Conscription age in the wehrmacht

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Sep 2021 14:52

Hi Art,

In those 3-4 years from 1935-39 the Germans had trained as many conscripts as France had been able to in twice as many years - i.e. back to about 1931-32. This was a function of having about twice the metropolitan population.

While it is true that France had continued conscription in the 1920s and early 1930s, while Germany had not, this was mostly for only one year, as compared with the two years the Germans introduced in the mid 1930s. Only when the Germans introduced two-year conscription in the mid 1930s did the French follow suit.

While it is true that Germany trained no conscripts over 1919-34, those trained by France in that period mostly had only the one year preparation and by 1939 they were middle aged and trained on often obsolescent weaponry.

Between the wars the French were in a rather more precarious manpower position than Germany - hence the Maginot Line and the raising of colonial divisions to help compensate. Even in trained manpower the Germans were not markedly inferior in 1939 and, if the quality and duration of that training is taken into account, they may not have been inferior at all. And, of course, in the longer term, they had large untrained manpower reserves that the French did not.

Cheers,

Sid.

Art
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Art » 20 Sep 2021 21:40

As far as duration of training is concerned the German situation was not so bright. First, the normal term of conscription could be 1 or 2 years, depending on contingents. Then many men were conscripted to Ergänzungs units for short-term training which lasted just several month. According to Müller-Hillebrand in 1939 the proportion between Reserve I (reservists with 9 months or longer training) and Reserve II (reservists with shorter training) was approximately 5:6. Reserve I and II and peace-time troops barely constituted 1/2 of the mobilized army, the balance were men of older ages from Landwehr or completely untrained contingents.

Peter89
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Peter89 » 20 Sep 2021 22:19

Sid Guttridge wrote:
18 Sep 2021 18:38
Hi Peter89,

You quote, ".....the severe lack of manpower in the Wehrmacht on the eve of the Second World War becomes patently obvious".

That rather depends. Germany had nearly twice the population of France, its next biggest adversary in 1939, and a higher birth rate. As a result it was recruiting two conscripts to every one Frenchman. In only 3 years of conscription it could already field almost as many divisions as France, twice as many of them "active". I would suggest that the French would not have considered that there was any "severe lack of manpower in the Wehrmacht on the eve of the Second World War" and the relative situation was only going to get rapidly relatively worse for them.

Cheers,

Sid.
Hello Sid,

If we examine the question in relative terms, the Germans had to face Poland and Britain, as well as Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, Belgium... Most of the annexed and allied territories' ethnic German population also received little or no training.

The most populous generations (born between 1900 and 1912) did not receive military training.

GSWW details a lot of angles like how many divisions were fully trained, equipped and combat ready, and how many were just able to do minimal tasks, etc. At the outbreak of the war, Germany had a problem with manpower training in every possible department, and the nature of the war that they were fighting demanded more than outnumbering the French, which Germany always did historically.
Last edited by Peter89 on 21 Sep 2021 08:29, edited 1 time in total.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Art
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Art » 21 Sep 2021 08:16

German mobilization in 1939 was based on a very clear distinction between 1st, 2nd and 3rd rate units. 1st rate divisions were mostly composed of peace-time active personnel, 2nd rate - of reservists with complete military training, 3rd rate - of partly trained reservists and Landwehr. The last units were apparently not expected to accomplish more than defense of fortified positions. That mobilization scheme was well harmonized with operational plan, i.e. defense in the West based on the West Wall and offensive in the East. The Polish campaign was mostly fought by 1st wave divisions, whereas the bulk of inferior divisions were deployed in the West to counter possible Allied attack. But for offensive campaign against the opponent of equal strength this army of 1939 was completely inadequate.

GregSingh
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by GregSingh » 25 Sep 2021 08:51

And here is the document I mentioned in the other topic, which allowed 17yo volunteers from GG into service in 1940.
That would be those born in Jan-Apr 1923.
Two year earlier than on the list attached by Peter89 (1923 - from 15 Apr 1942).

1940.jpg
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Peter89
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Peter89 » 25 Sep 2021 21:50

GregSingh wrote:
25 Sep 2021 08:51
And here is the document I mentioned in the other topic, which allowed 17yo volunteers from GG into service in 1940.
That would be those born in Jan-Apr 1923.
Two year earlier than on the list attached by Peter89 (1923 - from 15 Apr 1942).


1940.jpg
I think volunteering fell under different judgement than conscription.

In the Hungarian Royal Army, there has been a different name / designation for the volunteers. (karpaszományos) Their career advancement was facilitated and they enjoyed various priviliges. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same for the Wehrmacht.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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