Federal Ministry of Defence (Germany)

The Federal Ministry of Defence (German: Bundesministerium der Verteidigung), abbreviated BMVg, is a top-level federal agency, headed by the Federal Minister of Defence as a member of the Cabinet of Germany. The ministry is headquartered at the Hardthöhe district in Bonn and has a second office in the Bendlerblock building in Berlin.

Federal Ministry of Defence
Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (BMVg)

Entrance to the Hardthöhe, Bonn
Agency overview
JurisdictionCabinet of Germany
HeadquartersHardthöhe, Bonn, Germany
50°41′57″N 7°2′25″E
Annual budget43.2 billion (2019)[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executives
  • Peter Tauber[2], Parliamentary Secretary of State
  • Thomas Silberhorn[2], Parliamentary Secretary of State
1: As the Ministry of the Reichswehr, succeeding the Ministry of War of Prussia, the Ministry of War of Saxony, the Ministry of War of Bavaria, the Ministry of War of Württemberg and the Imperial Naval Office
2: As the Ministry of Defence (Bundesministerium für Verteidigung) in West Germany[3]

According to Article 65a of the German Constitution (Grundgesetz), the Federal Minister of Defence is Commander-in-chief of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, with around 264,463 active soldiers and civilians.[4] Article 115b decrees that in the state of defence, declared by the Bundestag with consent of the Bundesrat, the command in chief passes to the Chancellor.

The ministry currently has approximately 3,730 employees. Of these, 3,230 work in Bonn while around 500 work in the Bendlerblock building in Berlin.


On April 1st 2012 the Federal Ministry of Defence (DEU MOD) changes its organization to the following general structure:

Senior Management Level

  • Federal Minister of Defence (acts as High Commander of the German armed forces in peacetime)
    • 2 Parliamentary Secretaries of State
    • 2 Secretaries of State
  • subordinated to the Senior Management
    • Support Office
    • Press& Information Office
    • Politics Directorate


  • Secretary of State #1
    • Equipment Directorate (lost the Cyber & IT branch in 2016)
    • Cyber & IT Directorate (founded 2016)
  • Secretary of State #2
    • Financial & Controlling Directorate
    • Personnel Directorate
    • Infrastructure, Antipollution & Administrative Services Directorate
    • Legal Directorate
  • Inspector General of the Bundeswehr
    • Plans & Policies Directorate
    • Strategy & Operations Directorate
    • Armed Forces Command & Control Directorate

Departments of the Federal armed forces

The Bundeswehr is divided into a military part (armed forces or Streitkräfte) and a civil part with the armed forces administration (Wehrverwaltung) and consists of 11 Departments/Services:

Directly subordinated Offices & Agencies

  • Armed Forces Operational Command (Einsatzführungskommando der Bundeswehr)
  • Office for Military Aviation (Luftfahrtamt der Bundeswehr)
  • Office for Plans & Policies (Planungsamt der Bundeswehr)
  • Command & Control Academy (Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr)
  • Training Centre for Morale & Welfare (Zentrum Innere Führung)
  • Military Counter-intelligence Service (Bundesamt für den Militärischen Abschirmdienst)


From the Unification of Germany in 1871 until the end of World War I, the German Empire did not have a national Ministry of War. Instead the larger German states (such as the kingdoms of Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony and Württemberg), insisting on their autonomy, each had an own war ministry. According to the military agreements the Prussian minister president Otto von Bismarck had forged with the South German states on the eve of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, the major states were responsible also for the defence of the smaller states. However, the Imperial Navy from 1889 was overseen by a federal department, the Imperial Naval Office.

After the war and the German Revolution of 1918–19, the Weimar Constitution provided for a unified, national ministry of defence, which was created largely from the Prussian Ministry of War and the Imperial Naval Office. The Ministry of the Reichswehr was established in October 1919, and had its seat in the Bendlerblock building.

In the context of the Treaty of Versailles and the "Law for the Creation of a provisional Reichswehr" of March 1919, the Reichspräsident became the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, whilst the Reich Minister of Defence exercised military authority. Only in the Free State of Prussia did military authority remain with the State Minister of War. After the Weimar Constitution came into force, the remaining war ministries in the states of Bavaria, Saxony, Württemberg and Prussia were abolished and military authority was concentrated in the Reich Minister of Defence. Command was exercised respectively by the Chief of the Heeresleitung (Army Command) and the Chief of the Marineleitung (Navy Command, see Reichsmarine). In 1929 a third office was established: the Ministerial Office, whose Chief functioned as the political representative of the Minister. The role of the General Staff was filled by the Truppenamt.

The Social Democratic politician Gustav Noske became the first Minister of Defence of Germany. After the Nazi Machtergreifung, when the Reichswehr was recreated as the Wehrmacht in 1935, the ministry was renamed Reichskriegsministerium (Reich Ministry of War); also, the Heeresleitung became the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), the Marineleitung became the Oberkommando der Marine (OKM) and the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL) was newly created. The Ministeramt (Ministerial Office) was renamed the Wehrmachtsamt.

In 1938, following the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair, Hitler himself exercised the functions of the Reich War Minister. The Wehrmachtsamt was turned into the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW; High Command of the Armed Forces), which formally existed until the end of World War II. The High Command was not a government ministry, but a military command, however.

After World War II, West Germany started with preparations for rearmament (Wiederbewaffnung) in 1950, as ordered by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. After the outbreak of the Korean War, the United States called for a West German contribution to the defence of Western Europe (against the Soviet Union). Initially Gerhard Graf von Schwerin, a former Wehrmacht General, advised the Chancellor on these issues and led the preparations, but after Count Schwerin had talked to the press about his work, he was replaced by Theodor Blank, who was appointed as "Special Representative" of the Chancellor. As the rearmament plans met with harsh opposition by a wide circle within the West German population and contradicted the occupation statute, the government office responsible for the rearmament acted secretly, unofficially known as Amt Blank. By 1955, the number of employees had surpassed 1,300. On 7 June 1955 the office became the Ministry of Defence, or Bundesministerium für Verteidigung in German. The Bundeswehr was established and Germany joined the NATO the same year. In 1956, Germany reintroduced conscription, and the German military force quickly became the largest conventional military force in Western Europe. To confirm the ministry's importance, it was renamed Bundesministerium der Verteidigung on 30 December 1961, similar to the German names of the "classic" ministries of Finance, the Interior and Justice though the federal minister is still denoted as Bundesminister für Verteidigung in Article 65a of the German Constitution.

Until 1960, the ministry had its seat in the Ermekeil barracks in Bonn. From 1960 onwards, it was moved to a new building complex at Hardthöhe. After German reunification, the Bendlerblock, former seat of its Weimar Republic predecessor, became the secondary seat of the ministry in 1993.

The German military has become increasingly engaged in international operations since the early 1990s, and saw combat in the 1999 Kosovo War against Yugoslavia. Currently, Germany has a large deployment in Afghanistan and other deployments around the world.

List of Federal Ministers of Defence (since 1955)

Political Party:   CDU   CSU   SPD

Portrait Party Term of Office Duration Chancellor
Federal Minister for Defence
Theodor Blank
CDU 7 June 1955 16 October 1956 1 year, 131 days Adenauer
Franz Josef Strauß
CSU 16 October 1956 29 December 1961 5 years, 74 days Adenauer
(II • III)
Federal Minister of Defence
Franz Josef Strauß
CSU 30 December 1961 9 January 1963 1 year, 10 days Adenauer
(IV • V)
Kai-Uwe von Hassel
CDU 9 January 1963 1 December 1966 3 years, 326 days Erhard
Gerhard Schröder
CDU 1 December 1966 21 October 1969 2 years, 324 days Kiesinger
Helmut Schmidt
SPD 22 October 1969 7 July 1972 2 years, 259 days Brandt
Georg Leber
SPD 7 July 1972 16 February 1978 5 years, 224 days Brandt (III)
Schmidt (III)
Hans Apel
SPD 17 February 1978 1 October 1982 4 years, 226 days Schmidt
(II • III)
Manfred Wörner
CDU 4 October 1982 18 May 1988 5 years, 227 days Kohl
Rupert Scholz
(b. 1937)
CDU 18 May 1988 21 April 1989 338 days Kohl
Gerhard Stoltenberg
CDU 21 April 1989 31 March 1992 2 years, 345 days Kohl
Volker Rühe
(b. 1942)
CDU 1 April 1992 26 October 1998 6 years, 208 days Kohl
Rudolf Scharping
(b. 1947)
SPD 27 October 1998 19 July 2002 3 years, 265 days Schröder
Peter Struck
SPD 19 July 2002 22 November 2005 3 years, 126 days Schröder
Franz Josef Jung
(b. 1949)
CDU 22 November 2005 28 October 2009 3 years, 340 days Merkel
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
(b. 1971)
CSU 28 October 2009 3 March 2011 1 year, 126 days Merkel
Thomas de Maizière
(b. 1954)
CDU 3 March 2011 17 December 2013 2 years, 289 days
Ursula von der Leyen
(b. 1958)
CDU 17 December 2013 17 July 2019 5 years, 212 days Merkel
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
(b. 1962)
CDU 17 July 2019 Incumbent 151 days Merkel

See also


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