Hans Meier-Welcker

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Hans Meier-Welcker (born August 29, 1906 in Offenburg ; † January 1, 1983 in Freiburg im Breisgau ) was an officer in the Wehrmacht and became the first head of the Military History Research Office of the Bundeswehr after the Second World War .


Hans Meier-Welcker was born the son of a military lawyer (parents: Eugen and Luise née Groos) and first attended the humanistic high school in Büdingen . He decided to pursue a career in the military and joined the 14th (Bad.) Infantry Regiment ( Donaueschingen ) of the Reichswehr on April 1, 1925 . In this he served the next nine years. He rose to the rank of first lieutenant (April 1, 1933) and married on April 6 of the same year. In October 1934 he was transferred to the staff of the 35th Infantry Regiment and two years later he was assigned to the general staff training at the War Academy . After this was completed, Meier-Welcker was deployed as a liaison officer to the Italian General Staff from October 1938.

During the Second World War, Meier-Welcker served in various staffs. First with Army Department A and the 4th Army . From 1941, he was promoted to major (January 1, 1941) and was employed as chief of staff of the 251st Infantry Division (from May 6, 1941) and the 306th Infantry Division (from December 29, 1942). On July 4, 1943 Meier-Welcker was again the liaison officer to the Italian 6th Army and the Italian commander Corsica . When Italy left the war in the fall of 1943, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the 389th Infantry Division on September 26th . From December 1, 1944 to March 25, 1945 Meier-Welcker led the Grenadier Regiment 409 and in the last weeks of the war finally the XXXI. Army Corps as Chief of the General Staff. In the Second World War he was awarded the German Cross in Gold.

At the end of the war, Meier-Welcker was taken prisoner by the Allies, from which he was released on June 5, 1947. He then began to study history in Tübingen , where he was particularly influenced by Hans Rothfels and which he completed in 1951 with a doctorate . In the following year he was offered to work in the Blank Office (predecessor of the Federal Ministry of Defense). Meier-Welcker became head of the “Military Science” department on April 21, 1952 and a colonel on January 4, 1956 . In this role, he was given the task of reforming military historiography and making it a recognized part of historical studies in a broader social spectrum. In connection with this he was commissioned to set up the Military History Research Center in Langenau (near Ulm ) from January 1, 1957 . This institute was relocated to Freiburg / Breisgau in 1958 and was officially designated as the Military History Research Office . Meier-Welcker remained the head of this office until September 30, 1964 and decisively shaped its direction.

Even after retiring from active service, Meier-Welcker devoted himself to historical studies. This resulted in numerous essays on the future of military history in Germany and a great biography on Hans von Seeckt , which is still considered a standard work today. Meier-Welcker died on January 1st, 1983 in Freiburg / Breisgau.


Meier-Welcker's work encompassed a wide range of interests. He wrote his dissertation on simony (purchase of offices) in the Middle Ages. This was followed by a manual on German military history in modern times. As head of the Military History Research Office, he shaped its publication, such as B. The manual on German military history 1648-1939 , which is still considered a standard work today, in six volumes. After the publication of his Seeckt biography he devoted himself again to the study of ancient and medieval history and made long trips to Sicily .

Of particular importance, however, were Meier-Welcker's essays on military history itself (printed in: Military History Research Office (Hrsg.): Military History - Problems, Thesis, Paths , Stuttgart 1982), in which he consistently called for modern military history to be integrated into general historical studies . In his opinion, it should be viewed in its social and political framework in order to move away from a discipline that is only focused on application benefits through this expansion. Meier-Welcker is therefore one of the founders of modern military history in Germany after the Second World War.

Fonts (selection)

  • The decision to stop the German armored troops in Flanders in 1940. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte . Volume 2, Issue 3, July 1954, pages 274–290 ( JSTORE ).
  • German army through the ages. An overview of the development from the emergence of the standing armies to the current defense issue. Bernard & Graefe, Frankfurt am Main 1956.
  • (Ed.): Studies on the history of the officer corps. Anciency and promotion according to performance (= contributions to military and war history . Volume 4). DVA, Stuttgart 1962.
  • (Ed.): Defensive battles on the north wing of the Eastern Front, 1944–1945 (= contributions to military and war history . Volume 5). DVA, Stuttgart 1963.
  • (Ed.): Officers in the picture of documents from three centuries (= contributions to military and war history . Volume 5). DVA, Stuttgart 1964.
  • Seeckt. Bernard & Graefe, Frankfurt am Main 1967.
  • Dionysius I tyrant of Syracuse (= personality and history . Volume 57). Musterschmidt, Göttingen a. a. 1971, ISBN 3-7881-0057-5 .
  • (Ed. With Friedrich Forstmeier , Wolfgang von Groote , Othmar Hackl , Manfred Messerschmidt ): Handbook on German military history, 1648–1939 . 6 volumes, Military History Research Office, Bernard and Graefe, Munich 1979/81.
Volume 1: Section I, From the Militia to the Standing Army . Section II, From the Standing Army of absolutism to general conscription, Section III, Military Administration and Army Deployment in Austria until 1806 , Munich 1979.
Volume 2: Section IV, Military History in the 19th Century, 1814–1890 .
Volume 3: Section V, From Bismarck's Discharge to the End of the First World War, 1890–1918 ; Section VI, Reichswehr and Republic 1918–1933.
Volume 4: Section VII, Wehrmacht and National Socialism 1933–1939 ; Section VIII, German Naval History of Modern Times .
Volume 5: Section IX, Principles of Military Warfare 1648–1939 .
Register tape , Munich 1981.
  • Carthage, Syracuse and Rome. On basic questions of peace and war (= historical-political booklets of the Ranke Society . Booklet 25/26: Studies on the historical image ). Musterschmidt, Göttingen 1979, ISBN 3-7881-1125-9 .
  • Himera and the fortunes of Greek Sicily . Boldt, Boppard am Rhein 1980, ISBN 3-7646-1757-8 .
  • Notes of a General Staff Officer 1939–1942 (= individual writings on the military history of the Second World War . Volume 26). Rombach, Freiburg im Breisgau 1982, ISBN 3-7930-0185-7 .


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