Christliche Frau 1933", pp. S. 278–284), she proclaimed her joy that Adolf Hitler would lead Germany to greatness once again.


  • 1879 Portepée-Fähnrich in the Königlich Bayerisches Infanterie-Leib-Regiment (München)
  • 13.11.1880 Sekonde-Lieutenant
  • 1.10.1890 Premier-Lieutenant
  • 22.2.1895 Hauptmann
  • 10.7.1900 Major
  • 18.12.1903 Oberstleutnant
  • 7.5.1906 Oberst
  • 18.11.1908 Generalmajor
  • 25.5.1911 Generalleutnant
  • 25.1.1917 Charakter als General der Infanterie

Awards, decorations and honours (excerpt)

Rangliste (rank list) 1914
  • China-Denkmünze in Bronze
  • Red Eagle Order, 4th Class with the Crown and Swords
  • Württemberg Order of the Crown, Knight's Cross with Swords (WK4m.Schw.)
  • Order of the Double Dragon, Third Class, Second Grade (ChDDIII2)
  • Order of the Sacred Treasure, 4th Class / Officer's Cross (JpHS4)
  • Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown, Knight's Cross
  • Sankt-Annen-Orden, III. Klasse (RA3)
  • Ritterorden der hl. Mauritius und Lazarus, Offizierkreuz (IMuL3)
  • Prinz-Regent-Luitpold Jubiläums-Medaille
  • Südwest-Afrika Denkmünze in Steel
  • Sankt-Olav-Orden, Komturkreuz I. Klasse (NO2a) on 15 May 1909
  • Red Eagle Order, 2nd Class with the Crown and Swords on the Ring (PrA2m.Kr.u.m.Schw.)
  • Orden der Eisernen Krone (Österreich), Ritter II. Klasse (ÖEK2)
  • Military Merit Order (Bavaria), 1st Class with Swords on 8/9 April 1915
  • Military Order of Max Joseph, Knight's Cross on 8 February 1916
  • Honorary doctorate from the University of Munich in 1928

Gallery (China)


British Foreign Policy Under Sir Edward Grey (Count Montgelas).jpg
Frankreichs Rüstung, Max Graf von Montgelas.jpg
  • Die deutschen Dokumente zum Kriegsausbruch, Charlottenbrug 1919 (together with Karl Johann Kautsky and Prof. Dr. jur. Walther Max Adrian Schücking; published at the request of the German Foreign Office; 60 editions published between 1919 and 1928)
    • Documents allemsnds relatifs à l'origine de la guerre : collection complète des documents officiels rassemblés avec quelques compléments
      • 23 editions published in 1922 in French and other languages
    • Outbreak of the World War: German Documents collected by Karl Kautsky, edited by Max Montgelas and Professor Walther Schücking. Translated by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Division of International Law, Oxford University Press, American branch, New York, 1924.
  • Beiträge zur Völkerbundfrage, Verlag Der Neue Geist, Leipzig 1919
  • Glossen zum Kautsky-Buch, Charlottenbrug 1920
  • Französisch-Deutsche Diskussion über die Kriegsursachen und über den Wiederaufbau Europas, Verlag für Politik und Wirtschaft, Berlin 1922 (together with Ernest Renauld and Hermann Lutz)
  • Leitfaden zur Kriegsschuldfrage, De Gruyter, Berlin 1923
  • Russland und der Weltkonflikt, Verlag für Kulturpolitik, Berlin 1927 (together with Friedrich Stieve)
  • British Foreign Policy Under Sir Edward Grey, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1928
  • Frankreichs Rüstung, Historisch-politischer Verlag R. Hofstetter, Leipzig 1932
    • France's Armor
  • Militärische und politische Geschichte des Weltkrieges, 1933
    • Military and Political History of the World War

Further reading

  • Heinrich Kanner: Der Schlüssel zur Kriegsshuldfrage ... Nebst polemischen Artikeln von General Graf Max Montgelas, 1926


  1. Regarding personal names: Graf (de) is a title of German nobility (Deutscher Adel), somtetimes translated as Count, not a first or middle name, but connected with the surname, for example Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin, not Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin. The female form is Gräfin.
  2. Whether it is actually the general out of service Max, as claimed, is unclear. It could very well be a brother or cousin.
  3. Source: Gothaisches Genealogisches Taschenbuch der Gräflichen Häuser, 1922, p. 614