1902 Encyclopedia > Germany > Germany - Army and Navy

(Part 13)


Army and Navy

By the constitution of 16th April 1871 every German is liable to service (wehrpflichtig), and no substitution is allowed (art. 57). Every German capable of bearing arms (weahrfähig) has to serve in the standing army for seven years—as a rule from the end of the twentieth till the commencement of the twenty-eighth year of his age. Three of these seven years he must spend in active service, and the remainder in the reserve; after quitting the latter he forms part of the landwehr for five years more—the full time of military service thus being twelve years. The strength of the army on a peace footing (friedensfuss) was fixed in the army bill of 1874 at 401,659 (or say 1 per cent. of the population at the census of 1871) for a term of seven years ending the 31st December 1881. The number of recruits levied annually is 145,000 men. All young men who reach a certain fixed standard of higher school training, however, are obliged to serve only for one year in the active army, and these are not included in the effective strength of the army on a peace footing. Collaterally with the army there has existed since 1875 the landsturm, to which all men liable to service and capable of bearing arms, between the ages of seventeen and forty-two, belong, if they are neither in the line, the reserve, the landwehr, nor the marine. The landsturm is only called to arms in the event of a hostile invasion of the imperial territory being threatened or effected.

By the articles of the constitution the whole of the land forces of the empire form a united army in war and peace under the orders of the emperors. The sovereigns of the chief states are entitled to nominate the lower grades of officers, and the king of Bavaria has reserved to himself the special privilege of superintending the general administration of the two Bavarian corps d’armée; but all appointments are made subject to the emperor’s approval. The 64th article of the constitution enacts that all German troops are bound to obey unconditionally the orders of the emperors, and to take the oath of allegiance accordingly. The emperor is empowered to erect fortresses in any part of the empire.

Organization of the Army.—The imperial army consists of 18 army corps, viz., the Prussia garde-du-corps, 13 Prussia corps (including the troops of the minor states in military convention with Prussia—Nos. 1 to 11 being Prussia, while Nos. 14 and 15 are the Baden and Alsace-Lorraine crops respectively), the Saxon corps (No. 121), the Würtemberg corps (No. 13), and the 2 Bavarian crops. One army "inspection" comprises from 3 to 4 corps. Generally 1 army corps consists of 2 divisions, each of which included 1 horse and 2 foot brigades. As a rule the infantry brigade consists of 2 infantry regiments and 2 landwehr regiments, the cavalry brigade of from 2 to 3 cavalry regiments. An infantry regiment consists of 3 battalions of 4 companies each; a cavalry regiment has 5 squadrons. There are many exceptions, however, to these rules, e.g., the garde-du-corps and the Saxon corps d’armeé consist each of 1 cavalry and 2 infantry divisions, the 11th contains 3 divisions, &c. Some divisions also are stronger than others. Altogether the Germany army numbers 40 division, of which 6 are infancy, 3 cavalry and 31 both combined. There are in all 74 infantry and 38 cavalry brigades, and 148 infantry and 93 cavalry regiments.

Besides the troopes above named, each army corps generally includes (a) 1 jäger or light battalion (the Bavarian army has, however, 10 of them); (b) field artillery brigade; (c) foot artillery regiment; (d) 1 engineer battalion; (e) 1 train battalion. The gardenu-crops has, in addition, two railway battalions, 1 instruction infantry battalion (Lehrbataillon), &c. The several field artillery brigades are not uniformly constituted, but in 12 of the 18 army corps the brigade consists of 2 artillery regiments. One of these with 8 batteries is attached to the division, while the other remains under the orders of the corps commander. This latter consists of 2 sections (Abtheilungen) of 3 batteries each, and a mounted division of 3 batteries. Each battery has as a rule 4 guns. A foot artillery regiment has 2 battalions of 4 companies each. There are in all 36 fields artillery regiments with 301 batteries and 1206 guns, and 13 foot artillery regiments. In war time several corps are combined as "armied," the entire military force consisting then of the filed or battle army, the reserve or supplementary troops (Ersatztruppen), and the garrison troops 9Besatzungstruppen).

The following tables exhibit the strength of the German army on a peace footing and on a war footing respectively.

There are other 25,975 men who are not included in the latter sum-total but whose cost is defrayed by army grants. They include 4653 physicians, 838 veterinary surgeons, 1600 paymasters, &c. Nor does the table take account of the troops of the field reserve and of the landsturm, regarding the organization of which no details have been published; the former, which is drawn from the landwehr, is estimated at 250,000 men. It is calculated that Germany may put in arms at any given time two millions and a half of armed men without having recourse to the last reserves. The maximum strength of the army in the war with France was 1,450,787 men and 263,752 horses.


Fortresses.—Since the Franco-German war the fortress system has been entirely remodeled. A number of old and useless fortresses have been dismantled; several new ones have been erected along the sea-coast; and most of the flanking the land frontiers have been enlarged. The empire is divided into nine fortress districts, each including a certain number of fortified places. The Baltic coast fortresses are Memel, Pillau, Dantzic (first-class fortress), Colberg, Swinemünde, Stralsund, Travemünde, Kiel, Friedrichsort, Sonderburg-Düppel, On the North Sea are Wilhelmshaven and the fortresses by which the mouths of the Elbe, Weser, and Ems are guarded. The eastern frontier is protected by the first-class fortresses of Königsberg, Dantzic, Thorn, and Posen; and by the secondary ones of Marienburg and Dirschau on the Vistula, and of Glogau on the oder, which are especially intended for the protection of the railways. For the southern frontier there exist only the fortresses of Neisse, Glatz, and Königstein on the Elbe. The old inland fortresses have been abolished, except the first-class ones of Küstrin, Magdeburg, Spandau, and (for railway protection) Torgan on the Elbe. Ulm and Ingolstadt on the Danube, both first-class fortresses, are also maintained. On the western frontier Strasburg and Metz have been fortified by a wide range of outer fortifications, and there is besides an outer line of smaller fortified places, consisting of New Breisach, Bitsch, Saarlouis, and Thionville. A second line runs along the Rhine, where there are large fortresses serving as encampments at Rastadt, Mainz, Coblentz, and Cologne, and smaller ones for the protection of the Rhine bridges of Germersheim, Ehrenbreitstein opposite Coblentz, Düsseldorf, and Wesel. The empire thus possesses 16 fortified placed of the first class sevring as camps, and 27 other fortresses.

Navy.—The German navy is but of recent origin. In 1848 the German people urged the construction of a fleet Money was collected, and a few men of war fitted out, but theses were subsequently sold, the German bundestag (federal council) not being in sympathy with the aspirations of the nation. Prussia, however, began laying the foundations of a small navy. To meet the difficulty arising from the want of good harbours in the Baltic, a small extent of territory near Jahde Bay was bought from Oldenburg in 1854, for the purpose of establishing a war-port there. Its construction is now practically completed, although at enormous expense, and it was opened for ships by the emperor in June 1869 under the name of Wilhelmshaven. In 1864 Prussia, by annexing Holstein, obtained possession of the excellent port of Kiel, which has since been strongly fortified. From the time of the formation of the North German confederation the navy has belonged to the common federal interest. Since 1st October 1867 all its ships have carried the same flag,—black, white, red, with the Prussia eagle and the iron cross.

From 1848 to 1868 the increase of the navy was slow. In 1851 it consisted of 51 ships with 188 guns (among which there were, however, 36 small gunboats of 2 guns each), and with 1180 hands in all. In 1868 it consisted of 89 vessels of 563 guns, among which number there were 2 ironclads, and 43 other steamers. Since then a definite plan for the development of the navy has been set on foot, and great activity has been displaced in fitting out ships and in augmenting the personnel.

The following tables shows the increase that has occurred in the navy budget since 1868:—


The personnel of the navy consisted in 1878 of 965 officers and 9265 men. There are 2 sailors division (Matrosendivisionen) of 79 officers and 6029 seamen and boys, a ship-boys department (Abtehinlung) of 400 hands, 2 dockyard division (Werftdivisionen) with 148 officers and 1718 men, and 1 battalion of marines with 1035 men. The sailors and marines are levied by conscription from among the seafaring population, which is on this population of Germany is estimated at 80,000, 48,000 of whom serve in the merchant marine at home, and about 6000 in foreign service. Great inducements to enter the navy are held to able seamen. The following table gives the state of the navy in August 1878:—


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