German Armed Forces Research 1918-1945
WW2 German Army / Organization of the Heer
When World War II began, the entire Heer was split into two separate parts. The
Feldheer (Field Army) was created for the exclusive control of all military operations, and
the Ersatzheer (Replacement Army) was created to control all the training, procurement and
administration of the Heimatkriegsgebiet (Zone of the Interior). All the operational parts of
the Oberkommando der Heer, including the Oberbefehlshaber (Commander-in-Chief) and
most of the Generalstab (General Staff), established a field headquarters away from Berlin,
the Capital of Germany and seat of Government, for the operational control of the
Feldheer. The remaining parts of the Oberkommando der Heer were placed under the
control of a deputy to the Oberbefehlshaber known as the Chef der Heeresrustung und
Befehlshaber des Ersatzheeres (Chief of Army Equipement and Commander of the
Replacement Army). The Chef der Heeresrustung und Befehlshaber der Ersatzheeres was
responsible for maintaining the Feldheer throught the dispatch of replacements, the
formation of new units, the supply of material, and for continuing the normal military
functions at home.|
At the outbreak of World War II, and for the duration of the War, Germany distinguished between a number of different command and control areas for the purpose of organizing and controling their armed forces. The way in which Germany divided up these areas was as follows.
The entire area of possible conflict, including Germany itself, was called the Kriegsgebiet (Theater of War). The Kriegsgebiet was organized into two separate divisions, the Operationsgebiet (Theater of Operations) and the Heimatkriegsgebiet (Zone of the Interior). A secondary area was designed to exist between the Heimatkriegsgebiet and the Operationsgebiet and this was called the Gebiet der Kreigsverwaltung (Zone of Military Administration) and sometimes also called the Besetztes Gebiet (Occupied Zone). Within the Operationsgebiet existed two other areas, the Gefechtsgebiet (Combat Zone) and the Ruckwartiges (Communications Zone). Within the Ruckwartiges were the Ruckwartiges Heeresgebiet (Army Group Rear Area) and the Ruckwartiegs Armeegebiet (Army Rear Area). Each separate area was then administered by different types of military authority, military/civil authority, or civil authority.
One of the most important and fundamental aspects of WWII German organization was the concept of the Wehrkries, or Corps Area. The concept of the Wehrkries was designed to divide Germany into a number of military regions that would be responsible for the administration, mobilization and general structure of the Korps and Divisionen of the German Heer. Germany was divided into a total of 23 Wehrkries, with an original 19 existing prior to the Invasion of Poland in September of 1939. After the Polish Campaign, another four Wehrkries were added. Of the Original 19 Wehrkries, 15 were actually in Germany proper, and the remaining four were non-territorial, and did not have a specific region they controlled, although they did have Headquarters located in a specific German city. The four Wehrkries added after the Campaign in Poland were located in former Polish territory.
When Germany began its mobilization in 1939, it did so in a series of "waves" in which units would be formed from existing units, or from reserves or drafts of men. There were a total of 35 waves during WWII in which Divisions were raised and/or mobilized. The waves were only concerned with Infantry Divisions, other types of units being formed seperately.
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