Military Wiki
Emblem of the Ground Forces of NVA (East Germany).svg
Active 1 March 1956 – 2. October 1990
Country  German Democratic Republic
Allegiance Warsaw Pact
Size 105.850 nominal, peacetime 1990[1]
Part of Kommando Landstreitkraefte
(since 1972)
Headquarters Geltow, Potsdam-Mittelmark

The Land Forces of the National People's Army[2] (German: Landstreitkräfte - LaSK), was the ground based military branch of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) National People's Army (NPA). The Land Forces Command, located at Geltow was established on 1 December 1972 as a management body created for the land forces. The NPA itself was created on March 1, 1956 from the Kasernierte Volkspolizei (Barracked People's Police).


Peacetime organisation in 1986

The LaSK had a peacetime organisation since 1972 under the command of the Kommando Landstreitkraefte (Kdo. LaSK). It´s largest formations between 1956 and 1990 were the Military Districts III and V, which generally consisted of three active divisions each, plus training-, combat support and logistic units. The 1. Motorisierte-Schützen-Division was additionally attached to the Military District V, but was designated to leave that formation in wartime to play a key role in the assault on West-Berlin. The 6. motorisierte Schützendivision existed only for two years (1956-1958) as an active formation.

While the two districts held the bulk of the GDR´s land forces, additional artillery- and support elements, as well as the paratroopers of the 40. Fallschirmjägerbataillon (upgraded to Luftsturmregiment 40 in 1986) were under direct command of the Kdo. LaSK.

In wartime both military districts would have been transformed into Armies. The 3rd Army in the South, reinforced by the GDR reserve divisions 10., 6. and 17., and the 5th Army in the North, reinforced by the soviet 94th Guards Motor Rifle Division and the independent tank regiments 138. and 221. of the Red Army. Both armies would have been commanded by the soviet high-command, while the Kommando Landstreitkräfte was to focus on the military supply chain, medical services, internal security and assist in the capture of West-Berlin.[3]

The order of battle of the ground forces (1980–90):

Military District V (North)

The headquarters of the northern district was in Neubrandenburg.

1. Motorisierte-Schützen-Division (Potsdam)

  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 1 Hans Beimler
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 2 Arthur Ladwig
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 3 Paul Hegenbarth
  • Panzerregiment 1 Friedrich Wolf
  • Artillerieregiment 1 Rudolf Gypner
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Raketen/Artillerie 1
  • Fla-Raketen Regiment 1 Anton Fischer
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Truppenluftabwehr 1
  • Raketenabteilung 1 Rudi Arndt
  • Schwere Werferabteilung 1 Hermann Rentzsch
  • Aufklärungsbatallion 1 Dr. Richard Sorge
  • Pionierbatallion 1 Willi Becker
  • Panzerjägerabteilung 1
  • Nachrichtenbatallion 1 Bodo Uhse
  • Battalion Materielle Sicherstellung 1 Georg Handke
  • Instandsetzungsbatallion 1 Otto Schliwinski
  • Battalion Chemische Abwehr 1 Herbert Kittelmann
  • Sanitätsbatallion 1
  • Ersatzregiment 1

8. Motorisierte-Schützen-Division (Schwerin)

  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 27 Hans Kahle
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 28 Wilhelm Florin
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 29 Ernst Moritz Arndt
  • Panzerregiment 8 Arthur Becker
  • Artillerieregiment 8 Erich Mühsam
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Raketen/Artillerie 8
  • Fla-Raketen Regiment 8 Willi Schröder
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Truppenluftabwehr 8
  • Raketenabteilung 8 Hermann Schuldt
  • Schwere Werferabteilung 8 Mathias Thesen
  • Aufklärungsbatallion 8 Otto Moritz
  • Pionierbatallion 8 Tudor Vladimirescu
  • Panzerjägerabteilung 8 Heinrich Dollwetzel
  • Nachrichtenbatallion 8 Kurt Bürger
  • Battalion Materielle Sicherstellung 8 Herbert Tschäpe
  • Instandsetzungsbatallion 8 Wilhelm Pieck
  • Battalion Chemische Abwehr 8 Erich Correns
  • Sanitätsbatallion 8 Hans Rodenberg
  • Ersatzregiment 8

9. Panzerdivision (Eggesin)

  • Panzerregiment 21 Walter Empacher
  • Panzerregiment 22 Soja Kosmodemjanskaja
  • Panzerregiment 23 Julian Marchlewski
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 9 Rudolf Renner
  • Artillerieregiment 9 Hans Fischer
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Raketen/Artillerie 9
  • Fla-Raketen Regiment 9 Rudolf Dölling
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Truppenluftabwehr 9
  • Raketenabteilung 9 Otto Nuschk
  • Schwere Werferabteilung 9 Friedrich Ebert
  • Aufklärungsbatallion 9 Eduard Claudius
  • Pionierbatallion 9
  • Nachrichtenbatallion 9 Adolf Bytzeck
  • Battalion Materielle Sicherstellung 9 Robert Stamm
  • Instandsetzungsbatallion 9 Paul Dessau
  • Battalion Chemische Abwehr 9 Michael Niederkirchner
  • Sanitätsbatallion 9 Wolfgang Langhoff
  • Ersatzregiment 9

Military District III (South)

The headquarters of the southern district was in Leipzig.

4. Motorisierte-Schützen-Division (Erfurt)

  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 22 Thomas Müntzer
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 23 Anton Saefkow
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 24 John Scheer
  • Panzerregiment 4 August Bebel
  • Artillerieregiment 4 Willi Bredel
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Raketen/Artillerie 4
  • Fla-Raketen Regiment 4 Hermann Danz
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Truppenluftabwehr 4
  • Raketenabteilung 4
  • Schwere Werferabteilung 4
  • Aufklärungsbatallion 4 Wilhelm Girnius
  • Pionierbatallion 4 Walter Kaiser-Gorrish
  • Panzerjägerabteilung 4 Franz Jacob
  • Nachrichtenbatallion 4
  • Battalion Materielle Sicherstellung 4
  • Instandsetzungsbatallion 4
  • Battalion Chemische Abwehr 4
  • Sanitätsbatallion 4
  • Ersatzregiment 4

11. Motorisierte-Schützen-Division (Halle)

  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 16 Robert Uhrig
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 17 Fritz Weineck
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 18 Otto Schlag
  • Panzerregiment 11 Otto Buchwitz
  • Artillerieregiment 11 Wilhelm Koenen
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Raketen/Artillerie 11
  • Fla-Raketen Regiment 11 Georg Stöber
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Truppenluftabwehr 11
  • Raketenabteilung 11 Magnus Poser
  • Schwere Werferabteilung 11
  • Aufklärungsbatallion 11 Heinrich Brandes
  • Pionierbatallion 11 Willi Gall
  • Panzerjägerabteilung 11 Hermann Vogt
  • Nachrichtenbatallion 11 Otto Brosowski
  • Battalion Materielle Sicherstellung 11 Bernhard Koenen
  • Instandsetzungsbatallion 11
  • Battalion Chemische Abwehr 11 Erwin Hörnle
  • Sanitätsbatallion 11
  • Ersatzregiment 11

7. Panzerdivision (Dresden)

  • Panzerregiment 14 Karol Swierczewski
  • Panzerregiment 15 Paul Hornick
  • Panzerregiment 16 Leo Jogiches
  • Mot.-Schützenregiment 7 Max Roscher
  • Artillerieregiment 7 Albert Hößler
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Raketen/Artillerie 7
  • Fla-Raketen Regiment 7 Paul Rockstroh
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Truppenluftabwehr 7
  • Raketenabteilung 7 Alfred Kurella
  • Schwere Werferabteilung 7 Ernst Schneller
  • Aufklärungsbatallion 7 Ludvik Svoboda
  • Pionierbatallion 7 Arthur Thiermann
  • Nachrichtenbatallion 7 Egon Dreger
  • Battalion Materielle Sicherstellung 7 Kurt Schlosser
  • Instandsetzungsbatallion 7 Gustav Schneider
  • Battalion Chemische Abwehr 7 Johann Eggert
  • Sanitätsbatallion 7
  • Ersatzregiment 7

Second line divisions

In the event of a full-scale mobilisation, the six regular divisions of the NVA would have been supplemented by three mobilisation divisions and two reserve divisions.[4] All five divisions would be mobilised on M+2. The cadre of each mobilisation/reserve division remained on hand as the regular staff of training centers/non-commissioned officer (NCO) schools. The five second line divisions were the 6th Motor Rifle Division (Königswartha), the 10th Motor Rifle Division (Ronneburg), the 17th Motorisierte-Schützen-Division (HQ Petersroda), the 19th Motorisierte-Schützen-Division (HQ Wulkow, which was not based on a training centre), and the 20th Motorisierte-Schützen-Division (HQ Bredenfelde).

Other units

The Kommando Landstreitkräfte also contained some specially trained units - like the 40. Fallschirmjägerbataillon Willi Sänger. The structure and equipment was mostly of Soviet design, and the NVA operated in close collaboration with the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. There were also reports of a special NVA diversionary battalion in south Germany equipped with M-48s and M-113s, able to cause confusion amongst NATO forces if war came (thus emulating and improving on the example of Otto Skorzeny's Panzerbrigade 150 during the Ardennes Offensive). However more recent reports throw doubt on the existence of any such unit.[5]

Types of units


  • Motorisierte-Schützen-Division (motorised/mechanized infantry division)
  • Panzerdivision (tank division)


  • Artillerieregiment (artillery regiment)
  • Ersatzregiment (replacement regiment)
  • Fla-Raketen Regiment (AA-missile regiment)


  • Aufklärungsbatallion (reconnaissance battalion)
  • Battalion Chemische Abwehr (chemical-defence battalion)
  • Battalion Materielle Sicherstellung (material security battalion)
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Raketen/Artillerie (rocket/artillery control battery)
  • Führungsbatterie Chef Truppenluftabwehr (AA-missile control battery)
  • Instandsetzungsbatallion (repair battalion)
  • Nachrichtenbatallion (signal battalion)
  • Pionierbatallion (engineer battalion)
  • Sanitätsbatallion (medical battalion)


  • Panzerjägerabteilung (light AT-detachment)
  • Raketenabteilung (rocket detachment)
  • Schwere Werferabteilung (heavy mortar detachment)


Small Arms:

Name Country of origin Type Quantity Notes
Makarov PM  Soviet Union Semi-automatic pistol
PPSh-41  Soviet Union Submachine gun
Mauser Kar98k  Nazi Germany Bolt action rifle In use by the Combat Groups of the Working Class and remained in standard use until the 1960s and continued its service in limited circumstances
Mosin–Nagant  Soviet Union Bolt Action Rifle In use by the Combat Groups of the Working Class and in remained standard use until the 1960s and continued its service in limited circumstances
SKS  Soviet Union Semi-automatic carbine
AKM  Soviet Union
 East Germany
Assault Rifle Manufactured by the state arsenal as the MPi-KM (fixed stock, later variants were distinctive stippled plastic) and MPi-KMS-72 (AKMS) with a single strut "coathanger" side-folding stock.
AK-74  Soviet Union Assault Rifle MPi-AK-74N, MPi-AKS-74N, MPi-AKS-74NK variants made by the state arsenal for a short period of time starting in 1983 (withdrawn from service after German reunification)
RPD  Soviet Union
Light Machine Gun
RPK  Soviet Union
Light Machine Gun
PKM  Soviet Union Medium Machine Gun
Dragunov SVD  Soviet Union Semi-automatic sniper rifle
RPG-7D  Soviet Union light AT-weapon
RPG-18  Soviet Union light AT-weapon

Armored Vehicles:

Name Country of origin Type Quantity Notes
BMP-1  Soviet Union
Infantry fighting vehicle
BMP-2  Soviet Union
Infantry Fighting Vehicle (tracked IFVs in first-line Panzergrenadier units)
BRDM-1  Soviet Union Amphibious armoured patrol car
BRDM-2  Soviet Union Amphibious armoured patrol car
BTR-40  Soviet Union Armoured personnel carrier
BTR-50  Soviet Union Amphibious armored personnel carrier
BTR-60  Soviet Union Armoured personnel carrier
BTR-70  Soviet Union
 East Germany
Armoured personnel carrier (wheeled APCs in mechanized and motorized units)
BTR-152  Soviet Union Armoured personnel carrier
PT-76  Soviet Union Amphibious light tank
T-34  Soviet Union
 East Germany
Medium tank (only in modified recovery/engineering versions)
T-54  Soviet Union
Main battle tank (reserve)
T-55  Soviet Union
Main battle tank (upgraded to T-55AM standard)
T-72  Soviet Union
Main battle tank (in first-line Panzer units)


  1. Theodor Hoffmann: "Das letzte Kommando", Mittler, 1993, ISBN 3-8132-0420-0, p. 320
  2. Deutsches Institut für Militärgeschichte, Militärgeschichte, Vol. XI, Deutscher Militärverlag. 1972.
  3. Rüdiger Wenzke:Die Streitkräfte der DDR und Polens in der Operationsplanung des Warschauer Paktes, Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt, 2010, ISBN 978-3941571099
  4. Shawn Bohannon Mobilmachungsdivisionen / Reservedivisionen, Axis History Forum, accessed May 2010
  5. Steven J. Zaloga and James Loop, Soviet Bloc Elite Forces, Osprey Publishing, 1998, had the initial report of the battalion, more recent critical commentary is at Tanknet > NVA Special Units

Further reading

  • Dale Roy Herspring, Requiem for an army: the demise of the East German military, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1998, ISBN 0-8476-8718-X, 9780847687183, 249 pages
  • Jörg Schönbohm, Two armies and one fatherland: the end of the Nationale Volksarmee, Berghahn Books, 1996, ISBN 1-57181-069-2, ISBN 978-1-57181-069-4
  • Zilian, Jr., Frederick. 'From Confrontation to Cooperation: The Takeover of the National People's (East German) Army by the Bundeswehr,' Praeger, Westport, Conn., 1999, ISBN 0-275-96546-5. Reviewed by Dale R. Herspring in The Journal of Military History, July 2000, p. 912-914

External links

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