Erich Ludendorff

(redirected from Erich von Ludendorff)

Ludendorff, Erich

Ludendorff, Erich (āˈrĭkh lo͞oˈdəndôrf), 1865–1937, German general. A disciple of Schlieffen, he served in World War I as chief of staff to Field Marshal Hindenburg 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-Hollweg 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 Baden 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 Hitler. 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).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.
References in periodicals archive ?
Erich Von Ludendorff, a leader of the German army in World War I in which Germany was defeated, said: "We were out of control as a result of the enemy's propaganda like a paralysed rabbit facing a snake."
General Erich von Ludendorff wrote on July 15: "We should wish for nothing better that to see the enemy launch an offensive, which can but hasten the disintegration of his threes."
Among the more critically important spans was a 1916 railroad bridge at the village of Remagen named after Field Marshall Erich von Ludendorff, a German WWI hero.
The key actor was General Erich von Ludendorff. He was noted as a very thorough strategist.