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Thread: Hindenburg and Ludendorff

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    Hindenburg and Ludendorff

    Can anyone tell me their relationship-especially after they became responsible for basically the entire war effort? Was H simply a figurehead with L calling all the shots? Did H ever override L? Did H make independent decisions? Thanks.

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    Not quite on-topic, but close:

    H & L first rose to prominence after the 1914 Battle of Tannenburg in East Prussia... they were credited with winning a decisive victory over vastly superior Russian numbers.

    One point that is not very well known: H & L had almost nothing to do with the victory at Tannenburg... except for claiming the credit for the victory, after the fighting was over. The battle was fought and won by a comparatively junior staff officer, Colonel Hoffman (deputy to the relieved von Prittwitz)... before H & L even arrived on the scene.

    Hoffman had been a German Army Liason officer in Russian Manchuria during the 1905-1908 Russo-Japanese war, and he knew both Samsonov and Rennenkampf (the commanders of the two invading Russian armies) quite well. He had been present in Manchuria when the two officers got into a violent and very public row, and he was well aware that they loathed each other.

    Armed with this knowledge, Hoffman decided to use the terrain of East Prussia to his advantage... waiting until the two Russian armies were seperated by the dense forests and swampy ground of the Masurian Lakes district, and then throwing almost all available Divisions against one of the invading armies, while screening off the other with forces that were pitifully weak for the task. He reasoned that Rennenkampf would not hurry to Samsomov's aid, especially since Samsonov had publicly complained about Rennenkampf's behavior at the 1904 Battle of Mukden.

    Hoffman's reasoning proved correct, and he was able to virtually destroy Samsonov's Eighth Army, while Rennenkampf sat back and did nothing to interfere. The destruction of the Eighth Army left Rennenkampf's own position exposed, and he withdrew, ending the battle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue emu
    Not quite on-topic, but close:

    H & L first rose to prominence after the 1914 Battle of Tannenburg in East Prussia... they were credited with winning a decisive victory over vastly superior Russian numbers.

    One point that is not very well known: H & L had almost nothing to do with the victory at Tannenburg... except for claiming the credit for the victory, after the fighting was over. The battle was fought and won by a comparatively junior staff officer, Colonel Hoffman (deputy to the relieved von Prittwitz)... before H & L even arrived on the scene.

    Hoffman had been a German Army Liason officer in Russian Manchuria during the 1905-1908 Russo-Japanese war, and he knew both Samsonov and Rennenkampf (the commanders of the two invading Russian armies) quite well. He had been present in Manchuria when the two officers got into a violent and very public row, and he was well aware that they loathed each other.

    Armed with this knowledge, Hoffman decided to use the terrain of East Prussia to his advantage... waiting until the two Russian armies were seperated by the dense forests and swampy ground of the Masurian Lakes district, and then throwing almost all available Divisions against one of the invading armies, while screening off the other with forces that were pitifully weak for the task. He reasoned that Rennenkampf would not hurry to Samsomov's aid, especially since Samsonov had publicly complained about Rennenkampf's behavior at the 1904 Battle of Mukden.

    Hoffman's reasoning proved correct, and he was able to virtually destroy Samsonov's Eighth Army, while Rennenkampf sat back and did nothing to interfere. The destruction of the Eighth Army left Rennenkampf's own position exposed, and he withdrew, ending the battle.
    I had a pretty fair idea about Hoffman-I think it is safe to say that the German General Staff is probably unique in the sense that it prepared and enabled such junior officers to things like that.

    Did Hoffman have any role in the Weimar army?

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    Max Hoffmann, Wikipedia link

    [nitpicking]According to that article, Rennenkampf´s Russian Army was the First Army and Samsonov´s Army was the Second Army, not the Eight Army. German army at Tannenberg was the Eight Army.[/nitpicking]

    I don´t think Hoffman had a significant role in Weimar Army. However, he wrote memoirs. He died in 1927.

    In his post-war memoirs, Hoffmann was critical of the German High Command including Hindenburg and Ludendorff. Hoffmann was resentful that his two superiors had received the credit for the victories of Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes when it was really his strategy that allowed the victories to occur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue emu
    Not quite on-topic, but close:

    H & L first rose to prominence after the 1914 Battle of Tannenburg in East Prussia... they were credited with winning a decisive victory over vastly superior Russian numbers.

    One point that is not very well known: H & L had almost nothing to do with the victory at Tannenburg... except for claiming the credit for the victory, after the fighting was over. The battle was fought and won by a comparatively junior staff officer, Colonel Hoffman (deputy to the relieved von Prittwitz)... before H & L even arrived on the scene.
    "This is where the Field Marshal slept before the battle, this is where he slept after the battle, and this is where he slept during the battle." - Max Hoffmann

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    Can anyone help me with my original questions?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by mlipo
    Can anyone tell me their relationship-especially after they became responsible for basically the entire war effort? Was H simply a figurehead with L calling all the shots? Did H ever override L? Did H make independent decisions? Thanks.
    Hoffmann obviously considered both deified buffoons, having been "made" by Hoffmann's victory at Tannenberg (in H's opinion).
    That was very true for Hindenburg, who had in fact not done anything at all excpet nod and go along with things and was a complete unknown at the time when he was appointed as the successor of the sacked von Prittwitz. It was less true for Ludendorff, who was famous after the capture of Liège.

    The thing was that the German high command wanted to use Ludendorff but he was still considered to young to be given command of an army all on his own. That's why the old retired Hindeberug was dusted off, to act as the front and straight man for Ludendorff. Someone like Hoffmann would take the piss out of Hindeburg of course, but the whole point of the arrangement was that Ludendorff would call the shots.

    It worked fine for a long time too, Hindenburg referring to their relationship as akin to the state of a happy marriage. And it seem to have worked, with perfect accord between the two (Ludendorff having the ideas) until the great debacle after the Michael offensive 1918.

    Once it stalled Ludendorff started planning a new "Last Offensive to end the war", this time with the Wagnerian name "Hagen". Of course with Michael failing the German army lost the offensive, and the French counter attacked (Mangins 1st army, with hundreds of turreted Renault tanks) at Villers-Cotterêts on 18 July, slicing all the way through the German lines and bagging 30.000 prisoners.

    Despite this Ludendorff refused to drop the plans for "Hagen" to respond to the new challenge. So on 21 July the German general staff was treated to the spectacle of Hindenburg pleading with Ludendorff's junior staffers to organise a counterattack, only to hear Ludendorff make the counter argument that this was foolish and impossible, ending with: "I thought I had made that clear to the Field Marshall." At which point Hindenburg simply rose and left.

    Later the same day it got even worse. Hindeburg was pointing out where he would like to see German troops concentrate to counter attack on some maps, only to be met with Ludendorff's "Wahnsinn!" (madness) At which point Hindeburg turned to Ludendorff with the words "May I have a conversation", and the two men left the room and a petrified German General Staff.

    But for the time being Hindenburg had not in fact pulled rank on Ludendorff. That came on July 25, as Ludendorff had refused to issue a retreat order, to save more of his troops from being captured by the French. So, at the meeting of the German General Staff on July 25, Hindeburg just overrode him, ordering the retreat.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by L.J. Hiertha
    Hoffmann obviously considered both deified buffoons, having been "made" by Hoffmann's victory at Tannenberg (in H's opinion).
    That was very true for Hindenburg, who had in fact not done anything at all excpet nod and go along with things and was a complete unknown at the time when he was appointed as the successor of the sacked von Prittwitz. It was less true for Ludendorff, who was famous after the capture of Liège.

    The thing was that the German high command wanted to use Ludendorff but he was still considered to young to be given command of an army all on his own. That's why the old retired Hindeberug was dusted off, to act as the front and straight man for Ludendorff. Someone like Hoffmann would take the piss out of Hindeburg of course, but the whole point of the arrangement was that Ludendorff would call the shots.

    It worked fine for a long time too, Hindenburg referring to their relationship as akin to the state of a happy marriage. And it seem to have worked, with perfect accord between the two (Ludendorff having the ideas) until the great debacle after the Michael offensive 1918.

    Once it stalled Ludendorff started planning a new "Last Offensive to end the war", this time with the Wagnerian name "Hagen". Of course with Michael failing the German army lost the offensive, and the French counter attacked (Mangins 1st army, with hundreds of turreted Renault tanks) at Villers-Cotterêts on 18 July, slicing all the way through the German lines and bagging 30.000 prisoners.

    Despite this Ludendorff refused to drop the plans for "Hagen" to respond to the new challenge. So on 21 July the German general staff was treated to the spectacle of Hindenburg pleading with Ludendorff's junior staffers to organise a counterattack, only to hear Ludendorff make the counter argument that this was foolish and impossible, ending with: "I thought I had made that clear to the Field Marshall." At which point Hindenburg simply rose and left.

    Later the same day it got even worse. Hindeburg was pointing out where he would like to see German troops concentrate to counter attack on some maps, only to be met with Ludendorff's "Wahnsinn!" (madness) At which point Hindeburg turned to Ludendorff with the words "May I have a conversation", and the two men left the room and a petrified German General Staff.

    But for the time being Hindenburg had not in fact pulled rank on Ludendorff. That came on July 25, as Ludendorff had refused to issue a retreat order, to save more of his troops from being captured by the French. So, at the meeting of the German General Staff on July 25, Hindeburg just overrode him, ordering the retreat.
    Thank you.

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