The Reichswehr (transl.Realm Defence) was the unified armed forces of the Weimar Republic from 1919 to 1935. It consisted of the Reichsheer (army), and the Reichsmarine (navy). After the Imperial German Army had been dissolved in January 1919 and was to be transformed into a peace army, the Reich government decided in March 1919 to form a provisional Reichswehr. Due to the conditions of the Versailles Treaty of 1919, the scope and armament of the Reichswehr in January 1921 were subject to severe restrictions. After the "regaining of military sovereignty" (reintroduction of compulsory military service, etc.) announced by Adolf Hitler in 1935, the Reichswehr was reorganised into the new Wehrmacht. The Reichswehr acted as a state within a state, and its leadership was an important political power factor within the Weimar Republic. The Reichswehr partly supported the democratic form of government, as in the Ebert-Groener Pact, and partly it supported anti-democratic forces with the "Black Reichswehr". The Reichswehr saw itself as a cadre army, which should receive the expertise of the old imperial military and thus form the basis for rearmament.

Realm Defence
War ensign of the Reichswehr
Founded6 March 1919
Disbanded16 March 1935
Service branches
HeadquartersZossen, Brandenburg
Commander-in-chiefFriedrich Ebert (1919–25)
Paul von Hindenburg (1925–34)
Adolf Hitler (1934–35)
Minister of DefenceSee list
Chief of the ministerial officeSee list
Military age18–45
Active personnel115,000 (1921)
Related articles
HistoryGerman Revolution
Silesian Uprisings
Suppression of the Beer Hall Putsch
Ruhr Uprising
Kapp Putsch (limited support)
RanksMilitary ranks of the Reichswehr
General Hans von Seeckt, Chief of the Reichsheer together with infantry men at a military manoeuvre in Thuringia, 1926
Structure of the Reichswehr, 1920–21 to 1934