The First Nazi: Erich Ludendorff, The Man Who Made Hitler Possible
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“A brilliant tactician and an abysmally poor politician and strategist, Ludendorff summed up the strengths and weaknesses of the German General Staff. His is a fascinating story of talent, discipline, obsession, and denial.”—Professor Isabel Virginia Hull, PhD, Cornell University
One of the most important military individuals of the last century, yet one of the least known, Ludendorff not only dictated all aspects of World War I, he refused all opportunities to make peace; he antagonized the Americans until they declared war; he sent Lenin into Russia to forge a revolution in order to shut down the Russian front; and in 1918 he pushed for total military victory, in a slaughter known as “The Ludendorff Offensive.”
Ludendorff created the legend that Germany had lost the war only because Jews had conspired on the home front. He forged an alliance with Hitler, endorsed the Nazis, and wrote maniacally about how Germans needed a new world war, to redeem the Fatherland. He aimed to build a gigantic state to dwarf even the British Empire. Simply stated, he wanted the world.
full force of the United States, a prime economic power. Germany, an empire with dwindling resources and an army already stretched thin, was now fighting nations whose combined populations totaled 1,000,000,000. It was Ludendorff and Germany against the world. Thanks to his decision not to make peace in 1916 and his ferocious way of negotiating in 1918, the situation was clear: Germany had to win against 1,000,000,000 people or fall. CHAPTER 8 Ludendorff Attacks in the West to Win Before the
audience the instant he described how Jews were causing Germany’s time of troubles. No matter that Rathenau, the top industrialist in Germany, was a Jewish patriot who had helped Ludendorff much during the war. No matter that this Jew was the main reason that Germany had been able to keep fighting the last two years of the conflict. People listened avidly when Ludendorff spoke of nightmarish Jewish plots. And every time he told these tales, he conjured up new details to excite his eager audience.
Ludendorff’s life is key to understanding the twentieth century. In fact, no one can understand Hitler without first understanding Ludendorff—one came ideologically from the world of the other. Ludendorff contributed many of the traditions that made Hitler possible. How many people understand that Ludendorff created a rationale that justified the Holocaust? AS BRITISH HISTORIAN Hugh Trevor Roper once noted, “History is not merely what happened. It is what happened in the context of what might
neutralized them as no military power could have done. And it was Radek who called for a real, international Communism, while his peers took refuge in a chauvinist Russian creed that was to dominate the movement for decades. Radek was so brilliant that he seems to have dominated the ghouls who got him ready for the show trials of Stalin. He snapped to them that he was big enough to take them down too. He threatened to confess to being part of a great international plot and to say that his
Second, the plan’s rigorous timetable was impossible, for it demanded superhuman precision, and that was why it broke down during the first days of the war, in both the East and the West. Third, the apparent Allied defeats had stopped the German war of movement, which was Germany’s only hope. The conflict was soon collapsing into trench warfare, which would favor the defender so thoroughly that no breakthrough could take place. Tanks, which could have broken through, had not yet been invented.