Hermann Ehrhardt

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Hermann Ehrhardt
Hermann Ehrhardt in 1916
Born(1881-11-27)27 November 1881
Diersburg, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire
Died27 September 1971(1971-09-27) (aged 89)
Brunn am Walde, Lower Austria, Republic of Austria
Allegiance German Empire
Service/branch Imperial German Navy
Years of service1899–1918
Commands heldIX. Torpedo Boat Flotilla
Marinebrigade Ehrhardt
Battles/warsWorld War I
Kapp Putsch

Hermann Ehrhardt (29 November 1881 – 27 September 1971) was a German Freikorps commander during the period of turmoil in Weimar Republic Germany from 1918 to 1920, he commanded the famous II.Marine Brigade, better known as the Ehrhardt Brigade or Marinebrigade Ehrhardt.

Born in Diersburg, now part of Hohberg, Baden-Württemberg, he served in the German Imperial Navy as a Korvettenkapitän. At the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 he commanded the 17th half-flotilla of the IX. Torpedo-boat Flotilla; his flagship, SMS V27 was sunk in action. Later in the war he was involved in action in the southern North Sea and Dover Straits. By the war's end he was commander of the IX. Torpedo-boat Flotilla, which he led into internment at Scapa Flow in November 1918, returning to Germany with the majority of his crew shortly thereafter.

Following the defeat of the German Empire, Ehrhardt formed the II.Marine Brigade. A strong opponent of the Treaty of Versailles, he held strong monarchist views. The II.Marine Brigade was a force of around 6,000 men. They fought in north-west Germany, central Germany, Upper Silesia,[1] and Bavaria and participated in the unsuccessful Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch of 1920. After the failed Putsch, Ehrhardt fled Germany, returning at a later time. In Bavaria, which was ruled by Gustav von Kahr at that time,[2] he formed the Organisation Consul,[3] and later the Viking League (Bund Wiking), a secret military society.[4]

Three years later during the Beer Hall Putsch, Ehrhardt and his deputy commander Eberhard Kautter refused to help Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party. Ehrhardt later contested for dominance over the revolutionary right against Hitler, but he was unsuccessful, with many of Ehrhardt's men joining the Nazi Party. Others, however, later became involved with the resistance to Nazism. These men included Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz, Herbert von Bose and Hartmut Plaas. The historian Armin Mohler likewise points to the connections that leading members of the military resistance, such as Wilhelm Canaris and Hans Oster, had to Ehrhardt. [5] The captain himself also became involved in attempts to destabilise the Nazis and worked behind the scenes to forge an alliance between dissident Sturmabteilung leader Walter Stennes and Black Front leader Otto Strasser.[6] Ultimately the initiative was not a success as Strasser abandoned Stennes when he learned that the reactionary Ehrhardt was behind the plan to link the two leaders.[7]

Ehrhardt was one of those listed to be killed during the Night of the Long Knives, but he managed to escape[8] to Austria. He was later invited back to Nazi Germany.[9] He died in 1971 in Brunn am Walde, Lower Austria.



  1. ^ Silesia - Waite, p 150
  2. ^ Large, p 139
  3. ^ Waite, p 213
  4. ^ Waite, p 204
  5. ^ Armin Mohler. Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1932: Ein Handbuch. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt, 3rd Edition, 1989, p. 5
  6. ^ Timothy S. Brown, Weimar Radicals: Nazis and Communists Between Authenticity and Performance, Berghahn Books, 2009, p. 71
  7. ^ Brown, Weimar Radicals, p. 73
  8. ^ Waite, p 279
  9. ^ Waite, p 279


  • Robert G L Waite, Vanguard of Nazism, 1969, W. W. Norton & Company
  • David Clay Large, Where Ghosts Walked: Munich's Road to the Third Reich, W. W. Norton & Company, 1997, ISBN 0-393-03836-X, 9780393038361

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