The German Army (German: Deutsches Heer) is the land component of the armed forces of Germany. The present-day German Army was founded in 1955 as part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr together with the Marine (German Navy) and the Luftwaffe (German Air Force). As of 28 February 2019, the German Army had a strength of 62,194 soldiers.
Logo of the German Army
|Size||62,194 (28 February 2019)|
|Motto(s)||Schützen, helfen, vermitteln, kämpfen|
(To protect, help, moderate, and fight)
|Colors||Green and Sand|
|Anniversaries||12 November 1955|
|Equipment||List of equipment|
|Engagements||United Nations Operations in Somalia|
Aftermath of the Balkan Wars 1995-1999
Battle of Tetovo
Operation Essential Harvest
War in Afghanistan
North Kosovo crisis
|Decorations||Awards and decorations|
|Federal Chancellor||Angela Merkel|
|Minister of Defence||Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer|
|Inspector General||General Eberhard Zorn|
|Inspector of the Army||Lieutenant General Jörg Vollmer|
|General Ulrich de Maizière|
Lieutenant General Jörg Schönbohm
|Attack helicopter||Eurocopter Tiger|
|Trainer helicopter||Eurocopter EC135|
|Utility helicopter||Bell UH-1 Iroquois|
A German Army, equipped, organized and trained following a single doctrine, and permanently unified under one command dates from 1871, and the unification of Germany under the leadership of Prussia. From 1871 to 1919 the title Deutsches Heer (German Army) was the official name of the German land forces. Following the German defeat in World War I and the end of the German Empire the main army was dissolved. From 1921 to 1935 the name of the German land forces was Reichsheer (Army of the Realm) and from 1935 to 1945 the name Heer was used. The Heer was one of two ground forces of the Third Reich during World War II, but unlike the Heer, the Waffen-SS was not a branch of the Wehrmacht, but was a combat force under the Nazi Party's own Schutzstaffel forces. The Heer was formally disbanded in August 1946.
After World War II Germany was split into two sovereign states and both formed their own militaries: on 12 November 1955 the first recruits began their service in the West German Heer, while on 1 March 1956 the East German Landstreitkräfte der NVA (Land Forces of the National People's Army) were founded. During the Cold War the West German Army was fully integrated into NATOs command structure, while the Landstreitkräfte were part of the Warsaw Pact. Following the German reunification in 1990 the Landstreitkräfte were partially integrated into the German Army. Since then the German Army has been employed in peacekeeping operations worldwide and since 2002 also in combat operations in Afghanistan as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force.
Following World War II the Allies dissolved the Wehrmacht with all its branches on 20 August 1946. However already one year after the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949 and because of its increasing links with the West under German chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the Consultative Assembly of Europe began to consider the formation of a European Defence Community with German participation on 11 August 1950. Former high-ranking German Wehrmacht officers outlined in the Himmeroder memorandum a plan for a "German contingent in an international force for the defense of Western Europe." For the German land forces the memorandum envisioned the formation of a 250,000 strong army. The officers saw the need for the formation of twelve Panzer divisions and six corps staffs with accompanying Corps troops, as only armored divisions could muster a fighting force to throw back the numerically far superior forces of the Warsaw Pact.
On 26 October 1950 Theodor Blank was appointed "officer of the Federal Chancellor for the Strengthening of Allied Troops questions". This Defence Ministry forerunner was known somewhat euphemistically as the Blank Office (Amt Blank), but explicitly used to prepare for the rearmament of West Germany (Wiederbewaffnung). By March 1954 the Blank Office had finished plans for a new German army. Plans foresaw the formation of six infantry, four armoured, and two mechanised infantry divisions, as the German contribution to the defense of Western Europe in the framework of a European Defence Community. On 8 February 1952 the Bundestag approved a German contribution to the defense of Western Europe and on 26 February 1954 the Basic Law of the Republic was amended with the insertion of an article regarding the defence of the sovereignty of the federal government. Following a decision at the London Nine Power Conference of 28 September to 3 October 1954, Germany's entry into NATO effective from 9 May 1955 was accepted as a replacement for the failed European Defence Community plan. Afterwards the Blank Office was converted to the Defence Ministry and Theodor Blank became the first Defence Minister. The nucleus of army was the so-called V Branch of the Department of Defence. Subdivisions included were VA Leadership and Training, VB Organisation and VC Logistics.
The army saw itself explicitly not as a successor to the defeated Wehrmacht, but as in the traditions of the Prussian military reformers of 1807 to 1814 and the members of the military resistance during National Socialism; such as the officers which undertook the failed 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. Nevertheless, for lack of alternatives the officer corps was made up largely of former Wehrmacht officers. The first Chief of the Army was the former Wehrmacht General der Panzertruppe Hans Rottiger, who had been involved in the drafting of the Himmeroder memorandum.
The official date of the founding of the army is 12 November 1955 when the first soldiers began their service in Andernach. In 1956 the first troops set up seven training companies in Andernach and began the formation of schools and training centers. On 1 April 1957, the first conscripts arrived for service in the army. The first military organisations created were instructional battalions, officer schools, and the Army Academy, the forerunner to the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr in Hamburg. In total of twelve armoured and infantry divisions were to be established by 1959, as planned in Army Structure I. To achieve this goal existing units were split approximately every six months. However the creation of all twelve divisions did not take place until 1965. At the end of 1958 the strength of the army was about 100,000 men. The army was equipped at first with American material, such as the M-47 Patton main battle tank. Three corps commands were formed beginning in 1957: the I Corps, II Corps, and the III Corps.
Also in 1957 the "Office for Territorial Defence" was established as the highest Territorial Army authority. The Office for Territorial Defence was under the direct command of the Federal Ministry of Defence and commanded the Territorial Army (Germany) (Territorialheer), a reserve formation. While the Heer along with the Marine and Luftwaffe were firmly integrated into the NATO Military Command Structure, the Territorialheer remained under national command. The main function of the Territorialheer was to maintain the operational freedom of NATO forces through providing rear area defence against saboteurs, enemy special forces, and the like. There were three Territorial Commands (Territorialkommandos), including North, South, and Schleswig-Holstein, and up to six Wehrbereichskommandos (WBKs), military regional commands. By 1985 each of the WBKs had two Heimatschutzbrigades (HSBs, home defence brigades).
The development of Soviet tactical nuclear weapons required the development of a new Army structure even before Army Structure I was fully achieved. To minimize the effects of attacks with tactical nuclear weapons on massed forces, the 28,000 strong divisions of the Heer were broken up into smaller and more mobile brigades. These smaller units were also to be capable of self-sustainment on an atomic battlefield for several days, and to be capable of to move quickly from defense and to attack. The new armoured and mechanized brigades were capable of combined arms combat. Each division was composed of three brigades. The armoured brigades consisted of an armoured infantry battalion, two armoured battalions, an armoured artillery battalion and a supply battalion. The mechanized brigades consisted of a motorized infantry battalion, two mechanized infantry battalions, an armored battalion, a field artillery battalion and a supply battalion. The motorized brigades consisted of three motorized infantry battalions, an anti-tank battalion, a field artillery battalion and a supply battalion. The alpine brigades consisted of three alpine battalions, a mountain artillery battalion and a supply battalion. By 1959 the Heer consisted of 11 divisions of 27 brigades, four Panzer (armoured), four Panzergrenadier (mechanized), two Jäger (motorized), and one Gebirgsjäger (alpine).
At the end of the Cold War the German Army fielded 12 divisions with 38 brigades: six Panzer (armoured), four Panzergrenadier (mechanized), one Fallschirmjäger (airborne), and one Gebirgsjäger (alpine) division. Nine divisions were grouped into three corps: I German Corps as part of NATO's Northern Army Group, II German Corps and III German Corps as part of Central Army Group. The remaining three divisions were part of Allied Forces Baltic Approaches (6th Panzergrenadier Division) and NORTHAG's I Netherlands Corps (3rd Panzer Division), while 1st Fallschirmjäger Division was assigned in peacetime to II German Corps and doubled as general staff for the ACE Mobile Force (Land).
After 1990, the Heer absorbed the Nationale Volksarmee, the armed forces of East Germany. The former East German forces were initially controlled by the Bundeswehr Command East under the command of Lieutenant General Jörg Schönbohm and disbanded on 30 June 1991. In the aftermath of the merger, the German Army consisted of four Corps (including IV Corps at Potsdam in the former DDR) with a manpower of 360,000 men. It was continuously downsized from this point. In 1994 III Corps was reorganised as the German Army Forces Command. In 1996, the 25th Airborne Brigade was converted into a new command leading the Army's special forces, known as the Kommando Spezialkräfte.
The 2001 onwards restructuring of the German Army saw it move to a seven division structure – 5 mechanized (each with two mechanized brigades), 1 special forces, and one air assault.
In 2003, three Corps still existed, each including various combat formations and a maintenance brigade, as well as the I. German/Dutch Corps, a joint German-Netherlands organization, used to control in peacetime the 1st Panzer and 7th Panzer Divisions as well as Dutch formations. The 1st Panzer would have reported to the corps in wartime while the 7th would be posted to the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. II Corps was German in peacetime but would have exchanged a division with the V U.S. Corps in time of war (the 5th Panzer). The 5th Panzer was formally Division disbanded as of 30 June 2001. In peacetime it also commanded the 10th Panzer Division, which was allocated to Eurocorps and which parents the German half of the Franco-German Brigade. The 1st Mountain Division at Munich was also subordinate to this headquarters.
The IV Corps was headquartered at Potsdam in eastern Germany and controlled two Panzer-Grenadier Divisions, the 13th and 14th. The 14th Panzergrenadier Division also took control of units in Western Germany re-subordinated from the 6th Panzergrenadier Division when it lost its command function. It would have made up the German contribution to the Multinational Corps Northeast in time of war. IV Corps also used to have under its command the Military District Command I, the 1st Airmobile Brigade, and the Berlin Command (de:Standortkommando Berlin).
All corps have now been disbanded or transferred to a multinational level such as Multinational Corps North East. IV Corps was reorganized and on 31 March 2002 became an overseas deployment command, the Einsatzführungskommando der Bundeswehr, like the British Permanent Joint Headquarters. An army reorganisation in recent years has seen the disbandment of the 13th Mechanized Infantry Division headquarters, a merge of the Airmobile Operations Division and Special Operations Division headquarters, the disbandment of the 1st Airmobile Brigade, and reshuffling of units between divisions. No heavy brigades were disbanded, but the two remaining heavy divisions command three rather than two brigades.
As of 28 February 2019 there were a total of 62,194 soldiers on active service in the German Army. However, the quite unique German military branch of the Joint Support Service consists to a significant degree of Heeresuniformträger (army uniform wearing personnel). This is also contributed to by the Joint Medical Service, which does have other solely-military-medical branch counterparts (such as in South Africa).
In accordance with EU working hour regulations, the regular work-week is 41 hours, although numerous exceptions exist for e.g. deployments in oversea missions, training exercises, emergencies, and similar military needs.
The German Army is commanded by the Inspector of the Army (Inspekteur des Heeres) based at the Army Command (Kommando Heer) in Strausberg near Berlin. The training centers are supervised by the Army Training Command in Leipzig.
The combat units of the army include two armoured divisions, one rapid forces division and the Franco-German Brigade, which is under direct supervision of the Army Command. Unlike other European armies such as neighbouring France, regiments are not a common form of organization and are thus rare in the German army. Battalions are directly subordinate to brigades or to divisions as divisional troops. German infantry battalions field 1,000 men, considerably larger than most NATO armies, i.e. twice the size of a US Army battalion.
The German Army has eleven different branches of troops, designated as Truppengattungen. Each Truppengattung is responsible for training and readiness of its units and disposes of its own schools and centres of excellence for doing so. Optically this distinction can be made by the branch colour, called Waffenfarbe which is displayed by a cord attached to the rank insignia, and the colour of their beret with a specific badge attached to it.
Beret Colour (Army only and Security Units of Navy and Air Force)
Waffenfarbe (Army and army support branch only)
Armoured Troops (i.e. Tanks)
Pioneers (i.e. Engineering)
The rank structure of the German army is adjusted to the rank structure of NATO. Unlike its predecessors, the modern German Army does not use the rank of Colonel General.
The highest rank for an army officer is Lieutenant General, as the rank of Full General is reserved for the Armed Forces chief of staff or officers serving as NATO officers.
|NATO code||OF-10||OF-9||OF-8||OF-7||OF-6||OF-5||OF-4||OF-3||OF-2||OF-1||OF(D)||Student officer|
|No equivalent||Enlisted rank plus bottom thin silver|
cord indicating cadet's career
Army Group B (German: Heeresgruppe B) was the title of three German Army Groups that saw action during World War II.Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre (German: Heeresgruppe Mitte) was the name of two distinct strategic German Army Groups that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II. The first Army Group Centre was created on 22 June 1941, as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa). On 25 January 1945, after it was encircled in the Königsberg pocket, Army Group Centre was renamed Army Group North (Heeresgruppe Nord), and Army Group A (Heeresgruppe A) became Army Group Centre. The latter formation retained its name until the end of the war in Europe.Army Group North
Army Group North (German: Heeresgruppe Nord) was a German strategic echelon formation, commanding a grouping of field armies during World War II. The German Army Group was subordinated to the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), the German army high command, and coordinated the operations of attached separate army corps, reserve formations, rear services and logistics, including the Army Group North Rear Area.Army Group South
Army Group South (German: Heeresgruppe Süd) was the name of two German Army Groups during World War II. It was first used in the 1939 September Campaign, along with Army Group North to invade Poland. In the invasion of Poland Army Group South was led by Gerd von Rundstedt and his chief of staff Erich von Manstein. Two years later, Army Group South became one of three army groups into which Germany organised their forces for Operation Barbarossa. Army Group South's principal objective was to capture Soviet Ukraine and its capital Kiev.Battle of Amiens (1918)
The Battle of Amiens, also known as the Third Battle of Picardy (French: 3ème Bataille de Picardie), was the opening phase of the Allied offensive which began on 8 August 1918, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, that ultimately led to the end of the First World War. Allied forces advanced over 11 kilometres (7 mi) on the first day, one of the greatest advances of the war, with Gen Henry Rawlinson's British Fourth Army (with 9 of its 19 divisions supplied by the fast moving Australian Corps of Lt Gen John Monash and Canadian Corps of Lt Gen Arthur Currie) playing the decisive role. The battle is also notable for its effects on both sides' morale and the large number of surrendering German forces. This led Erich Ludendorff to describe the first day of the battle as "the black day of the German Army". Amiens was one of the first major battles involving armoured warfare.Generalleutnant
Generalleutnant, short GenLt, (English: lieutenant general) is the second highest general officer rank in the German Army (Heer) and the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).Generalmajor
For the use of this Two-star rank in other countries, see Major general.
General Major, short GenMaj, (English: major general) is a general officer rank in many countries, and is identical to and translated as major general.
It is currently the third highest general officer rank in the German Army (Heer), German Air Force (Luftwaffe). This rank is also used in the Austrian Armed Forces, but is abbreviated as GenMjr.
Historically, German Army ranks for their Generals prior to 1945 were offset by one from western nomenclature. Thus, prior to 1945 the Generalmajor rank in the German Army was equivalent to the Brigadier General rank in the West, and so forth.German Army (1935–1945)
The German Army (German: Heer, German pronunciation: [ˈheːɐ̯], lit. 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.
Only 17 months after Adolf Hitler announced publicly the rearmament program, the Army reached its projected goal of 36 divisions. During the autumn of 1937 two more corps were formed. In 1938 four additional corps were formed with the inclusion of the five divisions of the Austrian Army after the Anschluss in March. During the period of its expansion under Hitler, the German Army continued to develop concepts pioneered during World War I, combining ground (Heer) and air (Luftwaffe) assets into combined arms forces. Coupled with operational and tactical methods such as encirclements and the "battle of annihilation", the German military managed quick victories in the two initial years of World War II, a new style of warfare described as Blitzkrieg (lightning war) for its speed and destructive power.The infantry remained foot soldiers throughout the war; artillery also remained primarily horse-drawn. The motorized formations received much attention in the world press in the opening years of the war, and were cited as the main reason for the success of the German invasions of Poland (September 1939), Norway and Denmark (April 1940), Belgium, France and Netherlands (May 1940), Yugoslavia (April 1941) and the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union (June 1941). However their motorized and tank formations accounted for only 20% of the Heer's capacity at their peak strength. The army's lack of trucks (and of petroleum to run them) severely limited infantry movement, especially during and after the Normandy invasion when Allied air-power devastated the French rail network north of the Loire. Panzer movements also depended on rail, since driving a tank long distances wore out its tracks.German Army (German Empire)
The Imperial German Army (German: Deutsches Heer) was the unified ground and air force of the German Empire (excluding the Marine-Fliegerabteilung maritime aviation formations of the Imperial German Navy). The term Deutsches Heer is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the Bundeswehr. The German Army was formed after the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership in 1871 and dissolved in 1919, after the defeat of the German Empire in World War I.Guards Cavalry Division (German Empire)
The Guards Cavalry Division (Garde-Kavallerie-Division) was a unit of the German army that was stationed in Berlin. The division was a part of the Guards Corps (Gardekorps).Luftstreitkräfte
The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte (German: [ˈdɔʏtʃə ˈlʊftˌʃtʁaɪtkʁɛftə], German Air Force)—known before October 1916 as Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches (Imperial German Flying Corps) abbreviated to Die Fliegertruppe—was the air arm of the Imperial German Army. In English-language sources it is usually referred to as the Imperial German Air Service, although that is not a literal translation of either name. German naval aviators of the Marine-Fliegerabteilung was an integral part of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine). Both military branches operated aeroplanes, observation balloons and airships.Major (Germany)
For the use of this rank in other countries, see major.Major (German pronunciation: [maˈjoːɐ]) is the lowest staff officer rank in the German Army (Heer), German Air Force (Luftwaffe). The rank is rated OF-3 in NATO. The rank insignia is a silver oakleaf cluster with a silver pip (star).
The OF-3 equivalent of the German Navy (Marine) is the Korvettenkapitän.
To be appointed to the rank of Major, the officer has to pass a staff officer basic course (Stabsoffizierlehrgang) which is held at the German Armed Forces Command and Staff College (Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr), and serve in a post coded A13 or A13/A14.
In the German Army and the Joint Support Service (Streitkräftebasis), the waiting period between meeting the requirements for promotion and actual promotion to the rank of Major averages 15 months due to budget problems (as of July 2010).Military ranks of the German Empire
The military ranks of the German Empire were the ranks used by the military of the German Empire. It inherited the various traditions and military ranks of its constituent states.Oberkommando des Heeres
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.Panzer Army Africa
As the number of German troops committed to the North African Campaign of World War II grew from the initial commitment of a small corps the Germans developed a more elaborate command structure and placed the enlarged Afrika Korps, with Italian units under this new German command and a succession of commands were created to manage Axis forces in Africa:
Panzer Group Africa, (Panzergruppe Afrika, Gruppo Corazzato Africa) August 1941 – January 1942; German-Italian force
Panzer Army Africa, (Panzerarmee Afrika, Armata Corazzata Africa) January–October 1942
German-Italian Panzer Army, (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee, Armata Corazzata Italo-Tedesca) October 1942 – February 1943
Army Group Africa, (Heeresgruppe Afrika, Gruppo d'Armate Africa) February–May 1943Rank insignia of the German Bundeswehr
The rank insignia of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany indicate rank and branch of service in the German Army (Heer), German Air Force (Luftwaffe), or the German Navy (Marine).
They are regulated by the "presidential order on rank designation and military uniform".
The 'ZDv-37/10 – Anzugsordnung für Soldaten der Bundeswehr' (ZDv: Zentrale Dienstvorschrift - Central Service Provision) gives the dress order and design variations. Further, the Federal Office of Equipment, IT, and In-Service Support of the Bundeswehr (Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr) provides numerous details.Ranks and insignia of the German Army (1935–1945)
The Heer as the German army and part of the Wehrmacht inherited its uniforms and rank structure from the Reichsheer of the Weimar Republic (1921–1935). There were few alterations and adjustments made as the army grew from a limited peacetime defense force of 100,000 men to a war-fighting force of several million men.
These ranks and insignia were specific to the Heer and in special cases to senior Wehrmacht officers in the independent services; the uniforms and rank systems of the other branches of the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe (Air Force) and Kriegsmarine (Navy), were different, as were those of the SS which was a Party organization outside the Wehrmacht. The Nazi Party also had its own series of paramilitary uniforms and insignia.Rape of Belgium
The Rape of Belgium is a phrase given to the German mistreatment of civilians during the invasion and subsequent occupation of Belgium during World War I.
The neutrality of Belgium had been guaranteed by the Treaty of London (1839), which had been signed by Prussia. However, the German Schlieffen Plan required that German armed forces pass through Belgium (thus violating Belgium’s neutrality) in order to outflank the French Army, concentrated in eastern France. The German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg dismissed the treaty of 1839 as a "scrap of paper". Throughout the beginning of the war, the German army engaged in numerous atrocities against the civilian population of Belgium, including the destruction of civilian property; 6,000 Belgians were killed, and 17,700 died during expulsion, deportation, imprisonment, or death sentence by court. Another 3,000 Belgian civilians died due to electric fences the German Army put up to prevent civilians from fleeing the country, and 120,000 became forced laborers, with half of that number deported to Germany. 25,000 homes and other buildings in 837 communities were destroyed in 1914 alone, and 1.5 million Belgians (20% of the entire population) fled from the invading German army.Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht (German pronunciation: [ˈveːɐ̯maxt] (listen), lit. defence force) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe (air force). The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler's most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern offensively-capable armed force, fulfilling the Nazi regime's long-term goals of regaining lost territory as well as gaining new territory and dominating its neighbors. This required the reinstatement of conscription, and massive investment and defense spending on the arms industry.The Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany's politico-military power. In the early part of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht employed combined arms tactics (close cover air-support, tanks, and infantry) to devastating effect in what became known as a Blitzkrieg (lightning war). Its campaigns in France (1940), the Soviet Union (1941), and North Africa (1941/42) are regarded as acts of boldness. At the same time, the far-flung advances strained the Wehrmacht's capacity to the breaking point, culminating in the first major defeat in the Battle of Moscow (1941); by late 1942, Germany was losing the initiative in all theatres. The operational art was no match to the war-making abilities of the Allied coalition, making the Wehrmacht's weaknesses in strategy, doctrine, and logistics readily apparent.Closely cooperating with the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, the German armed forces committed numerous war crimes and atrocities, despite later denials and promotion of the myth of the Clean Wehrmacht. The majority of the war crimes were committed in the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy, as part of the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, the Holocaust and Nazi security warfare.
During the war about 18 million men served in the Wehrmacht. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, German forces (consisting of the Army, Navy and Luftwaffe, the Waffen-SS, the Volkssturm and foreign collaborateur units) had lost approximately 11,300,000 men, about half of whom were missing or killed during the war. Only a few of the Wehrmacht's upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions. The majority of the three million Wehrmacht soldiers who invaded the USSR participated in committing war crimes.
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Armies (land forces) in Europe