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"Heil Ludendorff" : Erich Ludendorff and Nazism, 1925-1937 / by Steven Naftzger.

Publication | Library Call Number: DD231.L8 N35 2002

Ludendorff's historical role as a radical German nationalist after World War I is more significant than previously assumed. After World War I, German “radical nationalism” advocated national resurrection, called for a return to traditional pre-modern culture and values, exalted war, distrusted internationalism, and was racist. Until his death in 1937, Ludendorff and his movement served as a radical nationalist alternative to Hitler and the NSDAP. Considerable interaction existed between his movement, the Tannenbergbund, and Nazism. Once securely in power the NSDAP, with some restrictions, permitted him to disseminate his propaganda for popular consumption, but because of his popularity among radical German nationalists, structural weaknesses in the Nazi state, and inconsistent implementation of policy, the Nazi regime had difficulty controlling his activities and those of his supporters. Ultimately, the regime recognized the Ludendorff movement. This dissertation argues that the NSDAP, despite several campaigns to control him and the Tannenbergbund, sought to accommodate Ludendorff, who served as a symbol of unity for the many factions within radical German nationalism. Ludendorff formed the Tannenbergbund in 1925 to advance his and his wife Mathilde's ideology of Deutsche Gotterkenntnis (German Perception of God) and to influence fascist and radical conservative political movements in Germany. He later founded a publishing house and sponsored lecture tours to better publicize his radical nationalism. The NSDAP, after initially outlawing the Tannenbergbund, eventually completed the absorption of the Ludendorff movement, as it had earlier absorbed similar organizations such as the Stahlhelm and other World War I veterans' organizations. Only three scholars have investigated in detail Ludendorff's post-war career: Bruno Thoss, Gert Borst, and Richard Mayo D. Piazza. My work, which draws upon previously unavailable archival materials from the Tannenbergbund leadership and Ludendorff activists Herbert Frank, August Lindner, and Robert Holtzmann, goes beyond these works to investigate how Ludendorff's movement aided the Nazi regime in unifying radical German nationalists and thereby gaining political strength.

Naftzger, Steven.
Record last modified: 2018-04-24 16:01:00
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