Erich Ludendorff

Erich Ludendorff was one of the most famous German generals in the First World War, served as deputy Paul von Hindenburg in the highest army command and was instrumental in the failed spring offensive of the Germans in 1918.

After the war Ludendorff was politically active in several ethnic groups, was a member of the Reichstag of the German Volkische Freedom Party and also involved in the Hitler coup of 1923.




Origin and teenage years:

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was born on 9 April 1865 in Kruszewnia near Schwersenz in the province of Posen, the son of a manor owner and reserve officer. His mother came from the Prussian noble family of Tempelhoff, so Erich grew up from an early age in affluent circumstances.




Military career:

Already at the age of 12 Erich attended from 1877 to 1882 the schools of the cadet pre-corps Plön and the main cadet institute in Groß-Lichterfelde. He then moved with the rank of lieutenant to the infantry regiment Duke Ferdinand of Braunschweig (8 Westphalia) No. 57 to Wesel before he in 1887 in the maritime battalion of the Imperial Navy, among other things with the ships SMS Niobe, SMS Baden and SMS Kaiser to sea drove.


Lieutenant Erich Ludendorff in Wesel in 1882


In 1890 he began his three-year general staff training to the war academy in Berlin. During this time he visited the Russian cities of Saint Petersburg and Moscow in his 3-month special leave and was assigned after his promotion to the General Staff Officer of the 1st (Russian) department of the General Staff. In March 1895 he was promoted to captain.

In 1896 Ludendorff joined the General Staff of the IVth Army Corps in Magdeburg where he served as Second Staff Officer. 1898 followed the appointment as a company commander in the Infantry Regiment No. 61 (8th Pomeranian) before he was transferred in 1901 as the first General Staff Officer (Ia) in the staff of the 9th Division to Glogau.

In 1904 Ludendorff, according to his wishes, was transferred to the general staff. In the course of the next few years he also worked on the main features of the Schlieffen Plan, which was drafted in the event of a war with France at that time. He was also a key proponent of the 1913 marked by a significant increase and military upgrade plans.
During this time the following promotions took place:
- 1908 promotion to lieutenant colonel
- 1911 promotion to colonel

1913 was the transfer and appointment as commander of the Fusiliers Regiment No. 39 in Dusseldorf, mm April 22, 1914 promoted to Major General and commander of the 85th Infantry Brigade in Strasbourg.


Erich Ludendorff




Erich Ludendorff during the First World War:

With the beginning of the First World War Ludendorff was appointed to the Quartermaster of the 2nd Army and was involved in the execution of the conquest of the fortresses in the Belgian city of Liège, after the commanding officer died. He was subsequently awarded the Pour le Mérite Order for the conquest.


Ludendorff with his colleague Colonel Max Hoffmann, ca. 1915/16


Already on August 22, 1914, however, the transfer of Ludendorff from the West to the Eastern Front took place, as the Russian army invaded East Prussia and Ludendorff was commissioned together with Paul von Hindenburg to stabilize the front and push back the Russians. During this time, Ludendorff and the head of the 2nd Supreme Army Command Erich von Falkenhayn increasingly disputes over the planning of the war. When the German troops could not achieve a breakthrough in the battles for Verdun, Falkenhayn was deposed and Ludendorff was appointed General of the Infantry and First Quartermaster General and was thus Deputy Hindenburg with whom he formed the 3rd Supreme Command until the end of the war.


Hindenburg and Ludendorff in the Great Headquarters in Bad Kreuznach 1917


Despite his victories at the beginning of the war on the Eastern Front, neither Ludendorff nor Hindenburg succeeded in bringing about a decision on the Western Front. When the spring offensives in 1918 also failed to achieve a breakthrough Ludendorff had to realize that the war was no longer to win.




The end of the war:

After the spring offensives had failed in 1918, the Allies threatened to break through the German Siegfried position, and Bulgaria was already negotiating a ceasefire with the Allies, Ludendorff resigned on September 29, 1918, at a meeting of the Army Command for a cease-fire bid by the US President and Conversion of the monarchy into a parliamentary monarchy in order to be able to carry out a certain damage limitation. With these steps Ludendorff pursued the postponement of the question of blame for a defeat to the Social Democrats and the revolutionaries and not to leave it to the military.

After Maximilian von Baden took over the government in October 1918, Ludendorff put pressure on his own proposals to initiate a capitulation. Ludendorff tried by all means to prevent this and was dismissed as a result of his call to continue the war on 26 October 1918 from the service.

After some traveling around Ludendorff finally decided under wrong name (Ernst Lindström) with a Finnish diplomatic passport via Copenhagen to Sweden to escape his responsibility.




Ludendorff in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich:

After the capitulation of the German Reich Ludendorff returned some time later to the Weimar Republic. There he was active from the beginning in anti-republican and nationalist associations. During this time Ludendorff also got to know Adolf Hitler, of which he held little from the beginning, since Hitler only wore the rank of corporal during the First World War. From Ludendorff came accordingly also the derogatory term about Hitler, who dubbed him as "Bohemian corporal".


Erich Ludendorff and Adolf Hitler


In the course of the political instability and radicalization of the political forces of the young Weimar Republic, Ludendorff also participated in the Kapp Putsch of March 13, 1920, which was to bring about the overthrow of the republic by force by Reichswehr members and former soldiers. However, Ludendorff did not refrain from attempting a coup on 8 and 9 November 1923 together with Adolf Hitler in Münschen and to overthrow the republic with a "march on Berlin".

Over the next few years, the relationship between Ludendorff, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party deteriorated visibly. Mutual accusations and allegations of contact with Communists and Jews grew louder and louder.

After the seizure of power by the National Socialists, the conflict between Hitler and Ludendorff reached its peak when the Ludendorff bookstores were attacked and partially destroyed after critical texts were published. Due to the fame of Ludendorff in connection with the First World War, attacks on him and his wife were prohibited. In the course of the next few years, a certain reconciliation could be brought about when Hitler allowed Ludendorff to re-establish the covenant for the German knowledge of God and to allow it as a religious community.




The end of life:

Erich Ludendorff died on 20 December 1937 as a result of liver cancer in the Munich Josephinum Hospital. Contrary to the wishes of Ludendorff and his wife, Hitler had a state act performed on 22 December 1937 in Munich for the funeral, when the corpse was buried in the New Cemetery in Tutzing.


Tomb of General Erich Ludendorff in Tutzing





  • 1909 wedding with Margarethe Pernet
  • 1926 Wedding with Mathilde Friederike Karoline Spieß

Margarethe Ludendorff, first wife, 1915






You can find the right literature here:


Ludendorff's Own Story, August 1914-November 1918: The Great War From, Vol. 1 (Classic Reprint)

Ludendorff's Own Story, August 1914-November 1918: The Great War From, Vol. 1 (Classic Reprint) Paperback – June 15, 2012

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Ludendorff's Own Story, August 1914-November 1918, Vol. 2 (Classic Reprint)

Ludendorff's Own Story, August 1914-November 1918, Vol. 2 (Classic Reprint) Paperback – July 12, 2012

More A cute Withdrawal to the Siegfried line The Peace Overtures of Count Burian Extension of the Enemy s Ofi Eensive in the West, and the Collapse of Bulgaria General Headquarters Resolves to Request an Armistice The Introduction of the Parlian entary Ssrstem into Germany The First Note to Wilson The Government and the Request for an Armistice President Wilson s Reply Continuation of the Battle, the Occujtion of the Hermann and Hunding Brunhild line The Sitting of the War Cabinet on October 17 The End of My Military Career. Conclusion 428 Index 437 MAPS I. Tannenberg, 1914 II. Additional Map of Tannenberg Region, A dvance, August 1914 in. The Battle of the Masurian Lakes, 1914 .IV. The Campaign in South Poland, Autumn 1914 V. The Campaign in North Poland, Autumn 1914 VI. Sketch of the Campaini in North Poland Vn. The Winter Battle in Masuria Vm. Additional Map of the Winter Battle in Masuria DC The Summer Campaign against Russia, 1915 X. General Map of the World War .. XI. The Campaign against Rumania, 1916 .. XII. The German Drive in the West, 1918 .. XIII. German Retreating Movement, 1918 .. .V ol. I page 49 Vol. Vol. VoL VoL VoL V6L Vol. Vol. Vol. t Vol.

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The German High Command at War: Hindenburg and Ludendorff Conduct World War I

The German High Command at War: Hindenburg and Ludendorff Conduct World War I Hardcover – April 1, 1991

During the first two years of World War I a German general called from obscure retirement, Paul Von Hindenburg, aided by his deputy, Erich Ludendorff, won imperial fame from his successful campaigns on the eastern front. In 1916 Kaiser Wilhelm named Hindenburg to head the all-powerful Great German Staff with Ludendorff his deputy. At first all went well. But as food and other resources including replacements diminished, and as America entered the war, the top command increasingly panicked. In the summer of 1918 German armies in the west opened an all-out defensive. This failed and German surrender followed—as did the fall of the German empire.

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The First Nazi: Erich Ludendorff, The Man Who Made Hitler Possible

The First Nazi: Erich Ludendorff, The Man Who Made Hitler Possible Hardcover – March 15, 2016

One of the most important military individuals of the last century, yet one of the least known, Ludendorff not only dictated all aspects of World War I, he refused all opportunities to make peace; he antagonized the Americans until they declared war; he sent Lenin into Russia to forge a revolution in order to shut down the Russian front; and in 1918 he pushed for total military victory, in a slaughter known as “The Ludendorff Offensive.”

Ludendorff created the legend that Germany had lost the war only because Jews had conspired on the home front. He forged an alliance with Hitler, endorsed the Nazis, and wrote maniacally about how Germans needed a new world war, to redeem the Fatherland. He aimed to build a gigantic state to dwarf even the British Empire. Simply stated, he wanted the world.

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