German Defense Association

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The German Armed Forces Association (DWV) was founded in 1912 to convince the German population of the need for significantly stronger armament. It was dissolved in 1935.


The actual trigger for the establishment was the Second Morocco Crisis in 1911. Heinrich Claß , the chairman of the Pan-German Association, developed together with the later chairman of the military association, General August Keim , the plan to found an association based on the model of the German Fleet Association . Keim was well suited for the start-up insofar as he held a managerial position in the fleet association until 1908 and thus had extensive experience in the field of public relations.

In December 1911, Keim addressed the public in several German newspapers and invited all interested parties to the founding meeting in Berlin . The aim of the association to be founded was the strengthening of the German army armament, since the Morocco crisis had shown that France was not ready to give in due to the weak German army.


The association was founded on January 28, 1912 in Berlin. Immediately after its founding, the association began a lively journalistic work. The board member of the military association Lieutenant General Alfred Wrochem said at a meeting of the Pan-German Association in March 1913 about the task of the military association:

“A people striving forwards like us, which is developing in this way, needs uncharted territory for its strength, and if peace does not bring that, then in the end only war remains. The military association is called to awaken this recognition. "

The army bill submitted to the Reichstag was described as inadequate and the demand for massive retrofitting was made. After the Reichstag passed the bill on May 10, 1912, the association stepped up its activities and demanded a new bill.

At the beginning of 1913 a new army bill was announced. Objectively, this meant a considerable reinforcement of the German army. DWV welcomed this proposal as a step forward compared to the previous year, but it was still inadequate in its opinion.

Due to the massive and aggressive agitation of the association, the government considered whether it should be classified as a political association. The result would have been that the officers, who were members of the association in large numbers, were no longer allowed to do it. Since such a classification would have to apply to the government-affiliated fleet association as a consequence, this idea was abandoned.

After the army bill was adopted in 1913, the importance of the military association decreased. Only at the beginning of the First World War did its membership grow again. After the war, he was unable to renew his influence and finally disbanded in 1935.

The resounding success of the defense association before the First World War can be explained, among other things, by the fact that it initially had the goodwill of the government. In the course of the army bill in 1913, however, the goodwill turned into aversion. In addition, the Crown Prince openly confessed to the military association. Another reason for success was that it had direct access to several major newspapers through its board members.


The following men ran the association:

Membership development

The association quickly became the second largest German agitation association. Shortly after its foundation, it already had 7,000 individual members. In September 1912 there were 40,000 individual members and 100,000 affiliated members, i.e. That is, they were members of the armed forces association through membership in other associations. In August 1914, the association had a total of 360,000 members. After the First World War, the number of members fell rapidly and the association sank into insignificance.

Press organs

The association issued the following press organs:

  • Die Wehr (appeared once a month and was the central body of the association)
  • News of the German Defense Association (initially appeared every ten days and later at slightly longer intervals. The news served as press correspondence and was also intended to provide the local groups of the DWV with propaganda material)


  • Edgar Hartwig : German Defense Association (DWV) 1912-1935 . In: Dieter Fricke (Hrsg.): The bourgeois parties in Germany - Handbook of the history of the bourgeois parties and other bourgeois interest organizations from Vormärz to 1945 . Vol. 2, Leipzig 1983, pp. 330-342.
  • Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee: The German Army League - Popular nationalism in Wilhelmine Germany . New York, Oxford 1990.
  • Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee: The "German Defense Association" . In: Uwe Puschner , Thomas Schmidt, Justus H. Ulbricht (Ed.): Handbook on the völkisch movement 1871-1918 . Munich u. a. 1996, pp. 366-375.
  • Fritz Fischer : War of Illusions, German politics from 1911 to 1914 . Düsseldorf 1969, pp. 159-164.


  1. Fritz Fischer : War of Illusions, German politics from 1911 to 1914 . Düsseldorf 1969, p. 162.