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In Hearts of Iron 3 Germany is one of the major powers and the key antagonist of the war. Germany is the leader of the Axis, has a prime location for land invasion, and a strong economy and technological capacity rivalled only by the USA. Furthermore, it has the largest number of diplomatic decisions and events of any nation in the game. As a result, it allows the player to pursue a wide variety of strategic and tactical challenges. Germany, while potentially daunting, can serve as a great starting point for new players. It allows the player to jump right into the action, and with its focus on the land combat and a somewhat forgiving nature it allows the player to experience themselves before progressing onto more difficult nations.


While Germany can devote a considerable amount of leadership to research early in the game, it is not possible for Germany to research everything.

  1. Infantry, Armor & Land Doctrines: An obvious priority for Germany is its land forces, which should be largely motorised/mechanised as well as plenty of Light and Medium Armour with Artillery and AT support. Doctrine wise, Germany should focus on Blitzkrieg/Schwerpunkt Armour upgrades as well as Infantry + Motorised doctrines. Combined Arms doctrine is a must.
  2. Industry: An essential focal point of Research, with just about every technology being a priority.
  3. Aircraft: Fighter airpower is essential to Germany's success, particularly in defense against Allied strategic bombing. Researching Close Air Support is advised as it shares the Light Aircraft practical with Interceptors. Medium bombers are also useful, although large aircraft are a heavy investment, some research may be required if the player desires to use Paratroopers.
  4. Naval technology: Germany is fairly weak in naval technology, advanced players tend to go with Battleships & Destroyers if they wish to threaten the UK. Otherwise, submarines are useful to threaten British shipping without engaging in direct naval combat with the significantly superior Royal Navy.



Axis: Through the regular course of gameplay with no player intervention, the following nations will offer to join the Axis assuming the game follows a historical path:

  • Italy & Japan (Summer, 1937; Italy can join the Axis as early as 1936 if they had finished their war with Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War had begun)
  • Hungary (Early 1939)
  • Romania (1940 after Bessarabia)
  • Finland (1940 after Winter War)
  • Bulgaria (1940 after Constanta)
  • Siam (after the "Fate of France" event)
  • Guangxi Clique & Yunnan (Shortly after Japan defeats China)

Notable possible Allies, when using influence and raising threat on the Allies include:

  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Persia
  • Afghanistan
  • Nationalist Spain
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands
  • Yugoslavia (High neutrality makes this unlikely: can join during war against the USSR when threat is high enough)
  • Argentina (High neutrality makes this unlikely)
  • Chile (High neutrality makes this unlikely)

Nations that will not join without specific factors:

  • Switzerland (Never)
  • Sweden (After the defeat of the USSR)
  • Portugal (requires Nationalist Spain to be in the Axis)
  • Vichy (Requires Allied DOW)
  • Turkey (Requires German ownership of Soviet border provinces and high USSR threat)


  • Re-occupation of the Rhineland: This can be achieved in January 1936 by simply occupying the provinces indicated in the decision. This decision provides a loss in 3 neutrality for Germany and a 2% decrease in Dissent, plus a gain to income of $500, as well an increase of 2 to unity. Relations will be decreased; France -15, UK -5, Belgium -10, Netherlands -5. Threat to France will increase by 3. The re-occupation is required if you wish to do the Anschluss of Austria before 1938.
  • Spanish Civil War - Intervention This event will become available sometime during 1936. This decision increases relationship with Nationalist Spain by +20 and reduces relationship with Republican Spain by -15.
  • Anschluss of Austria: This event can be trigged by May, 1937, if Germany fills Austria with spies on the mission "support our party" from the start of the game. It is also fairly easy to achieve by waiting: early in 1938 Austria will have the "political crisis" event, after which time the conditions for the anschluss are met. This decision is very valuable for Germany as it provides 1 additional leadership, 19 additional base IC (a great deal more effective IC with modifiers of course), a -5 loss in neutrality, and additional manpower. Conversely, Germany gains 5 dissent, 20 threat, poor relations, and provides France and the UK with lost neutrality.
  • Treaty of Munich: Available in January 1938. This causes 5 dissent and a large 15 threat gain for Germany. While this does not result in any immediate gains for Germany (only 3 base IC and minor resource and leadership gains), it paves the way for the eventual annexation of Czechoslovakia.
  • The First Vienna Award: Available in October 1938. This causes 5 dissent and increases Germany's threat by 20 for the world. This allows Germany to annex Czechoslovakia without a single shot fired. 13 total base IC is gained along with resources, and 1.6 leadership. Slovakia will become a puppet nation in the Axis, and if allied with Hungary they will get Ruthenia.
  • Claims on Memel:Available in January, 1939. Lithuania must not be in the Axis. Germany gains the port of Memel and 1 base IC or more depending on how much the Lithuanian AI invests in Memel's industry.
  • The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact: Available in January, 1939. This decision will help prevent a preemptive Soviet attack. The game sets a threshold such that the Germany player must have more brigades on the border with the Soviet Union than they do to be able to declare war, according to the following time-table:
    • June 1940 to December 1940: 200% needed (e.g. Germany must have two times as many brigades as the Soviet Union on the border)
    • January 1941 to June 1941: 100% needed
    • July 1941 - December 1942: 50% needed
    • January 1942: Can break at any time

Furthermore, this event provides significant benefit to the Soviet Union by triggering the Soviet ability to run the decision of the Winter War against Finland, and the annexation of the Baltic states.

  • Danzig or War: Available in May, 1939. This decision will begin WW2. This event will not fire if you are at war.
  • Blitzkrieg: Improves unit speed and re-organization gain rate.
  • Independent Croatia: Croatia will be created but the provinces it controls blocks Germany's access to the Mediterranean.
  • Destiny: Available if you are at war with the Soviets. Gives similar effects to Blitzkrieg.
  • Defense: Available if it's 1943, and you are at war with both the Soviets, and American's, gives supply throughput, and manpower modifiers.


  • The Vienna Dictate: Occurs in June, 1940, Germany has two options:
    • Force Romanian acceptance: Lose 5 neutrality. Hungary becomes significantly more powerful. Romania's relation with the Axis severely worsen if Hungary is in the Axis.
    • Deny the Hungarian Request: Apparently no in-game effect aside from slight improvement in Relations with Romania.


  • Armaments minister Hjalmar Schacht provides a useful +10% IC bonus.
  • Ministers of Security offers several good choices, starting with the Man of the People (Goebbels: +5% leadership), or the Crime Fighter (Diels, +10% counter espionage).
  • Head of Intelligence Wilhelm Frick provides a +5% espionage bonus as Head of Intelligence (thus Germany can have a +10% bonus with Hitler).
  • Chief of Staff is unimportant in 1936, but should be revisited in 1939.
  • Chief of the Army has Werner von Blomberg, saving -10% on supply consumption.


The primary goal in internal espionage for Germany is to build up the internal spy system. As Germany's threat level increases the player will get increasing research penalties from enemy spies. To avoid this have at least 10 spies in place and counter espionage selected.

There is no requirement for Germany to have spies abroad, however several benefits can be gained from doing so.

  • Spies in England and France can be used to increase their threat which in turn will delay Allied nations joining their side too early in the war (e.g. an unattended Belgium and Netherlands may join the Allies shortly after war with Poland). Alternatively, lowering the national unity of France will cause it to collapse more quickly, which has the net effect of saving German manpower.
  • Spies in the USA can be used to "support our party", which if done as early as 1936, will have the effect of bringing the American-Deutsch bund into power in USA in the 1940 elections. Coupled with diplomatic influence starting in 1936, an Axis USA, or at least a neutral USA, is possible.



From 1936 on Germany can get crude oil from the United States, Persia, and Venezuela, if the player feels the need to trade for it. The Soviet Union and the United States are excellent suppliers of metals and rares. It is best to pick one main supplier and get all of Germany's trade goods from them. This way the player gets the best prices. The United States can be effectively kept out of the war just by improving relations by trading with them. Supplies can be sold to the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and France. Just make sure to cancel any trade deals that expose Germany's convoys before the war starts unless the player wants to continually rebuild them. Huge stockpiles of resources are generally not needed because once the war starts Germany can get everything it needs from Europe.

Industrial Production

Early in the game it is important to build up Germany's practicals. The player should build a little of everything for their first few production runs. For example, at a minimum: 1 interceptor, 1 tactical bomber, 1 infantry division, 1 armoured division, 1 battleship, 1 destroyer or light cruiser, and some Industrial Capacity. Extra IC is always useful for Germany and can be spent in a number of ways even if it is low on manpower.


Re-organizing the German military is particularly important to get the full benefit from Germany's great commanders. For player's who enjoy building a historical Order of Battle (OOB), see the Germany OOB guide. The German armed forces in 1936 start off with an insufficient command structure as historically some Army's and Army group's were not established yet.


Germany should focus on modernising its existing army by upgrading all its infantry to motorised and by completing at least one armoured corps (Panzerkorps) before the invasion of Poland. The German advantage is speed: its army should focus around armoured spearheads, self-propelled artillery or rocket artillery, engineers and tank destroyers as these are all fast moving units which can encircle and destroy the old/slow armies of Europe. Special forces, particularly Paratroopers and Mountain divisions will be useful to strike at difficult to reach places including the Balkans and Scandinavia. After Poland falls, it is useful to try to upgrade all existing Light Armour units to Medium Armour before attacking France.

Germany begins the 1936 campaign with its best Panzer leaders primarily assigned to I. Armeekorps, IV. Armeekorps. These are Germany's most valuable commanders and should be removed for future use in Panzer divisions. Germany has a large number of Old Guard commanders, some of who are quite valuable (considering traits, starting skill, and max skill potential), including: Hänicke, Bader, Dollman, von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels, von Berendt, Halm, Fischer H., Fleck, and Köstring. Visit the complete listing of Germany military leaders for more details.

Be sure to save enough manpower to mobilize (around a 100 with 3 year draft).


Does Germany need a Navy?

  1. If the player's goal is to conquer mainland Europe and the Soviet Union, then Germany does not need a Navy of any kind. Using this approach, Germany can choose to build a very limited Navy consisting only of submarines. The intention here would be solely to harass UK supply lines.
  2. If the player's goal is to conquer the UK and the world beyond Europe, a powerful Navy is essential. Surface Area Groups (SAG) are the best type of fleet for Germany: a mix of Battleships with Destroyers for screens. A Germany that chooses this route should immediately research naval technologies and begin ship building from the beginning of the game (start with 2 to 3 Battlecruisers to gain practical). A successful naval engagement with the Royal Navy will require no less than 12 modern capital ships (3 BB and 9 DD is a good mix). Ships do not upgrade their main armament, engines, or armor: thus it can be timed so that Battleship technology research is completed once the first set of Battlecruisers is done, which in turn raises practicals for Battleship construction. Dominance over the Royal Navy is a difficult but possible goal:
    1. Be patient in engaging the Royal Navy: it takes time to develop a strong Kriegsmarine even with the best planning
    2. Multiple fleets are essential, because any engagement will damage German ships, at which point immediate relief can be sent via a fleet on standby. This second fleet will typically end up sinking more Royal Navy ships than the first fleet could have done.
    3. A Reserve fleet of Destroyers is essential: they tend to take heavy damage so rotating them out for fresh ships allows the fleet to get back into the battle much quicker.
    4. Air superiority is mandatory to prevent CAGs from ripping the German fleet to shreds.
    5. Lots of research, preferably at least 1 year ahead of time.
    6. Try to find a fleet in port in range of your Naval and TAC bombers and Port Strike their naval base to sink the ships that were damaged by the Kriegsmarine.
    7. The Royal Navy is large, but doesn't have that many up-to-date naval vessels. Their outdated BB's will be easy prey for your more modern fleet, but their CV's are dangerous, and sinking them sets the Royal Navy back seriously.

The best fleet leaders are: Raeder, Saalwächter, Warzecha, Guse, Densch, Förste, Marschall, Böhm, Carls. The best submarine leaders are: Dönitz, von Stosch, von Friedeburg, Wolf, Niemand, and Sobe.

Air Force

Since most players will use stacks of three aircraft, the players goal should be to have no less than 12 interceptor wings at the start of the war. The player will need 3 stacks to intercept bombers from the UK and 1 stack to use for air supremacy in Poland. This is the minimum amount needed at the start of the war and the player should be building more when the war starts. Since Germany starts the game with a fairly large amount of tactical bombers, it shouldn’t need a whole lot more. Close Air Support should therefore be the next priority in construction.

War with the Allies

If the player follows a historic route, Germany will typically go to war with Poland and the Western Allies, including the USA after 1941, and with the Soviet Union following 1941 (Operation Barbarossa). German strategic objectives are to gain lebensraum (living space) in the East, reverse the Treaty of Versailles humiliation by invading France and the United Kingdom and seizing their colonial assets, and to defeat the Soviet Union by seizing Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad in Western Russia. Later, Germany may end up in a "Cold War" with the United States if it develops nuclear weapons or alternatively invading it directly with Japan.

Invasion of Poland 1939

The invasion of Poland is quite easy and gives players a chance to try out techniques for later use against France and the Low Countries. Capture the Danzig corridor with Marines (if you have them) for a quick strategic bonus. Use your armoured spearhead units to blitz quickly towards Warsaw and Krakow while backing those up with (mot) infantry. If you have any standard infantry units, keep them for the hills/forest terrains and use your fast units on the plains (the terrain map is useful here). Use your air units to gain air superiority and ground attack units; do not bomb infastructure as this will only slow your own forces down. Invading Poland should take about 1 month for novice players but can be achieved in a week or two if quick movements to victory points are executed. If you have a Navy, use it to blockade the Polish ports and cut supplies.

The Siegfried Line

Defending the line with France should be done with a ghost force of any unupgraded infantry; it is important not to leave the border empty or France may invade early! The key thing in the West is to defend from incoming bombers. Set your fighters to air superiority missions around Essen, Kiel, Munich etc., and if you have any Naval Bombers use them to harass the Royal Navy in the Skaggerak region.

Western Theatre 1940-1941


Denmark can be quickly invaded by a single or two motorised divisions to capture the mainland victory point; Marines or other forces can capture Copenhagen to speed the Danish defeat but this is ultimately depending on waiting for an opportunity to cross the strait. If the British Navy is patrolling here this can take a while, so hassle them with submarines or naval bombers or keep attempting to move your infantry across until they succeed.

Conquering Norway requires the capture of Oslo and Narvik. Both can be captured by a single corps; it is the marine crossing which poses a difficulty. It may be worth using your limited navy to create a diversion while you ship troops across to Norway. Shortly after Norway surrenders, Britain will move to seize Iceland + Greenland. There's little you can do about this without naval superiority in the North Sea.

Invasion of the Low Countries

To get to France, it is physically inevitable that the player will declare war on The Netherlands and Belgium. This also grants Germany a series of Ports and Airfields from which to strike at the UK.

The Netherlands can be conquered in a matter of days. By now you should have left a small force guarding the Soviet border, and moved your Panzer units over to the West. Spearhead for the victory points with your armour and mop up with any remaining infantry. All your air units should be used to a) gain air superiority and b) strike at Dutch airbases/ground troops. You should also invade Luxembourg at around this point. Capture it with a single corps.

For Belgium, rinse and repeat. Keep your armour close to the coast where the ground is flat, while your infantry move into the forested region of Liege. French troops will probably move into Belgium, so it's important to cross the Meuse river as soon as possible. With air superiority and tank superiority you should quickly push them back.

Invasion of France

Hitler anticipated that he would lose 1 million soldiers in the invasion of France. In reality, the French army were vastly underprepared for an armoured assault on multiple fronts.

Once you've conquered Belgium, you should deploy your armour near the sea and amass plenty of motorised infantry near the border with Luxembourg. Use your armour to breakthrough towards Dunkerque and Calais to prevent a British counter-attack, while at the same time attacking towards Sedan through the Ardennes. Use the planning screen to highlight VPs and the quickest routes to them. Paris is your key objective.

Use the Luftwaffe to strike at French airfields and deny them the air, while striking at logistics around the Maginot line; this will prevent those armies moving to support the Northern front. The key is to overwhelm the French defences before they get time to react. As soon as you've taken Calais, prepare a Level 10 Radar construction there to spy on the British. After Paris falls the Vichy France event will trigger. Now you can utilise the bases secured in France to strike against the UK.

The Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain, fought in 1940, was basically a fight for air supremacy in preparation of a naval invasion of Britain. Germany lost the Battle of Britain and didn't have a navy capable of the crossing even if they had have won. But in Hearts of Iron the player has a chance to change history. Winning the "Battle" will require a lot of interceptor fighters and naval bombers as well as a semi-decent navy. Your goal is to secure the Channel by establishing air superiority and driving the Royal Navy back to ports for repairs. This can be done by the following:

  1. Have a large force of interceptors set to air superiority mission over Britain itself
  2. Use any bomber forces to hit runways in south England and Port Strike missions
  3. Use Naval Bombers (NAV) to strike at the Royal Navy and defeat it in battle

Because of the advantages of Britain in the sea, this may take a few years and Operation Barbarossa may need to be put on hold. Meanwhile, your submarines should be employed to annihilate UK shipping.

Operation Sealion

The invasion of Britain will require control of the Channel via the means described above. Landings can be made virtually anywhere, although the AI usually leaves Wales quite unattended. Land with Marines and/or Paratroopers and then have plenty of armoured divisions ready to transport into the newly captured Port(s). Alternatively, invade Ireland and use it as a stepping-stone.

Defeating the British Army will require perseverance especially as they tend to get holed up in difficult territory up in Scotland. Keep a vigilant look out for transports bringing troops from Africa or India - these will need to be sunk before they get a chance to land. If you have enough bombers you should be able to sink a lot of British warships. But bear in mind this will have crippled your IC to the point where you may have only the starting army to invade with and Barbarossa will be nigh impossible for at least a year or two. It will also be nigh inevitable as capturing London automatically triggers a declaration of war by the USSR.

Once the entire British mainland is captured, there is a small chance that the government will surrender. Otherwise, you will need to capture territory overseas to really finish the UK off.

It's important to note that the Soviets will object to the player invading Britain and will, at some point during the invasion, declare war on Germany. The player should either prepare for this and use minimal forces to invade, or ensure that the non-aggression pact can't yet be broken by the Soviets.

Or, stack your Interceptors and Tactical, (Nav's if you have them) in the Low Countries along with every canoe you can confiscate. You do not have to beat the Royal Navy, just force a landing with a superior will to absorb losses. Typically you will lose most of your fleet and a few transports (possibly a couple Inf divisions sunk) but you will have Wehrmacht on the shore. Use your 30 day supply to smash a port and ferry more troops as needed. Once you have a port GB's fate is sealed.

You can game the auto Soviet DoW by surrounding London with a single Corps without taking it. You will starve the Empire too of supplies. Call Italy to Arms and watch them steamroll Africa & ME solo while you finish putting Europe into a German headlock & prep to fight the Bear.

Barbarossa 1941-1943

Operation Barbarossa, or the invasion of the USSR, is by far what the German industrial effort is gearing up for and started historically in late 1941. The invasion was split into three distinct army groups each with an objective to capture: Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad respectively. The war claimed millions of lives on both sides as the huge Soviet army fought to defend on a front from Finland to the Caucasus against overwhelming German air power and armoured divisions. The attack was ultimately repulsed only miles from each of the key objectives, so with a little more cunning the player should be able to force a "bitter peace".

For advice on a German OOB see here.

North Army Group

North Army Group is tasked with the siege and capture of Leningrad after seizing the Baltic nations (Estonia, Latvia + Lithuania).

Central Army Group

Central Army Group will advance through Minsk and Smolensk with its objective to capture Moscow, the Soviet capital.

South Army Group

South Army Group's objective is the oil fields of Baku in Azerbaijan. To do this it will need to advance through Ukraine and the Crimea and defeat Russian forces at Stalingrad.

Minor Theatres


The Baltic states contain the nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The player may choose to invade the Baltic States shortly after the capture of Poland, or they can wait until Operation Barbarossa. Controlling the Baltic States will give Germany access to several ports and even a few airbases which can aid in the attack on Moscow.

North Africa

While this front isn't as important, it should be noted that unless you help the Italians fight the Brits and win at El Alamein, their southern flank is open and could cause a number of problems later on. Attempt to take some African Colonies for yourself, possibly Sudan or Egypt.

Middle East

A German player may consider deploying their Afrika Korps to Iraq, Kuwait, and the Arabian Peninsula after achieving victory with Italy in Egypt. You can capture this region for Italy by attacking out of their existing territory in North Africa or for Germany by invading enemy territory from the sea. Be wary that infrastructure here is terribly low and capturing ports along the Mediterranean will be essential to keeping supplies flowing to your troops. Even so, the British will likely hound your convoys relentlessly so careful supply management is a necessity.

The reward for this territory alone is not incredibly high, save a couple oil resources, and the inevitable partisans will demand you provide a small garrison. That aside, further incursions (or alliances) with Turkey and/or Persia will open a path straight to the southern border of the USSR, a mere stone's throw away from the Baku oil fields.

Battle of the Atlantic

Gaming the System

Starting War Later: If you do not use the First Vienna Award, the other countries won't do any national decisions. This allows you to attack later and even conquer Poland and then the USSR without any attack from the Allies.

USA Ally: Historically, aggressive war is an essential part of German foreign politics, but you should consider waiting until 1940 for the US election. If you hold back aggression, support the German-American Bund via spies and diplomatically influence the US, it is possible for them to join the Axis, practically granting you victory as no one is there to stop Japan and the Allies miss important troops on D-Day, during the Invasion of Italy and in the North African war.

See also

Country Navigation
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