2. The birth of Wehrmacht


Main Page


I thank Tim Hundsdorfer who was such kind to write some additions to this text and to correct my English.
Click here to go to Tim's page!

The Versailles Treaty (ending WWI) allowed Germany to keep only seven infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions. The Western Powers forced the Germans to dismantle the High Command and required the number of employed officers in Ministry of War to be reduced to less than 300. The number of German corps headquarters was reduced to two. The whole army was to be reduced to not more than 100 000 volunteer troops. Reichswehr (German army at the end of WWI) equipment stores were: 102 000 rifles, 792 heavy machine guns, 63 heavy and 189 light mortars, 204 (77 mm) guns and 84 (105mm) field howitzers. The Germans were prohibited from having tanks or military aircraft. The navy (Kriegsmarine) was allowed to maintain a more considerable force: 6 battleships, 6 light cruisers, 12 destroyers and 12 torpedo boats. All the coastal batteries had to be destroyed. Between the World Wars, German generals and officers not only remembered World War I, but carefully studied its lessons. They also did everything they could to strengthen the army. When demobilizing, the Germans retained the most promising nom-commissioned officers to help form the corps of a well trained army. By not allowing the Germans to have water cooled machine guns, the Allies had spurred the Germans to develop the most advanced air-cooled machine guns in the world. By not allowing them tanks, they spurred the development of advanced and effective armored cars. They also pushed the Germans into a temporary military alliance with the Soviets, which enabled them to hone their skills at armored warfare, without expending vast sums. Later, the Germans would increase the troops number Grenschutz - the border guard - which equaled (according to French intelligence) 20 infantry divisions. Many paramilitary organizations were created. The High Command existed in fact but was called by the innocent name: Army Office. Germany aviation was also forbidden to reconstruct a military air wing. Instead, they created the Lufthansa - a "civil" organization which trained pilots in sport clubs. By 1931, 1200 pilots had been trained by these organizations. German navy also had surplus warships hiding them as river ships, in foreign ports and faking ship documents. In fact the numbers of maintained warships were:
Type: Allowed number: Real state number:
Battleships 6 8
Cruisers 6 9
Destroyers 12 22
Torpedo - boats 12 16
Also many of the ships could be easily armed and used in combat. Germans designed in secrecy (in Spanish shipyards) U-25 750 ton submarine. In 1932, Kurt Schleicher - the new Defense Minister ordered an increase in the re-formed Reichswehr to 21 infantry divisions and six cavalry divisions. Thus, the plans realization started even before Hitler. After obtaining power Hitler ordered to make Germany military situation analysis. It told that Reichswehr probably could stop attack of Poland on Oder river but in coalition with France or Czechoslovakia, the German situation would be hopeless. The analysis caused Hitler to expand the re-armament. In 1934 Germany had 21 infantry divisions and except three new cavalry divisions, three armoured brigades were formed. In 1935, another 24 infantry divisions, three armoured divisions, two cavalry divisions, a cavalry brigade, and a mountain brigade were formed.

To be continued... Sorry.
Main Page