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 Treaties of Tilsit. The War Ministry was to help bring the Army under constitutional review, 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.[1] 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.


Ministry building on Leipziger Straße

For exactly one hundred years, from 1 January 1819 to 1 January 1919 (when the ministry ceased to exist) in the Friedrichstadt quarter of what is today 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

Prussian Ministers of War, 1808–1919[edit]

† denotes people who died in office.

Minister Took office Left office Time in office
Gerhard von Scharnhorst
von Scharnhorst, GerhardGerhard von Scharnhorst
1 March 180817 June 18102 years, 108 days
Karl von Hake
von Hake, KarlKarl von Hake
17 June 1810August 18133 years
Hermann von Boyen
von Boyen, HermannHermann von Boyen
3 June 181326 December 18196 years, 206 days
Karl von Hake
von Hake, KarlKarl von Hake
26 December 181920 October 183313 years, 298 days
Job von Witzleben
von Witzleben, JobJob von Witzleben
25 April 1835April 18372 years
Gustav von Rauch
von Rauch, GustavGustav von Rauch
30 July 183728 February 18413 years, 213 days
Hermann von Boyen
von Boyen, HermannHermann von Boyen
1 March 18416 October 18476 years, 219 days
Ferdinand von Rohr [de]
von Rohr, FerdinandFerdinand von Rohr [de]
6 October 18472 April 1848179 days
Karl von Reyher
von Reyher, KarlKarl von Reyher
2 April 184826 April 184824 days
August Wilhelm Graf von Kanitz
von Kanitz, August Wilhelm GrafAugust Wilhelm Graf von Kanitz
26 April 184816 June 184851 days
Ludwig Freiherr Roth von Schreckenstein
von Schreckenstein, Ludwig Freiherr RothLudwig Freiherr Roth von Schreckenstein
16 June 18487 September 184883 days
Ernst von Pfuel
von Pfuel, ErnstErnst von Pfuel
7 September 18482 November 184856 days
Karl von Strotha
von Strotha, KarlKarl von Strotha
2 November 184827 February 18501 year, 117 days
August von Stockhausen
von Stockhausen, AugustAugust von Stockhausen
27 February 185031 December 18511 year, 307 days
Eduard von Bonin
von Bonin, EduardEduard von Bonin
31 December 185118543 years
Friedrich Graf von Waldersee
von Waldersee, Friedrich GrafFriedrich Graf von Waldersee
18546 November 18584 years
Eduard von Bonin
von Bonin, EduardEduard von Bonin
6 November 185828 November 18591 year, 22 days
Albrecht von Roon
von Roon, AlbrechtAlbrecht von Roon
5 December 18599 November 187313 years, 339 days
Georg von Kameke
von Kameke, GeorgGeorg von Kameke
9 November 18733 March 18839 years, 114 days
Paul Bronsart von Schellendorff
von Schellendorff, Paul BronsartPaul Bronsart von Schellendorff
3 March 18838 April 18896 years, 36 days
Julius von Verdy du Vernois
von Verdy du Vernois, JuliusJulius von Verdy du Vernois
8 April 18894 October 18901 year, 179 days
Hans von Kaltenborn-Stachau
von Kaltenborn-Stachau, HansHans von Kaltenborn-Stachau
4 October 189019 October 18933 years, 15 days
Walther Bronsart von Schellendorff
von Schellendorff, Walther BronsartWalther Bronsart von Schellendorff
19 October 189314 August 18962 years, 300 days
Heinrich von Gossler
von Gossler, HeinrichHeinrich von Gossler
14 August 189615 August 19037 years, 1 day
Karl von Einem
von Einem, KarlKarl von Einem
15 August 190311 August 19095 years, 361 days
Josias von Heeringen
von Heeringen, JosiasJosias von Heeringen
11 August 19097 June 19133 years, 300 days
Erich von Falkenhayn
von Falkenhayn, ErichErich von Falkenhayn
7 June 191321 January 19151 year, 228 days
Adolf Wild von Hohenborn
von Hohenborn, Adolf WildAdolf Wild von Hohenborn
21 January 191529 October 19161 year, 282 days
Hermann von Stein
von Stein, HermannHermann von Stein
29 October 19169 October 19181 year, 345 days
Heinrich Scheuch
Scheuch, HeinrichHeinrich Scheuch
9 October 19182 January 191985 days
Walther Reinhardt
Reinhardt, WaltherWalther Reinhardt
2 January 191913 September 1919254 days

For further succession, see List of German defence ministers.


  1. ^ Younger brother of Paul Bronsart von Schellendorff
  2. ^ Between 9 November 1918 and 2 January 1919 there was no Prussian Minister of War


  1. ^ Levinger, Matthew Bernard, 1960- (2000). Enlightened nationalism : the transformation of Prussian political culture, 1806-1848. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195131851. OCLC 41445771.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)