Ludendorff, Erich Friedrich Wilhelm (1865–1937), a German army officer. Ludendorff directed Germany's military and political policy in the closing years of World War I.
Ludendorff was born in Prussia and entered the army in 1883. When war broke out in 1914 he became General Paul von Hindenburg's chief of staff on the Eastern Front. The two generals won important victories against Russia, including the Battle of Tannenberg (1914), and were transferred to the Western Front in late 1916. By 1917 Ludendorff exercised decisive influence on German military thinking. He approved of the plan to increase submarine warfare in 1917.
In March, 1918, Ludendorff launched a massive offensive against the Allies. The attack was repulsed and countered, and on September 29 Ludendorff urged the German chancellor to negotiate an armistice. In late October he fled to Sweden. When he returned to Germany in 1919 he blamed the nation's defeat on a “stab in the back” by traitors.
Ludendorff participated in the unsuccessful Kapp putsch (revolt) of 1920, and in 1923 joined Adolf Hitler's beer-hall putsch. He was a Nazi representative in the Reichstag (Parliament), 1924–28. He spent his last years formulating a religion based on worship of the ancient Teutonic gods.