The Department Military Archives in Freiburg im Breisgau is responsible for the archive material and documents of the Federal Ministry of Defence, the armed forces and the federal defence administration. The Department operates a military records centre for the files of the Federal Ministry of Defence, command authorities, facilities and units of the armed forces as well as the armed forces administration, and advises these in the organisation of their written material administration.
The Department is also responsible for the documents created by the Nationale Volksarmee (National People’s Army, NVA) including the Grenztruppen (Border Troops), the German work units serving the Allies, the Wehrmacht, the Waffen SS, the Reichswehr, the Schutztruppen (Colonial Force), the Freikorps, the Norddeutsche Bundesmarine (North German Federal Navy), the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) and the Prussian Army from 1867 onwards.
The military archive also includes, in conventional and in digital form, pictures, cartographic records, plans and technical drawings. The official archive material is supplemented by personal papers, documents from soldiers’ associations and collections. Military archive materials that must be specially handled, such as films and digital documents, are kept in specially equipped organisational units of the Federal Archives due to technical reasons.
The archive material from the period up to 1945 suffered considerable losses as a consequence of war. Many of the records of the central service units of the armed forces and of the army leadership, those of the service units and troops of the army below divisional level and those of the air force and the Waffen SS have been lost. Naval archives, on the other hand, and the bulk of war logs belonging to the command authorities of the army and the divisional headquarters up to 1943, survived the war. Most of the files of the Prussian Army were destroyed in the army archives fire in Potsdam in 1945.
Apart from the Department Military Archives, armed forces personnel records are also kepte by the Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) for the notification of next-of-kin of members of the former German Wehrmacht who were killed in action, the Krankenbuchlager (sickness records centre) and, for personnel of the Waffen SS, by Department R (Reich) of the Federal Archives.