Oberkommando des Heeres
This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) was the High Command (lit. Upper Command) of the German Army during the Era of Nazi Germany. It was founded in 1935 as a part of Adolf Hitler's re-militarisation of Germany. From 1938 OKH was, together with OKL (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, High Command of the Air Force) and OKM (Oberkommando der Marine, High Command of the Navy), formally subordinated to the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, High Command of the Armed Forces), with the exception of the Waffen-SS. During the war, OKH had the responsibility of strategic planning of Armies and Army Groups, while the General Staff of the OKH managed operational matters. Each German Army also had an Armeeoberkommando, Army Command, or AOK. Until the German defeat at Moscow in December 1941, OKH and its staff was de facto the most important unit within the German war planning. OKW then took over this function for theatres other than the German-Soviet front. OKH commander held the title Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Supreme Commander of the Army). Following the Battle of Moscow, after OKH commander Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch was excused, Hitler appointed himself as Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
|Oberkommando des Heeres|
Command flag from 1938 to 1942
|Disbanded||23 May 1945|
|Part of||Oberkommando der Wehrmacht|
|Chief of the General Staff||Wilhelm Keitel|
|Command flag 1936-38|
|Command flag 1938-42|
OKH vs OKWEdit
Hitler had been the head of OKW since January 1938, using it to pass orders to the navy (OKM), air force (OKL), and army (OKH). After a major crisis developed in the Battle of Moscow, Walther von Brauchitsch was dismissed (partly because of his failing health), and Hitler appointed himself as head of the OKH while still retaining his position at the OKW. 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 theater of operations.
Commander-in-Chief of the ArmyEdit
|№||Officeholders||Took office||Left office||Time in office|
Werner von Fritsch
|1 January 1934||4 February 1938||4 years, 34 days|
Walther von Brauchitsch
|4 February 1938||19 December 1941||3 years, 318 days|
|3||Führer and Reich Chancellor|
|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:
|№||Chief of Staff||Took office||Left office||Time in office|
|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||13 May 1945||12 days|
|13 May 1945||23 May 1945||10 days|
Although both OKW and OKH were headquartered in Zossen during the Third Reich, the functional and operational independence of both establishments were not lost on the respective staff during their tenure. Personnel at the sprawling Zossen 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.
- 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
- "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