Wehrmacht was the name used to cover all of the German armed forces during World War II. Elements of the Wehrmacht, which was formed in 1935 to replace the Reichswehr, included the Heer (army), Luftwaffe (air force) and Kriegsmarine (navy).

The Waffen-SS was separate from the Wehrmacht, and was originally conceived to function primarily as an internal police organization for the Nazi party. While the Wehrmacht would deal with external threats to Germany, the Waffen-SS was to deal with internal threats. Although the Waffen-SS was under the tactical control of Oberkommander der Wehrmacht (Armed Forces High Command), it retained strategic control of its own forces.