Landwehr, or Landeswehr, is a German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 term used in referring to certain national armies
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

, or militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

s found in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe. In different context it refers to large scale, low strength fortifications. In German, the word means "defence of the country"; but the term as applied to an insurrectional militia is very ancient, and lantveri are mentioned in Baluzii Capitularia, as quoted in Hallam
Henry Hallam
Henry Hallam was an English historian.-Life:The only son of John Hallam, canon of Windsor and dean of Bristol, Henry Hallam was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, graduating in 1799...

's Middle Ages, i. 262, 10th edition.


The Austrian Landwehr was one of three components that made up the ground forces of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 between 1868 and 1918, and it was composed of recruits from the Cisleithanian
Cisleithania was a name of the Austrian part of Austria-Hungary, the Dual Monarchy created in 1867 and dissolved in 1918. The name was used by politicians and bureaucrats, but it had no official status...

 parts of the empire. Intended as a national defense force parallel with the Hungarian Honvédség, the Landwehr was officially established by order of Emperor Franz Josef
Franz Josef
Franz Josef or Franz Joseph is a given name.People known solely by the name:* Franz Joseph I of Austria , Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary and King of Bohemia...

 on December 5, 1868. Yet while the Hungarian force was generously supported early on by the parliament in Budapest, legislators in Vienna generally failed to advance the cause of the Landwehr, leaving it by the 1870s as a skeletal force with only the appearance of parity. In 1887, Archduke Albrecht wrote that Landwehr units were not ready, in terms of training or discipline, for use in the first two weeks of a war. Yet the 1880s saw an expansion in the force's numbers, as the high command was unable to obtain increases in manpower for the joint Imperial and Royal army and sought to increase overall numbers through the Landwehr. Additionally, Austrian fears of the development of the Honvédség caused the Austrian Reichsrat
Reichsrat (Austria)
The Imperial Council of Austria from 1867 to 1918 was the parliament of the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was a bicameral legislature, consisting of the Herrenhaus and the Abgeordnetenhaus...

 to vote to increase the Landwehr's strength to 135,000. These nationalist interests led to a gradual strengthening and improvement of the force, so that by the start of the First World War, Landwehr units were considered equal to the units of the joint army in readiness and equipment. Additionally, in Tyrol
County of Tyrol
The County of Tyrol, Princely County from 1504, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire, from 1814 a province of the Austrian Empire and from 1867 a Cisleithanian crown land of Austria-Hungary...

 and Carinthia
Duchy of Carinthia
The Duchy of Carinthia was a duchy located in southern Austria and parts of northern Slovenia. It was separated from the Duchy of Bavaria in 976, then the first newly created Imperial State beside the original German stem duchies....

, three units of the Landwehr were specially trained and equipped for mountain warfare
Mountain warfare
Mountain warfare refers to warfare in the mountains or similarly rough terrain. This type of warfare is also called Alpine warfare, named after the Alps mountains...


The Austrian Landwehr and the other components of the Austro-Hungarian Army were all full time standing armies.


The landwehr in Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 was first formed by a royal edict of 17 March 1813, which called up all men capable of bearing arms between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, and not serving in the regular army, for the defence of the country. After the peace of 1815 this force was made an integral part of the Prussian army
Prussian Army
The Royal Prussian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.The Prussian Army had its roots in the meager mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years' War...

, each brigade being composed of one line and one landwehr regiment. This, however, retarded the mobilization and diminished the value of the first line, and by the re-organization of 1859 the landwehr troops were relegated to the second line.

Nazi Germany

During the Weimar republic, Germany was not allowed a standing army of more than 100.000 men. Thus conscription had been abolished. In the course of the remilitarization of Nazi Germany, the Landwehr was reestablished on 21 May 1935 comprising all Germans liable for military service under the new law older than 35 years of age and younger than 45 years. In effect only one Landwehr division (the 14th Landwehr Division) was called up, the remainder of the Landwehr was used either to fill out the 3rd wave infantry divisions or formed Landesschützen battalions used for guard and occupation duty.


In Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 the landwehr used to be a second line force, in which all citizens served for twelve years. It was abolished after the army reform in 1965. As a reference to this past, a number of Swiss wind bands bear the name "Landwehr" in their titles.

Baltische Landeswehr

The Baltische Landeswehr
Baltische Landeswehr
Baltische Landeswehr was the name of the unified armed forces of the Couronian and Livonian nobility from 7 December 1918 to 3 July 1919.- Command structure :...

 was the name of the armed forces of the puppet Government of Latvia established by the Baltic nobility
Baltic nobility
The Baltic nobility was the privileged social class in the territories of today's Estonia and Latvia. It existed continuously since the medieval foundation of Terra Mariana...

. The Baltic state was designed to be established from territories that were ceded by Imperial Russia in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

 in 1918, but collapsed in the Estonian War of Independence in 1919.

See also

  • Slovensko domobranstvo
    Slovensko domobranstvo
    The Slovene Home Guard , SD for short, was a World War II Slovenian anti-communist collaborationist militia that fought mainly against the Slovenian partisan resistance...

     (Slowenische Landeswehr)
  • Landsturm
    German-speaking countries used the word Landsturm to refer to third-class infantry or militias.- 1813 :King Frederick William III of Prussia established the Prussian Landsturm as irregular military forces on 21 April 1813 by royal edict – the decree appeared in the preussische Gesetzesammlung...

  • Volkssturm
    The Volkssturm was a German national militia of the last months of World War II. It was founded on Adolf Hitler's orders on October 18, 1944 and conscripted males between the ages of 16 to 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit as part of a German Home Guard.-Origins and...

  • National Guard (disambiguation)
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