The Tannenbergbund was a far right
Far right
Far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the qualitative or quantitative position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. Far-right politics may involve anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are...

Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 political society founded by the German Army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

 general Erich Ludendorff
Erich Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg...

 in 1925.


Ludendorff had been a leading member of the National Socialist German Workers Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 in the early 1920s and ran for the party in the 1925 Presidential election
German presidential election, 1925
The presidential election of 1925 was the first direct election to the office of President of the Reich , Germany's head of state during the 1919-1933 Weimar Republic. The first President, Friedrich Ebert, died on 28 February, 1925...

 during Germany's Weimar period
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

. However, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 feared the possibility of Ludendorff as a potential leadership rival and rejoiced in the General's derisory election result, telling Hermann Esser
Hermann Esser
Hermann Esser entered the Nazi party with Adolf Hitler in 1920, became the editor of the Nazi paper, Völkischer Beobachter, and a Nazi member of the Reichstag. In the early history of the party, he was Hitler's de facto deputy.Esser was born in Röhrmoos, Kingdom of Bavaria...

 "now we've finally finished him". With his credibility severely damaged by the election result, Ludendorff drifted from the Nazi Party and joined his wife Mathilde von Kemnitz in setting up the Tannenbergbund, with the organisation taking its name from the 1914 Battle of Tannenberg
Battle of Tannenberg (1914)
The Battle of Tannenberg was an engagement between the Russian Empire and the German Empire in the first days of World War I. It was fought by the Russian First and Second Armies against the German Eighth Army between 23 August and 30 August 1914. The battle resulted in the almost complete...

, one of Ludendorff's greatest military triumphs.


The Tannenbergbund soon developed as largely a circle of former officers who had served under Ludendorff in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. In terms of ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 the Bund largely concentrated on who it opposed, attacking Freemasons, Jews
History of the Jews in Germany
The presence of Jews in Germany has been established since the early 4th century. The community prospered under Charlemagne, but suffered during the Crusades...

, communists
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 and Jesuits and accusing them of conspiracy. Such people were lumped in together as "die überstaatlichen Mächte" or "the powers above the state". The Bund became a prolific producer of conspiracy literature, although they were openly rejected by the growing Nazi movement, for whom some of the Bund's more wild ideas were even too fancifully conspiratorial. Central also to their ideas was an occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

ist vision inspired by the Thule Society
Thule Society
The Thule Society , originally the Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum , was a German occultist and völkisch group in Munich, named after a mythical northern country from Greek legend...

 to which Ludendorff had been introduced by his wife. As such, the Bund presented history as a struggle between the Nordic hero and the three-way alliance of the Jew, Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and Freemason. As a consequence, members of the Bund were expected to abandon Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and turn to the old Nordic gods.

Decline and suppression

The Tannenbergbund initially enjoyed support amongst rural political movements in Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

, although it never presented a serious challenge to the Nazis. Among surviving senior officers of the Kaiserreich
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, Ludendorff's politics were viewed with a mixture of skepticism and disbelief. Field Marshal
Field Marshal or Generalfeldmarschall in German, was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire; in the Austrian Empire, the rank Feldmarschall was used...

 August von Mackensen
August von Mackensen
Anton Ludwig August von Mackensen , born August Mackensen, was a German soldier and field marshal. He commanded with success during the First World War and became one of the German Empire's most prominent military leaders. After the Armistice, Mackensen was interned for a year...

, who had commanded an army corps at Tannenberg, wrote that "der Mann ist krank" (the man is sick). Similarly, Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

had no truck with the Tannenbergbund as he and Ludendorff had been estranged since the 1925 election, culminating in the two not shaking hands and Hindenburg snubbing Ludendorff's speech at the dedication of a Battle of Tannenberg memorial in 1927. Given its composition of more junior officers loyal to Ludendorff, the Tannenbergbund failed to win over the support of the masses, and before long it lost a number of members to the Nazi Party. The Tannenbergbund was banned as soon as Hitler came to power, although the group carried on until Ludendorff's death in 1937 before finally being suppressed by Hitler's government.
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