1/11/1916 Putting the German economy onto a war footing

Hindenburg and Ludendorff now head the German army. The popular Hindenburg is the nominal commander but to a large extent he is just a figurehead for the younger and more dynamic Ludendorff, the Quartermaster General. Ludendorff has grasped that Germany is fighting a war of resources, by which he means both war materials and the men who make up the armed forces. He does not want to waste men in fruitless fighting, but he also wants to make sure that the German economy is fully harnessed to the war effort. Ludendorff’s writ increasingly runs not just over the armed forces but over society at large.

The efforts to put the economy on a war footing are becoming known as the Hindenburg Programme. As part of this, a new body is established today, the Supreme War Office. Headed by General Wilhelm Groener, the Supreme War Office takes over the War Ministry’s responsibilities for military procurement but also raw materials, trade and food. The Office is notionally part of the War Ministry, which Ludendorff despises, but Groener is answerable directly to Ludendorff. Effectively Groener has been tasked with turning Germany into a command economy organised around providing the army with the resources it needs to fight the war.

image source:

Wilhelm Groener and his wife

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