Erich Ludendorff

(redirected from Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff)

Ludendorff, Erich

(ā`rĭkh lo͞o`dəndôrf), 1865–1937, German general. A disciple of SchlieffenSchlieffen, Alfred, Graf von
, 1833–1913, German field marshal and strategist. In the tradition of the Prussian officer corps, Schlieffen was a professional soldier who considered political questions beyond his responsibility.
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, he served in World War IWorld War I,
1914–18, also known as the Great War, conflict, chiefly in Europe, among most of the great Western powers. It was the largest war the world had yet seen.
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 as chief of staff to Field Marshal HindenburgHindenburg, Paul von
, 1847–1934, German field marshal and president (1925–34), b. Poznan (then in Prussia). His full name was Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Hindenburg und Beneckendorff.
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 and was largely responsible for German military decisions. After Hindenburg became supreme military commander in 1916, Ludendorff also intervened in civilian rule. In 1917 he forced Chancellor Bethmann-HollwegBethmann-Hollweg, Theobald von
, 1856–1921, German chancellor. A career civil servant, he became minister of the interior (1905) and secretary of state (1907), and in 1909 succeeded Bernhard von Bülow as chancellor.
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 to resign; his successors were subordinate to the military leaders. When the German military offensive collapsed (Aug., 1918), Ludendorff demanded an armistice (Sept. 29, 1918). Several days later he was dismissed by the new government of Maximilian, prince of BadenMaximilian, prince of Baden
(Max of Baden), 1867–1929, German statesman, last chancellor of imperial Germany. A liberal, he was made imperial chancellor at the end of World War I as Germany neared defeat.
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 and fled to Sweden. Returning in 1919, he took part in the ultranationalist Kapp putsch (1920) and in the "beer-hall putsch" (1923) of Adolf HitlerHitler, Adolf
, 1889–1945, founder and leader of National Socialism (Nazism), and German dictator, b. Braunau in Upper Austria. Early Life

The son of Alois Hitler (1837–1903), an Austrian customs official, Adolf Hitler dropped out of high school, and
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. He was acquitted in the subsequent trial, was a National Socialist member of the Reichstag (1924–28), and ran unsuccessfully for president in 1925. Meanwhile, he and his second wife, Mathilde, were proponents of a new "Aryan" racist religion. Ludendorff wrote pamphlets accusing the pope, the Jesuits, the Jews, and the Freemasons of a common plot against Aryans. Later he became alienated from Hitler. His writings include Ludendorff's Own Story (tr. 1919) and The General Staff and Its Problems (tr. 1920).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ludendorff, Erich


Born Apr. 9, 1865, in Kruszevnia, near Poznańi;; died Dec. 20, 1937, in Tutzing, Bavaria. German military and political figure; general of the infantry (1916). Son of a landholder.

Ludendorff graduated from a cadet corps in 1881. He began serving on the General Staff in 1894 and was chief of the operations department of the General Staff from 1908 to 1912. He was chief quartermaster of the Second Army at the beginning of World War I (1914-18). Ludendorff served as chief of staff of the Eighth Army from Aug. 23 to November 1914, chief of staff of the Eastern Front from November 1914, and first quartermaster general on the staff of the supreme command from August 1916.

In his capacity as General P. Hindenburg’s immediate assistant, Ludendorff virtually directed the military operations on the Eastern Front from August 1914 and the operations of Germany’s entire armed forces from August 1916. He was active in setting up a military dictatorship in the country. Between March and July 1918 he tried unsuccessfully, by launching repeated offensives, to break the resistance of the Anglo-French troops on the Western Front. Ludendorff retired on Oct. 26, 1918, and emigrated to Sweden in November 1918 after the conclusion of the cease-fire.

Ludendorff returned to Germany in the spring of 1919, became the leader of the most extreme counterrevolutionary circles, and took an active part in the Kapp putsch of 1920. Having moved very close to the National Socialists, Ludendorff headed, jointly with A. Hitler, the unsuccessful Munich putsch of November 1923. He won election to the Reichstag in 1924 on the National Socialist Party ticket. He was an advocate of the doctrine of “total war” and the ruthless suppression of the toiling masses. Ludendorff was the author of memoirs and several works on military theory.


Kriegsfiihrung und Politik, 3rd ed. Berlin, 1923.
Der totale Krieg. Munich, 1936.
In Russian translation:
Moi vospominaniia o voine 1914-1918, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1923-24.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.