The Wehrmacht rank system is very complicated, so I have only
included the more common ranks. The translation is too American
equivalent of ranks. If you have any corrections or additions,
then please contact me.
German Military Rank
1. In the following table the approximate American equivalent
is given for each German rank. It should be noted, however,
that the appointments held by officers of any given rank may
vary widely in status, and no appointment carries or presupposes
specific rank, for example, A Generalmajor' may command an
infantry regiment a division or on occasions, ah army corps.
An infantry regiment may be commanded by a Generalmajor, an
Oberst, an Oberstleutnant or, on occasions, a Major. A "First
General Staff Officer" (Ia) (our G-3) may Oberstleutnant
|Genfeldm., Gen. Feldm.
|Genobst., Gen. Obst.
|Gen. d. Inf.
||General der Infanterie
||General of Infantry
||General der Gebirgstruppen
||General of Mountain Troops
|Gen. d. Kay.
||General der Kavallerie
||General of Cavalry
||General der Panzer-truppen
||General of Panzer Troops
||General der Artillerie
||General of Artillery
||General der Pioniere
||General of Engineers
||General der Nachrichtentruppen
||General of Signal Troops
||General der derFlieger
||General of Air
||General der Flakartillerie
||General of AAA
|Gen. d. Luftna.Tr.
||General der Luftnachrichtentruppen
||General of Air Signal Troops
|Genlt., Gen. Lt.
|Genmaj., Gen. Maj.
|Oberstlt., Obst. Lt.
|Obit., Ob. Lt.
2. In the German Army, acting or temporary rank is not granted
hence the variety in rank to be found among officers holding
similar commands. But two qualifications of rank may occur,
Ernennung (approximately the equivalent of brevet rank), An
Oberstleutnant may be ernannt Oberst, or an Oberst ernannt
Generalmajor, in order to obtain the higher rank sooner than
his seniority in the lower rank would permit (promotion is
normally strictly according to seniority up to the rank of
Genlt. inclusive. Such officers receive the pay of the higher
rank,, but do not obtain a specific seniority (Rangdenstalter,
abbreviated R.D.A.) until their actual promotion.
Charakterisierung (honorary rank), An officer may be charakterisiert
to a higher rank (e.g., Major to Oberstleutnant). Such officers
do not receive the pay of the higher rank until their actual
promotion, but they obtain a specific seniority in a separate
charakterisiert list. The qualification is regularly shown
in titles of rank, e.g., char. Oberst.
3. Officers are listed separately, according to their status,
Regular officers on the active list. An aktiv officer is distinguished
by the title of his rank without qualification, e.g., Oberst.
Regular officers on the supplementary list. During the period
of maximum expansion of the German Army (1934-1939), large
numbers of additional officers were required, particularly
for administrative appointments. To meet this special demand,
an Erganzungs (supplementary) list was formed on which exofficers
were recommissioned after under going suitable courses. An
Erginzungs officer is distinguished by the addition of (Erg.)
or (E) to the title of hisrank, e.g., Oberst (Erg.). Officers
on this list take precedence immediately after those holding
the same rank on the active list.
Reserve officers. Retired officers from the active or Erganzungs
list maybe transferred to the reserve list, to which suitable
candidates may also be commissioned directly. Commissions
on this list correspond to some extent, in peace time, to
commissions in the Organized Reserve Corps. A reserve officer
takes precedence immediately after Erganzungs officers of
the same rank, and is distinguished by the addition of der
Reserve, d.Res. or d.R. to the title of his rank, e.g., Oberst
Landwehr officers. Reserve officers may be transferred to
the Landwehrlist because of age or relative unfitness. Such
officers are distinguished by the addition of der Landwehr,
d.Landw. or d.L. to the title of rank, e.g., Major d.L.
Over age officers.Officers who have passed the age limit for
their rank and classification, but remain fit and willing
to serve, are transferred to the zur Verfuigung (i.e., available)
list and are distinguished by the addition of z.V. to the
title of rank, e.g. Maj. d. R.z.V.
Unemployable retired officers. Retired officers who are no
longer fit or suitable for military service of any kind are
described as ausser Dienst (out of service) or a.D., e.g.,
Officers on the emergency list.For the duration of the war,
emergency commissions (auf Krlegsdauer, abbreviated a.K.)
are granted to suitable candidates. Such commissions rank
Immediately below those on the aktiv list.
Officers Of The Army Medical and Veterinary Services
1. The names of officers of the German Army Medical and Veterinary
Services are not included in the following lists. The ranks
in these services of theGerman Army, with the appointments
normally held, are as follows,
||Chief Inspector of Army Medical Services or Surgeon
||Chief Med O of an army group or army
||Chief Med 0 of a corps or Wehrkreis
||Chief Med 0 of a division
||Chief Med 0 of a regiment, station, hospital or medical
||Senior Med 0 of a battalion, or Comdr of a medical
|In a hospital, medical unit, etc., or attached to
a combat unit
||Chief Inspector of ArmyVeterinary Service
||Chief Vet 0 of an army group or army
||Chief Vet 0 of a corps orWehrkreis
|Chief Vet 0 of a division, CO of a veterinary hospital
Senior Med 0 of a battalion or regt, CO of a veterinary
company In a veterinary unit or attached to a veterinary
For a complete list of sources