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 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. 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]

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 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]

No. Name
(Birth–Death)
Portrait Term of Office Notes
1 Gerhard von Scharnhorst
(1755–1813)
Scharnhorst (Hannover).jpg 1 March 1808 17 June 1810
2 Karl von Hake
(1768–1835)
17 June 1810 August 1813 First tenure
3 Hermann von Boyen
(1771–1848)
Boyen.jpg 3 June 1814 November 1819 First tenure
(2) Karl von Hake
(1768–1835)
November 1819 October 1833 Second tenure
4 Job von Witzleben
(1783–1837)
October 1833 1837
5 Gustav von Rauch
(1774–1841)
1837 1 March 1841
(3) Hermann von Boyen
(1771–1848)
Boyen.jpg 1 March 1841 6 October 1847 Second tenure
6 Ferdinand von Rohr 6 October 1847 2 April 1848
7 Karl von Reyher
(1786–1857)
2 April 1848 26 April 1848
8 August Wilhelm Graf von Kanitz
(1783–1852)
26 April 1848 16 June 1848
9 Ludwig Freiherr Roth von Schreckenstein
(1789–1858)
16 June 1848 7 September 1848
10 Ernst von Pfuel
(1779–1866)
Pfuel.jpg 7 September 1848 2 November 1848
11 Karl von Strotha
(1786–1870)
2 November 1848 27 February 1850
12 August von Stockhausen
(1791–1861)
27 February 1850 31 December 1851
13 Eduard von Bonin
(1793–1865)
Eduard von Bonin.jpg 31 December 1851 1854 First tenure
14 Friedrich Graf von Waldersee
(1795–1864)
1854 6 November 1858
(13) Eduard von Bonin
(1793–1865)
Eduard von Bonin.jpg 6 November 1858 28 November 1859 Second tenure
15 Albrecht von Roon
(1803–1879)
Graf Roon .jpg 5 December 1859 9 November 1873
16 Georg von Kameke
(1817–1893)
General von Kameke.jpg 9 November 1873 3 March 1883
17 Paul Bronsart von Schellendorff
(1832–1891)
Paul-Bronsart-Schellendorff.JPG 3 March 1883 8 April 1889
18 Julius von Verdy du Vernois
(1832–1910)
Julius von Verdy du Vernois.jpg 8 April 1889 4 October 1890
19 Hans von Kaltenborn-Stachau
(1836–1898)
4 October 1890 19 October 1893
20 Walther Bronsart von Schellendorff
(1833–1914)
Walther-Bronsart-Schellendorff.JPG 19 October 1893 14 August 1896 Younger brother of Paul Bronsart von Schellendorff
21 Heinrich von Gossler
(1841–1927)
14 August 1896 15 August 1903
22 Karl von Einem
(1853–1934)
KarlEinem.jpg 15 August 1903 11 August 1909
23 Josias von Heeringen
(1850–1926)
Josias von Heeringen c1914.jpg 11 August 1909 7 June 1913
24 Erich von Falkenhayn
(1861–1922)
Erich von Falkenhayn-retouched.jpg 7 June 1913 21 January 1915
25 Adolf Wild von Hohenborn
(1860–1925)
AdolfWildVonHohenborn.jpg 21 January 1915 29 October 1916
26 Hermann von Stein
(1854–1927)
Vonsteinhermannwarminister.jpg 29 October 1916 9 October 1918
27 Heinrich Scheuch
(1864–1946)
9 October 1918 2 January 1919
28 Walther Reinhardt
(1872–1930)
Gen. Walther Reinhardt.jpg 2 January 1919 13 September 1919

For further succession, see List of German defence ministers.

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