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The Reichsarchiv Potsdam on the Brauhausberg , 1929

The Reichsarchiv in Potsdam served from 1919 to 1945 as the central archive for all files of the German Reich .


The tasks of the archive included collecting and cataloging all the files of the German Reich that had been produced since 1871 , especially the files from the World War, which had just ended . In addition, it should provide users with information and enable research into the history of the empire - especially the history of the world war.

Organization and staff

The Reichsarchiv was subordinate to the Reich Ministry of the Interior as an independent Reich authority. In accordance with its task, it was divided into a research and an archive department. The first scientific staff - around 100 - had been recruited from the officer corps on April 1, 1920 . Trained archivists and historians were only gradually hired. The first president of the Reichsarchiv was Major General Hermann Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim . From 1931 to 1935 he was President Major General a. D. Hans von Haeften , Ernst Zipfel as director of the Reichsarchiv from 1936 to 1945 .


Due to Art. 160 of the Versailles Treaty , the Great General Staff had to be dissolved. The question arose as to what should be done with its extensive military archives (and the competent personnel). Colonel-General Hans von Seeckt proposed in a memorandum dated July 12, 1919, to convert the war history departments of the Great General Staff into a Reich archive. The Reichsarchiv was established by a cabinet resolution of September 1919. It was housed on the Potsdamer Brauhausberg in the building of the war school . In the 1930s the research department was subordinated to the Reichswehr Ministry as the “Research Institute for War and Army History” . The archive's film holdings were moved to the newly founded Reichsfilmarchiv in 1935 .

A turning point arose in 1936 when the military files were transferred to the newly founded Army Archives Potsdam , which was set up under the direction of Friedrich von Rabenau . According to the historian Demeter's judgment, the Reichsarchiv suffered an enormous loss of substance . Haeften's successor as archive manager was only given the official title of director of the Reichsarchiv .

In an air raid by the Royal Air Force on April 14, 1945, almost all files of the Prussian Army that had not been relocated were destroyed. The Federal Archives in Koblenz became the successor to the Reichsarchiv after the end of World War II . The remaining files were entered in the Potsdam military archive and became part of the Federal Military Archive after German reunification in 1990 .

The naval archive , which institutionally belonged to the Reich and later the Navy, existed parallel to the Army Archives . In contrast to the Army Archives, a large part of its files survived due to early relocation and is - after various wrong turns - today in the holdings of the Federal Archives-Military Archives in Freiburg im Breisgau.


  • Karl Demeter: The Reich Archives. Facts and people. Bernard & Graefe Publishing House for Defense, Frankfurt a. M. 1969.
  • Matthias Herrmann : The Reichsarchiv 1919–1945 . 2 vols. Humboldt University , 1994 (dissertation).
  • Markus Pöhlmann : War history and history politics: The First World War. The official German military historiography 1914–1956 . Paderborn 2002.

Individual evidence

  1. For the following presentation see Karl Demeter: Das Reichsarchiv , Frankfurt a. M. 1969.

Web links

Commons : Reichsarchiv  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files