Heye, Wilhelm

(1869-1946)
   general; Chief of the Reichswehr's* Heer-esleitung (Army Command) during 1926-1930. Born in Fulda, he attended cadet school and was assigned in 1906 to the colonial forces in German Southwest Africa. Appointment to the General Staff's Propaganda Section (1908-1910) was followed by service in World War I as chief-of-staff for several command-ers. He was in charge of the Supreme Command's Operations Section in the fall of 1918 and arranged a series of talks in early November, the "Conference of Officers," that confirmed the hopelessness of further military resistance; it fell to Heye to give this message to Kaiser Wilhelm.
   After the 1920 Kapp* Putsch, Heye succeeded Hans von Seeckt* as Chief of the Truppenamt (Troops Office). He was promoted to major-general in June 1920 and directed the Reichswehr's personnel office in 1922; he was promoted to lieutenant-general and commanded the First Army District in East Prussia during 1923-1926. In October 1926 he was named Seeckt's controversial suc-cessor as Chefder Heeresleitung, the Republic's senior military post. Although he was a product of Prussia's* old cadet school and a former General Staff officer, he appeared genuinely reconciled to the Republic. Nevertheless, although he was promoted to colonel-general in January 1930, he retired in December.
   Largely due to the growing political influence of Kurt von Schleicher,* Heye was unable to exercise the same power at Heeresleitung as his predecessor. With a former Field Marshal (Hindenburg*) as President and former General Wilhelm Groener* as Defense Minister, the status of the Chef der Heeresleitung was severely curtailed. But it was Colonel Schleicher, a Hindenburg favorite ap-pointed Chief of the Defense Ministry's new Armed Forces Department (Wehr-macht Abteilung) in 1926, who consistently circumvented Heye.
   Heye was contemptuous of the NSDAP and fought to impede its influence in the army. His order prohibiting Nazis from holding key military positions was overturned shortly after his retirement. Of greater success were his activities on behalf of the navy: with Admiral Erich Raeder, his junior counterpart at Marine-leitung, he engaged in an illicit rearmament program that gave birth to a new navy.
   REFERENCES:Görlitz, History of the German General Staff; NDB, vol. 9; Wheeler-Bennett, Nemesis ofPower.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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