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Training of Indian volunteers in the Wehrmacht to fight British colonialism in the North Africa campaign.

The Wehrmacht were the Armed Forces of Germany during World War II.[1] The Wehrmacht had three official branches: the army (German: Heer), the air force (German: Luftwaffe), and the navy (German: Kriegsmarine). The SS or, more specifically, the Waffen SS, the militarized wing of Nazi party, never was under command of the Wehrmacht.

The forces were highly trained and professional when the war began but deteriorated rapidly after 1942. The collapse of the Luftwaffe made possible the transfer of a large number of new men into the army, but it was too late. After 1941 it participated in the Holocaust, killing many Jews as well as Russian prisoners and civilians.

By mid-1944 the Army had been driven back to Germany. It had suffered heavy casualties and was now using old men and young boys as part of the so-called "Volkssturm" ("People's Storm"), a last effort to counter Allied advances.

Casualties and KIA

By November 1943, after over 1500 days of war, total Wehrmacht permanent casualties (dead, disabled, or missing) amounted to roughly 3 million men. This makes for a loss rate of just under 2,000 men per day for over four years - a time period which includes the campaigns in Poland, France, the Balkans, North Africa, and the colossal eastern battles of Operation Barbarossa, Rzhev, Kharkov, Stalingrad, Kursk, and the Caucasus.

From November 1943 through the end of the war in May 1945 - a span of 527 days - Wehrmacht losses would be some 5 million men. Thus, over the final eighteen months of the war, German losses were an astonishing 9,400 per day, and although this closing phase made up only a quarter of the war in chronological terms, it accounted for nearly two-thirds of Germany’s total combat losses.

Further reading

  • Davies, W.J.K.; German Army Handbook, 1973, Ian Allen Ltd., Shepperton, Surrey, ISBN 0-7110-0290-8
  • Glantz, David M.; When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler, February 1998,University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0700608990
  • U.S. National Archives; Captured German Records Microfilmed at Alexandria, Virginia, Microfilm publications T-77 and T-78, 2,680 rolls
  • U.S. War Department; Handbook on German Military Forces, 15 March 1945, Technical Manual TM-E 30-451

Web Site: http://www.feldgrau.com - Feldgrau.com - research on the German armed forces 1918-1945 (information usually verified)


  1. The literal English translation of Wehrmacht is: defense-make or defense-power, however it is usually transliterated to "Armed Forces".