TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



2. The OKW (11)

Hitler himself is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (Oberster Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht)(12). Under him, Keitel is the Chief of the Armed Forces High Command (Chef des OKW)(13) and as such serves as Hitler's chief executive officer in the administration of the Armed Forces and the application of his policies and plans.

The operational part of the OKW is the Armed Forces Operations Staff (Wehrmachtführungsstab), which constitutes the main advisory body to Hitler on strategy and planning. It is located at the field headquarters of the OKW, which is known as the Führerhauptquartier(14). The other subdivisions of the OKW are mostly with the rear echelon and deal with numerous administrative matters of joint interest to the three branches of the Armed Forces.

The accompanying chart (Figure 4) shows the principal branches of the OKW and their subordination. Their functions are discussed in the following paragraphs.

a. ARMED FORCES CENTRAL OFFICE (Wehrmachtzentralamt—WZA)(15). The officer in charge of this agency is responsible for central organizational matters, such as increasing or reducing the personnel of branches of the High Command. The office also includes the Armed Forces Central Group (Ag WZ)(16).

b. CHIEF OF ARMED FORCES MOTOR TRANSPORTATION (Chef des Wehrmachtkraftfahrwesens—Chef WKW)(17). This officer is administrative head of all matters concerning motor transportation. At the same time he holds the position of Chief Motor Transport Officer in the Army General Staff (Gen St d H/Gen Qu/Gen d Kfw) and controls the Inspectorate of Motor Transport in the General Army Office (AHA/Gen d Kfw/Jn 12). His activities are subject to the close supervision of Hitler's personal appointee, the Inspector General of Motor Transport (Gen Insp Kfw).

c. CHIEF OF ARMED FORCES TRANSPORTATION (RAIL AND WATER) (Chef des Transportwesens der Wehrmacht—Chef Trspw d W)(18). This officer is administrative head of all rail and water transportation and also is believed to be the Chief Army Transportation Officer in the Army General Staff (Gen St d H/Chef d Trspw). Subordinate to him are the Field Transportation Branch (F Abt) (19), the Central Armed Forces Transportation Command (W Trsp Ltg Mitte)(20), and the Traffic Branch (Verk Abt)(21).

d. CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES PATROL SERVICE (Chef des Wehrmachtstreifendienstes—Chef W Str D)(22). This officer, appointed in March 1944, is head of all Armed Forces patrols and all welfare matters concerning troops away from their field units. The welfare function concerning troops in transit was formerly the responsibility of the General for Special Employment IV (Gen.z.b.V. IV)(23) in the OKH, an office which apparently was superseded by that of the Chief of the Armed Forces Patrol Service.

e. ARMED FORCES SURGEON GENERAL (Chef des Wehrmachtsanitätswesens—Chef W San)(24). Subordinate to the Chief of the OKW and, in medical matters, to the Commissioner General of Medicine and Sanitation (General-Kommissar des Führers für das Sanitäts- und Gesundheitswesen). The Armed Forces Surgeon General formerly also held the positions of Chief Army Medical Inspector (H San Insp) and Army Surgeon (H Arzt). In August 1944, the personal union was dissolved, but the latter two positions, as well as the equivalent positions in the Navy and Air Force, are all subject to the supervision and control of the Armed Forces Surgeon General in medical matters.

f. CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF WITH CHIEF OKW (Chef des Heeresstabes beim Chef OKW—Chef H St b Chef OKW)(25). Chief Liaison Officer of the Army at Keitel's field headquarters.

g. BUREAU OF ECONOMIC WARFARE (Sonderstab für Handelskrieg und wirtschaftliche Kampfmassnahmen—Sd St HWK)(26). This is a small agency to represent the interests of the Armed Forces with other government agencies concerned with economic warfare and to coordinate global economic policies with Japan.

h. INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR PRISONER OF WAR AFFAIRS (Generalinspekteur für das Kriegsgefangenenwesen der Wehrmacht—Gen Insp Kriegsgef)(27). This personal appointee of Hitler is responsible for insuring the security of prisoner of war installations in Germany and the most effective employment of prisoner-of-war labor. He may issue orders to other OKW and OKH agencies concerned with prisoners of war.

i. ARMED FORCES BUDGET BRANCH (Wehrmachthaushaltsabteilung—WH)(28). This is concerned only with the budget of the OKW and not with those of the other high commands.

j. ARMED FORCES JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL (Wehrmachtrechtsabteilung—WR)(29).

k. ARMED FORCES OPERATIONS STAFF (Wehrmachtführungsstab—WFSt)(30). This is a joint general staff containing officers from 'all three branches. It is responsible for over-all planning and strategy and advises and assists Hitler in the planning and execution of military operations. It includes:

(1) Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff (Stellvertretender Chef des Wehrmachtführungsstabes—Stellv Chef WFSt)(31). This officer controls the staff proper, which consists of sections concerned with operations, organization, intelligence, and supply. Each of these sections includes officers representing all three branches of the Armed Forces. (The intelligence section now embodies elements of the former counterintelligence branch and other operational portions of the old Foreign and Counterintelligence Office of the OKW, the bulk of which was taken over by the SS in the middle of 1944.)

(2) Foreign Group (Amtsgruppe Ausland—Ag Ausl)(32). This includes the Branch for Military Attaches of the OKH (Att Abt d OKH)(33). It also is concerned with acquisition of foreign newspapers, rules on travel to foreign countries, and relations of German military personnel with foreigners.

(3) Armed Forces Signal Communications Group (Amtsgruppe Wehrmachtnachrichtenverbindungen—Ag WNV)(34). This group maintains the trunk communications between the high commands and is the nerve center of the top command echelons. It has at least two signal regiments of the Army at its disposal to maintain a special network of land cables and radio channels linking the OKW, OKH, OKL, and OKM and the principal subordinate headquarters. It contains a radio communications branch (Ag WNV/Fu)(35) and a wire communications branch (Ag WNV/KF)(36).

(4) Cryptographic Branch (Chiffrier-Abteilung—Chi)(37).

(5) Armed Forces Historical Branch (Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung der Wehrmacht—W Kr Gesch)(38). Headed by the Fuhrer's Official Military Historian (Der Beauftr d Führers für die mil Geschichtsschr.) This officer also heads the Army Historical Branch (Kr Gesch Heer) and other historical agencies in the OKH. This branch records all military history which concerns the three branches of the Armed Forces as a whole.

(6) Armed Forces Propaganda Branch (Abteilung für Wehrmachtpropaganda—W Pr)(39). Headed by the Chief of the Propaganda Troops (Chef Pr Tr)(40), this branch is responsible for all types of military propaganda except that which is fed to the troops by the National-Socialist Guidance Staffs (NSFSt) of the various high commands. It includes sections for the administration of the propaganda troops, propaganda to the home front, military censorship, propaganda to foreign countries, and counterpropaganda.

l. GENERAL ARMED FORCES OFFICE (Allgemeines Wehrmachtamt—AWA)(41). This office is composed of independent branches in the OKW, grouped together for administrative purposes. It contains:

(1) General Armed Forces Branch (Allgemeine Abteilung—W Allg)(42).

(2) Armed Forces Administration Group (Amtsgruppe Wehrmachtverwaltung—Ag WV)(43). Responsible for the administration of all OKW agencies and OKW personnel and for certain fiscal matters.

(3) Chief of Prisoners of War (Chef des Kriegsgefangenenwesens—Chef Kriegsgef)(44). The administrative head of all matters relating both to German and to Allied prisoners of war, he also performs the function of inspector of prisoner-of-war installations. In this latter capacity he acts under the directives of the Inspector General for Prisoner-of-War Affairs (Gen Insp Kriegsgef), who comes directly under the Chief of the OKW. The agency is divided into a General Branch (Kriegsgef Allg.)(45) which deals with treatment, exchange, and release of prisoners; administrative and punitive matters; and relations with the protective powers and with the International Red Cross; and an Organization Branch (Kriegsgef. Org.)(46), which deals with the employment and living conditions of prisoners of war in German hands.

(4) Inspectorate for Welfare and Pensions Agencies (Inspektion der Fürsorge und Versorgungsdienststellen im OKW—Jn FV)(47). Welfare and pension matters for all branches of the Armed Forces are controlled by this agency. Subordinate to it are the Armed Forces Welfare and Pensions Branch (W Vers)(48), the Civilian Pensions Branch (Abt. Reichsvers.)(49), and the Armed Forces Education Branch (WU)(50). Until 1944 the Armed Forces Education Branch was a separate branch of the AWA.

(5) Armed Forces Casualty Branch (Abteilung Wehrmachtverlustwesen—WVW)(51).

(6) Armed Forces Plenipotentiary For Settlement (Bevollmächtigter des OKW für Siedlungsfragen—BW Sied) (52). Arranges for resettlement of Germans in annexed territory.

(7) Hitler Youth Liaison (Vertreter der Wehrmacht beim Jugendführer des Deutschen Reichs—AWA/HJ)(53). Represents the interests of the Armed Forces in the Hitler Youth organization.

(8) Military Science Branch (Abteilung Wissenschaft—W Wiss)(54). Studies developments of the physical sciences which affect the military.

m. ARMED FORCES ECONOMIC OFFICE (Wehrwirtschaftsamt—Wi A)(55). This office is responsible for long-range military-economic planning, the economic exploitation of occupied areas, and representing the interests of the Armed Forces with other government departments concerned with production, raw materials, labor, agriculture, and foreign trade. It contains:

(1) Armed Forces Economic Branch (Wehrwirtschaftliche Abteilung—Wi)(56). Concerned with general planning matters and control of the subordinate regional agencies of the office.

(2) Raw Materials Branch (Rohstoffabteilung—Ro)(57). This agency has been transferred to the control of the Ministry of Armament and War Production for the duration of the war. It included or cooperated with the Central Raw Materials Branch (Ro St A)(58), the Armed Forces Tire Center (W R St)(59) (still under the Armed Forces Economic Office), the Central Petroleum Branch (Min St A)(60), and the Economic Experts Personnel Section (Stab W Fach)(61) (still under the Armed Forces Economic Office).

(3) Contracts and Price Control Branch (Vertrags- und Preisprüfwesen—Preispr)(62). The fixing of prices for Armed Forces Contracts is supervised by this branch. It is now under the Ministry of Armament and War Production.

n. CONSCRIPTION AND RECRUITING OFFICE (Wehrersatzamt—WEA)(63). This office was created in the summer of 1943, when the function of controlling recruiting and conscription for the three branches of the Armed Forces was transferred from the Army High Command to the OKW. It controls the Replacement Branch (Abt. E)(64), which was formerly part of the Group for Replacement and General Troop Matters (Ag E Tr) in the OKH.

o. NATIONAL-SOCIALIST GUIDANCE STAFF OF THE OKW (Nationalsozialistischer Führungsstab des OKW—NSF/OKW)(65). Established in December 1943, this agency is to ensure uniform political indoctrination in the Armed Forces, in cooperation with the Party chancellery. It includes:

(1) Interior Group (Amtsgruppe Inland—Ag J)(66). Formerly a branch (Abt.) of the General Armed Forces Office (AWA), this was upgraded to a group (Ag.) and transferred to the National-Socialist Guidance Staff of the OKW during February 1944. It maintains liaison between the OKW and civilian agencies in Germany. It contains a domestic security branch (Ag J/1)(67), and an ideological guidance branch (Ag J/2)(68).

(2) Party Liaison (Gruppe z.b.V.—Gr.z.b.V.)(69). Formerly part of the General Armed Forces Office (AWA), this section was transferred to the control of the National-Socialist Guidance Staff of the OKW in 1944. It is believed to maintain the liaison with the National-Socialist Party and to control such matters as collections for charitable or Party purposes within the Armed Forces.

p. INSPECTOR GENERAL OF MOTOR TRANSPORT (Generalinspekteur für das Kraftfahrwesen—Gen Insp Kfw)(70). He is immediately subordinate to Hitler and coordinates all matters regarding motor transport. He may issue orders to other OKW and OKH offices concerned with motor transport.


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