In 1935 Hitler and his Nazi thugs were masters of all they surveyed in Germany. The Führer had completed his rise to power, and 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 that 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.