German Army (1935–1945)
The German Army (German: Heer ( ) was the land forces component of the German armed forces (Wehrmacht) from 1935 to 1945. The Wehrmacht also included the Navy (Kriegsmarine) and the Air Force (Luftwaffe). During the Second World War, a total of about 15 million soldiers served in the German Army, of whom about seven million became casualties. Separate from the Army, the Waffen-SS (Armed SS) was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. Growing from three regiments to over 38 divisions during World War II, it served alongside the regular army but was never formally part of it.
Only 17 months after 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 more corps were formed with the addition of the 5 divisions of the Austrian Army after the Anschluss which occurred in March. During the period of its expansion by Adolf Hitler, the German Army continued to develop concepts pioneered during the First World War, combining ground (Heer) and air (Luftwaffe) assets into combined arms teams. 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 the Second World War, prompting the use of the word Blitzkrieg (lightning war) for the techniques used.
The German Army entered the war with a majority of its infantry formations relying on the horse for transportation while the infantry remained foot soldiers throughout the war, artillery also remaining 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 early campaigns in the Soviet Union (June 1941). However their motorized and tank formations accounted for only 20% of the Heer's capacity at their peak strength.
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