German Military Structure

By Hank Tucker

Units of the Army

The main unit of the German military during World War I was the infantry regiment. These were then split into smaller sections as you can see in the chart below, such as squadrons, battalions, and companies. Germany had a very complex general military structure that brought a sense of order to the chaos of war. The structure of the military underwent many changes to adapt to the new elements of the war and the amount of casualties faced by the Germans. For example, the amount of regiments in an infantry was reduced and the amount of men in a regiment was reduced, but more regiments were created so that the army could be more spread out.
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German Air Force During World War I

The German air force was initially lacking in comparison to the British and French air forces. To make up for this "achilles heel" the Germans began investing in their air force as soon as fighting broke out in 1915. In 1916 their investments came to fruition in 1916. A series of planes created by Austrian aerial geniuses at the Albatros Flugzeugwerke company, the Albatros D.I-V Fighters, allowed Germany to retake the sky. The albatros series of planes was exceptional for its "excellent rate of climb. As we have read about in All Quiet on the Western Front enemy balloons and planes were a major threat to troops who were pinned down by shellfire. Because the albatros series of planes was able to elevate quickly, they were perfect for countering enemy aerial assault at the drop of a hat.
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German Navy During World War I

The german navy, or Hochseeflotte, came under much criticism during WW1. The navy's core was comprised of a series of battleships and cruisers. This core group, and in fact most of the German navy, fought in the North Sea between the UK and Scandinavia. However it was not this group of ships that the German navy is remembered for. German U-boats (pictured below) were spread across the world during world war one, and although they initially operated within the bounds of International Military law, towards they end of the war they began attacking unarmed merchant ships without warning. This shift towards lawless warfare illustrated in part the desperation of the Germans towards the end of the war.
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Chain of Command

The German Army also had a strict, complicated chain of command in which soldiers always had to report to their superiors. The Kaiser, whose only superior was God, was at the top. He was followed in order by the field marshal, generals, colonels, captains, lieutenants, and sergeants, among others.

Top German Officers During World War I