Erich von Falkenhayn was born near Graudenz in West Prussia. He served as an adviser with the Chinese Army and with the International Army in the Boxer Rebellion (1900).
Falkenhayn was appointed Prussian war minister in 1913 and succeeded Hermuth von Moltke as Chief of General Staff in September 1914. Falkenhayn disagreed with General Paul von Hindenburg and Eric von Ludendorff about concentrating German efforts to defeat Russia. Instead he believed the war would be won in the west and concentrated all available forces against France and Britain.
The German Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, was highly critical of Falkenhayn's inability to achieve victory on the Western Front. Falkenhayn lost his post as Chief of General Staff to Paul von Hindenburg after the failure to capture Verdun in August 1916.
Falkenhayn was transferred to Palestine in July 1917. After being beaten several times by General Edmund Allenby in Palestine, Falkenhayn was replaced by General Liman von Sanders. His last command before retirement was in 1918 with the German Tenth Army in Lithuania. Erich von Falkenhayn died in 1922.