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.]



1. Territorial Basis

In peacetime the organization and administration of the German Army were based on the division of the national territory into fifteen corps areas (Wehrkreise). Each one of these contained the headquarters and component divisions of a corps and was as the same time the main territorial echelon for conscription, the administration of army property, local defense, and nearly all other military matters. The commander of the corps area was simultaneously the commanding general of the corps, which he was destined to lead into the field on the outbreak of war.

The corps areas as well as the corps were numbered with Roman numerals from I to XIII plus XVII and XVIII in Austria. Thus the I Corps was located in Corps Area I, and so on. The missing numbers—XIV, XV, and XVI—were used for three non-territorial corps set up to control the motorized, light, and Panzer divisions respectively. After the annexation of Austria, another non-territorial corps, XIX, was set up to control Austrian Panzer and light divisions.

By 1939 the German Army had been expanded from the seven divisions of the old Reichswehr to a total of 51 divisions plus corps troops. These consisted of 36 infantry and motorized divisions, numbered from 1 to 36, in Germany proper; three infantry divisions in Austria and the Sudeten areas; five Panzer divisions; four light divisions; and three mountain divisions. They were organized as follows:

(corps area)
  Headquarters   Divisions
I     . . . . .   Königsberg   . . . . .   1     11     21
II  . . . . . Stettin. . . . . 12 32
III  . . . . . Berlin. . . . . 3 23
IV  . . . . . Dresden. . . . . 4 14 24
V  . . . . . Stuttgart. . . . . 5 25 35
VI  . . . . . Münster. . . . . 6 16 26
VII  . . . . . München. . . . . 7 27 1  Mt
VIII  . . . . . Breslau. . . . . 8 18 28
IX  . . . . . Kassel. . . . . 9 15
X  . . . . . Hamburg. . . . . 22 30
XI  . . . . . Hannover. . . . . 19 31
XII  . . . . . Wiesbaden. . . . . 33 34 36
XIII  . . . . . Nürnberg. . . . . 10 17 46
XVII  . . . . . Wien. . . . . 44 45
XVIII  . . . . . Salzburg. . . . . 2 Mt 3 Mt
XIV  . . . . . Magdeburg. . . . . 2 Mtz   13 Mtz
20 Mtz   29 Mtz
XV  . . . . . Jena. . . . . 1 L   2 L   3 L
XVI  . . . . . Berlin. . . . . Pz   3 Pz
Pz   5 Pz
XIX  . . . . . Wien. . . . . Pz   4 L

After the Polish campaign in 1939, two new corps areas, XX and XXI, were created in annexed territory in the east; subsequently Corps Areas Böhmen und Mähren and Generalgouvernement were added.

2. Mobilization Plan

The German mobilization for the present war was a gradual process lasting several months. The High Command was determined to avoid the mistakes of 1914, when millions of men were drawn into the Army almost overnight to form second-rate reserve and Landwehr divisions with serious disruption of the economic life of the country. This time the reservists were called up individually and deliberately were mixed with the personnel of regular divisions so that most of the new units formed during the summer of 1939 were fully as efficient and well organized as the original ones. Most of the regular regiments added one or more supplementary battalions, composed of men of the older age classes who had had only 8 or 12 weeks of training; these battalions exchanged personnel with the regular battalions and were then organized into new divisions just before the attack on Poland.

3. Creation of the Field Army

On 27 August 1939, in accordance with carefully laid plans which had been developing since the latter part of June, the entire German Army was split from top to bottom into two mutually exclusive parts, which were to perform two distinct functions for the duration of the war. One part was to be concerned only with military operations and was known as the Field Army (Feldheer); the other part was devoted to training, procurement, and administration in the Zone of the Interior and was called the Replacement Army (Ersatzheer). The operational parts of the High Command, including the Commander-in-Chief and the bulk of the General Staff, established a field headquarters away from Berlin to control the Field Army. The rest of the High Command was placed under a deputy of the Commander-in-Chief to be known as the Chief of Army Equipment and Commander of the Replacement Army (Chef der Heeresrüstung and Befehlshaber des Ersatzheeres), responsible for maintaining the Field Army by the dispatch of replacements, the formation of new units, and the supply of materiel, as well as continuing the normal military functions at home.

At the same time each of the active corps took the field under its commanding general, and the corps areas were placed under deputy commands to control the Replacement Army, the permanent installations, and the conscription and training system. The new commander in each corps area was to be known by the dual title of Deputy Commanding General and Commander of the Corps Area (Stellvertretender Kommandierender General und Befehlshaber im Wehrkreis). In his capacity as Deputy Commanding General he was to be responsible for all matters having to do with troop units of the Army, particularly the operation of the replacement system; as Commander of the Corps Area he was to exercise all territorial functions, such as conscription, control of permanent installations, and local defense, on behalf of the entire Armed Forces.

The corps of the new Field Army were organized into armies (Armeen)—an administrative and tactical echelon which had not existed in peacetime. These, in turn, were placed under the tactical control of army groups (Heeresgruppen), which were directly responsible to field headquarters for the conduct of operations.

At the lower levels, each unit which took the field in 1939 left behind at its home station a rear echelon which was known as its replacement training unit (Ersatzeinheit). An infantry regiment, for example, left behind an infantry replacement training battalion, bearing the same number, which was thenceforth to induct and train recruits, dispatch them to the field regiment as needed, and receive personnel back from the field unit if they were to be discharged or when they came out of general hospitals.

4. Functions of the Home Command

The functions of the wartime command for the Zone of the Interior may be described as threefold:

a. PERSONNEL. Conscription, training and re-placement of personnel include control of mobilization policies and the actual call-up and induction of men; all types of military training, including the selection and schooling of officers and noncommissioned officers; the dispatch of personnel replacements to field units in response to their requisitions; and the organization of new units.

b. EQUIPMENT. Design, procurement, acceptance, and storage of equipment of all kinds, and its dispatch to the Field Army, involve: assessment of the future needs of the field; planning of production; obtaining the necessary raw materials and labor; development and testing of new weapons; fiscal matters; maintenance of suitable storage and transport facilities, and of headquarters to control them; and organization of the channels for supply requisitions and deliveries.

c. ADMINISTRATION. Administration of the permanent military installations in the Zone of the Interior and emergency defense of the home territory also are responsibilities of the Home Command. The latter function (which would become operative, for example, in case of a surprise airborne invasion of the heart of Germany) would be exercised by the Home Command only until an adequate Field Army force could be assembled to take charge of the operations.

The above functions of the Home Command are discussed in detail in Sections V and VI, of this chapter and in Chapter VI below.

5. Organization of the Theater of War

On the outbreak of war, all the parts of Europe and its adjacent waters which might be the scene of operations became, from the German point of view, the Theater of War (Kriegsgebiet). Within this area the Germans distinguish between the Theater of Operations (Operationsgebiet) and the Zone of the Interior (Heimatkriegsgebiet). Since, in the German concept, wars should be conducted as far as possible beyond their own frontiers, the military nomenclature also provides for an intermediate area known as the Zone of Military Administration (Gebeit der Kreigsverwaltung) or Occupied Territory (Besetztes Gebiet); in fact, much of Europe was in this category during the years when the German armies were fighting in the distant steppes of Russia and in Africa.

The Theater of Operations itself is divided into the Combat Zone (Gefechtsgebiet) and the Communications Zone (Rückwärtiges Gebiet). The latter may be entirely taken up by the Army Rear Areas (Rückwärtige Armeegebiete) or, if the line of communications is long, its rearward part may be the Army Group Rear Area (Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet).

Each of the above subdivisions of the Theater of War is subject to a different type of administration by the military, mixed military and civil, or only the civil authorities. The arrangement is shown schematically in Figure 7.

The Zone of the Interior was extended in 1941 and 1942 to include Denmark, Alsace, Lorraine, Luxemburg, and those parts of Poland incorporated in the so-called Government General; it already included Bohemia and Moravia. By contrast, much of Germany itself was within the Theater of Operations and even within the Combat Zone by the end of 1944.

The Zone of the Interior is in general the area under the command of the Chief of Army Equipment and Commander of the Replacement Army. Special regulations provide for the division of authority whenever units or installations of the Replacement Army are stationed within the Theater of Operations, as has happened with the pushing back of the front lines into Germany. In such cases the field commander has no authority over the units or installations in question; he may not conscript German males found in the area or make requisitions of horses or motor vehicles, for example, since this would upset the long-range and nation-wide programs of the Home Command for the utilization of personnel and equipment. Only under absolute military necessity may a field commander assume control of units or installations of the Replacement Army, and he must then immediately notify the Commander of the Replacement Army. The latter, on the other hand, must consult the field commander on any matter of fundamental importance affecting the area of joint interest. This arrangement well illustrates the careful distinction which the Germans make between the functions and authority of the Field Army and those of the Home Command.

Within the Communications Zone, the Army Group Rear Area (when it exists) is placed under the authority of a Commander of Army Group Rear Area (Befehlshaber des rückwärtigen Heeresgebiets), who has the status of a corps commander and is responsible to the Commander of the Army Group. His main tasks are to provide for the military administration of the area and to protect the security of the lines of communication so that the army group commander can devote himself entirely to combat operations. Similarly, the Army Rear Area is controlled by a Commander of Army Rear Area (Kommandant des rückwärtigen Armeegebiets) with the status of a division commander. The rear area commanders have at their disposal security (Sicherungs) units and police troops and set up various types of administrative headquarters.

6. Administration of Occupied Territory

In occupied territory, or the Zone of Military Administration (which in some cases has been the "friendly" territory of nations allied to Germany), the administrative structure is distinct from the operational control of any German combat units stationed in it. In France before the Allied landing in 1944, for example, the Military Administration under General von Stülpnagel was responsible for local security and for dealing with the French authorities and the population, but had no direct connection with von Rundstedt's army group which was stationed there for operational purposes. Distinct from both these commands were the training units in reserve divisions stationed in France, which came under the control of the Commander of the Replacement Army in Berlin for training and replacement purposes.

Typical of the flexibility of the German system was the great variety shown in the forms of military administration in the different occupied countries. In each case the form of German military control was adapted to the strategic needs as well as to the political, economic, and psychological factors. In Denmark there was officially no control at all, since the country was regarded as "protected" and not occupied; the German troops stationed there came under a Commander of German Troops in Denmark, while the ad-ministration of the country was left to the constitutional Danish government, subject only (until 1944) to German diplomatic pressure. At the opposite extreme was Poland, where no remnant of the previous native administration remained and the Germans had to have tight military control and even do most of the local policing. In France and some other countries the Germans worked largely through the native authorities but also set up their own administrative area headquarters (Oberfeldkommandanturen) and sub-area headquarters (Feldkommandanturen) as the local garrison commands.


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