The German Heer, or army, was formed in May of 1935. It was formed after the passing of the “Law for the Reconstruction of the National Defense Forces”. This law brough back into existance a free standing German army, navy and airforce, something that had been essentially banned after the end of World War I.
With the end of World War I and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the Weimar Republic – the successor to Imperial Germany – was allowed only a small defensive military force known as the Reichswehr. The Reichswehr’s size and composition was strictly controlled by the Allies in the hope that by restricting its constitution they could prevent future German military aggression. The Reichswehr consisted of 100,000 men divided between a small standing army, the Reichsheer, and a small defensive navy, the Reichsmarine.
In 1933, the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) came to power and the infamous Third Reich was born. Two years later in 1935 the Treaty of Versailles was renounced and the Reichswehr became the Wehrmacht. The newly formed Wehrmacht would still consist of an army and a navy – the renamed Heer and Kriegsmarine, but a new airforce was born as well – the Luftwaffe.
The Heer initially consisted of 21 Divisional sized units and 3 Army Groups to control them, as well as numerous smaller formations. Between 1935 and 1945 this force grew to consist of hundreds of Divisions, dozens of Army Groups and thousands of smaller supporting units. Between 1939 and 1945 close to 13 million served in the Heer. Over 1.6 million were killed and over 4.1 million were wounded. Of the 7361 men awarded the initial grade of the highest German combat honor of WWII, the Knights Cross, 4777 were from the Heer making up 65% of the total awarded.
Between 1939 and 1945 the Heer bore the majority of six years worth of fierce combat, some of which was so fierce – as on the Eastern Front – humankind will likely never again see such fighting. Although not immune to the overtones of politics and the occasional brush with questionable actions, the vast majority of German Heer units served with great distinction across many thousands of miles of battlefields.
The Heer was defeated with the German capitulation on May 8th 1945, although some units continued to fight for a few days longer in fits of sporadic resistance, mainly against the Soviets in the East. The Allied Control Council passed a law formally dissolving the Wehrmacht on the 20th of August 1946, the official “death” date of the German Heer.
Disclaimer- In no way does this page support Racism, Hate, Propaganda, or the National Socialist/Neo-Nazi Views. It does honor hard working, loyal German citizens that served their country no matter whom was in charge of the country at the time.
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Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (DRK) or German Red Cross nurses basic uniform worn by the DRK helferin/helferinen (helpers) during wartime consisted of medium grey pleated-front blouse or a blue-grey pinstriped blouse and skirt with detachable white collar as shown in the following photo.
Quiet days in Johannisburg (East Prussia) with the blooming tulips while the war against Soviet Union was imminent, early summer 1941. Left is Oberleutnant Hermann Budenbender (Abteilungsadjutant Aufklärungs-Abteilung 35 / 35.Infanterie-Division) while at right is unknown Führer Panzerspähzug from the same unit.
The year was 1940 and this rare colour photo shows a unit of Hitler’s army relaxing as they waited to see if they would be called on to cross the Channel and attack.
This picture was taken by Hugo Jaeger and showing Wehrmacht Fuhrmann (coachman) from an unidentified artillery unit ready to feed their horses.
This German soldier is preparing to move further after a rest, 1941. With him one of the millions of horses who did their “duty” for Wehrmacht in World War II. The soldier is holding a plucked chicken and his k98 rifle is slung on his shoulder.
Wehrmacht Reiterzugführer (commander of mounted infantry platoon) on the Eastern Front in the Russian campaign of 1941 – Operation Barbarossa.
These men are wearing the Model 1936 Tunic with the bottle-green collars. The soldier on the left is wearing a Model 1938 Field Cap. A pair of MG34 Machine-Guns have been placed on an anti-aircraft mount.
In one of the many eroded balkas (gullies) in the outskirts of Stalingrad, The Catholic army chaplain Kriegspfarrer Dr. Alois Beck is celebrating mass to absolves soldier’s sins from an unidentified infantry battalion about to attack the city, autumn 1942.
Picture taken late in May 1945 in Czechoslovakia, possibly a German retreat or even a surrendering ceremony.
Portraits of Soldats
Oberleutnant Ricardo Sanz Fernández
Panzertruppen portrait with a Crimea Shield on his left arm.
Hugo von Senger
Captain Max Heimo Rehbein
Soldat with Spanish 1936-1939 Spanien cuff title on a waffenrock.
Black and White Photos
Soldiers salute the Swiss Guard of the Vatican in Rome.
Staged photo of cooking an egg on a vehicle in Afrika.
German occupation of Prague, 15 March 1939.
German occupation of Prague, 15 March 1939.
Adolf Hitler on his visit to Prague Castle after the establishment of a German protectorate.
Unfortunate photo of a soldat killed in action.
German soldiers, armed with Panzerfaust anti-tank grenade launchers, in February 1945.
Off Color Photos
Waiting for transport.
Soldat having some fun!
Testing and training.
On November 1, 1944, Arthur Thompson, a Royal Marine from Herney Bay in Kent, came across a German camera during the allied operation to liberate the Dutch. He found the camera in the concrete bunkers on the island of Walcheren. It seems to have been left by the fleeing Germans.
Paintings and Art
Atlantic wall defense gun emplacement pictured on this Dutch card.
Battling overwhelming Soviet forces.
Heer crossing a river painting.