At our branch in Freiburg we keep more than 50 km of files of German armed forces going back to the time of the founding of the Reich. Among them are archival documents from the Prussian Army, the imperial navy, the imperial protection forces and Freikorps, the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht, the National People’s Army and the Bundeswehr (Federal Defense). Numerous private papers of military personnel complement the official records. Extensive personal documents on members of military formations or associations resembling military formations are also located at the Federal Archives’ branch in Berlin-Reinickendorf.
The intermediate archives for the Federal Ministry of Defense are also located in Freiburg.
The collections from the period up to 1945 have suffered considerable losses due to the effects of war. The documents of the central offices of the Wehrmacht and the army command, of the services and the troops of the army below division level as well as of the air force and the Waffen SS are largely lost. In contrast, the bulk of the war diaries of the headquarters of the army and the division staff until 1943 as well as the archival material from the navy, have outlasted the war. Likewise, the archival material of the defense technology facilities and the offices of the Wehrmacht were almost completely preserved. The largest part of the files of the Prussian Army was destroyed by the fire at the army archives in 1945.
If you are looking for person-related information on German military personnel, please take note of the hints compiled on the page Personal Documents of Military Provenance until 1945. At the end of this page, you will find further information on other specific areas of military documentation.
Using the archival material
We recommend that you contact us in written form about your request before you come to our reading room – this allows us to prepare your visit accordingly and provide the available files.
Addresses of archives with substitutional collections
If you are unable to bring your research to a satisfactory conclusion due to losses in our holdings, you will find here the addresses of archives with documents that might possibly substitute the losses.