Ranks in German Army

Fahnenjunker

A cadet is a trainee. The term is frequently used to refer those training to become an officer in the military, often a person who is a junior trainee. Its meaning may vary between countries. The term is also used in civilian contexts and as a general attributive, for example in its original sense of a branch of a ruling house which is not currently in the direct line of succession.

Fähnrich

Fähnrich is an officer candidate rank in the Austrian Bundesheer and German Bundeswehr. However, Fähnrich ranks are often incorrectly compared with the rank of ensign, which shares a similar etymology but is a full-fledged (albeit junior) commissioned officer rank. The word Fähnrich comes from an older German military title, Fahnenträger (flag bearer), and first became a distinct military rank in Germany 1 January 1899.

Lieutenant

A lieutenant (abbreviated Lt., LT., Lieut. and LEUT.) is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces.

The meaning of lieutenant differs in different military formations (see comparative military ranks), but is often subdivided into senior (first lieutenant) and junior (second lieutenant) ranks. In navies it is often equivalent to the army rank of captain; it may also indicate a particular post rather than a rank. The rank is also used in fire services, emergency medical services, security services and police forces.

Lieutenant may also appear as part of a title used in various other organizations with a codified command structure. It often designates someone who is "second-in-command," and as such, may precede the name of the rank directly above it. For example, a "lieutenant master" is likely to be second-in-command to the "master" in an organization using both ranks. Notable uses include lieutenant governor in various governments, and Quebec lieutenant in Canadian politics.

Oberleutnant

Oberleutnant is a junior officer rank in the militaries of Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland and Austria. In the German Army, it dates from the early 19th century. Translated as "senior lieutenant", the rank is typically bestowed upon commissioned officers after five to six years of active duty service.

Oberleutnant is used by both the German Army and the German Air Force. In the NATO military comparison system, a German Oberleutnant is the equivalent of a first lieutenant in the Army/Air Forces of Allied nations.

Other uses

The equivalent naval rank is Oberleutnant zur See.

In Nazi Germany, within the SS, SA and Waffen-SS, the rank of Obersturmführer was considered the equivalent of an Oberleutnant in the German Army.

Hauptmann

Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian and Swiss armies. While "haupt" in contemporary German means "main", it also has the dated meaning of "head", i.e. Hauptmann literally translates to "head man", which is also the etymological root of "captain" (from Latin caput head). It equates to Captain in the British and US Armies, and is rated OF-2 in NATO.

More generally, it can be used to denote the head of any hierarchically structured group of people, often as a compound word. For example, a Feuerwehrhauptmann is the captain of a fire brigade, while the word Räuberhauptmann refers to the leader of a gang of robbers.

Official Austrian titles incorporating the word include Landeshauptmann, Bezirkshauptmann, Burghauptmann and Berghauptmann.

In Saxony during the Weimar Republic, the titles of Kreishauptmann and Amtshauptmann were held by senior civil servants.

It might cognates with the Swedish word Hövitsman that have the same root meaning "Head man" or "the man at the head" and that are closely related to the word "hövding" meaning Chieftain. Both titles are since medieval times used for titles within the administration of the state rather then within the military.

Major

Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in many military forces. When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. It is considered the most junior of the field ranks. In some militaries, notably France and Ireland, the rank is referred to as commandant, while in others it is known as captain-major. It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures, such as the New York State Police, New Jersey State Police and several others. As a police rank, Major roughly corresponds to the UK rank of Superintendent.

When used in hyphenated or combined fashion, the term can also imply seniority at other levels of rank, including general-major or major general, denoting a mid-level general officer, and sergeant major, denoting the most senior NCO of a military unit.

It can also be used with a hyphen to denote the leader of a military band such as in pipe-major or drum-major.

Oberstleutnant

Oberstleutnant is a German Army and German Air Force rank equal to Lieutenant Colonel, above Major, and below Oberst.

There are two paygrade associated to the rank of Oberstleutnant. Paygrade A14 is the standard level paygrade whereas A15 is assigned to senior Oberstleutnant personnel.

Oberstleutnant of the General Staff or Reserve have the words "im Generalstabsdienst" (i.G.), "der Reserve" (d.R.) after their rank—thus: "OTL i.G.", "OTL d.R."

Oberstleutnant who are definitely retired are described as "außer Dienst" (a.D.)

During World War II, the SS maintained an equivalent rank known as Obersturmbannführer

Oberst

Oberst is a military rank in several German-speaking and Scandinavian countries, equivalent to Colonel. It is currently used by both the ground and air forces of Austria, Germany, Switzerland DDenmark aand Norway. The Swedish rank överste is a direct translation, as are the Finnish rank eversti and the Icelandic rank ofursti. In the Netherlands the rank overste is used as a synonym for a lieutenant colonel.

Generalmajor

The German rank of general most likely saw its first use within the religious orders of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, albeit in modified forms and usage from the current understanding of general. By the 16th century, with the rise of standing armies, the German states had begun to appoint generals from the nobility to lead armies in battle.

A standard rank system was developed during the Thirty Years War, with the highest rank of General usually reserved for the ruling sovereign (e.g. the Kaiser or Elector) and the actual field commander holding the rank of Generalleutnant. Feldmarschall was a lower rank at that time, as was Generalwachtmeister.

By the 17th and 18th centuries, the rank of general was present in all the militaries of the German states, and saw its greatest usage by the militaries of Bavaria and Prussia. It was these two militaries that created the concept of the “general staff”, which was often manned entirely by members of the nobility. To be a general implied membership in the noble class as a count or Graf, baron or Freiherr (this also accounts for most German generals of this era having the prefix “von” before their names)

Generalleutnant

Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of lieutenant general was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a captain general.

In modern armies, lieutenant general normally ranks immediately below general and above major general; it is equivalent to the navy rank of vice admiral, and in air forces with a separate rank structure, it is equivalent to air marshal. A lieutenant general commands an army corps, made up of typically three army divisions, and consisting of around 60,000 soldiers.

The term major general is a shortened version of the previous term sergeant major general, which was also subordinate to lieutenant general. This is why a lieutenant general outranks a major general, whereas a major is senior to a lieutenant.

In many countries, the rank of corps general has replaced the earlier rank of lieutenant general (e.g. France, Italy). (The ranks of corps general and lieutenant colonel general are intended to solve the apparent lieutenant general / major general anomaly). However, for convenience, this is often translated into English as lieutenant general.

In a number of states, the rank of lieutenant general is the highest army rank in use. In Lithuania and Latvia, the chief of defence is a lieutenant general, and in the Irish Defence Forces and Israeli forces the Chief of Staff holds this rank.

General der Artillery

General of the artillery may mean:

1st a rank of general in the Imperial Army, Reichswehr or Wehrmacht - the second-highest regular rank below Generaloberst. Cavalry officers of equivalent rank were called general of the cavalry, and infantry officers of equivalent rank general of the infantry. The Wehrmacht also had General der Panzertruppen (tank troops), General der Gebirgstruppen (mountain troops), General der Pioniere (engineers), General der Fallschirmtruppen (parachute troops), General der Nachrichtentruppen (communications troops). Today in the Bundeswehr, the rank of lieutenant general corresponds to the traditional rank of general of the artillery. There was no equivalent rank in the army of East Germany, where it was merged into that of Generaloberst.

2nd in the Bundeswehr, the position of an artillery officer responsible for certain questions of troop training and equipment, usually with the rank of Brigadegenerals. The position of general of the artillery is connected with that of commander of the artillery school. Corresponding service positions also exist for other branches of the army. Since in this usage it refers to a position not a rank, an Oberst is sometimes "General of" his respective type of troops. The form of address is usually Herr General and/or Herr Oberst ; the form of address Herr General der Artillerie is unorthodox, since it does not refer to a rank.

Generaloberst

A supreme general or senior general (Generaloberst, sometimes mistranslated "colonel-general" by analogy to Oberst, "colonel") was the second highest general officer rank—below field marshal (Generalfeldmarschall)—in the Prussian army as well as in the Deutsches Heer of Imperial Germany (1871-1919), the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic (1921-1933), and the Wehrmacht (which included the Luftwaffe, established in 1935) of Nazi Germany (1933-1945).

The rank was created originally for Emperor William I—then Prince of Prussia—because traditionally members of the royal family were not promoted to the rank of a field marshal.

Since the rank of Generalfeldmarschall was also reserved for wartime promotions, the additional rank of a "supreme general in the capacity of a field marshal" — the Generaloberst im Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls — was created for promotions during peace. Such generals were entitled to wear four pips on their shoulder boards, compared to the normal three.

The equivalent ranks of a colonel general were in the:

Ÿ Kriegsmarine - Generaladmiral ("general admiral")

Ÿ Schutzstaffel (SS) - SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer

Ÿ Sturmabteilung (SA) - no equivalent

Ÿ Ordnungspolizei (Orpo) - Generaloberst der Polizei ("colonel general of police")

Generalfelsmarschall

Generalfeldmarschall in German (usually translated simply as General Field Marshal), was the highest military rank in the armies of several German states including the Austrian Empire and Kingdom o PPrussia (later the German Empire).

Originally used in the Holy Roman Empire, the rank of Generalfeldmarschall became the highest military rank in the Habsburg Monarchy equivalent to that of Marshall in France or Field Marshall in England. Following the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, it was kept in the armies of the Austrian Empire (1804-1867) then in these of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1919). The Prussian army also used it as the army equivalent to a navy Grand Admiral (German: Großadmiral) and was later used as a rank on the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe of Germany during WWII.

In Germany

In the German-Prussian Army and later in the Wehrmacht, the rank had several privileges, such as elevation to nobility, equal rank with ministers of the royal cabinet, right of direct report to the monarch, and a constant escort/protection. In 1854, the rank of Colonel-General (German: Generaloberst) was created in order to promote then Prussian prince William (William I, German Emperor) to senior rank without breaking the rule that only wartime field commanders could receive the rank of field marshal for a victory in a decisive battle or the capture of a fortification or major town. In 1870 Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia and Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm—who had commanded armies during the Franco-Prussian War—became the first Prussian princes appointed field marshals.

Bibliography

Christopher Duffy. Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March on Germany, 1945. New York: Atheneum, 1991. pp 164,165,207 ISBN 0-689-12092-3

Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr. Crumbling Empire: The German Defeat in the East, 1944. Westport: Praeger, 2001. pp 66,141 ISBN 0-275-96856-1

Burkhard Müller-Hillebrand: Das Heer 1933-1945. Entwicklung des organisatorischen Aufbaues. Vol.III: Der Zweifrontenkrieg. Das Heer vom Beginn des Feldzuges gegen die Sowjetunion bis zum Kriegsende. Mittler: Frankfurt am Main 1969, p. 285.

Georg Tessin: Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg, 1939 - 1945. Vol. II: Die Landstreitkräfte 1 - 5. Mittler: Frankfurt am Main 1966.

The German Order of Battle Infanty in World War II George F. Nafziger

The German Infantry Book 1939-1945 Alex Buchner

Soldat The German Soldier on the Eastern Front 1943-44 Concord

Burkhard Müller-Hillebrand: Das Heer 1933-1945. Entwicklung des organisatorischen Aufbaues. Vol.III: Der Zweifrontenkrieg. Das Heer vom Beginn des Feldzuges gegen die Sowjetunion bis zum Kriegsende. Mittler: Frankfurt am Main 1969, p. 285.

Georg Tessin: Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg, 1939 - 1945. Vol. II: Die Landstreitkräfte 1 - 5. Mittler: Frankfurt am Main 1966.

Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 (in German). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.

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