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Heer (Army) Command Organization

General von Brauchitsch was still the Army's commander in chief in March 1939, with General der Artillerie Franz Haider as his chief of staff. The headquarters of the Army was known as the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), or the High Command of the Army. For administration and other station complement functions OKH controlled 15 Wehrkreise, numbered I through XIII, XVII, and XVIII. Control over the Army's tactical forces was exercised through the six group commands.

Group Command 1, controlling the I, II, III, and VIII Corps, was in Berlin. Group Command 2 (Plan WEST) was at Frankfurt-am-Main and to it were attached the V, VI, and XII Corps, and the 3 frontier commands. Dresden was headquarters for Group Command 3, to which the IV, VII, and XIII Corps were responsible. Group Command 4 controlled the XIV Corps (motorized infantry divisions), XV Corps (light divisions), and XVI Corps (Panzer divisions), and was the forerunner of the Panzer armies of a later date; the headquarters of this group command was in Leipzig. Group Command 5 had its headquarters in Vienna, and controlled the XVII and XVIII Corps. Hannover was headquarters for Group Command 6, to which were attached the IX, X, and XI Corps. This peacetime subordination of corps would not necessarily pertain on mobilization, when the group commands became armies. As in the United States Army, corps in the German Army could be shifted from control of one army to the other.

The power of the Wehrmacht, while formidable by early 1939, had been exaggerated by German and foreign news media out of proper proportion, and the Westwall was of limited value to the defense of the Reich. Five years was hardly sufficient time for the three services to build up and thoroughly integrate a large cadre of professional officers and noncommissioned officers. The crop of 250,000-300,000 Army conscripts that finished training each year was beginning to fill the reserve ranks, but training of the older men of the 1901-1913 age classes had lagged.

The active Army could be considered as one of the best trained in Europe, but lacked a sufficient number of qualified signal personnel and its Panzer forces were an untried experiment. The bulk of the tanks (Mark I and II) were known to be too light but could not be replaced at once with the heavier Mark III and Mark IV models. Kolling stock and truck transportation were in short supply and it would take time to organize additional reserve divisions and train the large number of men who had not yet seen service.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:54:13 ZULU