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Erich Ludendorff

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General Erich Ludendorff
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General Erich Ludendorff

Erich Ludendorff (sometimes given incorrectly as Erich von Ludendorff) (April 9, 1865December 20, 1937, Tutzing, Bavaria, Germany) was a German Army officer, noted as a general during World War I.

Ludendorff was born in Kruszewnia near Posen, Prussia (now Poznań, Poland). Though, strictly speaking, not a Junker himself, Ludendorff's entr into the Junker class was via his mother, Klara von Tempelhoff, the daughter of a prominent Junker family.

Commissioned as an officer at 18, he made a splendid military career, appointed to the German General Staff in 1894, serving as head of the deployment section in 1908 assisting with the fine-tuning of the invasion strategy for France, the Schlieffen Plan.

In World War I Ludendorff was first appointed quartermaster general to Germany's Second Army, under Karl von Blow, responsible for capturing the forts of Lige, without which the Schlieffen Plan could not succeed. This task successfully accomplished, Ludendorff was sent to East Prussia where he worked with Paul von Hindenburg as his Chief of Staff. Hindenburg relied heavily upon Ludendorff and Hoffmann in crafting his victories in the battles of Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes.

In August of 1916 Ludendorff was appointed Quartermaster-General, effectively deputy chief of the General Staff under Hindenburg. This combination created what was effectively a military-industrial dictatorship, the famed Third Supreme Command, which largely relegated Kaiser Wilhelm II to the periphery. Ludendorff was the chief manager of the German war effort throughout this time, with Hindenburg his pliant front man. Ludendorff was a supporter of unrestricted submarine warfare, which was ultimately responsible for bringing the USA into the war.

Ludendorff in 1918
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Ludendorff in 1918

With Russia's withdrawal from the war in 1917, Ludendorff played a key role in the advantageous Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. Effective commander-in-chief on the Western Front in 1918, Ludendorff planned and executed a series of German offensives which came close but failed to collapse the Entente (see Operation Michael). The massive American military buildup made Germany's position untenable, causing Ludendorff to lose his nerve and transfer power back to the Reichstag on September 29. He demanded an immediate peace, whereafter he left Germany for Sweden.

In exile, he wrote numerous books and articles mythologizing the German military's conduct of the war, practically founding the Dolchstolegende, claiming that the army had been "stabbed in the back" by left-wing politicians. Ludendorff eventually returned to Germany in 1920, where as a right-wing politician he took part in Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch (1923). In 1924 he was elected to the Reichstag as a representative of the Nazi party, serving until 1928. He lost the 1925 presidential election against his former commander, Paul von Hindenburg.

After 1928, Ludendorff went into retirement, having fallen out with the Nazi party. He concluded that the world's problems were the result of Christians, Jews and Freemasons; together with his second wife Mathilda, he founded the "Bund fr Gotteserkenntnis" (Society for the Knowledge of God), a small and rather obscure esoterical society that has survived until today. In his later years, many believed Ludendorff to be little more than an eccentric. He rejected Hitler's offer to make him a field marshal in 1935. At his death in 1937, he was given a state funeral attended by Hitler.

External links

da:Erich Ludendorff de:Erich Ludendorff fr:Erich Ludendorff ja:エーリッヒ・ルーデンドルフ sk:Erich Ludendorff sr:Ерих Лудендорф sv:Erich Ludendorff uk:Людендорф Еріх

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