Erich Ludendorff Biography

(German General, Politician and Military Theorist)

Birthday: April 9, 1865 (Aries)

Born In: Kruszewnia, Poland

Erich Ludendorff was a well-known German General who was in charge of Germany’s military policies as well as strategies during the latter years of the First World War. He became prominent after the German victories at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes. Ludendorff was responsible for destroying the Russian Army on the Eastern Front as well. Born in Kruszewnia in the Prussian Empire, he was commissioned into the infantry at the age of eighteen. His hard working nature earned him a good reputation and within a few years he reached the rank of lieutenant. He was eventually appointed in the General Staff. He became known for his hard-line militaristic views. War, according to him, was an acceptable way of diplomacy and also a way through which a nation could assert its power. Later, he also got involved with the Nazi Party. Throughout his military career, he had received several honors such as the ‘1st Class Military Merit Cross’, as well as the ‘Cross for Merit in War’. Along with his second wife Mathilde, he had also published books as well as essays with the motive to prove that the world’s problems were mostly due to Christianity, as well as Jewish and Masonic conspiracy.

Quick Facts

German Celebrities Born In April

Also Known As: Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff

Died At Age: 72


Spouse/Ex-: Margarethe Schmidt, Mathilde von Kemnitz

father: August Wilhelm Ludendorff

mother: Klara Jeanette Henriette von Tempelhoff

Born Country: Poland

Quotes By Erich Ludendorff Military Leaders

Died on: December 20, 1937

place of death: Munich, Germany

Cause of Death: Liver Cancer

Ancestry: Polish German

Founder/Co-Founder: Tannenbergbund

More Facts

awards: Pour le Mérite
Military Merit Cross

Childhood & Early Life
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was born on 9th April 1865, in Kruszewnia, Prussia (now in Poland). He was the third of six children of an impoverished landowner named August Wilhelm Ludendorff. He was a descendant of the Pomerian merchants. His mother Klara Jeanette Henriette von Tempelhoff was the daughter of a noble but impoverished family.
Ludendorff grew up in a small farm owned by his family and his childhood was quite stable and comfortable. He studied at the Cadet School at Plön. The school became known for producing many trained German officers. He later studied at the Hauptkadettenschule at Groß-Lichterfelde near Berlin.
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Military Career
Erich Ludendorff was commissioned into the army in 1885. Owing to his remarkable qualities, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant after a few years. He was eventually appointed to the General Staff. From 1904 to 1913, he directed the Second of Mobilization Section. By 1911, he had been promoted to the rank of Colonel.
After the First World War broke out, Ludendorff was appointed Chief of Staff of the 8th Army. Along with his Commander in Chief, General Paul von Hindenburg, he led Germany to victory against Russia at Tannenberg in East Prussia in August 1914.
After Hindenburg was appointed to the Chief of Staff of the German Army in August 1916, he appointed Ludendorff his Quartermaster General. After this appointment, he made the nation fully oriented to the military. Ludendorff, owing to his extremely aggressive military views, persuaded the German Emperor Wilhelm II to dismiss anyone, no matter how senior they were, if they talked of defeat or even a peace settlement.
In 1918, Germany stared pushing towards the Western front, which became known as the Ludendorff Offensive as it was Ludendorff who planned it, believing that it would be a huge blow against the Allied Forces. However, it failed and he realized Germany wouldn’t win the War.
Along with Hindenburg, Ludendorff called for a peace settlement. Though he changed his mind later, he lost his credibility and was forced to resign in October 1918. After Germany’s defeat in the war, he went to Sweden where wrote on how the German forces were backstabbed.
Political Activities
Erich Ludendorff returned to Berlin in 1919, and got involved in right-wing political activities. He took part in the Kapp Putsch under Wolfgang Kapp in March 1920. In 1923, he met Adolf Hitler for the first time, and eventually got involved with the Nazi Party. In 1925, he unsuccessfully ran for President against his former Commander in Chief, Hindenburg.
Hindenburg emerged victorious in the election, and it made the relationship between him and Ludendorff even more acrimonious. At the Tannenberg memorial, the latter even refused to stand beside his former senior.
Later Years
According to historian Margaret Lavinia Anderson, Erich Ludendorff wanted Germany to go into war against all of Europe. She also stated that he became a pagan worshipper of Odin, a Nordic God. He also despised Christianity and Judaism. According to historian Frank B Tipton, he had become a social Darwinist, and he believed that war was the foundation of the human society. He also believed that the normal form of government in a society was military dictatorship.
His friendship with Adolf Hitler had deteriorated by the time the latter came to power. The Nazis distanced themselves from Ludendorff due to his eccentric conspiracy theories. When Hitler was made Chancellor by Hindenburg, he is said to have sent a telegram to the latter cursing him for his choice.
Erich Ludendorff wrote several books and essays blaming the Jews, Christians, and Freemasons for being responsible for the problems in the world. These books include ‘Meine Kriegserinnerungen,’ ‘Über Unbotmäßigkeit im Kriege’ and Feldherrnworte.’
Awards & Achievements
Erich Luddendorff had received several honours and decorations throughout his military career. These included ‘Knight of the Military Order of Max Joseph’, ‘Grand Cross of the Iron Cross’, ‘Gold Military Merit Medal’ and the ‘Cross for Merit in War’.
Personal Life
Erich Ludendorff was married twice. His first marriage was to Margarethe Schmidt, the daughter of a wealthy family. This marriage ended after a few years. His second wife was Mathilde von Kemnitz. She helped him in writing and publishing many of his books.
Ludendorff passed away on 20th December 1937 after suffering from liver cancer. He was 72. A state funeral was organized, which was attended by Hitler personally, though he refused to speak at his eulogy.

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