Oberkommando des Heeres

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
Command flag from 1938 to 1942
Disbanded23 May 1945
Country Nazi Germany
Branch German Army
TypeHigh Command
Part ofArmed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht)
HeadquartersMaybach I, Wünsdorf
Commander-in-Chief of the ArmySee list
Chief of the General StaffSee 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.

OKH vs OKW edit

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.[1]

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.

On 28 April 1945 (two days before his suicide), Hitler formally subordinated OKH to OKW, giving the latter command of forces on the Eastern Front.[2]

Organisation edit

In 1944, these elements were subordinate to the OKH:[3]

List of commanders edit

Commander-in-Chief of the Army edit

The Commander-in-Chief of the Army (German: Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres) was the head of the OKH and the German Army during the years of the Nazi regime.

No. Portrait Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office Ref.
1von Fritsch, WernerGeneraloberst
Werner von Fritsch
1 February 19344 February 19384 years, 34 days
2von Brauchitsch, WaltherGeneralfeldmarschall
Walther von Brauchitsch
4 February 193819 December 19413 years, 318 days
3Hitler, AdolfFührer und Reichskanzler
Adolf Hitler
19 December 194130 April 1945 †3 years, 132 days
4Schörner, FerdinandGeneralfeldmarschall
Ferdinand Schörner
30 April 19458 May 19458 days

Chief of General Staff of the OKH edit

Flag of Chief of the German Army General Staff

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.
1Beck, LudwigGeneraloberst
Ludwig Beck
1 July 193531 August 19383 years, 61 days[4]
2Halder, FranzGeneraloberst
Franz Halder
1 September 193824 September 19424 years, 23 days[5][6]
3Zeitzler, KurtGeneraloberst
Kurt Zeitzler
24 September 194210 June 19441 year, 260 days[6]
Heusinger, AdolfGeneralleutnant
Adolf Heusinger
10 June 194421 July 194441 days
Guderian, HeinzGeneraloberst
Heinz Guderian
21 July 194428 March 1945250 days[7]
4Krebs, HansGeneral der Infanterie
Hans Krebs
1 April 19452 May 1945 †30 days[8]
Keitel, WilhelmGeneralfeldmarschall
Wilhelm Keitel
2 May 19458 May 19457 days
Jodl, AlfredGeneraloberst
Alfred Jodl
13 May 194523 May 194510 days

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ One of Hitler's favorite military commanders who was named in Hitler's last will and testament as the new commander of the OKH. Meanwhile, the OKH was subordinated to the OKW of the Wehrmacht, under Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel.
  3. ^ Later served as the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr (1957–1961) and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (1961–1964)
  4. ^ Committed suicide

References edit

  1. ^ Barnett, Correlli (1989). Hitler's Generals. Grove. pp. 497. ISBN 978-1555841614.
  2. ^ Grier, Howard D. Hitler, Dönitz, and the Baltic Sea, Naval Institute Press, 2007, ISBN 1-59114-345-4. p. 121
  3. ^ CIA (1944). Who's Who In Nazi Germany (PDF). CIA. pp. 31–32. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 23, 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  4. ^ Murray, Williamson (1984). The Change in the European Balance of Power, 1938–1939 The Path to Ruin. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-691-05413-1.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Adam, Wilhelm; Ruhle, Otto (2015). With Paulus at Stalingrad. Translated by Tony Le Tissier. Pen and Sword Books Ltd. p. 78. ISBN 9781473833869.
  7. ^ Hart, Russell A. (2006). Guderian: Panzer Pioneer or Myth Maker?. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-59797-453-0.
  8. ^ Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends – The Evidence – The Truth. Brockhampton Press. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8.

External links edit