The Wehrkreis System

As already mentioned the 12th Infantry Division came from Wehrkreis II. Wehrkeis II had its headquarters in Stettin and covered Mecklenburg and Pomerania. This area covered approximately 54,000 square km with a population of 3.25 million

A Wehrkreis is a German military district. These date back to 1919 when the Reichswehr functioned as the Armed Forces Command of the Weimar Republic.

The Wehrkreis had responsibility for recruiting, drafting and training German soldiers for a Division. It also had responsibility for the mobilization of divisions, training them and providing them with trained replacements.

When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 he got rid of the Republic and  Reichswehr and instead formed the Wehrmacht. Hitler had the foresight to keep the Wehrkreis system that had already established contingency plans for a large expansion of the army. Initially the Wehrkreis worked directly under the Oberkommando des Heeres (Army High Command) but in 1938 the Home (or replacement) Army was created to oversee and coordinate Wehrkreis operations although little actually changed until late 1942.

During the expansion programme the number of Wehrkreis increased from seven in 1932 to nineteen in 1943. Although they lost some of their training responsibilities from late 1942 until 1944 the divisions still primarily looked to the Wehrkreis for training and replacements as the war progressed. They were also responsible for refitting depleted divisions.

The German Army was mobilised in waves of divisions and this continued throughout the war. This was carried out by the Wehrkreis under supervision of the Replacement Army. This system continued until the end of the war. From 1934-45 there were at  thirty-eight ‘waves’.

Before the general mobilization of June 1939 each Wehrkreis had two components to its headquarters. This was comprised of a tactical component, which became a corps headquarters that got sent to the front on mobilization, and a deputy component, which remained in the territory to coordinate training and replacement activities.

The deputy component was made up of older soldiers who weren’t up to the rigours of a campaign but who were well trained and fully able to fulfil their duties. Most positions in military districts were held by older officers, many of whom were WW1 veterans and were competent military administrators.  

 

Wehrkreise of Germany

 

 

 

Source:

Hitler’s Legions, Mitcham S.W: Leo Cooper 1991

My Ramblings, Ostmann S.