Organization of the Wehrmacht

Organization of the Wehrmacht, Third Reich and Nazi Party with Power balance of Germany during WW2.

German soldiers enter the Rhineland
German soldiers enter the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland on March 7, 1936.

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Organization of the Wehrmacht

In March 1939 the operational control of the Armed Forces was unified under the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) whose chief was Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Keitel.

The management of the Army was the responsibility of the Army High Command, the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), which included the General Staff although it was the Supreme Commander, Adolf Hitler, who was increasingly to take over the day-to-day running of the war. During the crisis of the Battle of Moscow in December 1941 he took over the command of the Army from C-in-C von Brauchitsch.


Organization of the most important elements of the High Command and Government:

ArmyAir ForceNavyReichs MinistriesState FunctionariesNSDAP Party Offices
Fuehrer (Reich Chancellor, President and Minister of War): Hitler" Ein Volk Reich Fuehrer
OKW (Armed Forces = Wehrmacht): Hitler; Chief of Staff: Keitel (in pic behind); Chief of Operation Staff: Jodl (in pic front); Chief of Plans: Warlimont; Chief of Freign and Counter-Intelligence: Canaris (to February 1944)" Keitel Jodl px800
OKH: von Brauchitsch (in pic left) to December 1941, Hitler" Brauchitsch Hitler OKL: Göring (pic) to April 1945, von Greim" Hermann Goering pxh800 OKM: Raeder (1st pic) to January 1943, Dönitz (2nd pic) to May 1945, von Friedeburg (3rd pic)" Grossadmiral Erich Raeder Karl Doenitz px800 von Friedeburg Foreign: von Ribbentrop (pic) to May 1945, von Krosigk" Ribbentrop Russlandkrieg Inspectorate Road system: Todt Chancellery: Hess (1st pic) to May 1941, Bormann (2nd pic)" Rudolf Hess Bormann px800
Chief of Staff: Halder (1st pic) to Sep 1942, Zeitzler (in 2nd pic right) to July 1944, Guderian (3rd pic) to March 1945, Krebs" Halder px800 Zeitzler px550 Guderian px800 Chief of Staff: Jeschonnek to August 1943, Korten (pic) to July 1944, Kreipe to October 1944, Koller" Guenter Korten px800 Interior: Frick (1st pic) to August 1943, Himmler (2nd pic)" Frick Himmler DAF (German workers organization): Ley" Robert Ley Treasurer: Schwarz
Munitions: Todt to February 1942, Speer (pic)" Albert Speer px800 Labour Mobilisation (incl. slave workers): Sauckel" Sauckel Party organization: Ley" Robert Ley
Propaganda: Goebbels (pic) to May 1945, Naumann" Goebbels px800 Four-Year-Plans: Göring" Hermann Goering Youth: von Schirach (1st pic) to August 1940, Axmann (2nd pic)" Schirach px800 Max Axmann px800
Eastern Occupied Territories: Rosenberg" Alfred Rosenberg px800 Press: Dietrich to March 1945, Foreign: Rosenberg (pic)" Alfred Rosenberg px800
SS: Himmler (1st pic), RSHA incl. Gestapo, SD and Police: Heydrich (2nd pic) to June 1942, Kaltenbrunner (3rd pic)" Himmler Heydrich px800 Kaltenbrunner

Power balance of the Wehrmacht

It is not certain what percentage of each age group of conscripts were actually called up every year to the Wehrmacht. It was fixed for planning purposes at 75%, but it must have been more in the course of the war because of the reducing of the demands. From September 1939 to April 1945 17,893,200 men were serving in the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS. By a population base of 90 million people (including Austria, Sudetenland, Alsace and parts of Poland) this requires that about 3.6 percent of the total population went every year through the German Armed Forces. At the time of the peak strength in 1943 the share of military power was more than 10% from this population base.

Power balance of the Wehrmacht (numbers in 1000 men):

Year:1939194019411942194319441945
Field army 2,741 3,650 3,800 4,000 4,250 4,000 3,800
Reserve army996900 1,200 1,800 2,300 2,510 1,500
Army total 3,737 4,550 5,000 5,800 6,550 6,510 5,300
Air Force400 1,200 1,680 1,700 1,700 1,500 1,000
Navy50250404580780810700
Waffen-SS3550150230450600830
Overall 4,222 6,050 7,234 8,310 9,480 9,420 7,830
US Army (for comparison) 5,575
US Forces total 11,484

Balance of the Wehrmacht and civilian workers of Greater Germany 1939-1944 (in millions of people):

Date (end of May):193919401941194219431944 Sep 30,44
Civilian workers:
German mens 24.5 20.4 19.0 16.9 15.5 14.2 13.5
German womans 14.6 14.4 14.1 14.4 14.8 14.8 14.9
Germans total 39.1 34.8 33.1 31.3 30.3 29.0 28.4
Aliens, slave workers, PoW's 0.3 1.2 3.0 4.2 6.3 7.1 7.5
Armed Forces:
Total drafts 1.4 5.7 7.4 9.4 11.2 12.4 13.0
Total losses 0 0.1 0.2 0.8 1.7 3.3 3.9
Strength 1.4 5.6 7.2 8.6 9.5 9.1 9.1
Mobilised Germans total 40.5 40.5 40.5 40.7 41.5 41.4 41.4
Workers total 39.4 36.0 36.1 35.5 36.6 36.1 35.9
Mobilised people total 40.8 41.6 43.3 44.1 46.1 45.2 45.0

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References and literature

World War II – A Statistical Survey (John Ellis)
Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg (10 Bände, Zentrum für Militärgeschichte)
Illustrierte Geschichte des Dritte Reiches (Kurt Zentner)
Der Genius des Krieges (Trevor N. Dupuy)
Den Krieg denken – Die Entwicklung der Strategie seit der Antike (Beatrice Heuser)


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