Nationale Volksarmee (NVA)
Armed Forces of DDR
800px-Flag of East Germany
Founded 1956
Current form 2008
Service branches Landstreitkräfte (Land Forces)
Volksmarine (People's Navy)
Luftstreitkräfte (Air Forces)
Luftverteidigung und Strategischekräfte (Air defense and Strategic Forces)
Grenztruppen der DDR (Border troops)
Headquarters Strausberg, Berlin
Oberbefehlshaber NVR
Verteidigungsminister der DDR Walter Hauptmann
Generalstab der Streitkräfte der NVA Marschall Edwin von Weichs
Military age 18-44(55) years of age for male compulsory military service (55 years of age if you are an officer); 16 years of age in wartime; 17 years of age for male volunteers; 18 years of age for women
Conscription 18-month service with 12-month service obligation that can be spread out over four years for students.
Available for
military service
16,128,121 males, age 16-55 (2010 est.),
15,997,320 females, age 16-55 (2010 est.)
Fit for
military service
6,788,219 males, age 16-55 (2010 est.),
6,563,255 females, age 16-55 (2010 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
509,980 males (2010 est.),
507,543 females (2010 est.)
Active personnel 950,000
Reserve personnel 2,500,000
Budget 260.40 billions
Percent of GDP 7.2 %

The Nationale Volksarmee - NVA (Armed Forces of DDR) are the military forces of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. The NVA are a modern military force charged with defending DDR's integrity and sovereignty. They consist of Landstreitkräfte (Land Forces), Volksmarine (People's Navy), Luftstreitkräfte (Air Forces), Luftverteidigung und Strategischekräfte (Air defense and Strategic Forces) and Grenztruppen der DDR (Border troops).

The NVR is the colegiate Oberbefehlshaber (Commander-in-Chief) of the NVA. Organizationally, the NVA depends on the Verteidigungsminister der DDR (Ministry of Defense) and its military commander is called Generalstab der Streitkräfte der NVA (Chief of Major State of the NVA).

The Nationale Volksarmee are the main component of the Warsaw Pact "Unified High Command".



The NVA is one of the institutions most appreciated and loved by the people. Popular support for the military establishment is bolstered by military training provided by the school system and through the growing militarization of society. From a Leninist perspective, the NVA stand as a symbol of communist solidarity and became the model Communist institution—ideological, hierarchical, and disciplined. The NVA synthesized Communist and Germanic symbolism, naming its officers' academy after Karl Marx's coauthor Friedrich Engels, and its highest medal after Prussian General Gerhard von Scharnhorst.

The NVA has to ensure the territorial integrity and to guarantee the performance of all obligations by the military alliance of the Warsaw Pact. The relatives of the officer corps are usually Party members. The combat mission of the NVA is:

"To secure the unwavering cooperation with the Warsaw Pact and other fraternal socialist armies and the creation of the necessary external conditions for the construction of socialism and communism. To protect the state border, territory, airspace and coastal waters of DDR and the allied socialist states. To provide reliable combat power and combat readiness to constantly improve quality and meet any imperialist aggression committed."

Formation and structure

The NVA is a mixed group of professionals and conscripts. The chiefs and officers are generally professional while among the noncommissioned officers and men is where conscripts are of greatest percentages. However, in recent years the government has made ​​great efforts toward professionalization of the armed forces and now, more than 80% men and women were professionals in 2011 and it is expected to reach 100% in 2016.

Nevertheless, conscription is still legally compulsory for all men reaching the age of 18 but most of them are exempted from service after a period of basic military training of 4 weeks.

Professional soldiers are well paid, trained and enjoy social benefits at the time of return to civilian life once their commitment has finished. Promotions occur on a scale of merit including service time but not taking service time as the most important.



The officer training is carried out in the officers' schools :

For the training of medical officers was created in Greifswald in 1955, the Military Medical Section at the University of Greifswald and in 1981 the Military Medical Academy Storkow. There are several military schools for training of non commisioned officers and technical positions in the NVA.

For the advanced training of cadres is the Military Academy "Friedrich Engels" located in Dresden.


For details regarding ranks: Military Ranks of the NVA

NVA Military Organization

The highest level of leadership for the NVA is the NVR who holds the collegiate leathership of the NVA. Depending on the NVR is the Ministerium für Nationale Verteidigung (Ministry for National Defense), headquartered in Strausberg near Berlin and in charge NVA administration .

NVA administration is divided into the following commands:

  • the Kommando Landstreitkräfte (KdoLaSK), based in Geltow near Potsdam.
  • the Kommando Luftstreitkräfte (KdoLSK), based in Strausberg.
  • the Kommando Luftverteidigung und Strategischekräfte (KdoLV/STK) based in Berlin.
  • the Kommando Volksmarine (KdoVM) based in Rostock.
  • the Kommando der Grenztruppen (KdoGT), based in Pätz near Berlin.

NVA has two independent directorates:

NVA Branches

The NVA has five main branches:

In wartime, mobilization of the NVA's reserves could nearly doubled its strength. DDR authorities also has at their disposal the internal security troops of the Ministry of the Interior along with the SED paramilitary forces.