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General Ludendorff Stab-In-The-Back Concept

General Ludendorff Stab-In-The-Back Concept

What does General Ludendorff’s concept of a “stab-in-the-back” refer to? Discuss the political implications of this theory for the newly founded Weimar Republic in 1919. You should take into account both the relationship between civil government and the military command and the public’s perception of the republic and the lost war.

“Stab-in-the-Back” is a concept in Germany coined in the aftermath of World War 1 by General Erich Ludendorff. This concept was conceived to act as a scapegoat for the military commander for losing the war. Military officials such as Ludendorff and Hindenburg came up with this idea to blame failure on other parties (Fullbrook, 2019). The military officials sensed the defeat as early as 1916 since the U.S military was intervening in the war, and thus, the German Nazi was running out of resources. The Nazis were losing many territories. Ludendorff and his other military officials sensed defeat. They feared how the public would judge them based on the fact that the media always carried the stories of Nazi victory, and there was nowhere in the German territory occupied by a foreign troop.

The public was confident and believed in the Nazis, and thus, the story of defeat or losing was unheard of and unexpected. However, on the ground, things were bad since foreign troops had ganged against the Nazis in that many soldiers had been killed, and Germany was spending a lot of resources which was not even enough to counter the enemies (Spielvogel, & Redles, 2020).  Ludendorff and his military officials knew well that when the public would realize that they were defeated, the respect and confidence the public had with the Nazis would vanish.  They also knew that the military officials would probably face the consequences of letting the enemies take over the German territories.

To avoid this shame, the Nazi officials decided to develop the “Stab-in-the-Back” as a conspiracy theory to confuse the public by blaming other parties for losing the war. When Ludendorff discussed with British General Sir Neil Malcolm, they had asked Ludendorff to explain to him why he thought the Nazis were losing the war. Ludendorff told him that the Nazi military front was doing well, but the problem was at home in that the home front was sabotaging the efforts (Evans, 2014).  In other words, the home fronts such as the politicians, the government, the Jewish, the socialists, and the Catholic Church were sabotaging nationalization efforts.

In a real sense, the Nazi was becoming weak, and the defeat was imminent it was just a matter of time, but Ludendorff decided to shift the blame to home fronts claiming that they were betraying the Nazis (Fullbrook, 2019). The Nazi official capitalized on this theory and made the public believe that the defeat that came later was not due to the inefficiencies of the army, but rather, it was because of the betrayal at home by Republican politicians, socialists, and Jews.

The political implication of the “Stab-in-the-Back’ conspiracy was huge. The Nazi officials convinced the Republican officials to sign some armistice, formal agreements of the warring parties to stop fighting as they look for a solution (Evans, 2014). The treaty of Versailles was among the agreements signed by Mathias Erzberger, one of the leaders of the Republican Party. The Republicans were given ministerial posts and were involved in many other activities to bring peace (Evans, 2014). These efforts included accepting American President Woodrow Wilson’s demands, such as exiting the Nazis’ territories.

Therefore, the Nazi official’s conspiracy theory of “Stab-in-the-Back’ made sense to the public. The public believed that the republicans, socialists, and the Jewish were sabotaging the German effort to nationalism (Fullbrook, 2019). The inclusion of the Republic leaders in the ministerial posts was just a trap to make them get involved in peace-seeking activities so that the public could view them that they were front runners in sabotaging the nationalism quest.

The results of the “Stab-in-the-Back’ conspiracy were horrendous since republican leaders such as Matthias Erzberger and Walther Rathenau were murdered with the allegation of treason. Many other leaders from the Republican Party, the social activists, labor activists, the Jewish leaders were assassinated because they were sabotaging the military effort. Many assassinations led to the collapse of the Weiner government, and after WW1, Germany was under military rule (Spielvogel, & Redles, 2020).  The military rule focused on punishing the people who were viewed as betrayers; the Jews were the ones who suffered most in the 1920s since the public believed that Germany’s source of problems was the Jews.

The military rule focused on two ideas; antisocialism and anti-Semitism. They murdered the socialists who were leading labor revolutions and murdered Jewish leaders, and heightened discrimination against the Jewish people (Fullbrook, 2019).  In 1919, the military overpowered the civil government led by Wiener. Thus, he took the lead because the Weiner government was not willing to perpetuate nationalism, but rather he was rooting for socialism and was against the anti-Semitism idea.

The military leaders managed to overthrow the Weiner civil government because they had support from the public. They had succeeded in convincing the public that they were stabbed in the back from home as they fought in foreign lands (Peukert, 2017). The public had great respect and confidence in the military; hence, they did not see anything wrong in overthrowing and punishing those believed to be betrayers.

Adolf Hitler used this chance to become the leader of the Nazi party, and his leadership led to the greatest crime against humanity in history, where he massacred the Jewish in millions in the 1940s. The brutal murder of the millions of the Jewish by the Nazis is traced back to the conspiracy theory of “Stab-in-the-Back; thus, the Nazis claimed that they were avenging for Jewish sabotage during the First World War (Spielvogel, & Redles, 2020). Therefore, “Stab-in-the-Back” is a concept that clearly defines the history of Germany in the 20th century since it had great political implications.


Evans, R. (2014). The Third Reich in power 1933-1939. The Penguin Press. Digital.

Fullbrook, M. (2019). A concise history of Germany. 3rd Ed. Cambridge University Press. London.

Peukert, D. (2017). The Weimer Republic”: The Crisis of the classical modernity. Paperback. Digital.

Spielvogel, J & Redles, D. (2020) Hitler and the Nazi Germany: A history. 8th Ed. Taylor 7 Francis Group.


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German History

What does General Ludendorff’s concept of a “stab-in-the-back” refer to? Discuss the political implications of this theory for the newly founded Weimar Republic in 1919. You should take into account both the relationship between civil government and the military command and the public’s perception of the republic and the lost war.

General Ludendorff Stab-In-The-Back Concept

General Ludendorff Stab-In-The-Back Concept

Possible sources.

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