Vintage Video - Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, 1914

Although in time - in August 1916 - the combination of Paul von Hindenburg and his Chief of Staff Erich Ludendorff came to direct the entire German war effort, they gained initial renown following the spectacular German Army success on the Eastern Front at the Battle of Tannenberg in August 1914.

Tannenberg was perhaps the most spectacular and complete German victory of the entire war which saw the encirclement and effective destruction of the Russian Second Army led by Alexander Samsonov (who shot himself in despair).  As a consequence of Tannenberg Russia's barely initiated invasion of East Prussia - which had occasioned real concern in Berlin - was over before it had really begun.

Ironically, for all that sweeping success at Tannenberg brought popular fame and power to Hindenburg and Ludendorff, credit for its strategy actually belonged to another German General, the maverick Hermann von Francois.  Hindenburg and Ludendorff inherited Francois' plans for Tannenberg when they arrived on the Eastern Front to replace Maximilian von Prittwitz in command.  Francois and Ludendorff clashed, the consequences of which stunted the former's wartime career while Ludendorff scaled the army's command heights.

Use the player above to view brief footage of Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff filmed in 1914.

'Alleyman' was British slang for a German soldier.

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