Free corps

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As free corps (French: corps - body (shank); out Latin: corpus - bodies) became up to beginning 20. Century paramilitärischeUnits independently of their national origin designated. In the German linguistic area for the first time 18 became in. Century under the designation “free corps” of free regiments from native Freiwilligen, opposing defectors, deserters and culpable ones set up. The every now and then exotically equipped troops served as infantry and Kavallerie,more rarely than artillery. Partly only in company strength, partly up to several thousands to men strongly, together set mixed forces existed and/or also from different branches of service. Putting ions. Preuss. Free free of Kleist covered infantry, hunter, Dragoon and Hussar. Frz.Volontaires de Saxe united Ulanen and Dragoons.

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free corps in 18.

The free corps experienced century a first high phase in each case toward end of the Austrian succession war and the seven-year-old of war, as above all France and Prussia at the indulgence thatexpenditure-bled regular regiments were convenient. Above all Germans, Hungary, Poland, Litauer and Südslawen, in addition, Turks, act arene and Kosaken were estimated at all war parties as allegedly by nature established fighters. The origin of many soldierscannot be decoded today any longer free of doubts, since the ethnical origin in the regiment lists was described often inaccurately. Slawen were often stamped as “Hungary” or “Croats”, moslemische recruits (Albanian, Bosnier, act arene) as “Turks”.

After the model of the Panduren and CroatFriedrich created II. the free battalions the independently operated and by sudden, surprising attacks the enemy disturbed. In addition they were used for the defense of the Panduren Maria Theresias. With the development of linear tactics light troops for Vorposten, safeguard and tasks of clearing-up had themselvesnecessarily made. In the course of the war several of such battalions and finally free corps set up, altogether 23 free troop units

them with exceptions as undisciplined and a little powerfully applied there were used, them for subordinate awake and garrison services. In the so-called. Small war disturbedFree corps in Guerillaaktionen the supply lines of the opponent. In the case of the capture free corps soldiers the risk ran as irregular fighters to be killed. In Prussia the free corps became, the Friedrich II.when “Geschmeiss” probably despised to injustice, dissolved. The free corps soldiers did not have a requirementon pension or invalid funds. In France many corps existed until 1776 away. Then they were attached as a hunter Schwadronen the regular Dragoon regiments. Austria recruited during the French of revolution wars various free corps slawischer origin. The slawonische free corps Wurmser fought in the Elsass. ThatCombat effectiveness of the six Viennese free corps (approximately 37,000 infantrymen and Kavalleristen) was small against it. The border regiments from Croats and Serbs represented a special case, who stood durably at the Austrian osmanischen border.

free corps of the wars of liberation

free corps inmodern sense developed in Germany in the course of the wars of liberation. They fought less to the Broterwerb than rather from patriotic motives. After Napoleon had conquered or to the Kollaboration had forced the German states either, remainders of the struck troops continued the fight.The King's German Legion (the king German Legion) became famous, which fought for England in French occupied Spain and recruited themselves from Hannoveranern. With the free corps often national adjusted citizen and student associated. Free corps leader such as Ferdinand of Schill and Ludwig Adolf William of Lützow proceeded on own fist against the napoleonischen occupation troops in Germany.

free corps after the First World War

After the First World War became from the advice of the people-assigned free corps from the mass of the returning soldiersformed. Many the Heimkehrer the civilian life had become after the trauma tables war experiences strangely, the collapse of the monarchy and unemployment was only difficult for a large minority to bear.
Officer of the free corps naval brigade Ehrhardt.

The new realm government under Friedrich Ebertneeded for the fight against the revolution and to its own protection trained soldier and fell back for it to free corps. Since the bulk of the German armed forces still at the former front lines stood and for returning units partially by objection of the alliedWinner powers the employment was on the inside forbidden, to the turn of the year 1918/19 the advertisementadvertisement advertisement was introduced. Thus about 400,000 former soldiers the free corps followed, which were used for striking down revolutionary movements. With the citizen of Berlin January rebellion 1919 the prominent KPD became - founders Pink Luxembourg and Karl dear farmhand killed by soldiers of the “guard Kavallerie contactor division”.

Free corps fought 1919 in the Baltic with support of Great Britain against Soviet-Russian troops, 1920/21 in Upper Silesia against Polish troops. There a popular vote resulted in to 20. March 1921 over the national affiliation of theArea a majority of nearly 60 per cent for the whereabouts with the German Reich. Polish partisans began thereupon at the 3. May 1921, supports an armed rebellion from French occupation troops, in order to intersperse the connection at Poland by force. German free corps of the Self protection Upper Silesia succeeded to 23. May 1921 the conquest of the Anna mountain, the strongest attachment that Poland and a stabilization of the situation. To 20. October 1921 decided the highest advice of the allied ones after a recommendation of the Völkerbunds, the ostoberschlesische industrial districtto transfer against the will of the population at Poland. With the German Reich remained the surface-moderately larger, however predominantly agrarian structured part of the tuning area.

Due to the regulations of the contract of Versailles the Weimar Republic was allowed to the deadline 1. January 1921maintain only an army of 100.000 men. Thus the free corps had to be dissolved gradually. On the other hand resistance agitated itself in the numbers of those, which were threatened by dismissal. Thus it came in the middle of March 1920 to the cut Putsch, however due toa general strike and the Verweigerung of the officials to obey the arrangements of the Putschisten rapidly in itself broke down. In the course of the dissolution of the free corps some members were transferred to the realm resistance. Others found an accomodation at other paramilitärischen groups, approximately with Steel helmet, the SA or SS. The ready for violence follow-up's groups of the free corps were responsible in the Weimar Republic for a set of political murders, which were punished by the authorities usually mild. Thus the organization Consul murdered, the successor organizationthe free corps unit brigade Erhardt, for example roll ago Rathenau and to 26. August 1921 Matthias Erzberger.

A characteristic represented the technical help in need , a halfnational mechanism come out from the free corps with the realm Ministry of the inside for the fight outlaw strike in vital enterprises.Contrary to all other free corps it existed to 1945 the far beyond jerky first five-year period of the Weimar Republic and only was dissolved and 1950 than technical welfare organization already again-based.

Many later members and guidance personalities of the NSDAP were members inFree corps, as for instance Ernst Röhm, the later boss of the SA.

acquaintance free corps

  • seven-year-old war
    • Free free of Kleist (preuss.)
    • free regiment Franciscus Le Noble (preuss.)
    • free free of Schony (preuss.)

acquaintance free corps leader and - fighter

free corps honors

For the fighters of the free corps numerous different medals and honors were lent. Only two, the Baltenkreuz and the Schlesi eagle received a national stretcher permission.
The Baltenreuz
of Schlesi eagles

Further well-known honors were:

  • Randowkreuz
  • star of Malplaquet
  • Schlageterschild
  • Awaloffkreuz
  • probation badge III. Naval brigade




  • Dieter Dreetz,Klaus Gessner, Heinz Sperlin: Armed fights in Germany 1918-1923. Berlin (east) 1988
  • Jones, Nigel H.: Hitler's Heralds. The story OF the free corps 1918-1923. London 1987
  • cook, W. Hannsjoachim: The German civil war. A history of the German and Austrian free corps 1918 -1923. Berlin - Frankfurt/M. - Vienna 1978
  • Krüger, the Gabriele: The brigade Ehrhardt. Hamburg 1971
  • Theweleit, Klaus man fantasies. Kiel 1978
  • Thoms, Robert: Bibliography for the history of the German free corps. Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-932566-50-5
  • Thoms, Robert: The storm on the Anna mountain 1921 inhistorical documents. Documents for the history of the German free corps. Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3831117926
  • Thoms, Robert: Manual for the history of the German free corps, bath Soden 2001, ISBN 3-934507-03-4
  • Schulze, Hagen: To free corps and Republic of, Boppard 1969

see also

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