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The peace strength for 1910 was fixed at 505,839 men (not including officers, non-commissioned officers and one-year volunteers), forming

  • 633 battalions infantry
  • 510 squadrons cavalry
  • 574 batteries field and horse artillery
  • 40 battalions foot artillery
  • 29 battalions pioneers
  • 12 battalions communication troops
  • 33 train battalions, &c.

The addition of about 35,000 officers and 85,000 non-commissioned officers, one-year men, &c.. brought the peace footing of the German army in 1910 to a total of about 615,000 of all ranks. As for war, the total fighting strength of the German nation (including the navy) was placed at as high a figure as 11,000,000, Of these 7,000,000 had received little or no training, owing to medical unfitncss, residence abroad, failure to appear, surplus of annual contingents, and not more than 3,000,000 of these would be available in war. The real military resources of Germany, untrained and trained, were thus about 7,000,000, of whom 4,000,000 had at one time or another done a continuous period of service with the colors. This is of course for a war of defence outrance. For an offensive war, only the active army, the reserve, the Ersatz and the 1st levy of the Landwehr would be really available.

The officers were recruited either from the Cadet Corps at Berlin or from among those men, of sufficient social standing, who join the ranks with a view to obtaining commissions. Reserve and Landwehr officers were drawn from among officers and selected non-commissioned officers retired from the active army, and one-year volunteers who had passed a special examination. All candidates, from whatever source they come, are subject to approval or rejection by their brother officers before being definitively commissioned. Promotion in the German army was excessively slow, the senior subalterns having eighteen to twenty years' commissioned service and the senior captains sometimes thirty. The number of officers on the active list was about 25,000. The under-officers numbered about 84,000.

A rough calculation of the number of these who go to form or to reinforce the field armies and the mobilized garrisons may be given : Cadres of officers and non-commissioned officers 100,000 From 7 annual contingents of recruits (i.e. active army and reserve) .... 1,200.000 From 5 contingents of Landwehr (ist ban) . 600,000 From 7 classes of Ersatz reserve called to the . depots, able-bodied men .... 400,000 One-year volunteers recalled to the colors or serving as reserve and Landwehr officers 100,000 2,400,000 These again would divide into a first line army of 1,350.000 and a second of 1,050,000.

It was calculated that the field army would consist, in the third week of a great war, of 633 battalions, 410 squadrons and 574 batteries, with technical, departmental and medical troops (say 630,000 bayonets, 60,000 sabers and 3444 guns, or 750,000 men), and that these could be reinforced in three or four weeks by 350 fresh battalions. Behind these forces there would shortly become available for secondary operations about 460 battalions of the ist ban Landwehr, and 200 squadrons and about 220 batteries of the reserve and Landwehr. In addition, each would leave behind depot troops to form the nucleus on which the 2nd ban Landwehr and the Landsturm would eventually be built up. The total number of units of the three arms in all branches may be stated approximately at 2200 battalions, 780 squadrons and 950 batteries.

The Law of 1912 raised the peace strength of the Army to 544,211. It was decided that the most important provisions of the Law of 1911, as well as of the new Law, should be carried out immediately, instead of being spread over the period until 1915. The Law involved a considerable reorganization and redistribution on both frontiers. It increased enormously the readiness of the Army for war, and was the greatest effort made by Germany since 1870. The total peace strength became approximately 723,000, all ranks included, that is to say, 544,000 privates, 30,000 officers, 95,000 non-commissioned officers, 14,000 one-year volunteers, and 40,000 officers and others of the administrative cadre.

Nevertheless, the Law of 1912 was hardly in force before fresh increases began to be demanded and predicted. The inspired newspapers pretended to castigate the military authorities for their slowness, and the Emperor delivered a speech referring to the "thorough application of the principle of obligatory service." The new Bill passed in June 1913 very soon appeared. It proposed the increase of the peace strength from 544,211 to 661,176 privates, and the addition of 4,000 officers, 15,000 non-commissioned officers, and 27,000 horses. Adding the administrative cadre and 18,000 one-year volunteers the total peace strength was raised to about 870,000 men. Most of the increase was to be effected immediately, although the Bill covered a period of three years. The number of Army Corps remained 25, but the various arms were ultimately to be raised to totals of 669 battalions of infantry, 550 squadrons of cavalry. 633 batteries of field artillery, 55 battalions of gairison artillery, 44 battalions of engineers, 31 battalions of communication troops, and 26 battalions of the train. This is dealing only with peace strengths, but the ultimate effect of the Law of 1913 and its predecessors would have been, after the lapse of 24 years, to provide Germany with a fully trained reserve of 5,400,000 men.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:54:36 ZULU