TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



Under the German military system the basic principle is unity of command at all levels. Thus the Army, Navy, and Air Force are considered branches of a single service, the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht). This joint High Command is responsible for the whole preparation of defense in time of peace and for the general conduct of war; it appoints commands for the joint task forces in the field and sees to it that the efforts of the three branches of the armed forces are thoroughly coordinated.

In time of war the Armed Forces High Command, as well as the High Command of each of the three branches establishes a field headquarters away from Berlin for the conduct of operations. Its location at any given time depends on the theater to which the main attention is being directed. In the case of the Navy, it is usually at one of the naval bases while the headquarters of the Army, the Air Force and the Armed Forces have been in close proximity to each other at various points since the spring of 1941. The Commander-in-Chief and the bulk of the General Staff of each High Command are stationed at field headquarters, while the non-operational branches back in the Zone of the Interior continue to handle all basic administrative matters, procurement, mobilization, training and replacement of personnel, and equipment.

Hitler is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (Oberster Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht). His Deputy as such is General Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of the Armed Forces High Command (Chef des Oberkommando der Wehrmacht).

Under the Armed Forces High Command the functions of the joint general staff are performed by what is known as the Armed Forces Operations Staff (Wehrmachtführungsstaf—W.F.St).

The field headquarters of the Armed Forces High Command which includes the principal sections of the Armed Forces Operations Staff is known as the Führerhauptquartier. During the Polish campaign it was stationed between Berlin and the Polish Frontier, moving to the Rhineland for the Western campaign in 1940, back to the East in 1941, and again to the West in 1944. Hitler's headquarters (Führerhauptquartier) is believed to have moved recently to southern Germany where it is probably located in the vicinity of Berchtesgaden.

The personnel of the Armed Forces High Command is drawn from all three branches, but the Army naturally has the largest representation.

The name of a command, organization, or unit deriving from the Armed Forces High Command is often prefixed by Wehrmacht or Führungs in order to distinguish it from a similar command, organization, or unit in one of the three branches.

Since December 1941, when von Brauchitsch was dismissed as Commander-in-Chief of the Army (Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres), and Hitler took direct control of the Army, the field headquarters of the Army High Command virtually has been merged with that of the Armed Forces High Command. The functions of the two, however, have remained distinct, and there has been no personal union except at the top. Keitel acts as Hitler's deputy in the latter's capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Army as well as in his capacity as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

For the organization of the Armed Forces High Command see Figure 4, Chapter 1.

For the organization of the Army High Command see Figure 5, Chapter 1.

The F hrerhauptquartier is frequently located in special trains. It is at all times well protected against air or land attacks by crack SS units. In addition to those the following two units of the elite army motorized division, the Grossdeutschland Panzer Grenadier Division, have been temporarily charged with that protection and were therefore awarded the honor of including "The Führer" in their unit designation. These units are:

The Führer Escort Brigade, which consists of three infantry battalions, one artillery battalion, one tank regiment (including one battalion of Pz. Kpfw. IV and one battalion of assault guns), and one engineer company;

The Führer Grenadier Brigade which consists of:

Two infantry battalions (one motorized and one armored); one battalion of self-propelled artillery; one assault gun company; one Panther tank battalion.


[Back] Back to Table of Contents

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Contact:
Copyright 2003-2005, All Rights Reserved.