Ludendorff, Erich, the third of six children, was born near Posen on 09-04-1865. His father, August Wilhelm Ludendorff (1833-1905), was a landowner. His mother came from the Prussian sword nobility. His older brother was called Konrad, who was evicted from the main cadet institution in Plön and died in 1919 on the island of Java. His younger brother was called Friedrich Wilhelm Hans Ludendorff and was to become an internationally known and recognized astrophysicist and astronomer. His sister Gertrud married the judge and first president of the Reichsfinanzhof Gustav Jahn. His father first bought a property that he later sold to lease three properties. However, he did not manage to manage them profitably and was forced to sell them again; He was able to avoid filing for bankruptcy. After a while, Ludendorff sen. got a job with a hail insurance company. The social decline of landlords to the petty bourgeoisie of the Ludendorff family and the little money available were an incentive for Erich Ludendorff throughout his life to do the best and to manage the rise. He was educated at the Cadet School at Plön . An intelligent student he was placed in a class two years ahead of his actual age group. In 1885 Ludendorff was commissioned as a second leutnant in the 57th Infantry Regiment. He later served with the 2nd Marine Battalion and the 8th Grenadier Guards. In 1893 he attended the War Academy and the following year was appointed to the General Staff of the German Army. By 1911 he was promoted to the rank of Oberst. Ludendorff worked with General Alfred von Schlieffen, von Schlieffen died, age 80, in 1913, on what became known as the Schlieffen Plan.
Schlieffen argued that if war took place it was vital that France was speedily defeated. If this happened, Britain and Russia would be unwilling to carry on fighting. Schlieffen calculated that it would take Russia six weeks to organize its large army for an attack on Germany. Therefore, it was vitally important to force France to surrender before Russia was ready to use all its forces.Schlieffen’s plan involved using 90% of Germany’s armed forces to attack France Fearing the French forts on the border with Germany, Alfred von Schlieffen suggested a scythe-like attack through Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. The rest of the German Army would be sent to defensive positions in the east to stop the expected Russian advance. Ludendorff used his influence to persuade the Reichstag to increase military spending and to adopt a more aggressive foreign policy. This upset the Social Democratic Party and in January 1913 Ludendorff was dismissed from the General Staff and was forced to return to regimental duties and was given the command of the 39th Fusiliers at Dusseldorf. On the outbreak of the First World War was appointed Chief of Staff in East Prussia. Working with Paul von Hindenburg, commander of the German Eighth Army
Ludendorff won decisive victories over the Russians at Tannenberg (1914) and the Masaurian Lakes (1915). Hindenburg replaced Generalmajor der Flieger, Erich von Falkenhayn, see son Falkenshayn as Chief of Staff of the German Army in August, 1916. Hindenburg appointed Ludendorff as his quartermaster General. Soon afterwards, Ludendorff and Hindenburg became the leaders of the military-industrial dictatorship Third Supreme Command. Ludendorff supported unrestricted submarine warfare and successfully put pressure on Kaiser Willem II
to dismiss those in the armed forces that favoured a negotiated peace settlement. Ludendorff gradually became the dominant figure in the Third Supreme Command and after the resignation of Theobald Bethmann Hollweg, died 1921, in July, 1917, took effective political, military and economic control of Germany.
After the withdrawal of Russia from the war in 1917 Ludendorff was a key figure in the Brest- Litovsk negotiations. With the Spring Offensive Ludendorff expected to breakthrough on the Western Front. When this ended in failure Ludendorff realised that Germany would lose the war. On 29-09-1918, the Third Supreme Command transferred power to Max von Baden and the Reichstag. By the end of October, Baden’s government was strong enough to force Ludendorff’s resignation.
Ludendorff’s first wife Margarethe (1875–1936), divorced Pernet, born Schmidt, married in 1909 (they brought four children into the marriage); the couple separated in 1925 and divorced in July 1926. Margarethe was first married to Carl Maria Anton Robert Pernet (1867–1927; director of the “United Berlin Mortar Works”), their children were Franz, Erich, Heinz and Margot, who later married the naval officer, most recently Rear Admiral, Ernst Schuhmacher . The aviators Franz and Erich Pernet both died on the war front in the First World War. She had been a member of the NSDAP since 01-04-1932, and later of the National Socialist Women’s Association. Heinz Pernet (1896–1973) also served in World War I, then with the Reichswehr until 1923, and later with the Wehrmacht Air Force. Shortly before her death (some sources suspect suicide), Margarethe, who was called “Ludendorff” to the end, was able to write the last few lines:
“I ask to be cremated and buried with my fallen sons. My last greetings to my children and all loved ones. Margarethe Ludendorff. Solln, 13-08-1936 ”
After the signing of the Armistice, Ludendorff moved to Sweden and eventually returned to Germany where he met his futher wife Mathilde Spiess,
who was married be fore with Gustav Adolf von Kemnitz, he died in 1917. She married for the secong time now with Major a.D. Edmund Georg Kleine in 1919, but divorced in 1921. Mathilde was largely sidelined after her husband’s 1937 death, as Adolf Hitler had long since broken from the general. She continued to express anti Semetic ideas after the war and was found guilty during the Denazification process, although her judgement was lessened in 1951. She represented the Bible as a fraud and instead called for a pantheism rooted in blood and soil rhetoric in which the soul of God permeated the land as a whole. Mathilde died five years after the judgement, on 24-06-1966, old age 88, in Tutzing. In 1977 — because of procedural errors — the ban was lifted, though it remains under observation of several constitutional protection agencies. In a reduced form it survives to this day Ludendorff participated in both the Kapp Putsch (March, 1920) and the Munich Putsch, with Adolf Hitler (November, 1923) . The following year he became one of the first supporters of the Nazi Party in the Reichstag. Ludendorff was the right-wing Nationalist candidate in the 1925 Presidential Elections but won less than 1 per cent of the vote. Ludendorff’s reputation may have been damaged by the Putsch, but he conducted very little campaigning of his own and remained aloof, relying almost entirely on his lasting image as a war hero, an attribute which Hindenburg also possessed. After 1928, Ludendorff went into retirement, having fallen out with the Nazi party. He no longer approved of Hitler and began to regard him as just another manipulative politician, and perhaps worse. On the occasion of Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor by President Hindenburg, Ludendorff told him, “I solemnly prophesy that this accursed man will cast our Reich into the abyss and bring our nation to inconceivable misery. Future generations will damn you in your grave for what you have done.”
Death and burial ground of Ludendorff, Erich Friedrich Wilhelm.
Erich Ludendorff died on 20-12-1937, age 72 of cancer and is buried on the Neuer Friedhof of Tützing.
Close by the graves of Flyer Ace, Hauptmann, Franz Hrdlicka
and Generalmajor der Infanterie, Johannes Gittner