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The following breakdown of the path of the German soldier, from his active military service to his time in the Landwehr was provided by Glenn Jewison. His superb homepage can be found HERE

Left: The stamp of the Active 1st Garde Grenadier Regiment

The organizational history of the reserve formations of the German Kaiserreich is a complicated and often contradictory subject and for the purpose of this page will be restricted apart from a brief historical overview to the period from just following the unification of Germany until the Great War.

Left: The stamp of the Active Infanterie Regiment 163

Right: The stamp of the Active Infanterie Regiment 175

Zeile 2
Left: Stamp of the Ersatz Batl. of the active Bavarian Leib Regiment

Right: Stamp of the III Batl. of the bavarian 31st Infanterie Regiment

Right: the Stamp of the Reserve Infanterie Regiment 212.
Historically, Prussia first fielded its major reserve formations known as the Landwehr in the Wars of Liberation in the early nineteenth century in its struggle against the armies of Napoleonic France. Following a Royal decree of the 17th of March 1813, the Landwehr was called up. It was initially formed into Landwehr Infantry Brigades (later renamed as Regiments) of three or four battalions each from the Prussian provinces of West Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, Neumark and Kurmark. Further regiments were added to the order of battle as were Landwehr Cavalry Regiments. The originally somewhat improvised nature of the Landwehr was formalized by the Military Law of 3rd September 1814 and the Landwehr Order of the 21st of November 1815. The major point of the latter order regulated that in future the Landwehr would be divided into two levies or Aufgebots: The 1st Levy of men who had served three years in the active army plus two years reserve service, that is men from around the age of 26 – 32. The 2nd Levy comprised men in the year groups from 33 – 39.

Left: The stamp of the Reserve Infanterie Regiment 245 from Saxony

Right: The stamp of the Reserve Infanterie Regiment 106 from Saxony

Right: The stamp of the Reserve Infanterie Regiment 37

Although briefly deployed in the revolutionary upheavals of 1848/49 (not always with great success), the Landwehr was not engaged again on active operations until the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. Throughout this period the Landwehr was organized on regional lines in regiments and battalions mirroring the active regiment of the same number including a corresponding Garde-Landwehr organization. Prior to 1860 an active and a Landwehr Regiment had been paired in the same Brigade. Following this date the Landwehr was removed from the 1st line order of battle and relegated to 2nd line and support operations. The Landwehr was mobilized in 1866 and again in 1871 against France and saw significant action in both of these campaigns. The Landwehr regimental organization remained in force until the new Landwehr and Landsturm law of the 11th of February1888 abolished the regimental organization and henceforth the Landwehr was administered by Landwehr District Headquarters or Landwehr-Bezirkskommandos under the command of a Bezirkskommandeur.

Right: The stamp of the Reserve Infanterie Regiment 75

The German Military Law or Wehrordnung of the 22nd of November 1888 was the last major law regulating the status and obligations of German citizens for military service prior to the First World War. Apart from minor additions and amendments it remained extant until the end of the German Kaiserreich. This stipulated that every German male citizen was liable for military service or Wehrpflichtig and did not allow for substitutions. This liability for military service lasted from the end of an individual’s 17th until the end of his 45th year. This service was in peacetime further divided into several categories:

Service in the Standing Army or Dienstpflicht im stehenden Heere: This service was performed in both active and reserve service and lasted for a period of seven years, usually two years in the former and five in the latter. Cavalrymen and horse artillery personnel however served three and four respectively on active and then reserve service. An individual normally entered service in the year of his twentieth birthday. Soldiers on reserve status were obligated to carry out two annual periods of training of eight weeks duration.

Above: Stamp of the Landwehr Infanterie Regiment 111

Service in the Landwehr or Landwehrpflicht. At 27, the former reservist then entered the Landwehr. The Landwehr was divided into two levies. Service in the first levy or Aufgebot was normally for five years and that in the second levy until March 31st in which year the individual completed his 39th year. The former Landwehr man was then transferred to the 2nd Levy of the Landsturm. Soldiers in the 1st Levy of the Landwehr were obligated to carry out two annual periods of training of between eight and fourteen days.

Service in the Ersatz (Supplementary) Reserve or Ersatzreservepflicht. The Supplementary Reserve consisted of those men who for some reason or other had not been conscripted. These individuals had a reserve liability to serve for twelve years and a proportion of these carried out periods of military training on three separate occasions which did not exceed twenty weeks in total. On completion of twelve years supplementary reserve service they were transferred into the 2nd Levy of the Landwehr. Those reservists who did not perform any military training were transferred to the 1st Levy of the Landsturm.  

Above: Stamp for the Landsturm Bataillon Eisenach

Service in the Landsturm or Landsturmpflicht. The Landsturm was formed from all men liable for military service who were not actually serving in either the standing army or the Landwehr. It too was divided into two levies; the first of men up to the 31st of March in which they completed their 39th year and the second all remaining personnel. During peacetime Landsturm personnel were not required to participate in military training.

Left: Stamp of the Bavarian Landsturm Infanterie Regiment 1

Right: Stamp of the Reserve Ersatz Regiment 4

Left: The stamp of the Landsturm Infanterie Regiment 32

Reserve and Landwehr Officer Corps.
From the perspective of the Military Law of the 22nd of November 1888 officers were subject to the same general terms of liability as non commissioned officers and private soldiers. The same age brackets were applied for service in the varying categories although commissioned officers had a greater amount of leeway in remaining if they so chose in a higher class of reserve service. If for example a reserve officer on completing his 27th year wished to remain in the reserve as opposed to transferring into the 1st Levy of the Landwehr, providing he was physically fit, his regiment and Bezirkskommandeur agreed, this was allowed. Normally officers of the 1st Levy of the Landwehr passed into the 2nd Levy at their own request; otherwise they remained with the 1st Levy. Reserve officers were generally found from former One Year Volunteers who after performing two special promotion exercises in the reserve were commissioned as Leutnant der Reserve. Officers were subject to the same stipulated periods of training as reserve soldiers with the exception that those aspiring to further promotion attended special exercises to demonstrate their suitability for higher rank.

Right: Stamp of the II Batl. Landwehr Infanterie Regiment 28

Reserve and Landwehr Formations in Peacetime:
  As mentioned above, the new Landwehr and Landsturm law of the 11th of February1888 abolished the regimental organization of the Landwehr. After this date the military training of personnel on reserve and Landwehr status was determined by a yearly All Highest Cabinet Order usually published in the February. The numbers of men by army corps and branch of service were regulated as were the numbers of regular instructor personnel. Normally reservists returned to their former active units to participate in training whereas their colleagues in the Landwehr 1st Levy were formed into so-called Übungs or exercise formations in company and battalion strength as required, for example: Landwehr-Übungs-Bataillon Cöln. It would however appear to have been the practice following the turn of the century to also form for the duration of exercises reserve regiments. The supplement regarding the exercises of reservists published in the Armee-Verordnungs-Blatt dated 12 February 1903 instructs that reserve regiments be formed in the Guard, I, V, VI, VIII and IX Army Corps with similar Field Artillery Battalions in the II, IV, VII, X, XVII and XVIII Army Corps.

Left: The stamp of the Prussian Garde Reserve Regiment 1

Right: The stamp of the 109th Leib Grenadier Regiment from Baden