German general, chief of staff to Hindenburg in World War I, and responsible for the eastern-front victory at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914. After Hindenburg's appointment as chief of general staff and Ludendorff's as quartermaster-general in 1916, he was also politically influential and the two were largely responsible for the conduct of the war from then on. After the war he propagated the myth of the ‘stab in the back’, according to which the army had been betrayed by the politicians in 1918. He took part in the Nazi rising in Munich in 1923 and sat in the Reichstag (parliament) as a right-wing Nationalist.
Following his successes of 1915, he accompanied Hindenburg to the Western Front where they carried out the attack on Verdun 1916. With Rathenau he organized the mobilization of national resources for war. He also reorganized the German Army, devising the strategy of advancing the Eastern Front while holding the French and British in check in the west. He planned the German Spring Offensive of 1918 but the collapse of the Hindenburg Line under British attack in September and the collapse of Bulgaria shortly after caused him to lose confidence and he called for peace negotiations. When talks were opened he changed his mind, refused to cooperate, and was dismissed by the Kaiser on 26 October 1918.
Ludendorff also wrote influentially on the lessons of wartime government, for example in his book Kriegsführung und Politik/The Conduct of War and Politics.
Ludendorff, Erich von
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