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War Ensign of the Vorläufige (preliminary or provisional) Reichswehr (1919–1921)

The Reichswehr (English: State Defence) formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was transformed into the new Wehrmacht (English: Defence Force). The Ministry of the Reichswehr (German: Reichswehrministerium) was the defence ministry (combining the existing Prussian War Ministry and Reichsmarineamt) from October 1919 to 4 February 1938. The Wehrgesetz (Defence Law) of 21 May 1935 renamed it the Reich Ministry of War (German: Reichskriegsministerium), which was then abolished in 1938 and replaced with the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKH).


War Ensign of the Reichswehr after 1921
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Young German soldier with Stahlhelm "M18" of the Reichswehr with federal state coat of arms
Uniform des Reichsheeres.jpg

Due to the Versailles Treaty, the Reichswehr was limited to a standing army of 100,000 men and a navy of 15,00. Heavy weapons such as armoured vehicles, submarines and capital ships were forbidden, as were aircraft of any kind.

The Reichswehr was a unified organization composed of the following (as was allowed by the Versailles Treaty):

  • The Reichsheer, an army consisting of:
    • seven infantry divisions, and
    • three cavalry divisions.
  • The Reichsmarine, a navy with a limited number of certain types of ships and boats.

Despite the limitations, the Reichswehr conducted analysis for the loss of World War I, research and development, and secret testing in and with the co-operation of the Soviet Union[1]. After the NSDAP came to power in 1933, the Reichswehr began a secret program of expansion, which became public in 1935.

Truppenamt (troop office)

According to the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, the Reichswehr was not allowed to have a general staff. Article 160 of the treaty stated: "The German General Staff and all similar formations shall be dissolved and may not be re-formed under any guise." Apart from the troop office, there was a general staff in the two group commands and in the ten divisional headquarters. However, the general staff officers were no longer referred to as such, but were called "leader's staff officers". The general staff training was known as "leader's assistant training" (Führergehilfenausbildung) and was carried out decentrally in the military districts. In total, there were about 250 to 300 general staff officer posts during the Weimar Republic. With the rearmament of the Wehrmacht and the start of preparations for war, the Wehrmacht reopened the War Academy (Wehrmachtakademie) on 15 October 1935, and the guide's leader's assistant training was again referred to as general staff training. The General Staff of the Army (GenStdH) emerged from the General Troops Office (Allgemeines Truppenamt) in 1935.


  • 19 January 1919: Peace Force or Friedensheer (remains of the Imperial German Army, which was in the process of demobilization)
  • 6 March 1919: preliminary or provisional Reichswehr
  • 16 April 1919: preliminary or provisional Reichsmarine
  • 1 October 1919: Transitional Army (Übergangsheer)
  • 1 January 1921: Reichswehr – divided into Reichsheer (“100,000-man army”) and Reichsmarine



Reichwehr Ministers (chiefly political office; de):

  • Gustav Noske (SPD) 13 February 1919 to 22 March 1920
  • Otto Geßler (DDP) 27 March 1920 to 19 Januay 1928
  • Wilhelm Groener (Independent; de) 20 January 1928 to 30 May 1932
  • Kurt von Schleicher (Independent) 1 Juni 1932 to 28 January 1933
  • Werner von Blomberg (Independent; de) 30 January 1933 to 27 January 1938 (as of 1935 Reichskriegsminister or Reich War Minister)

Chef der Heeresleitung

Head of the Army Command (Chef der Heeresleitung):

  • Generalmajor Walther Reinhardt – 13 September 1919 (with effect from 1 October) to 22 March 1920 (191 days)
  • Generalmajor Hans von Seeckt – 26 March 1920 (official appointment on 5 June 1920) to 9 October 1926[2] (6 years, 197 days)
  • Generalleutnant Wilhelm Heye – 9 October 1926[3] to 31 October 1930 (4 years, 22 days)
  • General der Infanterie Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord – 1 November 1930 to 31 January 1934 (3 years, 91 days)
  • Generalleutnant Werner Freiherr von Fritsch – 1 February 1934 to 1 June 1935 (1 year, 120 days)

Commander-in-chief of the Army/Wehrmacht (Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres):

  • General der Artillerie Werner Freiherr von Fritsch – 1 June 1935 to 4 February 1938 (2 years, 248 days)

Chef des Truppenamtes

Chief of the Troop Office (Chef des Truppenamtes), de facto the in Versailles forbidden German General Staff:

  • Generalmajor Hans von Seeckt – 1 October 1919 to 27 March 1920 (de jure until 4 June 1920)
  • Generalmajor Wilhelm Heye – 5 June 1920 to 31 March 1922 (since 28 March 1920 commissioned with the duties)
  • Generalmajor Otto Hasse – 1 April 1922 to 31 January 1926
  • Generalmajor Georg Wetzell – 1 February 1926 to 31 March 1927
  • Generalmajor Werner von Blomberg – 1 April 1927 to 30 September 1929
  • Generalleutnant Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord – 1 October 1929 to 31 October 1930
  • Generalmajor Wilhelm Adam – 31 October 1930 to 30 September 1933

Secret training facilities (excerpt)

See also

Further reading

  • Karl Hoyer / Fritz Brennecke: Die Uniformen des Reichsheeres und der Reichsmarine nebst amtlichen Uniformtafeln, Verlag „Offene Worte“, Charlottenburg 1925
  • Friedrich von Cochenhausen: Das Reichsheer, Verlag von Velhagen & Klasing, Bielefeld

External links


  1. Dyck, Harvey Leonard, Weimar Germany and Soviet Russia 1926-1933. Chatto & Windus, London, 1966
  2. Some sources state with effect from 31 October 1926
  3. Some sources state with effect from 1 November 1926