GERMAN MILITARY MATERIALÂ
A unified German Army dates from 1871, and the unification of Germany under the leadership of Prussia. Since that date, the German Army was involved in the First World War, Second World War, Cold War, and peacekeeping operations in Somalia, and since 2002, fighting with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
The Wehrmacht (literally, defensive might, or more accurately, defense forces) â€“ from German: wehren, to defend and die Macht, the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe (air force).
Before the National Socialist German Workers' Party assumed control of the German government in 1933, the term Wehrmacht generically described a nationâ€™s â€śhome defenceâ€ť forces, analogous to the German Streitmacht foreign war forces, thus, Britische Wehrmacht denoted â€śBritish defence forces.â€ť The term Wehrmacht is in Article 47 of the 1919 Weimar Constitution, establishing that: Der ReichsprĂ¤sident hat den Oberbefehl ĂĽber die gesamte Wehrmacht des Reiches (â€śThe National President holds supreme command of all armed forces of the nationâ€ť). From 1919, Germanyâ€™s national defence force was known as the Reichswehr, until its renaming as Wehrmacht in 1935.
After World War II (1939â€“45), the Allies abolished the Wehrmacht. In 1955, when the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) remilitarized, its armed forces were named the Bundeswehr ("Federal Defence"). In 1956, upon formal establishment, the armed forces of the Communist, east German Democratic Republic (GDR) were named the Nationale Volksarmee (National People's Army), some of whom, with matĂ©riel, were incorporated to the Bundeswehr when the German reunification consolidated the two Germanies in 1990.
In German and English usage, Wehrmacht denotes the armed forces of Nazi Germany. Using Wehrmacht to denote only the Heer (land forces) is inaccurate; nevertheless, it is a misusage common in English writing.
For branch-of-service identification, Wehrmacht vehicles bore alpha-numeric identity licence plates: WH for the Heer, WL for the Luftwaffe, WM for the Kriegsmarine. SS vehicles bore the identity licence prefix SS, always depicted with the double Sigrunen of the force.