The National People's Army (German: Nationale Volksarmee)

was the army of the German Democratic Republic


The National People's Army (German: Nationale Volksarmee) was the military of the German Democratic Republic


Training the East German National People's Army

In 1981 the National People's Army totaled 113,000, the People's Navy 16,000 and the Air Force 38,000. There were four motorized rifle divisions and two tank divisions. The Soviet forces had 20 divisions stationed in Germany , a force of about 425,000 .In the early 80s, the NVA had2,6500 T-54/55s, T-62s and T-72.

In some ways the NVA was closer to the Wehrmacht than the West German Bundeswehr. NVA soldiers marched in the traditional goose step, the training, drill and ceremonies of the NVA were also close to that of the Wehrmacht. The new uniforms and helmet were closer to the uniforms of WWII than the soviet style . Many of the early NVA Generals and Admirals had served in the Wehrmacht.


 NVA Military exercises

A long compilations from different videos about NVA military exercises.


East German military parade takes place in

East Berlin with anti Marxist demonstration in West Berlin



A military parade in East Berlin in 1976. The SED wanted to break with the past and create a ' People's  army '  and stressed the 'People's Wars' in German history such as the Peasants' War of 1525 and the Revolution of 1848.The NVA kept the traditional field gray uniform and slightly redesigned helmet to stress the 'national' character of the NVA. A cult of tradition was developed, the Traditionspflege was developed with such rituals as swearing to the regimental colors.


In 1951 Germany's first postwar armed forces unit was formed - the Bundesgrenzschutz or Federal Border Guard. Until the formation of the Bundeswehr in 1955, it was effectively Germany's army. Armed and equipped from the old wartime Wehrmacht, the BGS guarded the inner German border between East and West Germany. 

The NVA was from its inception a fully integrated member of the Warsaw Pact . As a member of the Pact, East Germany sent 2 divisions into Czechoslovakia on Aug 20, 1968 during the 'Prague Spring.' It was the first time since WW II that German troops marched on foreign soil. One of East Germany's most pressing problem in its early years was the mass exodus of East German citizens to West Germany. In 1961, 207,000 left the country, and a high proportion of them were young, better educated and of the most productive members of society .To stop this, the government used 32,000 NVA troops to build the Berlin Wall, starting an Aug 13, 1961.After building the wall, national conscription was legislated. It was feared that conscription would lead to an even higher exodus, but the wall solved that problem. On Jan 24, 1962 the National Service Act became law., requiring 18 months of military service from all males from age 18 to 26 and all males up to 50 liable for military service .By 1974 it was necessary to draft about 2/3 of manpower needed .

Border troops swearing to the regimental colors

In the 1970s, East Germany took up a more active foreign role, esp in Africa and was dubbed by some the new German Afrika Corps. For the most part, these were advisors to countries such as Libya, Algeria, Somolia, India and Mozambique. Much of this activity was covert . At Pankow, a suburb of East Berlin, the NVA operated a school for freedom fighters-or terrorists. Most of the students came from the middle east .

Russian and East German tankers in a 1984 propaganda photo

The creation of the National People's Army on March 1, 1956, six months after the formation of the West German Bundeswehr, followed years of preparation during which former Wehrmacht officers and Communist veterans of the Spanish Civil War helped organize and train paramilitary units of the People's Police. With its German appearance--including uniforms and ceremonies patterned after older German military traditions--the doctrine and structure of the NVA were strongly influenced by the armed forces of the Soviet Union, thus mixing elements of the 20th century's most innovative and successful schools of military in a force which, for its size, was considered one of the most professional and prepared of the world. In its first six years, the NVA was an all-volunteer force. West Germany, in contrast, reintroduced universal military service in 1956. Conscription was finally introduced in 1962, and the NVA's strength was increased to about 170,000 troops.The NVA was disbanded in 1990. Its facilities and equipment were handed over to the Bundeswehr, including 24 of which were MiG-29s .

  Workers' Combat Groups  Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse



Workers' Combat Group ( Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse KdA)on parade.


March of the Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse Combat Groups of the Working Class

Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse Combat Groups of the Working Class, existed from 1953-90.It numbered about 400,000 volunteers for much of its existence and was formed after the 1953 uprising .It was used for the construction of the Berlin Wall. Disbanded by the Volkskammer in 1989. It was under the direct control of the SED and was a 'party army.' Commanders of battalions and companies were appointed by the SED from the factories or enterprises in the area. Membership was voluntary, but SED party members were required to join as part of their party obligation. Training was conducted by the People's Police (Volkspolizei) to avoid the KdA being counted as part of the total strength of the armed forces under international treaties.


The East German Navy


The Volksmarine (People's Navy) was the official designation of the maritime forces of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It was part of the National People's Army, established in 1956There were approximately 180 ships in the East German Navy in the early 1980s, the largest were the two Soviet 'Koni' class frigates, the Rostock and the Berlin There were also 51 Kondor I/II class costal minesweepers..In 1988, the People's Navy had brief hostile confrontations with Polish naval forces over a maritime border dispute; in subsequent negotiations about two thirds of the disputed maritime area were allocated to the GDR. The Volksmarine  had, cruisers ,destroyers, corvettes,  fast torpedo and missile boats and submarines .Join the crew of GDR corvette Hiddensee .


Video on the East German Navy


Some of the more important awards were The Order of Karl Marx and the Order of Scharnhorst .



 DDRGeheim - Spezialkommando

Use player control to translate


The Luftstreitkrafte der NVA (Air Forces of the NVA) was the air arm of the National People's Army of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany). It was founded in 1956, after the GDR's entry into the Warsaw Pact alliance, on the basis of People's Police Air units formed in 1950. The Luftstreitkrafte primarily flew Soviet aircraft, including the Sukhoi Su-22 fighter-bomber and six generations of Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) tactical fighters.


Video on the East German Airforce


 German Democratic Republic Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-21 Fishbed


 Germany - Last Russian Troops Leave Germany

The last Soviet troops departed German in Oct 1994

World War III

In the event of the possibility of nuclear war breaking out between the Soviet Union and NATO forces, East Germany was to be a major staging area for the preemptive invasion of the West.  An estimated 2,000,000 Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces were stationed in Europe. The Soviets had over 7,000 tanks and many nuclear warhead depots in the GDR. A likely Soviet invasion route to western Europe would have been through the Fulda Gap (then between East and West Germany), where the U.S. 11th Armored Cavalry was stationed and faced the Soviet 8th Guards Army.


 The former East German navy's bunker at Tessin in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is a relic of the Cold War. It was put into operation 1974, and now it's open to the public. It was designed to function as the East German naval command center in the event of nuclear attack from the west. Today the bunker offers bizarre insights into the history of a disappeared state.


 World War III .A frightening mockumentary made in a parallel world in which the popular uprisings against the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989 lead to a very different outcome.


1983 NATO vs Warsaw Pact Who would have won WW3 

East German

army surplus

The Stasi


The Brezhnev Doctrine

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