Prussian Ministry of War

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The Prussian War Ministry was gradually established between 1808 and 1809 as part of a series of reforms initiated by the Military Reorganization Commission created after the disastrous Treaty of Tilsit. The War Ministry was to help bring the army under constitutional control, and, along with the General Staff systematize the conduct of warfare. Gerhard von Scharnhorst, the most prominent and influential of the reformers, served as acting war minister from roughly 1808 until 1810 (he was also Chief of the General Staff).

The War Ministry was established on 25 December 1808, replacing the old military institutions. The Ministry consisted of two departments. The first department was responsible for the command and condition of the army, the second for its financial administration.

At first, no War Minister was appointed due to the resistance of Frederick William III. Gerhard von Scharnhorst became head of the first department (the General War Department; Allgemeines Kriegsdepartement) and Lieutenant Colonel Graf Lottum became head of the second department. Scharnhorst also functioned as acting War Minister, as long as no permanent appointment was made.

The first department in turn consisted of three divisions. The first division represented the continuation of the old Adjutancy-General and was also known as the "secret military cabinet". It in turn had control over the general war chancellery. The second division of the War Ministry dealt with general army matters: troop formations, replacements and turnover, housing, military exercises, and mobilization. A third division was also created: the artillery and engineering division. This in turn comprised the artillery section, which dealt with artillery equipment, rifle production, ordnance production, gunpowder factories, etc.; and the engineering section, which was responsible for maintaining the fortresses.

The second department, the military economy department, had four divisions. The first division was responsible for pay, the second for catering, the third clothing and the fourth invalids.

In 1919, it formed the basis of Weimar Germany's Ministry of the Reichswehr.

Location[edit]

For exactly one hundred years, from 1 January 1819 to 1 January 1919 (when the ministry ceased to exist) in Berlin-Mitte:

Additional office usage

  • 1824 Wilhelmstrasse 81
  • 1871 Old General Staff building, Behrenstraße 66

General Staff

  • after approximately 1820: Behrenstraße 66 (now the rear part of offices belonging to the Russian embassy)
  • 1867/71 new building (Great General Staff) in the Tiergarten: Königsplatz (now the Platz der Republik), the western corner facing the Moltkestraße

Military cabinet

  • after approximately 1820: Hinter dem Gießhaus 2 (behind the Zeughaus)
  • around 1900: Behrenstraße 66

List of Prussian Ministers of War[edit]

Prussian Ministers of War (1808–1918)
Minister Years
Gerhard von Scharnhorst 1 March 1808–17 June 1810
Karl Georg Albrecht Ernst von Hake 17 June 1810–August 1813
Hermann von Boyen 3 June 1814–November 1819
Karl Georg Albrecht Ernst von Hake November 1819–October 1833
Job von Witzleben October 1833–1837
Gustav von Rauch 1837–1 March 1841
Hermann von Boyen 1 March 1841–6 October 1847
Ferdinand von Rohr 6 October 1847–2 April 1848
Karl von Reyher 2 April 1848–26 April 1848
August Wilhelm Graf von Kanitz 26 April 1848–16 June 1848
Ludwig Freiherr Roth von Schreckenstein 16 June 1848–7 September 1848
Ernst von Pfuel 7 September 1848–2 November 1848
Karl von Strotha 2 November 1848–27 February 1850
August von Stockhausen 27 February 1850–31 December 1851
Eduard von Bonin 31 December 1851–1854
Friedrich Graf von Waldersee 1854–6 November 1858
Eduard von Bonin 6 November 1858–28 November 1859
Albrecht Graf von Roon 5 December 1859–9 November 1873
Georg von Kameke 9 November 1873–3 March 1883
Paul Bronsart von Schellendorff 3 March 1883–8 April 1889
Julius von Verdy du Vernois 8 April 1889–4 October 1890
Hans von Kaltenborn-Stachau 4 October 1890–19 October 1893
Walther Bronsart von Schellendorff 19 October 1893–14 August 1896
Heinrich von Gossler 14 August 1896–15 August 1903
Karl von Einem 15 August 1903–11 August 1909
Josias von Heeringen 11 August 1909–7 June 1913
Erich von Falkenhayn 7 June 1913–21 January 1915
Adolf Wild von Hohenborn 21 January 1915–29 October 1916
Hermann von Stein 29 October 1916–9 October 1918
Heinrich Scheuch 9 October 1918–2 January 1919
Walther Reinhardt 2 January 1919–13 September 1919

for further succession, see Defence Minister of Germany

†Between 9 November 1918 and 2 January 1919 there was no Prussian Minister of War.