MILITARY FLAGS  •  1921-33

The Treaty of Versailles required Germany to reduce its army to 100,000 men, a task that was substantially completed by early 1921 when the army of the German Republic, usually called the Reichswehr but properly titled the Reichsheer, was formally established. The new army was to be made up of long-service professional soldiers (this to prevent the buildup of a reserve force) and was forbidden to possess heavy artillery, tanks, chemical weapons or aircraft. Also banned was the Great General Staff (Großer Generalstab) of the Imperial era, its place being filled by the so-called Troop Office (Truppenamt) of the Army Command (Heeresleitung).

According to the Weimar constitution, the Reich President was titular commander-in-chief of the German armed forces. Actual command authority, however, rested with the Minister of Defense (Reichswehrminister), who was empowered to issue orders to the Army and Navy commands. The Army's senior commander was the Chief of the Army Command (Chef der Heeresleitung). In the field, the Army was organized into seven infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions controlled by two Army Group Commands: Heeres-Gruppenkommando I with its headquarters in Berlin and Heeres-Gruppenkommando II with its headquarters in Kassel. Germany as a whole was divided into seven military districts (Wehrkreis). One of the infantry divisions was allotted to each district and its commanding general also served as the Wehrkreis commander.

From the beginning of the Reichsheer's existence, every possible subterfuge was employed to evade the disarmament provisions of the Versailles Treaty and preserve a base for the future rearmament of Germany. Thus, for example, each Wehrkreis was allotted additional staff officers under an Infantry Commander and an Artillery Commander. These staffs were designed to serve as a nucleus for newly raised units. The frontier police (Grenzpolizei) and the police forces of the German federal states (Landespolizei) were placed under the command of ex-Army officers and given military training to suit them for employment as a reserve of the Reichsheer. A secret agreement with the Soviet Union enabled Army officers to familiarize themselves with banned weapons such as tanks and aircraft. The personnel of the Reichsheer itself were always regarded as the cadre for a much larger army of the future. These measures, dating from the early 1920s, enabled the Army to be rapidly tripled in size in 1935, when Hitler formally denounced the disarmament provisions of the 1919 peace treaty.

The command flags used by the Reichsheer between 1921 and 1933 reflected the switch from empire to republic, employing the black-red-gold republican colors and the new national coat of arms, a black eagle on a golden yellow field. They were all abolished in 1933 when the Nazi government came to power and restored the black-white-red flag of the imperial era.


REICH PRESIDENT  •  Reichspräsident


MINISTER OF DEFENSE  •  Reichswehrminister



CHIEF OF THE ARMY COMMAND  •  Chef der Heeresleitung  •  1921-27 & 1927-33

ARMY GROUP COMMAND ONE  •  Heeres-Gruppenkommando 1






Infanterie-Kommandeur Wehrkreis II


Artillerie-Kommandeur Wehrkreis III