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Continued from Category: Former GDR

"What happened to the East German military officers..."

Although the new Bundeswehr accepted some 20000 NVA personnel for the Armee der Einheit (Army of Unity), most of them were specialists or other individuals that could maintain the little Soviet equipment that Bundeswehr elected to keep. NVA officers above Oberstleutnant were particularly not welcome in the new German army as the Bundeswehrfelt that these individuals had been ideologically compromised by the regime. Evidence of Stasi collaboration also became grounds for dismissal and the end of their careers. The NVA was very top-heavy in terms of officers, with an officer to enlisted ratio of 1:8, whereas the Bundeswehr maintained a ratio of 1:40. As such, the few NVA officers that remained in the Bundeswehr were dropped to the enlisted ranks as the Bundeswehr establishment saw NVA officers as performing the same functions as a Bundeswehr NCO. By about 2002, only about 5 percent of the Bundeswehrconsisted of former NVA personnel.

Aside from some advanced equipment like the MiG-29, the Kohl government saw little advantage in keeping this hardware and most of it was scrapped or sold to other states.

The Bundeswehr was one of the strongholds of anticommunism within the FRG and its leadership did not really consider the NVA to be true German soldiers.

NVA pensions in the Berlin Republic are usually less than their counterparts and many NVA officers were forced to retire several ranks lower.

"National People's Army"

The manpower of the NVA consisted of some 85,000 soldiers in 1962, climbed to 127,000 by 1967, and remained essentially steady through 1970.[7] In 1987, at the peak of its power, the NVA numbered 175,300 troops. Approximately 50% of this number were career soldiers, while the others were short-term conscripts.

According to a 1973 study, NVA leaders from the late 1950s through the 1960s came predominantly from working-class backgrounds, with few from middle-class or professional families and no representatives of the aristocracy present in the upper echelons. 

(Meanwhile, an ideologist of West German re-armament was a "Graf", "one of the architects of West German rearmament, Wolf Graf von Baudissin", " General Graf von Kielmansegg")

Most of the NVA's 36,000 officers and NCOs were let go, including all officers above the rank of lieutenant colonel. The Bundeswehr retained only 3,200 - after a demotion of one rank. In addition, all female soldiers and all soldiers over the age of 55 were discharged.

 Retired NVA soldiers and officers received only minimal pensions after unification: a thirty-year veteran would receive a pension smaller than a graduate-student stipend

Many former NVA officers feel bitter about their treatment after unification. While receiving only minimal pensions, few have been able to find jobs except as laborers or security guards. Former NVA officers are not permitted to append their NVA rank to their name as a professional title; no such prohibition applies to rank attained in the Wehrmacht or in the Waffen-SS during the Nazi era" - German army remains essentially a Nazi institution

Left behind were:


  • 767 aircraft (helicopters, fixed wing aircraft), 24 of which were MiG-29s
  • 208 ships
  • 2,761 tanks
  • 133,900 wheeled vehicles
  • 2,199 artillery pieces
  • 1,376,650 firearms
  • 303,690 tons of ammunition
  • 14,335 tons of fuel and cleaning materials

(Today, German Air Force has a total of over 400 aircraft )

"Integration of East German armed forces"

(Fact remains: the East German army was not shattered, but "integrated")

Once the Wall opened, many reservists and some conscripts fled the country, disappearing into West Germany. Authority and morale declined as ordinary soldiers rebelled against strict discipline and military exercises. When soldiers' councils sprang up, NVA commanders bowed to pressure to allow soldiers to wear civilian clothes off post and enjoy relaxed discipline, reduced training time, and an end to political indoctrination.

The 90,000 NVA service personnel and 47,000 civilian employees who remained were merged into the Bundeswehr on a preliminary basis. It was decided that up to 50,000 of the former NVA troops would be retained as part of the Bundeswehr. Of 14,600 NVA officers, 5,100 were permitted to enter the Bundeswehr for a transition period of two years. Some 70 percent of these--mostly junior officers--would be retained after approval for regular Bundeswehr service and screening to eliminate former members of East Germany's State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst--Stasi). Many of the 25,000 NVA enlisted personnel were assigned to a three-month basic training course with West German units. 

All 190 NVA general officers were retired, as were all colonels and many other officers over age fifty-five. Most of those retained were no older than thirty-five. Many former NVA officers were demoted by one or two ranks if they were younger than officers of corresponding ranks in the Bundeswehr.

After absorption of the East German armed forces, the six active NVA divisions were converted to brigades, with three brigades in each of two divisions. One division was headquartered at Neubrandenburg and the other at Leipzig. Both divisions became part of IV Corps, which has its headquarters at Potsdam.

During a transition period, the brigades operated Soviet BMP armored vehicles, but Soviet tanks were replaced by Leopards. In the air force, the division at Eggerdorf controlled two fighter wings of Phantom F-4Fs and Soviet MiG-29s, with the Soviet aircraft to be gradually reduced in number.

Large quantities of East German weapons were turned over to the Bundeswehr, including 2,300 main battle tanks, 7,800 armored vehicles, 2,500 artillery pieces, 400 combat aircraft, fifty attack helicopters, and many missile and rocket systems. More than 300,000 tons of ammunition had been stockpiled. With exceptions that included MiG-29s, BMP infantry fighting vehicles, and some transport helicopters, the Bundeswehr decided against trying to integrate former NVA weapons into its inventory. Ceilings imposed by the CFE Treaty, as well as problems of convertibility and safety, ruled out the wholesale absorption of the weapons.

According to data compiled by the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), Germany's military expenditures per capita in 1993 (US$454) were above the NATO Europe average (US$416) and below those of France (US$740) or Britain (US$587). United States expenditures per capita were US$1,153 in the same year. Expressed as a percentage of GNP, military expenditures in 1993 (2.2 percent) were lower than the NATO Europe average (2.7 percent). The 1992 share of military spending in central government expenditures (6.3 percent) was also below the NATO 1992 average of 6.5 percent.

Data as of August 1995


"What happened to the East German army after unification?"

The Nationale Volksarmee was disbanded 1990. All their material and real estate became property of the Bundeswehr

The approx. 50'000 career soldiers were "temporary soldiers" (with their old ranks) in the first month (October 1990), in that month they could apply for a 2 year enlistment (with adjusted ranks). After these two years they could become regular soldiers of the Bundeswehr Of  ~24'000 officers ~11'000 applied for the 2 year enlistment ~6'000 were enlisted for 2 years ~3'000 were enlisted after the 2 years  ~25'000 NCOs ~12'000 applied for the 2 year enlistment ~11'000 were enlisted for 2 years ~8'000 were enlisted after the 2 years  ~1'000 career privates ~1'000 applied for the 2 year enlistment ~800 were enlisted for 2 years ~200 were enlisted after the 2 years  (source for the numbers is the Bundeswehr) 

Several high ranking officers were employed as civilian advisors during the absorption process. 

Next: Left Party, Germany

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