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Erich Ludendorff

Ludendorff, Erich (āˈrĭkh lōˈdəndôrf) [key], 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, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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