German military parade – the infantry of the Wehrmacht triumphantly marching in the streets of the captured French town. May 1940.
Photography Location: France
Time taken: May 1940
Wehrmacht – armed forces, created in 1935 by Nazi Germany on the basis of universal military service in violation of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 with the connivance of the Western powers. Created by the Nazi dictatorship, in the establishment of which a significant role was played by German militarism, the Wehrmacht became one of the main instruments for the implementation of the plans of German Nazism aimed at establishing hegemony in Europe and achieving world domination. From 1938 the supreme commander in chief of the armed forces of Nazi Germany became Adolf Hitler. The supreme command of the military leadership of the Wehrmacht was the supreme commander-in-chief (OKW), and the working body was the OKW headquarters, which directly developed plans for military operations against sovereign European states, including a plan for war against the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa).The operational headquarters of the Wehrmacht, which formally belonged to OKW headquarters, functioned, but in fact it was an independent body subordinate personally to Adolf Hitler. By the time of the beginning of the aggression against the Soviet Union, the German Wehrmacht was fully mobilized and had considerable experience of conducting war in the West. During the preparation and during the war against the USSR, a large-scale ideological treatment of Wehrmacht personnel was carried out in the spirit of anti-Sovietism and racism.
During the fighting, the Wehrmacht consisted of the army, the Air Force and the Navy. At the head of these types of armed forces were the main commands with commanders-in-chief and staffs. Since 1940, the isolated part of the Wehrmacht was the Waffen-SS. In the wartime, the land forces of the Wehrmacht were divided into active army and reserve army. They were the main type of armed forces of the Third Reich. The highest operational and tactical association of the Wehrmacht land forces was an army group, which included 2-5 armies (field and tank, the tank armies were called tank groups until October 1941 – January 1942). The Army of the Wehrmacht consisted of 3-6 army and tank corps, the corps – from 3-5 infantry, motorized and tank divisions. The main tactical connection of the Wehrmacht was the division, the higher – the corps. The Wehrmacht infantry had a large number of automatic small arms. The main strike force of the Wehrmacht was the tank troops.In preparation for the aggression of the Wehrmacht, the T-III and T-IV medium tanks were constantly reinforced, from the end of 1942 began deliveries to the troops of heavy T-VI Tiger Tanks and medium T-V Panthers, and from 1944 – T-VIB King Tiger. The Wehrmacht’s tank army had 400-600, and sometimes 800 armored vehicles.
The Wehrmacht’s artillery in terms of the number of personnel occupied the second place after the infantry.
The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) included aviation, air defense forces, airborne troops, and from the fall of 1942 and airfield forces. In July 1941, the Luftwaffe bombers accounted for 59 percent of all Wehrmacht combat aircraft. By 1943 fighter aviation was developing a great deal. The main types of Wehrmacht aircraft: the Junkers Ju-88 and Heinkel He-111 bombers, the Junkers bomber Ju-87, Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters.
The Navy (Kriegsmarine) included a fleet and coastal defense troops, commanders of the Northern and Baltic Seas, and the command of the submarine fleet.
During the fierce battles on the Soviet-German front in 1941 – 1942 the Wehrmacht suffered heavy losses; the personnel composition of the ground forces was largely exterminated. The Nazi Germania began to experience an acute shortage of human reserves.Its rulers, in order to make up for the loss of the Wehrmacht personnel, were compelled to resort to “total mobilization”. This dramatically reduced the fighting qualities of the Wehrmacht, especially the infantry.
Wehrmacht and his generals are directly responsible for the numerous crimes committed by the Nazis during the Second World War. The leadership of the Wehrmacht from the outset sanctioned violations of the laws and customs of war enshrined in international law, and actively carried out criminal actions against soldiers and officers of the armies of other countries. prisoners of war, communists, people of Jewish nationality (the Holocaust). The Wehrmacht command supported the occupation policy of the Nazi leadership of the Third Reich. Wehrmacht participated in massacres of civilians in the temporarily occupied territories of sovereign states, in punitive expeditions against Resistance fighters, in hijacking people for forced labor in Nazi Germany. During the retreat from the occupied territories, the Wehrmacht soldiers carried out the tactics of “Scorched Land”.
Numerous crimes of the command and soldiers of the Wehrmacht were opened at the Nuremberg international trial of the main Nazi criminals, as well as at the trial of the Supreme Command of the Nazi Wehrmacht.