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The Federal Ministry of Defence (Bundesministerium der Verteidigung) is a ministry in the German Government. It is headquartered at Hardthöhe in Bonnmarker and has a second office in the Bendlerblockmarker building in Berlinmarker. It is headed by the Federal Minister of Defence.

During peacetime the Federal Minister of Defence is the Commander-in-Chief of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, with around 253,430 active personnel, while in wartime the Chancellor becomes Commander-in-Chief.

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

History



From the Unification of Germany in 1871 until the end of the First World War, Germany did not have a national Ministry of War. Instead the large states (the Kingdom of Prussiamarker, the Kingdom of Bavaria, the Kingdom of Saxonymarker and the Kingdom of Württemberg) each had a Ministry of War, according to the 1870 military treaty between the states, and these were responsible also for the defense of the smaller states. However, the Imperial Navy was overseen by a federal department, the Reichsmarineamt.

The 1919 Weimar Constitution provided for a unified, national ministry of defense, which was created largely from the Prussian Ministry of War and the Reichsmarineamt. The Ministry of Defence ( ) was established in October 1919, and had its seat in the Bendlerblockmarker building. SPD politician Gustav Noske became the first Minister of Defence of Germany. The ministry was renamed Reichskriegsministerium, or Federal Ministry of War, in 1935. In 1938, the Ministry of War was abolished and replaced by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (High Command of the Armed Forces), which formally existed until the end of WWII. The High Command was not a government ministry, but a military command, however.

After WWII, West Germanymarker started with preparations for rearmament in 1950, as ordered by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. After the outbreak of the Korean War, the United States called for a German contribution to the defence of Western Europe (against the Soviet Unionmarker). Initally Gerhard Graf von Schwerin, a 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. The government office responsible for the rearmament was unofficially known as Amt Blank, and 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 NATOmarker the same year. In 1956, Germany reintroduced conscription, and the German military force quickly became the largest conventional military force in Western Europe. The ministry was renamed the Bundesministerium der Verteidigung in German on 30 December 1961, similar to the names of the older ministries of Finance, the Interior and Justice.

Until 1960, the ministry had its seat in the Ermekeilkaserne in Bonn. From 1960 onwards, it was moved to a new building complex at Hardthöhe. The Bendlerblock, the 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 Afghanistanmarker and other deployments around the world.

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