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The Great War
Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Timeline Maps & Battles The Shaping of the 21st Century Historians
Historians OverviewNiall Ferguson

The Kaiser, Hindenburg and Ludendorff
Niall Ferguson
"I think the Kaiser increasingly is an embarrassment.

"In fact, I suspect the answer is that in practice he doesn't have much power at all, and he can rattle his saber, and make all kinds of irate noises about the forces of democracy. But when it comes to the crunch, it's very rare that the Kaiser really gets his way.

"Hindenburg is the front man.

Battle Scene
German machine gun
"He's the sort of face of respectability. Ludendorff is the radical, technocrat, and the advocate of total war who's the brains of the partnership. As a result of the great victories Hindenburg had achieved on the eastern front, they ascend into a position of not only of institutional power, but genuine popular power. I mean, they become national heroes far more important in the public psyche of Germany than the Kaiser.

"If they go unrestricted submarine warfare, there's danger that they're going to sink American ships, drown American civilians and bring the United States into the war. And so the Germans gambled everything, really. They wager everything on this gamble that they can sink ships and bring Britain to its knees. And the gamble is completely and utterly against all the odds."

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