In 1935 Hitler and his Nazi thugs were masters of all they surveyed in Germany. The Führer had completed his rise to power, and members of the German military now had to swear a personal oath of loyalty to him by name. The opposition had essentially been crushed, and it would have taken a brave man to defy the Nazi leader.
Born in 1870, into the lower echelons of the Germany aristocracy, Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck was a national hero. In fact, he had earned the nickname “The Lion of Africa” thanks to his exploits during World War I. And although he wasn’t a Nazi, he was certainly a right-winger. Consequently, he must have seemed like just the sort of man whom Hitler could use to re-shape Germany. Indeed, the Führer actually offered von Lettow-Vorbeck the prestigious position of ambassador to the U.K. in 1935.
Von Lettow-Vorbeck’s father was a military man, so it was only natural that the son should follow in his footsteps. Therefore, after boarding school, von Lettow-Vorbeck enlisted with the cadet corps. And later, in 1890, he gained his first military commission in the Imperial German Army as a lieutenant.