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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 Reich Ministry of War (German: Reichskriegsministerium), which was then abolished in 1938 and replaced with the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht.

Ministry of the Reichswehr
Reichswehrministerium  (German)
Innenhof Bendlerblock.jpg
Entrance to the Bendlerblock.
Ministry overview
FormedOctober 1919 (1919-10)
Dissolved4 February 1938 (1938-02-04)
JurisdictionReichswehr (to 1935)
Minister responsible
  • Defence minister



Within the framework of the Gesetz über die Bildung einer vorläufigen Reichswehr ("Law on the formation of a provisional national defence force") 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 Navy 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 innocuous Troop Office (Truppenamt) functioned as a covert general staff, which was banned by the Treaty of Versailles.

The "Verkündung der Wehrhoheit" (proclamation of military sovereignty) of 1935 created a new Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL), under the Air Ministry, and turned the Heeresleitung into the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) and the Marineleitung into the Oberkommando der Marine (OKM). The Ministeramt was renamed the Wehrmachtsamt. As a result of the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair in 1938, the Reichskriegsminister and Wehrmachtsamt were abolished by Adolf Hitler and their duties transferred to the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW).

Lists of officialsEdit

Defence MinistersEdit

Minister of Defence
Flag of the Minister of Defence from 1933 to 1935
Flag for the minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht (23 June 1935 - 5 October 1935)
Minister of Defence Took office Left office Time in office Party Cabinet
1Noske, GustavGustav Noske
13 February 191922 March 19201 year, 38 daysSPDScheidemann
2Gessler, OttoOtto Gessler
27 March 192019 January 19287 years, 298 daysDDPMüller I
Wirth III
Stresemann III
Marx III
Luther III
3Groener, WilhelmWilhelm Groener
19 January 192830 May 19324 years, 132 daysIndependentMarx IV
Müller II
Brüning III
4Schleicher, KurtKurt von Schleicher
1 June 193228 January 1933243 daysIndependentvon Papen
von Schleicher
5Blomberg, WernerWerner von Blomberg
28 January 193321 May 19352 years, 113 daysIndependentvon Schleicher
Minister of War
Flag for the minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht
Minister of War Took office Left office Time in office Party Cabinet
1Blomberg, WernerWerner von Blomberg
21 May 193527 January 19382 years, 251 daysIndependentHitler

Ministerial office headsEdit

Heads of the Ministeramt (Chefs des Ministeramtes)
Chefs des Ministeramtes Took office Left office Time in office
1Schleicher, KurtGeneral der Infanterie
Kurt von Schleicher
1 February 19291 June 19323 years, 121 days
2Bredow, FerdinandGeneralmajor
Ferdinand von Bredow
1 June 193230 January 1933243 days
3Reichenau, WalterOberst
Walter von Reichenau
1 February 19331 February 19341 year, 0 days
Heads of the Wehrmachtamt (Chefs des Wehrmachtamtes)
Chefs des Wehrmachtamtes Took office Left office Time in office
1Reichenau, WalterGeneralmajor
Walter von Reichenau
1 February 193430 September 19351 year, 243 days
2Keitel, WilhelmGeneralmajor
Wilhelm Keitel
1 October 19354 February 19382 years, 127 days

Army headsEdit

Heads of the Army Command (Chefs der Heeresleitung)
Flag of the Chef der Heeresleitung from 1925–1927.
Flag of the Chef der Heeresleitung from 1927–1933.
Flag of the Chef der Heeresleitung from 1927–1933.
Chefs der Heeresleitung Took office Left office Time in office
1Reinhardt, WaltherGeneralmajor
Walther Reinhardt
13 September 191922 March 1920191 days
2Seeckt, HansGeneraloberst
Hans von Seeckt
26 March 19209 October 19266 years, 197 days
3Heye, WilhelmGeneraloberst
Wilhelm Heye
9 October 192631 October 19304 years, 22 days
4Hammerstein-Equord, KurtGeneral der Infanterie
Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord
1 November 193027 December 19333 years, 56 days
5Fritsch, WernerGeneral der Artillerie
Werner von Fritsch
1 January 19341 June 19351 year, 151 days
Commander-in-chief of the Army (Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres)
Flag of the Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres from 1935–1941.
Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres Took office Left office Time in office
1Fritsch, WernerGeneraloberst
Werner von Fritsch
1 June 19354 February 19382 years, 248 days

Navy headsEdit

Chief of the Admiralty (Chef der Admiralität)
Chefs der Admiralität Took office Left office Time in office
1Trotha, AdolfVizeadmiral
Adolf von Trotha
26 March 191922 March 1920362 days
-Michaelis, WilliamKonteradmiral
William Michaelis
22 March 19201 September 1920163 days
2Behncke, PaulVizeadmiral
Paul Behncke
1 September 192014 September 192013 days
Heads of the Naval Command (Chefs der Marineleitung)
Chefs der Marineleitung Took office Left office Time in office
1Behncke, PaulVizeadmiral
Paul Behncke
14 September 19201 October 19244 years, 17 days
2Zenker, HansVizeadmiral
Hans Zenker
1 October 192430 September 19283 years, 365 days
3Raeder, ErichVizeadmiral
Erich Raeder
1 October 19281 June 19356 years, 243 days
Commander-in-chief of the Navy (Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine)
Oberbefehlshaber der Marine Took office Left office Time in office
1Raeder, ErichGroßadmiral
Erich Raeder
1 June 193530 January 19437 years, 243 days


  1. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in German) RGBl I, S. 609 / Faksimile Wehrgesetz

External linksEdit