Hindenburg is now the supreme commander of the German army. However the aged field marshal is something of a figure-head. Ludendorff, his deputy since the victory of Tannenberg, is the real director of the German war effort. Ludendorff has assumed the title Quartermaster-General. The curiously prosaic job description reflects his sense that the husbanding of resources (men and war material) is vital to the war effort.
Ludendorff is now touring the Western Front, his first visit there since he left in August 1914 to join Hindenburg in the East. He is shocked by the profligacy with which Falkenhayn had been waging war here and begins to plan a reorganisation of German defences that will require less expenditure of blood to hold the line.
At home meanwhile Ludendorff is trying to finally put the German economy on a war footing, with industry and agriculture mobilised to produce the goods needed for the war effort. This enterprise is becoming known as the Hindenburg Programme, in deference to Ludendorff’s nominal superior.
Ludendorff’s writ does not just run in the German army and the German homeland. The Austro-Hungarian army is increasingly coming under his control too. Austro-Hungarian weakness became all too apparent in the collapse that followed the start of Brusilov’s offensive. Germany came to its ally’s aid, sending reinforcements to Galicia, but the men came with a price. German officers are effectively taking over the Austro-Hungarian army. Now a United Supreme Command is formed in the East, formalising the German ascendancy by locking the Austro-Hungarians into a permanently subordinate relationship.
So Ludendorff is becoming all-powerful, yet what he intends to do with this power remains unclear.
image source (Planet Figure)