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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 bloody 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
  • Defense:


  • 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 armored division, 1 battleship, 1 destroyer or light cruiser, and some IC. 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 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.

If the player needs a guide for what to build leading up to the war, load the 39 scenario and build what Germany starts with. The player should have no trouble building the 39 scenario’s army even while building your airforce, navy, and some IC. This will use most of Germany's manpower and the player probably will not be able to start the war in May if they build that many units. Just 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 all of Europe and the Soviet Union, then Germany does not need a Navy of any kind. In this approach, Germany can choose to build a very limited Navy with only 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 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 is 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 RN 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 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.


Invasion of Poland 1939

Western Theatre 1940-1941


Invasion of the Low Countries

Invasion of France

The Battle of Britain

Barbarossa 1941-1943

North Army Group

Central Army Group

South Army Group

Minor Theatres


North Africa

Middle East

Battle of the Atlantic

Gaming the System

Start war late: 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.

See also

Country Navigation
Major Powers France · Germany · Italy · Japan · United Kingdom · United States of America · Soviet Union
Regional Powers Argentina · Australia · Belgium · Brazil · Bulgaria · Czechoslovakia · Guangxi Clique · Hungary · Manchukuo · Nationalist China · Nationalist Spain · Netherlands · Poland · Republican Spain · Romania · Sweden · Turkey · Yugoslavia
Minor Powers Austria · Canada · Chile · Colombia · Denmark · Finland · Greece · Ireland · Mexico · Norway · Peru · Portugal · Shanxi · South Africa · Switzerland
Micro Powers Afghanistan · Albania · Bhutan · Bolivia · Communist China · Costa Rica · Cuba · Dominican Republic · Ecuador · El Salvador · Estonia · Ethiopia · Guatemala · Haiti · Honduras · Iraq · Latvia · Liberia · Lithuania · Luxembourg · Mongolia · Nepal · New Zealand · Nicaragua · Oman · Panama · Paraguay · Persia · Philippines · Saudi Arabia · Siam · Sinkiang · Tannu Tuva · Tibet · Uruguay · Venezuela · Xibei San Ma · Yemen · Yunnan