Ministry of the Reichswehr

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Entrance to the Bendlerblock.

In the history of Germany, the Ministry of the Reichswehr or Reich Ministry of Defence (German: Reichswehrministerium) was the defence ministry of the Weimar Republic and the early Third Reich. The 1919 Weimar Constitution provided for a unified, national ministry of defence to coordinate the new Reichswehr, and that ministry was set up in October 1919, from the existing Prussian War Ministry and Reichsmarineamt. It was based in the Bendlerblock building. The Wehrgesetz (Defence Law) of 21 May 1935[1] renamed it the Reichskriegsministerium (Reich Ministry of War), which was then abolished in 1938 and replaced with the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht.


Within the framework of the Gesetzes über die Bildung einer vorläufigen Reichswehr ("Law on the formation of a provisional national-army") of March 1919, the Reichspräsident was commander-in-chief of the armed forces, with the Reichswehrminister (Reich Minister of Defence) exercising command. These arrangements left out the Prussian armed forces, which remained under the command of the Prussian Minister of War. After the Weimar Constitution came into force, the war ministries of Bavaria, Saxony, Württemberg and Prussia were dissolved and command authority was concentrated in the hand of the national Reichswehrminister. Power of command for each branch was given to the head of the Army Command (Heeresleitung) and the head of the Naval Command (Marineleitung). The Ministeramt was established as a third office within the ministry in 1929, with the Ministeramt′s head acting as the Reichswehrminister′s political deputy. The general staff took over the role of the Truppenamt.

The "Verkündung der Wehrhoheit" (proclamation of military sovereignty) of 1935 created a new Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL - dealt with by the Air Ministry) and turned the Heeresleitung into the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) and the Marineleitung into the Oberkommando der Marine (OKM). The minister was renamed the Wehrmachtsamt. As a result of the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair, the Reichskriegsminister and Wehrmachtsamt were abolished by Adolf Hitler and their duties transferred to the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW).

Lists of officials

Defence Ministers

Name Began Ended Party
Gustav Noske 13 February 1919 22 March 1920 SPD
Otto Geßler 27 March 1920 19 January 1928 DDP
Wilhelm Groener 20 January 1928 30 May 1932 Independent
Kurt von Schleicher 1 June 1932 28 January 1933 Independent
Werner von Blomberg 30 January 1933 27 January 1938 Independent
(De facto) Wilhelm Keitel (as Chef des Oberkommando der Wehrmacht or OKW) 4 February 1938 8 May 1945 Independent

Heads of the Army Command

Flag of the Chefs der Heeresleitung from 1925-1927.
Flag of the Chefs der Heeresleitung from 1927-1933.

German: Chefs der Heeresleitung

Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres

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

Heads of the Naval Command

German: Chef der Marineleitung

Oberbefehlshaber der Marine

  • Admiral Erich Raeder --- 1 June 1935-30 January 1943

Heads of the Ministeramts

Chef des Wehrmachtamtes

  • Generalmajor Walter von Reichenau --- 1 February 1934-30 September 1935
  • Generalmajor Wilhelm Keitel --- 1 October 1935-4 February 1938

Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht (OKW)

  • General der Artillerie Wilhelm Keitel --- 4 February 1938-8 May 1945


  1. (German) RGBl I, S. 609 / Faksimile Wehrgesetz

External links