Erich Ludendorff

German Army officer (1865–1937)

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (April 9, 1865December 20, 1937) was a German general, the victor of the Battle of Liège and the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916, his appointment as Quartermaster general made him the leader (along with Paul von Hindenburg) of the German war efforts during World War I. The failure of Germany's great Spring Offensive in 1918 in quest of total victory was his great strategic failure and he was forced out in October 1918.

A field marshal is born, not made!

After the war, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist leader, and a promoter of the Stab-in-the-back myth, which posited that the German loss in World War I was caused by the betrayal of the German Army by Marxists, Bolsheviks, and Jews who were furthermore responsible for the disadvantageous settlement negotiated for Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. He took part in the failed Kapp Putsch (coup d’état) with Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the Beer Hall Putsch of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925, he ran unsuccessfully for the office of President of Germany against his former superior Hindenburg.


  • By the Revolution the Germans have made themselves pariahs among the nations, incapable of winning allies, helots in the service of foreigners and foreign capital, and deprived of all self-respect. In twenty years' time, the German people will curse the parties who now boast of having made the Revolution.
    • "My War Memories, 1914–1918" - by Erich Ludendorff - 1919
  • The fifth act of the great drama in Flanders opened on the 22nd October. Enormous masses of ammunition, such as the human mind had never imagined before the war, were hurled upon the bodies of men who passed a miserable existence scattered about in mud-filled shell-holes. The horror of the shell-hole area of Verdun was surpassed. It was no longer life at all. It was mere unspeakable suffering. And through this world of mud the attackers dragged themselves, slowly, but steadily, and in dense masses. Caught in the advanced zone by our hail of fire they often collapsed, and the lonely man in the shell-hole breathed again. Then the mass came on again. Rifle and machine-gun jammed with the mud. Man fought against man, and only too often the mass was successful.
    • "My War Memories, 1914-1918" - by Erich Ludendorff - 1919
  • The German people had themselves coined the phrase "Prussian militarism," although this very "Prussian militarism," the spirit of unselfish loyalty, of the surrender of the individual to the conception of the State, had created Prussia and guaranteed Germany's brilliant development. People mistook externals for the substance of militarism, and failed to realize the national strength that issued from it. It should not have been resisted, but encouraged.
    • "My War Memories, 1914-1918" - by Erich Ludendorff - 1919, p. 361-2
  • What the enemy allows to us and praises in us, must be bad for us.
    • Kriegsführung und Politik (Berlin, 1922), p. 334, quoted in W. W. Coole (ed.), Thus Spake Germany (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1941), p. 114
  • We must all understand that only manly discipline—unconditional subordination to selfless leaders guided only by their public spirit, relegation of our own thoughts, and confidence in the Führer—can guarantee that the moral force of the individual shall be aggregated into a power that will effect the re-building of the nation and the Fatherland.
    • Kriegsführung und Politik (Berlin, 1922), p. 337, quoted in W. W. Coole (ed.), Thus Spake Germany (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1941), p. 27
  • The un-Germanness in and about us...lies primarily in a lack of racial sense ... in international, pacifistic and defeatistic thinking and, finally, in the considerable advancement of the Jewish people within our boundaries.
    • Kriegsführung und Politik (Berlin, 1922), pp. 337-338, quoted in W. W. Coole (ed.), Thus Spake Germany (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1941), p. 147
  • For example, Italy and Soviet Russia, superficially considered, each seem to constitute a united people. But any scrutinising glance will perceive there tensions which will disintegrate the peoples of these two States immediately the outbreak of war permits them to explode.
    • Der Totalkrieg (Berlin, 1933), quoted in W. W. Coole (ed.), Thus Spake Germany (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1941), p. 139
  • During the years of the so-called peace, politics—total politics—have only a meaning in as much as they prepare for total war.
    • Der Totalkrieg (Berlin, 1933), quoted in W. W. Coole (ed.), Thus Spake Germany (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1941), p. 357
  • There is but one hope, and this hope is embodied in the national groups which desire our recovery.
    • "The Black Book: The Nazi Crime Against the Jewish People" - Page 18 - World War, 1939-1945 - 1981
  • He is the only man...who has any political sense. Go and listen to him one day.
    • About Hitler. Quoted in "Will Germany Crack?: A Factual Report on Germany from Within" - Page 134 - by Karl Boromäus Frank, Anna Caples - 1942
  • A field marshal is born, not made!
    • In an attempt to regain Ludendorff's favor, Hitler paid Ludendorff an unannounced visit in 1935 and offered to make him a field marshal. Infuriated, Ludendorff thundered back with this statement. Quoted in "World War I: Encyclopedia" - Page 716 - by Spencer Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts - History - 2005
  • I will give up troops gladly as long as I know that they will be used in the right place to bring victory.
    • "The Origins of the Military Dictatorship of Hindenburg and Ludendorff" by Jon Bridgman - 1960
  • I reject Christianity because it is Jewish, because it is international, and because, in cowardly fashion, it preaches Peace on Earth.
    • Deutsche Gottglaube, quoted in W. W. Coole (ed.), Thus Spake Germany (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1941), p. 9

About Ludendorff

  • In all the major combatant nations, there was a change of leadership in the middle years of the war, reflecting a perceived need for greater energy and ruthlessness in mobilizing the nation and its resources. In France, Clemenceau came to power, Britain Lloyd George. In Germany, characteristically, it was not a radical civilian politician, but the two most successful generals, Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who took over the reins of power in 1916. The 'Hindenburg Programme' attempted to galvanize and reorganize the German economy to bend it to the overriding purpose of winning the war. Run by another middle-class general, Wilhelm Groener, the War Office co-opted the trade unions and civilian politicians in the task of mobilization. But this was anathema to the industrialists and the other generals. Groener was soon dispensed with.
  • Pushing the civilian populations aside, Hindenburg and Ludendorff established a 'silent dictatorship' in Germany, with military rule behind the scenes, severe curbs on civil liberties, central control of the economy and the generals calling the shots in the formulation of war aims and foreign policy. All of these developments were to provide significant precedents for the more drastic fate that overtook German democracy and civil freedom less than two decades later.
  • He became the perfect regimental commander...the younger officers came to adore him.
  • Erich Ludendorff was not a sentimentalist. He had come to take charge, to issue orders, to win a crucial victory.

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