Ministry of National Defence (East Germany)

The Ministry of National Defense (German: Ministerium für Nationale Verteidigung - MfNV) was the chief administrative arm of the East German National People's Army. The MND was modeled on the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union. The headquarters of the Ministry was in Strausberg near East Berlin. The Guard Regiment Hugo Eberlein provided security and guard services to the Ministry. The Ministry also had its own publishing house, Military publishing house of the German Democratic Republic.

Ministry of National Defence
Ministerium für Nationale Verteidigung
DDR Verteidigungsminister Kfz-Flagge
Flag of the Ministry of National Defence
Agency overview
Formed1 March 1956
Dissolved23 April 1990
JurisdictionEast Germany National People's Army
HeadquartersStrausberg

Minister of Defence

The NVA was administered through the Ministry of National Defense, one of the principal branches of the national government. The ministers of National Defense were:

Minister of Defence Took office Left office Time in office Party Chairman
1
Willi Stoph
Armeegeneral
Willi Stoph
(1914–1999)
1 March 195614 July 19604 years, 135 daysSEDGrotewohl
2
Heinz Hoffmann
Armeegeneral
Heinz Hoffmann
(1910–1985)
14 July 19602 December 1985 †25 years, 141 daysSEDOtto Grotewohl
Willi Stoph
Horst Sindermann
Willi Stoph
3
Heinz Kessler
Armeegeneral
Heinz Kessler
(1920–2017)
3 December 198518 November 19893 years, 351 daysSEDWilli Stoph
Hans Modrow
4
Theodor Hoffmann
Admiral
Theodor Hoffmann
(1935–2018)
18 November 198912 April 1990145 daysSEDHans Modrow
5
Rainer Eppelmann
Rainer Eppelmann
(born 1943)
As Minister of Disarmament and Defence
12 April 19902 October 1990173 daysDALothar de Maizière

Hierarchy

The Minister of National Defence was assisted by a colloquium of deputy ministers who were also chiefs of certain key administrations within the ministry.

In 1987 the deputy ministers and their assignments were as follows:

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-U1007-0049, Rostock, 30. Jahrestag DDR-Gründung, Flottenparade
Wilhelm Ehm, middle, at a Fleet parade for the 30th Anniversary of the German Democratic Republic in 1979.

History

On January 18, 1956, the People's Chamber (the national legislature) passed a bill creating the NVA and the Ministry of Defense from the Chief Administration of Training of the Ministry of the Interior. This act formally acknowledged the existence of East Germany's armed forces. The NVA incorporated the Kasernierte Volkspolizei or KVP, Sea Police, and Air Police into a single armed force having three branches: ground, naval, and air. The Ministry of Defense was headed by Colonel General (Generaloberst) Willi Stoph, who was also minister of the interior. In 1987 Stoph was chairman of the Council of Ministers and a member of the SED Politburo. General Hoffmann, who was listed as first deputy minister of defense, attended the Soviet General Staff Academy in the mid-1950s and replaced Stoph as defense minister in 1960. Hoffmann held the post until his death in 1985. Concurrent with the establishment of the NVA as a legal entity was a return to public manifestations of German military traditions, with the addition of socialist elements. The training regimen for recruits approximated that of the former Wehrmacht, as did drill and ceremonies. New uniforms, whose cut but not colour (stone grey) were far closer to those of German World War II forces than to Soviet models, were introduced. Only the helmet represented a radical departure from World War II, but here too the design differed from the Soviet model.

The creation of the NVA addressed both internal and external security problems. Internally the physical appearance of the NVA spoke to the population in terms of their traditional German heritage and differentiated the NVA from the Soviet Army. In theory at least, East German citizens could have pride in their own army. The swift creation of the NVA as a force of more than 120,000 officers and other ranks practicing Prussian-style drill was a dramatic gesture of nationalism that was impossible for the world to ignore.

The creation of the Ministry of Defense and the NVA seemingly should have been a blow to the authority and prestige of the Ministry of the Interior. The bureaucratic impact of this action was mitigated by permitting Stoph to carry both portfolios for four years. In addition, police activities, both civil and secret, remained under the Ministry of the Interior, as did the Border Police. The Ministry of the Interior established its own Alert Units for the specific function of internal security. The Alert Units were militarily structured, fully motorized units with modern weapons and equipment. Garrisoned and trained in battalion-size units, they were capable of carrying out police tasks and other security functions. They have been used in major disturbances or in civil disasters affecting public order and safety.

Differentiation between the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior was still in progress in the 1960s. On issue in this process was the subordination of the Border Police. On September 15, 1961, by order of the National Defense Council, the entire Border Police was transferred to the NVA and redesignated the Border Troops of the NVA. Various explanations for this shift have been offered by different authorities. The official reason stressed improvement in the level of training through closer relationship with the NVA and provision for reinforcement of the Border Troops with other NVA assets. The actual reason probably had more to do with standardization within the Warsaw Pact since similar reorganizations occurred in roughly the same time period in all the non-Soviet Warsaw Pact armies.

Organization

The organization of the East German Ministry of Defense, which closely follows the pattern of the Soviet Ministry of Defense, comprises several administrations and departments, among which there appeared to be a certain amount of overlapping authority. The chiefs of the major administrations and commands concurrently served as deputies to the defense minister.

In the mid-1980s, its complement of about 4,200 personnel had a military-to-civilian ratio of approximately three to one, in contrast to comparable Western ministries or departments that generally have a much higher proportion of civilian employees.

Approximately 100 Soviet liaison officers also were assigned to the East German ministry.

The Ministry of National Defense had the following subordinate executive bodies:

Headquarters

The Headquarters (German: Hauptstab), was led by the Chief of Staff (German: Chefs des Hauptstabes).

Chief of Staff Took office Left office Time in office
1
Vincenz Müller
Generalleutnant
Vincenz Müller
(1894–1961)
1 March 19561 March 19582 years, 0 days
2
Heinz Hoffmann
Generalleutnant
Heinz Hoffmann
(1910–1985)
1 March 19581 July 19602 years, 122 days
3
Sigfrid Riedel [de]
Generalmajor
Sigfrid Riedel
(1918–2018)
1 July 196015 March 19676 years, 257 days
4
Heinz Kessler
Generaloberst
Heinz Kessler
(1920–2017)
15 March 196710 January 197911 years, 301 days
5
Fritz Streletz [de]
Generaloberst
Fritz Streletz
(born 1926)
10 January 197931 December 198910 years, 355 days
6
Manfred Grätz [de]
Generalleutnant
Manfred Grätz
(born 1935)
1 January 199015 September 1990257 days

Land Forces Command

The Land Forces Command (German: Kommando Landstreitkräfte) was established on 1 December 1972 as a management body created for the land forces. The seat was in Wildpark-West. The Friedrich Engels Guard Regiment provide security and guard services for the Land Forces Command headquarters.

Name Took office Left office Time in office
1
Horst Stechbarth
Colonel general
Horst Stechbarth
(1925–2016)
1 December 197231 December 198917 years, 30 days
2
Horst Skerra [de]
Lieutenant general
Horst Skerra
(born 1930)
1 January 199014 September 1990256 days
3
Hans-Christian Reiche [de]
Major general
Hans-Christian Reiche
(born 1944)
15 September 19902 October 199017 days

Air Forces / Air Defense Command

The Air Force / Air Defense Command (German: Kommando Luftstreitkräfte&Luftverteidigung) (LSK / LV) was created in 1956 for government air force and air defense. A year later, the administrations for the joint command LSK / LV-based Eggersdorf was established. It was led by the Chief of the Air Force Command / Air Defense (German: Chefs des Kommandos Luftstreitkräfte/Luftverteidigung).

Name Took office Left office Time in office
1
Heinz-Bernhard Zorn [de]
Generalmajor
Heinz-Bernhard Zorn
(1912–1993)
1 March 195630 August 1956182 days
2
Heinz Kessler
Generalmajor
Heinz Kessler
(1920–2017)
1 September 195614 March 196710 years, 194 days
3
Herbert Scheibe
Generalleutnant
Herbert Scheibe
(1914–1991)
15 March 196714 March 19724 years, 365 days
4
Wolfgang Reinhold
Generalmajor
Wolfgang Reinhold
(1923–2012)
15 March 197230 November 198917 years, 260 days
5
Rolf Berger [de]
Generalleutnant
Rolf Berger
(1936–2009)
1 December 19892 October 1990306 days

People's Navy Command

People's Navy Command (German: Kommando Volksmarine) was based in Rostock-Gehlsdorf emerged from the administration of the naval forces. It was created in spring 1957. Following the award of the title "Volksmarine (People's Navy) on 3 November 1960 and was later renamed the People's Navy Command. It was led by the Chief of the Naval Forces Command/Marine People (German: Chefs des Kommandos Seestreitkräfte/ Volksmarine).

Name Took office Left office Time in office
Commander of naval forces (Kommandeur Seestreitkräfte)
1
Felix Scheffler
Konteradmiral
Felix Scheffler
(1915–1986)
1 March 195631 December 1956305 days
2
Waldemar Verner
Vizeadmiral
Waldemar Verner
(1914–1982)
1 January 195731 July 19592 years, 211 days
Chief of the Volksmarine (Chefs des Volksmarine)
3
Wilhelm Ehm
Konteradmiral
Wilhelm Ehm
(1918–2009)
1 August 195931 July 19611 year, 364 days
4
Heinz Neukirchen
Konteradmiral
Heinz Neukirchen
(1915–1986)
1 August 196124 February 19631 year, 207 days
(3)
Wilhelm Ehm
Konteradmiral
Wilhelm Ehm
(1918–2009)
25 February 196330 November 198724 years, 278 days
5
Theodor Hoffmann
Vizeadmiral
Theodor Hoffmann
(1935–2018)
1 December 198717 November 19891 year, 351 days
5
Hendrik Born
Vizeadmiral
Hendrik Born
(born 1944)
11 December 19892 October 1990295 days

Command GDR border troops

After the subordination of the German Border Police (German: Deutschen Grenzpolizei) under the Ministry of National Defense on 15 September 1961, the units were designated as the NVA (Border Troops of the NVA). Once separated, the border troops of the army units were designated as the Border Troops of the GDR (German: Grenztruppen aus der DDR). The Command GDR border troops (German: Kommando Grenztruppen der DDR) was based in Pätz. It was led by the Chief of the GDR border troops command (German: Chefs des Kommandos Grenztruppen der DDR).

Name Took office Left office Time in office
1
Erich Peter
Generaloberst
Erich Peter
(1919–1987)
15 September 196131 July 197917 years, 319 days
2
Klaus-Dieter Baumgarten [de]
Generaloberst
Klaus-Dieter Baumgarten
(1931–2008)
1 August 197931 December 198910 years, 152 days
3
Dieter Teichmann
Generalmajor
Dieter Teichmann
1 January 199030 September 1990272 days

Civil Defense Headquarters

The Civil Defense Headquarters (German: Hauptverwaltung Zivilverteidigung), was led by the Head of the Civil Defense Headquarters (German: Chef der Hauptverwaltung Zivilverteidigung).

Name Took office Left office Time in office
1
Fritz Peter [de]
Generaloberst
Fritz Peter
(born 1927)
1 December 197630 April 199013 years, 150 days

The governing bodies still belonged to the Ministry Headquarters, the political headquarters and the areas of Bereiche Rückwärtige Dienste (Rear services) and Technik und Bewaffnung (equipment and armament).

Political Headquarters

The Political Headquarters (German: Politische Hauptverwaltung), was led by the Chief of the Political Administration (German: Chefs der Politischen Hauptverwaltung).

  • Generalmajor Friedrich Dickel, 1 March 1956 to 24 August 1956
  • Oberst Gottfried Grünberg, 25 August 1956 to 27 November 1957
  • Generalmajor Rudolf Dölling, 28 November 1957 to 31 July 1959
  • Vizeadmiral Waldemar Verner, 1 August 1959 to 31 December 1978
  • Generaloberst Heinz Keßler, 10 January 1979 to 2 December 1985
  • Generaloberst Horst Brünner, 10 December 1985 to 31 December 1989

Technology and Armament Department

The Technology and Armament Department (German: Bereich Technik und Bewaffnung), was led by the Chief of the range equipment and armament (German: Chefs des Bereiches Technik und Bewaffnung).

  • Oberst Erwin Freyer, 1 March 1956 to 1 May 1957
  • Generalmajor Rudolf Menzel, 1 May 1957 to 14 October 1959
  • Generalmajor Friedrich Dickel, 15 October 1959 to 14 November 1963
  • Generalmajor Werner Fleißner, 1 February 1964 to 27 December 1985
  • Generaloberst Joachim Goldbach, 1 February 1986 to 18 April 1990

Rear Area Services

The Rear Area Services (German: Bereich Rückwärtige Dienste), was led by the Chiefs of the area Rear Services (German: Chefs des Bereiches Rückwärtigen Dienste).

  • Generalmajor Walter Allenstein, 1 March 1956 to 15 September 1972
  • Generalleutnant Helmut Poppe, 15 September 1972 to 26 July 1979
  • Generalleutnant Joachim Goldbach, 16 October 1979 to 31 January 1986
  • Generalleutnant Manfred Grätz, 1 February 1986 to 31 December 1989
  • Vizeadmiral Hans Hofmann, 1 January 1990 to 18 April 1990

The heads of the commands and the other governing bodies were usually also titled Deputy Minister of National Defense.

The MfNV has concluded agreements with almost all other ministries of the so-called GDR secret agreements. This agreement marked the prominent position of the NVA. Content of these agreements was the preferred treatment of the army in the food issue, to entering and use of forests and open spaces in the GDR.

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/.

  • Klaus Naumann (Hrsg.): NVA - Anspruch und Wirklichkeit. (NVA - and reality). Mittler, Hamburg / Berlin / Bonn 1996, ISBN 3-8132-0506-1.
  • Klaus Froh, Rüdiger Wenzke : Die Generale und Admirale der NVA. (The generals and admirals of the NVA). A Biographical Guide 4. Reprint. Ch. Links, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-86153-209-3
  • Bundesministerium für innerdeutsche Beziehungen (Hrsg.): DDR-Handbuch, Bd. (Federal Ministry for Intra-German Relations (ed.): DDR-Handbuch, 2nd Bd 3.Aufl. 3rd ed. Köln, 1985. Cologne, 1985. (S. 908) (P. 908)
  • Hans-Werner Deim, Hans-Georg Kampe, Joachim Kampe, Wolfgang Schubert - Sachbuch „ Die militärische Sicherheit der DDR im Kalten Krieg“, Projekt+Verlag "The military security of the GDR during the Cold War", Project + Verlag Dr.Erwin Meißler, Hönow 2008, ISBN 978-3-932566-80-6

External links

East Germany

East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik [ˈdɔʏtʃə demoˈkʁaːtɪʃə ʁepuˈbliːk], DDR), was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the eastern portion of Germany was part of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Commonly described as a communist state in English usage, it described itself as a socialist "workers' and peasants' state." It consisted of territory that was administered and occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II — the Soviet occupation zone of the Potsdam Agreement, bounded on the east by the Oder–Neisse line. The Soviet zone surrounded West Berlin but did not include it; as a result, West Berlin remained outside the jurisdiction of the GDR.

The German Democratic Republic was established in the Soviet zone, while the Federal Republic was established in the three western zones. East Germany was a satellite state of the Soviet Union. Soviet occupation authorities began transferring administrative responsibility to German communist leaders in 1948, and the GDR began to function as a state on 7 October 1949. However, Soviet forces remained in the country throughout the Cold War. Until 1989, the GDR was governed by the Socialist Unity Party (SED), though other parties nominally participated in its alliance organisation, the National Front of Democratic Germany. The SED made the teaching of Marxism–Leninism and the Russian language compulsory in schools.The economy was centrally planned and increasingly state-owned. Prices of housing, basic goods and services were set by central government planners rather than rising and falling through supply and demand; and were heavily subsidised. Although the GDR had to pay substantial war reparations to the Soviets, it became the most successful economy in the Eastern Bloc. Emigration to the West was a significant problem – as many of the emigrants were well-educated young people, it further weakened the state economically. The government fortified its western borders and, in 1961, built the Berlin Wall. Many people attempting to flee were killed by border guards or booby traps, such as landmines. Several others were imprisoned for many years.In 1989, numerous social, economic, and political forces in the GDR and abroad led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the establishment of a government committed to liberalisation. The following year, open elections were held, and international negotiations led to the signing of the Final Settlement treaty on the status and borders of Germany. The GDR dissolved itself, and Germany was reunified on 3 October 1990, becoming a fully sovereign state again. Several of the GDR's leaders, notably its last communist leader Egon Krenz, were prosecuted in reunified Germany for crimes committed during the Cold War.

Geographically, the German Democratic Republic bordered the Baltic Sea to the north; Poland to the east; Czechoslovakia to the southeast and West Germany to the southwest and west. Internally, the GDR also bordered the Soviet sector of Allied-occupied Berlin, known as East Berlin, which was also administered as the state's de facto capital. It also bordered the three sectors occupied by the United States, United Kingdom and France known collectively as West Berlin. The three sectors occupied by the Western nations were sealed off from the rest of the GDR by the Berlin Wall from its construction in 1961 until it was brought down in 1989.

Lothar Engelhardt

Lothar Engelhardt (July 5, 1939 – March 2010) was a graduated military scientist, Major General, and the last Commander in Chief of the National People's Army in the former German Democratic Republic.

Ministry of Defence

A Ministry of Defence or Defense (see spelling differences), also known as a Department of Defence or Defense, is the common name for a part of the government found in states where the government is divided into ministries or departments, responsible for matters of defence. Such a department usually includes all branches of the military, and is usually controlled by a Defence Minister, Minister of Defence, or Secretary of Defense.

Historically, such departments were referred to as a Ministry of War or Department of War, although such departments generally had authority only over the army of a country, with a separate department governing other military branches. Prior to World War II, most "Ministries of War" were Army ministries, while the Navy and the Air Force, if it existed as a separate branch, had their own departments. As late as 1953, for example, the Soviet Union had a "Ministry of War" alongside a "Ministry of the Navy".

The tendency to consolidate and rename these departments to highlight their purpose as providing "defence", and to coordinate until then mostly separate components of defence (air, land, navy) arose after World War II.

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