Reinhardt, Walther

(1872-1930)
   general; first Chief of the Army Command (Heeresleitung). Born in Stuttgart to a Württemberg colonel, he entered the Prussian cadet corps in 1885 and was commissioned in 1892. In 1915 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Thirteenth Army Corps; he assumed the same title for the Seventh Army in 1917. He was assigned to the Prussian War Ministry in 1918 and led the demobilization department at the time of the Armistice.*
   Still a colonel, Reinhardt succeeded General Heinrich Scheuch as Minister of War on 3 January 1919, a post soon abolished by the Versailles Treaty.* Al-though he favored rejecting Versailles (he especially opposed its impact on Ger-many's eastern frontiers), he was persuaded by Defense Minister Gustav Noske* to retain his office after the treaty's signing. In August 1919, not yet a major-general, he became the Chief of the Heeresleitung, the highest military appoint-ment in the Defense Ministry.
   Reinhardt was not popular with fellow officers, many of whom believed Hans von Seeckt* and Walther von Lüttwitz* abler officers. Because of his support of the Republic, his willingness to subordinate the army to civilian authority, and his Württemberg roots, older officers viewed him with suspicion. Moreover, Seeckt, Chief of the Truppenamt, was indignant at serving an officer who was his junior. In view of these issues and the fuzziness of his duties, it is not surprising that Reinhardt made ineffective use of Reichswehr* troops during the March 1920 Kapp* Putsch. His anger at the army's failure to come to the Republic's aid during the putsch and at Noske's removal after the event pro-voked his resignation. Indeed, although the putsch failed, its leaders could claim victory: in dislodging Reinhardt and Noske, they removed two men determined to bring the army and the Republic closer together.
   Reinhardt remained in the Reichswehr, first as Commander of the Fifth Army District (Wehrkreis) and then, from 1925, as Commander of the Second Army Group. When Seeckt, his successor, was forced to resign in 1926, Reinhardt was the army's senior officer; however, his lingering unpopularity led Defense Minister Otto Gessler* to pass over him. Since he created the Reichswehr's organizational structure against the opposition of Seeckt and Wilhelm Groener,* he is rightly deemed the father of the republican army.
   REFERENCES:Bosl, Franz, and Hofmann, Biographisches Wörterbuch; Carsten, Reichs-wehr and Politics; Harold Gordon, Reichswehr.

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

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