Oberkommando des Heeres

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Oberkommando des Heeres
OKH2.svg
Command flag from 1938 to 1942
Founded1935
Disbanded23 May 1945
CountryFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  German Reich
Branch Balkenkreuz.svg German Army
TypeHigh Command
Part of Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
Nickname(s)OKH
Commanders
Chief of the General Staff Wilhelm Keitel
Insignia
Command flag 1936-38 OKH1.svg
Command flag 1938-42 OKH2.svg

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.

German Army (1935–1945) 1935-1945 land warfare branch of the German military

The German Army was the land forces component of the Wehrmacht, the regular German Armed Forces, from 1935 until it was demobilized and later dissolved in August 1946. During World War II, a total of about 13.6 million soldiers served in the German Army between 1935-45. Germany's army personnel were made up of volunteers and conscripts.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Contents

OKH vs OKW

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. [1]

<i>Kriegsmarine</i> 1935–1945 naval warfare branch of Germanys armed forces

The Kriegsmarine was the navy of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It superseded the Imperial German Navy of the German Empire (1871–1918) and the inter-war Reichsmarine (1919–1935) of the Weimar Republic. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches, along with the Heer (Army) and the Luftwaffe of the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces from 1933 to 1945.

<i>Luftwaffe</i> Aerial warfare branch of the German military forces during World War II

The Luftwaffe was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force.

Battle of Moscow periods of strategically significant fighting on a 600 km (370 mi) sector of the Eastern Front during World War II

The Battle of Moscow was a military campaign that consisted of two periods of strategically significant fighting on a 600 km (370 mi) sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, the capital and largest city of the Soviet Union. Moscow was one of the primary military and political objectives for Axis forces in their invasion of the Soviet Union.

Leadership

Commander-in-Chief of the Army

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. Supreme Commanders of the Army were:

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

OfficeholdersTook officeLeft officeTime in office
1
Werner von Fritsch (cropped).jpg
von Fritsch, WernerColonel General
Werner von Fritsch
(1880–1939)
1 January 19344 February 19384 years, 34 days
2
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-E00780, Walther von Brauchitsch.jpg
von Brauchitsch, WaltherField Marshal
Walther von Brauchitsch
(1881–1948)
4 February 193819 December 19413 years, 318 days
3
Hitler portrait crop.jpg
Hitler, AdolfFührer and Reich Chancellor
Adolf Hitler
(1889–1945)
[lower-alpha 1]
19 December 194130 April 1945 3 years, 132 days
4
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-L29176, Ferdinand Schorner.jpg
Schörner, FerdinandField Marshal
Ferdinand Schörner
(1892–1973)
[lower-alpha 2]
30 April 19458 May 19458 days

Chief of the OKH General Staff

Flag of Chief of the German Army General Staff Chef Generalstab Heer.svg
Flag of Chief of the German Army General Staff

The Chiefs of the OKH General Staff (German: Chef des Generalstabes des Heeres) were:

Chief of StaffTook officeLeft officeTime in office
1
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1980-033-04, Ludwig Beck.jpg
Beck, LudwigGeneraloberst
Ludwig Beck
(1880–1944)
1 July 193531 August 19383 years, 61 days
2
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1970-052-08, Franz Halder.jpg
Halder, FranzGeneraloberst
Franz Halder
(1884–1972)
1 September 193824 September 19424 years, 23 days
3
Kurt Zeitzler.jpg
Zeitzler, KurtGeneraloberst
Kurt Zeitzler
(1895–1963)
24 September 194210 June 19441 year, 260 days
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2005-0030, Adolf Heusinger.jpg
Heusinger, AdolfGeneralleutnant
Adolf Heusinger
(1897–1982)
Acting
[lower-alpha 3]
10 June 194421 July 194441 days
Heinz Guderian portrait.jpg
Guderian, HeinzGeneraloberst
Heinz Guderian
(1888–1954)
Acting
21 July 194428 March 1945250 days
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1978-111-10A, Hans Krebs.jpg
Krebs, HansGeneral der Infanterie
Hans Krebs
(1898–1945)
Acting
[lower-alpha 4]
1 April 19451 May 1945 30 days
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H30220, Wilhelm Keitel.jpg (cropped).jpg
Keitel, WilhelmGeneralfeldmarschall
Wilhelm Keitel
(1882–1946)
Acting
1 May 194513 May 194512 days
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1971-033-01, Alfred Jodl (cropped)-(a).jpg
Jodl, AlfredGeneraloberst
Alfred Jodl
(1890–1946)
Acting
13 May 194523 May 194510 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.

Zossen Place in Brandenburg, Germany

Zossen is a German town in the district of Teltow-Fläming in Brandenburg, approximately 20 miles (30 km) south of Berlin, and next to the B96 highway. Zossen consists of several smaller municipalities, which were grouped together in 2003 to form the city.

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]

Death of Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitlers death

Adolf Hitler was a German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and Führer ("Leader") of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. He killed himself by gunshot on 30 April 1945 in his Führerbunker in Berlin. Eva Braun, his wife of one day, committed suicide with him by taking cyanide. In accordance with Hitler's prior written and verbal instructions, that afternoon their remains were carried up the stairs through the bunker's emergency exit, doused in petrol, and set alight in the Reich Chancellery garden outside the bunker. Records in the Soviet archives show that their burned remains were recovered and interred in successive locations until 1946. They were exhumed again and cremated in 1970, and the ashes were scattered.

See also

Maybach I and II

Maybach I and II were a series of above and underground bunkers built 20 kilometres south of Berlin in Wünsdorf near Zossen, Brandenburg to house the High Command of the Army and the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces during the Second World War. Along with the military fortress complex Zossen, Maybach I and II were instrumental locations from which central planning for field operations of the Wehrmacht took place, and they provided a key connection between Berlin’s military and civilian leadership to the front lines of battle. The complex was named after the Maybach automobile engine.

<i>Oberste Heeresleitung</i> highest echelon of command of the army (Heer) of the German Empire

The Oberste Heeresleitung was the highest echelon of command of the army (Heer) of the German Empire. In the latter part of World War I, the Third OHL assumed dictatorial powers and became the de facto political authority in the empire.

German Empire empire in Central Europe between 1871–1918

The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.

Notes

  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 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.
  3. Later served as the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr (1957–1961) and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (1961–1964)
  4. Committed suicide

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References

  1. Barnett, Correlli (1989). Hitler's Generals. Grove. p. 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