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Michel Witry, born 19 December[1] 1797 in Lorentzweiler, and died on 1 May 1874 in Echternach, was a notary and politician.[1]

From 1827 until 3 April he was a notary in Echternach.[1]

From 1842 to 1848 he was a member of the Chamber of Deputies, in 1848 was a member of the Constituent Assembly, from 1853 to 1856 was a member of the Chamber, from 1860 to 1868 was a member of the Assembly of Estates and from 1868 to his death was once again in the Chamber. From 1866 to 1867 he was a additionaly the president of the Assembly of Estates and from 24 to 27 June 1872 was the president of the chamber during an extraordinary session.

From 8 November 1830 to 25 August 1839 he was the mayor of Echternach.[2]

His parents were Nicolas Witry and Angélique Weis (Weiss).[3] On 1 September 1830, he married Françoise Joséphine Thiry in Echternach.[2]

His funeral was on 3 May 1874 in Echternach, in the presence of the prime minister Emmanuel Servais. The funeral speech was given by the president of the Chamber, Félix de Blochausen.[4]

Further reading[edit]

  • Massard, J.A., 1988. Echternach und die Cholera. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Medizin und der öffentlichen Hygiene in Luxemburg. Publications du Centre Universitaire de Luxembourg, Département des Sciences: Biologie-Chimie-Physique, fasc. 1, 259 p. (Biography of Michel Witry: p. 231).
  • Neyen, A., 1876. Biographie Luxembourgeoise. Histoire des hommes distingués originaires de ce pays considéré à l'époque de sa plus grande étendue ou qui se sont rendus remarquables pendant le séjour qu'ils y ont fait. Tome 3. J. Joris, Luxembourg, 490+XXXI+XII S. + table gén. alphabét. (Michel Witry: p. 473-474).


War Ensign of Germany (1921-1933).svg
Active 1919 – 1935
Role Armed Forces of Weimar Republic
Size 115,000
Garrison/HQ Zossen
Paul von Hindenburg

Reichswehr was the official name for the German armed forces from 1921 to 1935, during the Weimar Republic and the first years of the Third Reich. Due to the Treaty of Versailles, the size and equipment of the military were subject to severe restrictions. After the "regaining of military sovereignty" announced by Adolf Hitler in 1935, (re-introduction of conscription, amongst other things), the Reichswehr was turned into the Wehrmacht.

Émile Mayrisch's father was Edouard Mayrisch, a doctor at court, and his mother was Mathilde Metz, the daughter of Adolf Metz, and niece of Norbert Metz, an industrialist at Eich and Dommeldange, and a government minister. He grew up in Eich, which was in those days the industrial centre of Luxembourg. For his secondary education, he attended the Athénee de Luxembourg and the Institut Rachez in Belgium. From 1881 to 1885 he studied at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule in Aachen, without graduating, as he did not sit the exams. In those days, however, it was possible in Luxembourg to do engineering work, without having to have a diploma. In 1885, he went to work in the Dudelange foundry, which had been founded three years previously by his great-uncle Norbert Metz. A year later, he went to Rodange, where he became head of production of the blast furnaces. On 1 February 1891 he went to Dudelange as an engineer-chemist, where he became head of the laboratory two months later. In July 1893 he became general secretary of the board of directors, and on 21 April 1897 was appointed director of the Dudelanga foundry. As such, he modernised and enlarged the foundry, made contracts with German suppliers and brought the foundry into the Stahlwerkverband. In social affairs, he he introduced new measures for his workers: Krankekeess fir d'Aarbechter, Pensiounskeess fir d'Beamten, bezuelte Congé, en Economat, wou d'Aarbechter bëlleg akafe konnten, asw. 1894 bestit hie sech mat der Aline de Saint-Hubert. D'Koppel sollt zwee Kanner hunn: de Jean († 1899) an d'Andrée, genannt Schnouki (1901-1976). 1911 huet den Émile Mayrisch, no laange Verhandlungen, déi dräi Lëtzebuerger Schmelze fusionéiert kritt: d'ARBED (Aciéries Réunies de Burbach-Eich-Dudelange) war gebuer, an hie gouf techneschen Direkter vun där neier Gesellschaft. Bis zum Krich huet en d'Arbed zu engem vun deenen dichtegste Membere vum Stahlverband gemaach. An de Krichsjoren 1914-18 huet de Mayrisch kommedéiert, datt d'Arbed viru sollt produzéieren (wouduerch och verhënnert gouf, datt vill Leit hätte missen entlooss ginn), an domat Däitschland wichteg Matière-premièrë fir Krichsmaterial geliwwert. Dowéinst gouf d'Diddelenger Schmelz 1916/18 vun den Alliéierte bombardéiert. Mä de Mayrisch huet och a senger fréierer Villa e Krichslazarett fir däitsch a franséisch Zaldoten ariichte gelooss. Um Enn vum Krich knäppt e Verbindunge mat Frankräich, a léisst dem Jean Schlumberger, engem Schrëftsteller a Spionage-Offizéier, eng Dokumentatioun iwwer déi däitsch Krichsproduktioun zoukommen. D'Graf vum Mayrisch a senger Fra zu Kolpech am Park mat enger Skulptur vum Charles Despiau Nom Krich ass Lëtzebuerg aus dem Zollveräin ausgetrueden, an d'Arbed huet sech nei Ofsazmäert misse sichen. 1919 huet den Émile Mayrisch zesumme mat Schneider-Creusot d'Terres Rouges gegrënnt, géint de Widderstand vum Verwaltungsrotspresident vun der Arbed, dem Belsch Gaston Barbanson. De Mayrisch gouf geschwënn duerno President vun der Direktioun vun der Arbed, an hie war et, deen e generellt Ofkommes tëscht der däitscher, franséischer, belscher a lëtzebuergescher Stolindustrie ausgehandelt huet


Versailles Treaty restrictions[edit]

In 1919, Germany's enemies from World War I limited the size and armaments of Germany's armed forces through Articles 159 to 213 of the Treaty of Versailles, to prevent any possible future aggression on its part. The personnel size was limited to a standing army of 100,000 soldiers, as well as a navy with 15,000 men. Establishing a general staff was prohibited. Heavy weapons such as artillery above the calibre of 105 mm (for naval guns, above 205 mm), armoured vehicles, submarines and capital ships were banned, as were aircraft of any kind. Compliance with these restrictions was monitored until 1927 by the Military Inter-Allied Commission of Control. According to Article 160, the German army was to be "devoted exclusively to the maintenance of order within the territory and to the control of the frontiers".[5]

The Reichswehr leadership was able to circumvent these limitations through various secret and illegal methods: these included the secret formation of the Black Reichswehr, disallowed testing of artillery, aircraft and tanks in the Soviet Union (see also Treaty of Rapallo, 1922), the creation of the Führergehilfenschulung (assistant leader training), which was intended to compensate the lack of a general staff training, and the newly created Truppenamt ("Troop Office"), which performed the functions of a general staff. Other measures taken were the use of dummy tanks for training purposes, on the orders of Heinz Guderian.

Creation and organisation[edit]

With the signing of the Armistice at Compiègne on 11 November 1918, the German government had agreed to the rapid withdrawal from the occupied territories. The withdrawal from the Western front already began on 12 November, by 17 January 1919 the areas left of the Rhine were clear of the German military. Now, the units of the German Army had to be gradually demobilised, still numbering several million soldiers. This took place at previously designated demobilization centres, usually the home barracks.

Structure of the Reichsheer

The Council of the People's Deputies and the Oberste Heeresleitung intended to form units that still remained after the general demobilisation into a Friedensheer (peacetime army). On 19 January 1919, the government decreed the "Temporary Provisions for Uniforms of the Friedensheer" in the army gazette (Armeeverordnungsblatt 1919, Nr. 85). However, the Weimar National Assembly, assembled on 6 February 1919 in Weimar, on 6 March 1919 passed the "Law for the Creation of a provisional Reichswehr" [6], Article 1 of which authorized the Reichspräsident "to dissolve the existing army and to create a provisional Reichswehr, that will protect the Reich's borders, enforce the decisions of the Reich government and uphold peace and order in the interior, until the creation of the new military as shall be provided by law."

It was to have 400,000 men.

The "Law for the Creation of a provisional Reichsmarine" of 16 April 1919 empowered him "to dissolve the existing units of the Kriegsmarine and to create a provisional Reichsmarine, that will secure the German coasts, ensure safe sea passage for maritime trade through mine clearing, policing activities and other support, guarantee the undisturbed fishing activity, and together with the Reichswehr, enforce the decisions of the Reich government and uphold peace and order."

It was to have 20,000 men.

On 1 October 1919 the forces became the 200,000-strong Übergangsheer (transition army). At the same time, the former units and entities of the imperial army ceased to exist. On 1 January 1921, the Reichswehr was formed, the details being determined in the "Wehrgesetz" of 23 March 1921.

The Reichswehr was organised in an army, the Reichsheer, and a navy, the Reichsmarine. The Reichsheer consisted of 7 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions, and all formations were newly numbered. There were 2 group commands, one in Berlin and one in Kassel. The navy had one command for the North Sea and one for the Baltic Sea. For the non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel, the length of service was 12 years, for officers, 25 years; they had to swear an oath on the Weimar Constitution.

The "Wehrgesetz" put an end to the military sovereignty of the German states, but allowed Saxony, Württemberg, Baden and Bavaria a certain limited autonomy. The Free State of Bavaria was a peculiarity, in so far as the "Wehrkreis VII" (Military District VII) comprised the entire territory of the state (except the Rhenish Palatinate), and only Bavarians served in the 7th (Bavarian) Division, which was stationed here. As the "Bavarian Reichswehr", this formation enjoyed certain autonomous rights against the Reich government until 1924.


Gustav Noske (right) with Walther von Lüttwitz (1920)

According to the Weimar Constitution, the Reichspräsident was the Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr, and was represented in peacetime by the defence minister (Reichswehrminister) as holder of military authority. The professional heads were the Chef der Heeresleitung (Chief of Army Command) and the Chef der Marineleitung (Chief of Navy Command).

The Weimar Republic saw 2 Reichspräsidents: Friedrich Ebert until 1925, followed by Paul von Hindenburg.

The first defence minister was Gustav Noske, who was replaced by Otto Geßler after the Kapp Putsch in 1920. Wilhelm Groener took over in 1928, and was replaced by his deputy Kurt von Schleicher in 1932. Von Schleicher also exercised the office on an interim basis during his time as Chancellor, which lasted 2 months. Before Hitler became Chancellor, Hindenburg appointed Werner von Blomberg as defence minister on his own initiative -- not, as required by the constitution, at the Chancellor's recommendation. Blomberg was supposed to help "tame" the Nazis, but later supported them, for example by making the Reichswehr swear a personal oath to Hitler.

The Chef der Heeresleitung was at first Walther Reinhardt. After the Kapp Putsch, Hans von Seeckt took over this post, to be succeeded by Wilhelm Heye in 1926. Heye in turn was followed by Kurt Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord in 1930, who held the position until 1934.

Social composition[edit]

Due to the restricted size of the army, its personnel had to be carefully selected. Experienced leadership came from the old German Army. The proportion of nobility in the officer corps was at 24 % in 1925, down from 30 % in 1913, and followed the long-term trend of the decrease in the proportion of aristocratic officers. Large parts of the officer corps had a conservative, monarchist world view and rejected the Weimar Republic.

The Reichswehr leadership and the office corps successfully opposed a democratisation of the military. Preference was given to recruits from the mostly conservative rural areas of Germany. The Reichswehr leadership believed that they were not only physically fitter than the young men from the towns, but also resistant to the "temptations" of social democracy.

Relation to the Weimar Republic[edit]

Crisis years: 1919–1923[edit]

Groener and his wife, 1917

After the defeat in World War I, the Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL) under Wilhelm Groener put the services of the army at the disposal of the Council of People's Deputies under Friedrich Ebert (see Ebert-Groener pact).

Cooperation with right-wing Freikorps against Left[edit]

The Reichswehr thereby secured the survival of the new government. In the crisis-ridden early 1920s, the army was deployed above all against militant left-wing forces, as with the Spartacist uprising in 1919.

The Reichswehr left the "defence of the country" to the Freikorps (disbanded in 1923) in those areas where the Reichswehr's hands were tied by the Versailles Treaty, or its own strength in numbers was insufficient (border fights against Polish and Lithuanian franctireurs, engagement against the Ruhr Red Army in the demilitarised Rhineland). It cooperated with nationalist Freikorps units, when it went into action against left-wing governments in Thuringia and Saxony in October and November 1923 in the context of the so-called "Reichsexekutionen".

The Reichswehr generals maintained close contacts with politically right-wing, anti-republic paramilitary organisations (Stahlhelm, Kyffhäuserbund), although the military leadership officially described itself as "apolitical". In 1919 the Reichswehr office in Munich hired Adolf Hitler to spy on events of political parties and associations. At the same time Hitler was sent to training for propaganda speakers.

Passivity at Kapp Putsch[edit]

In March 1920 the Reichswehr was not deployed by the government against the Kapp Putsch. The Chief of the Truppenamt – the concealed general staff of the Reichswehr – Hans von Seeckt had previously opposed doing so, apparently saying "Reichswehr schießt nicht auf Reichswehr" ("Reichswehr doesn't fight Reichswehr"). Seeckt, however, was also not in the chain of command. The Chief of the Heeresleitung, and thus highest-ranking soldier, Walther Reinhardt was in favour of deploying the loyal elements of the Reichswehr. The communist Ruhr Uprising, which occurred during the Kapp Putsch in the Ruhr area and Saxony, was ruthlessly crushed on the other hand; figures of the Kapp Putsch were involved in doing so. As a consequence of the Putsch, the defence minister Gustav Noske (SPD) was replaced by Otto Geßler (DDP).

Secret cooperation with Soviet Union[edit]

After 1921, the Reichswehr leadership tried to secretly expand the Reichswehr in cooperation with the Red Army and in breach of the Versailles Treaty, introducing new weapons systems and building an air force. Germany supported the development of modern technologies, and could train its own soldiers in the Soviet Union.

In February 1923, the Chief of the Truppenamt, Generalmajor Hasse, traveled to Moscow for secret negotiations. Germany supported the expansion of the Soviet industry, commanders of the Red Army received general staff training in Germany. In exchange, the Reichswehr could receive artillery ammunition from the Soviet Union, could train aviators and tank crews on Soviet soil, and could also produce chemical weapons there. In the Russian city Lipezk, a secret flight school and training area was created by the Reichswehr and about 120 military pilots, 100 air observers and numerous ground personnel were trained as the core of a future German air force. At Kasan, tank specialists were trained, but only after 1930, and only 30 of them. In Tomka (near Saratov) chemical weapons were tested and developed.

Seeckt's ambitions and sympathy for Von Kahr's dictatorship[edit]

Von Seeckt at a military exercise

The occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 showed the weakness of the Reichswehr. As a reaction to a Bavarian attempt to establish a right-wing dictatorship, Ebert in November vested power of enforcement in the defence minister, Geßler. The actual power however lay with Seeckt, the Chief of the Heeresleitung, who prevented a Reichsexekution against the Bavarian government under Gustav Ritter von Kahr. Also involved was Otto von Lossow, the Bavarian military district commander. He was relieved of his command by Geßler. As Seeckt wrote in a letter (which he did not send off), he sympathised with the government in Munich and did not see the Weimar Constitution as sacrosanct. It did not correspond to his political world view, according to him. Furthermore, he elaborated that due to the Reichswehr's lack of trust in the government of Gustav Stresemann, he could foresee a civil war, something which could only be prevented by a change in the government. He uttered the view that a government would not be able to exist for long without the Reichswehr's support. He did not support Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch of 8 and 9 November 1923, however.

When Seeckt on 3 November signalled that he would be prepared to accept the chancellorship and Ebert rejected this, referring to diplomatic reasons and Seeckt's indispensability as Chief of the Heeresleitung, the latter accepted this. He was not interested in a coup, as some high-ranking officers were demanding. In February 1924, gave up the dictatorial powers he had received from Ebert.

"Apolitical" armed force or anti-democratic "state within a state"[edit]

Group maneuvers of the 5th and 7th Division in Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden, 1926. Second from right, Captain Alfred Jodl, to his left, his brother Ferdinand Jodl
Soldiers of the Reichswehr during maneuvers, 1930
Soldiers during the autumn maneuvers in the district Frankfurt an der Oder, 1930
Kurt von Schleicher, 1932

In 1925 with the Treaty of Locarno a violent change to the Western borders was ruled out, and in 1926 Germany joined the League of Nations. The position of the Reichswehr can be illustrated through conversations between Ebert and Seeckt. To the question, where the Reichswehr stood, Seeckt replied: "The Reichswehr stands behind me". To the question, whether the Reichswehr as reliable he replied: "Whether it is reliable, I do not know, but it obeys me".

After Paul von Hindenburg's election as Reichspräsident (1925), he became the figure of identification for the soldiers as the legend of the Battle of Tannenberg instead of Seeckt. On 8 October, Seeckt was dismissed due to the participation by a son of the former Kaiser in a military maneuver, although there were probably additional reasons, such as the criticism of the undemocratic leadership of the Reichswehr.

After the Kapp Putsch, the Reichswehr had officially remained "apolitical" under Seeckt and Geßler. Members of the Reichswehr were not allowed to vote and were thus separated from social and political developments. The autonomy in selection of staff, its set of values and the notion of serving the state and not the form of government, made the army a difficult-to-control "state within a state".

An example for the increasing criticism was after Seeckt's dismissal the suggestion of President of the Reichstag Paul Löbe, to make the taking in of recruits dependent only on their physical suitability. By this he hoped to make the composition of the Reichswehr more representative of society as a whole. The Reichswehr, and certainly the officer corps, had a strong nationalist, conservative and Protestant tendency, the enlisted came mostly from agrarian and handicraft jobs. In these groups, the anti-Republic Dolchstoßlegende found many believers. Apart from this, service in the military was in any case less attractive to other parts of society. The recruit selection as practised did however correspond exactly to the wishes of the Reichswehr leadership.

That is why Löbe experienced fierce opposition from conservatives. They felt that an opening of this sort would lower the standard of the Reichswehr. An influx of social-democratic and other unwanted "elements" and ideas into the army had already been minimised as far as possible in the old imperial army – for example through hugely disproportionate drawing in of rural recruits in the period before the First World War. Whilst in the Reichswehr, war continued to be seen as a means to enforce political goals, the politicians tended more towards preserving peace and compromise between countries, with the Treaty of Locarno and the Dawes Plan. Seeckt and his officers were against the joining of the League of Nations and saw their own existence as threatened by the pacifism of the Left.

Seeckt's successor was Wilhelm Heye, however it was above all Kurt von Schleicher who increased his influence, who was at the time a division head in the defence ministry. Under his leadership the Reichswehr became more involved in politics, in order to achieve its goals, and the Republic and the Reichswehr moved closer together. The Reichswehr accepted democracy as a form of government and Groener saw the Reichswehr as an important part of the nation and an "instrument of power of the German Republic" (Machtinstrument der Deutschen Republik).

In December 1926 the Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann revealed the developments in the Reichstag and thereby brought down the government under Wilhelm Marx. In 1931 the journalist Carl von Ossietzky was convicted of treason for a report on the co-operation that was already well known.

In January-February 1927 the Military Inter-Allied Control Commission, which had monitored disarmament until then, was dissolved.

The decision to construct the powerful Panzerschiff A ("Armoured Ship A"), which adhered to the provisions of the Versailles Treaty, a matter of prestige brought problems to Hermann Müller and his coalition in 1928. For the Reichswehr leadership, the decision to go ahead with construction was seen as an almost defining moment, politically. In 1929 the budget already contained the first installment for the Panzerschiff B.

The winner in the rapprochement of the Republic and the Reichswehr was above all the Reichswehr. It achieved an increase in the defence budget. Criticism of the defence budget was seen as an attack on the Reichswehr, and thus an attack against the state.

End of the Weimar Republic[edit]

Through the "presidential" cabinets (Präsidialkabinette) after 1930 the power of the Reichswehr was again increased, as now the former Chief of the Oberste Heeresleitung, Hindenburg, was in power. Heinrich Brüning was accepted by the Reichswehr as a former soldier, and did not include it in his unpopular spending cuts (part of his deflation policy). Franz von Papen and General Kurt von Schleicher considered using the Reichswehr to abolish democracy. Furthermore, one of their main goals was a revision of the Treaty of Versailles, which would have been in the interest of the Reichswehr.

When in 1930 three officers (Lieutenant Richard Scheringer, Lieutenant Hanns Ludin and First Lieutenant Hans Friedrich Wendt) were tried in court for National Socialist agitation in the Reichswehr, Hitler gave the "legality oath" (Legalitätseid), promising that the NSDAP intended to gain power only through legal means.

Senior members of the Reichswehr were also present at the creation of the Harzburger Front in 1931.

In 1932 Groener, who had in the meantime also become Interior Minister, banned the Sturmabteilung, the SA. He thereby lost the trust of the Reichswehr and had to resign.

On 13 September 1932 the Reichskuratorium für Jugendertüchtigung (Reich Board for Youth Strengthening) for the military training of the German youth was founded on the initiative of the generals Wilhelm Groener and Kurt von Schleicher.

With the Preußenschlag, the executive powers in Berlin and Prussia were temporarily transferred to the Reichswehr.

Reichswehr under Hitler[edit]

Reichswehr soldiers swearing an oath to Hitler (August 1934)

After gaining power, Adolf Hitler needed the army for his foreign policy and decided to give preference to the experienced and capable Reichswehr instead of the political army, the SA. Already on 3 February 1933 he presented his government programme to the generals and promised them, that the Reichswehr would remain the sole bearer of arms of Germany. The Reichswehr hoped on the one hand for increased efforts toward a revision of the Versailles Treaty and the build-up of a strong military and a firm leadership of the state. There was also a concern, however, that the Reichswehr could be displaced by the 3-million-strong SA. The Reichswehr supported Hitler in the emasculation of the SA in summer 1934, when the rumour was spread that Ernst Röhm was planning a coup, (the Röhm-Putsch), which was imminent and had to be prevented. Two generals of the Reichswehr (Kurt von Schleicher and Ferdinand von Bredow) were killed by the SS. The officer corps accepted these deaths without objection.

When the Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934, the defence minister Werner von Blomberg had the Reichswehr members swear an oath to Hitler personally.

On 16 March 1935, Hitler re-introduced conscription in a clear breach of the Treaty of Versailles and in the same law, renamed the Reichswehr as the Wehrmacht. On 1 June 1935, the Reichsmarine was also renamed the Kriegsmarine.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Massard 1988, S. 231.— Beim Neyen 1876, S. 473 steet e falsche Gebuertsdatum, an zwar den 9. Dezember 1797. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "massard1988" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ a b Liste des maires respectivement bourgmestres de la ville d'Echternach. Archives de la Ville d'Echternach.
  3. ^ Neyen 1876, S. 473. — Am Gebuertsakt vum Michel Witry gëtt den Numm vu senger Mamm "Veis" geschriwwen; en Tippfeeler huet bei Massard 1988, S, 231, doraus "Neis" gemaach.
  4. ^ Luxemburger Wort 1874, Nr. 104 (5. Mai), S. 1
  5. ^ Berenice A. Carroll, "Germany Disarmed and Rearming, 1925-1935", Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 3, No. 2 (1966), pp. 114-124, published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.; stable URL: accessed: 18/01/2010 15:09
  6. ^ Rechtsakte der Weimarer Republik

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