Reichswehr Ministry

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Inner courtyard of the Bendlerblock , seat of the ministry (2005)

The Reichswehr Ministry (RWM) was founded in accordance with the Imperial Constitution of the Weimar Republic in October 1919 from the individual state war ministries (especially the Prussian War Ministry ) of the empire and the Reichsmarineamt . The Defense Act of May 21, 1935 renamed the Reich Ministry of War .


Under the law on the formation of a provisional Reichswehr of March 1919 , the Reich President was given supreme command of the troops, while the Reichswehr Minister exercised the authority. Only in Prussia was the authority of command reserved for the Prussian Minister of War. After the Weimar Constitution came into force on August 14, 1919, the remaining war ministries of the states of Bavaria , Saxony, Württemberg and Prussia were dissolved and the exercise of command was concentrated with the Reichswehr Minister. The power of command lay with the chief of army command and the chief of naval command . In 1929 a third leadership office was established: the ministerial office, the head of which acted as the minister's political deputy. The role of the general staff took over the troop office .

With the "proclamation of military sovereignty " in 1935, the army command became the High Command of the Army (OKH), the naval command became the High Command of the Navy (OKM) and a new Air Force Command (OKL) was established. From then on, the ministerial office was called the Wehrmachtamt . As a result of the Blomberg-Fritsch crisis , the Wehrmacht Office was reclassified to the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW). The previous head of the Wehrmacht Office, General of the Artillery Wilhelm Keitel , became head of the Wehrmacht High Command . His rank was equal to that of the Reich ministers. The OKW also took on the business of the Reich Ministry of War; on behalf of Adolf Hitler, his boss exercised the powers previously granted to the Reich Minister of War.

The Ministry of Armaments was subordinate to Albert Speer from 1942 and was called the Reich Ministry for Armaments and War Production from 1944 .

Department heads

Surname Taking office Term expires Political party cabinet
Gustav Noske February 13, 1919 March 22, 1920 SPD Scheidemann , farmer
Otto Gessler March 27, 1920 January 19, 1928 DDP Müller I , Fehrenbach , Wirth I & II ,
Cuno , Stresemann I & II , Marx I & II ,
Luther I & II , Marx III & IV
Wilhelm Groener January 28, 1928 May 30, 1932 independent Marx IV , Müller II , Brüning I and Brüning II
Kurt von Schleicher June 1, 1932 January 28, 1933 independent Papen , sneak
Werner von Blomberg January 30, 1933 January 27, 1938 from January 30, 1937 NSDAP Hitler

Noske and Gessler were civilians, Groener and Schleicher were former generals, and Blomberg was an active general.

Chief of Army Command

Commander in Chief of the Army

  • Colonel General Werner Freiherr von Fritsch - June 1, 1935 to February 4, 1938

Chief of Naval Command

Commander in Chief of the Navy

Head of the Ministerial Office

Chief of the Wehrmacht Office

  • Major General Walter von Reichenau - February 1, 1934 to September 30, 1935
  • Major General / Lieutenant General / General der Artillerie Wilhelm Keitel - October 1, 1935 to February 4, 1938

Chief of the Wehrmacht High Command (OKW)

See also


  • Waldemar Erfurth : The history of the German general staff from 1918 to 1945. Muster-Schmidt, Göttingen 1957, ISBN 978-3-941960-20-6 .
  • Jürgen Schmädeke : Military command and parliamentary democracy. On the problem of the responsibility of the Reichswehr Minister in the Weimar Republic (= historical studies . H. 398). Matthiesen, Lübeck 1966.

Individual evidence

  1. RGBl. I, p. 609 / Facsimile Defense Act
  2. ^ Rudolf Absolon: The Wehrmacht in the Third Reich , Vol. IV: February 5, 1938 to August 31, 1939 . 2nd edition, Boldt im Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-486-41739-8 , p. 156 ff.
  3. From January 1936.
  4. From August 1937.
  5. From November 1938.
  6. From July 1940.