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The Oberkommando des Heeres (lit. 'Upper Command of the Army'; abbreviated OKH) was the high command of the Army of Nazi Germany. It was founded in 1935 as part of Adolf Hitler's rearmament of Germany. OKH was de facto the most important unit within the German war planning until the defeat at Moscow in December 1941.
|Army High Command|
|Oberkommando des Heeres|
|Disbanded||23 May 1945|
|Part of||Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht)|
|Headquarters||Maybach I, Wünsdorf|
|Commander-in-Chief of the Army||See list|
|Chief of the General Staff||See list|
|Command flag 1936–38|
|Command flag 1938–42|
During World War II, OKH had the responsibility of strategic planning of Armies and Army Groups. The General Staff of the OKH managed operational matters. Each German Army also had an Army High Command (Armeeoberkommando or AOK). The Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) then took over this function for theatres other than the Eastern front.
The OKH commander held the title of Commander-in-chief of the Army (Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres). After the Battle of Moscow, the OKH commander Field marshal Walther von Brauchitsch was removed from office, and Hitler appointed himself as Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
From 1938, OKH was, together with Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (transl. Air Force High Command) and Oberkommando der Marine (transl. Naval High Command) formally subordinated to the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) (transl. High Command of the Armed Forces).
OKH vs OKWEdit
OKH had been independent until February 1938, when Hitler created the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht which, on paper, subordinated OKH to OKW. After a major crisis developed in the Battle of Moscow, von Brauchitsch was dismissed (partly because of his failing health), and Hitler appointed himself as head of the OKH. At the same time, he limited the OKH's authority to the Russian front, giving OKW direct authority over army units elsewhere. This enabled Hitler to declare that only he had complete awareness of Germany's strategic situation, should any general request a transfer of resources between the Russian front and another theatre of operations.
Although both OKW and OKH were headquartered in the Maybach complex in Nazi Germany, the functional and operational independence of both establishments were not lost on the respective staff during their tenure. Personnel at the compound remarked that even if Maybach 2 (the OKW complex) was completely destroyed, the OKH staff in Maybach 1 would scarcely notice. These camouflaged facilities, separated physically by a fence, also maintained structurally different mindsets towards their objectives.
In 1944, these elements were subordinate to the OKH:
- C.-in-C. Reserve Army and Chief of Equipment (Chef der Heeresausrüstung und Befehlshaber des Ersatzheeres): Friedrich Fromm
- Chief of Army General Division (Chef des Allgemeines Heeresamt): Friedrich Olbricht
- Chief of Army Ordnance (Chef des Heereswaffenamtes): Emil Leeb
- Chief of Army Personnel Division (Chef des Heerespersonalamtes): Rudolf Schmundt
- Chief of Army Administrative Division (Chef des Heeresverwaltungsamtes): Herbert Osterkamp
- Army Propaganda and Public Relations Office: Hasso von Wedel – Albrecht Blau – Kurt Dittmar
- Inspector General of Armoured Troops (Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen): Heinz Guderian
- General officer commanding for Engineers and Fortifications (General der Pioniere und Festungen): Alfred Jacob
- Inspector General for Officer Cadets (Generalinspektion des Militärerziehungs- und Bildungswesens): Karl-Wilhelm Specht
Commander-in-Chief of the ArmyEdit
|No.||Portrait||Commander-in-Chief||Took office||Left office||Time in office||Ref.|
Werner von Fritsch
|1 February 1934||4 February 1938||4 years, 34 days||–|
Walther von Brauchitsch
|4 February 1938||19 December 1941||3 years, 318 days||–|
|3||Führer und Reichskanzler|
|19 December 1941||30 April 1945 †||3 years, 132 days||–|
|30 April 1945||8 May 1945||8 days||–|
Chief of the OKH General StaffEdit
The Chiefs of the OKH General Staff (German: Chef des Generalstabes des Heeres) were:
|No.||Portrait||Chief of the OKH General Staff||Took office||Left office||Time in office||Ref.|
|1 July 1935||31 August 1938||3 years, 61 days||–|
|1 September 1938||24 September 1942||4 years, 23 days|||
|24 September 1942||10 June 1944||1 year, 260 days|||
|10 June 1944||21 July 1944||41 days||–|
|21 July 1944||28 March 1945||250 days|||
|–||General der Infanterie|
|1 April 1945||1 May 1945 †||30 days|||
|1 May 1945||8 May 1945||7 days||–|
|13 May 1945||23 May 1945||10 days||–|
- Hitler assumed personal command of the OKH following Brauchitsch's dismissal in order to supervise Operation Barbarossa, the German-led invasion of the Soviet Union.
- one of Hitler's favorite military commanders was named in Hitler's last will and testament, which the latter issued prior to his suicide on April 30, 1945 as the new commander of the OKH. Meanwhile, the OKH was subordinated to the OKW of the Wehrmacht, under Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel.
- Later served as the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr (1957–1961) and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (1961–1964)
- Committed suicide
- Barnett, Correlli (1989). Hitler's Generals. Grove. pp. 497. ISBN 978-1555841614.
- Grier, Howard D. Hitler, Dönitz, and the Baltic Sea, Naval Institute Press, 2007, ISBN 1-59114-345-4. p. 121
- CIA (1944). Who's Who In Nazi Germany (PDF). CIA. pp. 31–32. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- Müller, Rolf-Dieter (2015). Enemy in the East: Hitler's Secret Plans to Invade the Soviet Union. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 96. ISBN 978-1-78076-829-8.
- Adam, Wilhelm; Ruhle, Otto (2015). With Paulus at Stalingrad. Translated by Tony Le Tissier. Pen and Sword Books Ltd. p. 78. ISBN 9781473833869.
- Hart, Russell A. (2006). Guderian: Panzer Pioneer or Myth Maker?. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-59797-453-0.
- Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) . The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends – The Evidence – The Truth. Brockhampton Press. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8.
- "Not the Stuff of Legend: The German High Command in World War II" – lecture by Dr. Geoffrey Megargee, author of Inside Hitler's High Command, available at the official YouTube channel of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center