The first thing to be made clear is that Ludendorff was NOT a ‘von’ as he is so often shown, even by reputable historians. Given his enormous prestige and high position in the imperial German Army it is hard to believe he was not ‘von’. In his introduction, Ludendorff remarks that he had no time to keep any record of events and the narrative that follows is based chiefly on his memory. He is going to give an account of the “magnificent deeds” of the German Army, deeds from which Germany can take heart and “with which my name will for all time be associated”. Born on 9 April 1865 in Kruschevnia, Posen district, Ludendorff passed through the Military Academy at Lichterfelde and in 1885 was commissioned into the 57th Infantry Regiment, a Westphalien regiment. After several regimental postings and the Kriegesakademie Ludendorff joined the General Staff being promoted Major in 1900. From March 1904 to January 1913 he was, with only one short interval, in the Operations Department of which he became Chief. In 1913 he was posted to Dusseldorf as CO 39th Fusiliers and in 1914 he moved again, on promotion, to Strasburg as commander 85th Brigade; on the outbreak of war he became Deputy Chief of Staff of General von Bulow’s Second Army. Ludendorff first came to notice when he took charge of operations that led to the capture of the fortress of Liege on 7th August 1914, for which he was awarded the Pour le Merite, and which he describes in detail.Two weeks later he was sent to the Eastern Front as Chief of Staff of 8th Army under the newly appointed commander, von Hindenburg. Thus began the partnership that was to last till Ludendorff’s resignation over four years later on 26th October 1918. Within a week they had won a crushing victory over the Russians at Tannenberg and became instant heroes. When Hindenburg was appointed Chief of theGeneral Staff in August 1916 and moved to the Western Front, Ludendorff went with him as his deputy in the newly created post of First Quartermaster-General. As the narrative unfolds it is clear how Ludendorff became the driving force though always acknowledging Hindenburg’s senior position, and, of course, always paying lip service to the All-Highest. Between they gained control not just of the armed forces but also of Germany’s war effort and of the political scene, for example insisting on unrestricted submarine warfare despite the objections of the chancellor, Bethman Hollweg, who resigned. They had become a military dictatorship. Following the failure of the German 1918 offensive Ludendorff suffered a nervous breakdown and was forced to resign, just before the end of the war.
MY WAR MEMORIES 1914-1918
The story of Ludendorff’s military career from pre-war days through to the end, following his resignation in October 1918, just before the armistice.