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Imperial Defence 1921 - 1935

The Reichswehr (English: Imperial Defence) formed the military organization of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was united with the newly founded Wehrmacht ("Defence Force").

At the end of World War I, the forces of the German Empire had mostly split up, the men making their way home individually or in small groups. Many of them joined the Freikorps ("Free Corps"), a collection of volunteer paramilitary units that were involved in revolution and border clashes between 1918 and 1923.

It was conceded that the newly formed Weimar Republic did need a military, so on 6 March 1919 a decree established the Vorläufige Reichswehr ("Provisional National Defence"), consisting of a Vorläufige Reichsheer ("Provisional National Army") and a Vorläufige Reichsmarine ("Provisional National Navy"). The Vorläufige Reichswehr was made up of 43 brigades.

On 30 September 1919, the army was reorganized as the Übergangsheer ("Transitional Army"), and the force size was reduced to 20 brigades. About 400,000 men served in the armed forces. In May 1920 it was downsized to 200,000 men and restructured again, forming three Cavalry Divisions and seven Infantry Divisions. On 1 October 1920 the brigades were replaced by regiments and the manpower was now only 100,000 men as stipulated by the Treaty of Versailles. This lasted until 1 January 1921, when the Reichswehr was officially established according to the limitations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles (Articles 159 to 213).
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