General WWII era German military discussion that doesn't fit someplace more specific.
Post Reply
New Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:31 am


Post by speiss » Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:42 am

I have been doing a lot of research about Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS ranks recently but there are some things that are still unclear to me that I can't seem to find information on. I'm mostly interested in the rank structure as it was towards the end of 1944 and after but I would also like to know what was before and how it changed, if it changed.

Combined from several sources the enlisted ranks should be something like this:

Grenadier, etc
Obergrenadier, etc



This source says "In 1944, the rank of Hauptgefreiter was replaced with that of Stabsgefreiter." concerning the Luftwaffe ranks. If that is true, was there a Hauptgefreiter and a Stabsgefreiter rank at the same time or have other sources got it wrong? And if it is true, was the equivalent Kriegsmarine rank also replaced (Matrosenhauptgefreiter by Matrosenstabsgefreiter) at the same time?

Also, the Kriegsmarine rank of Matrosenoberstabsgefreiter is only listed in some sources and there isn't much info on it. If it was a real rank, was it the eqivalent of Stabsgefreiter (in Heer and Luftwaffe) or was it higher than that rank?

And to clarify one thing, the rank of Obergefreiter (+6 years of service), was it only a change of the insignia from normal Obergefreiter or was considered another rank? Was it used in all branches? Did it have anything to do directly with either Hauptgefreiter or Stabsgefreiter?


- http://www.feldgrau.com/ranks.html

- http://worldwartwozone.com/forums/olive ... -heer.html

- http://books.google.com/books?id=8Uczn3 ... t#PPA24,M1
This one lists only Matrosenhauptgefreiter and not Matrosenstabsgefreiter, maybe the list is from before it was replaced (if it was replaced?)

- http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dienstgrad ... _Wehrmacht

- http://www.luftwaffe39-45.historia.nom.br/rank2.htm
This one lists Matrosenoberstabsgefreiter as equivalent to the Heer and Luftwaffe rank of Stabsgefreiter... I see now that it actually says Matrosenstabsoberefreiter in this source with the position of ober and stab changed. Which one would be correct?

- http://zis.uibk.ac.at/quellen/Dienstgrade.html

- http://members.shaw.ca/grossdeutschland/ranks.htm

Let's start with that, but I may have more unanswered questions.
Thanks in advance!

New Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:31 am

Re: Ranks

Post by speiss » Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:37 am


Hauptgefreiter and Stabsgefreiter are listed with the same collar patch here:
http://www.luftwaffe39-45.historia.nom. ... atente.htm

Only Hauptgefreiter is listed here:
http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/uniformen/l ... _basic.htm

I think that supports the statement that Stabsgefreiter replaced Hauptgefreiter at some point (at least i the Luftwaffe) but I would like to know for sure.

Here Hauptgefreiter is also listed as a Heer rank (which it's rarely done elsewhere) and seems related to Obergefreiter with 6+ years of service:
http://www.luftwaffe39-45.historia.nom. ... atente.htm

Are there any official documents from that period stating what ranks there were? It seems that most sources are guessing to some extent.

New Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:05 pm

Re: Ranks

Post by Blitzmädchen » Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:54 pm

Hello speiss

I can see that we have the same interest.

There is a lot of wrong information on the internet and also in some books on this subject. So I contacted the German Bundesarchiv in Freiburg to see if they were able to help with these questions.

This is the answers I was given.

There was no Hauptgefreiters in the the Army.

The Obergefreiter with 6+ years of service wore until 1942 two chevrons with a single pip. In 1942 the rank of Stabsgefreiter was reintroduced and given to Obergefreiters with more than 5+ years of service. The Stabsgefreiter now wore two chevrons with a single pip and the Obergefreiter with 6+ now wore one chevron with a single pip.

Enlisted ranks in the Army in 1944 are like this.

Grenadier - no rank insignia
Obergrenadier - one pip
Gefreiter - one chevron
Obergefreiter - two chevrons
Obergefreiter 6+ - one chevron with one pip
Stabsgefreiter - two chevrons with one pip


The rank of Hauptgefreiter was replaced with the rank of Stabsgefreiter in 1944. All Hauptgefreiters were promoted to Stabsgefreiters so there were no Hauptgefreiters and Stabsgefreiters at the same time.

Enlisted ranks in the Air Force in 1944 are like this.

Fliger - no rank insignia
Gefreiter - one chevron
Obergefreiter - two chevrons
Hauptgefreiter - three chevrons (discontinued in 1944)
Stabsgefreiter - one braided chevron with one pip.


The rank of Matrosenhauptgefreiter was not replaced. It was in use from 1939 to 1945 and so was the rank of Matrosenstabsgefreiter.

The rank of Matrosenoberstabsgefreiter, this is the correct rank, was introduced in 1940 and given to Matrosenstabsgefreiters with more than 8+ years of service.

Enlisted ranks in the Navy in 1944 are like this.

Matrose - no rank insignia
Matrosengefreiter - one chevron
Matrosenobergefreiter - two chevrons
Matrosenhauptgefreiter - three chevrons
Matrosenstabsgefreiter - one braided chevron with one pip.
Matrosenoberstabsgefreiter - two braided chevrons with one pip.

Greetings from Kristina

New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 10:01 am

Re: Ranks

Post by maidorn » Sun Oct 09, 2016 10:26 am

Hi Katrina .. my father was in 3rd Panzer Division 1943-45 .. he says his rank was 'Fahnenjunker' .. can't find that anywhere, he said it was like Gefreiter, so more confusing, but he was an officer cadet yet tank gunner. He has 2 Panzer Attack Bezeichnen and have heard lots of comments and stories about the war from him. Likes Ukranians not Russians, felt betrayed by Austrians, swam across the Ems to get captured by the Americans, hates them too lol, commented on flakvierlings positively, was a bit perplexed when told that M60 machineguns have disintegrating links for ammunition ,said he hated stug IIIs cos no rotating turret, was jealous of the SS as they had better tanks, said he often fought as infantry, hated Stalin Organs as 'never knew where they would land' He is still alive today. after he was released from POW camp, his unit still stuck together, got hold of transport somehow and got hold of whole pigs to eat etc, although he did talk of 'Fressen' ie having to eat whatever they found

Michael Dorosh
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2002 12:06 am
Location: Calgary, AB

Re: Ranks

Post by Michael Dorosh » Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:19 pm

maidorn wrote:Hi Katrina .. my father was in 3rd Panzer Division 1943-45 .. he says his rank was 'Fahnenjunker' .. can't find that anywhere, he said it was like Gefreiter, so more confusing, but he was an officer cadet yet tank gunner.
Officer cadets/candidates were required to serve in the ranks first as part of their development. They were identified by two loops of NCO lace slipped over their shoulder straps. See Page 44 of the Osprey title GERMAN ARMY 1939-45 VOL 2 - NORTH AFRICA AND THE BALKANS which has a table listing the different ranks and career progression of trainee officers. A soldier wearing the double loops was a soldier accepted for officer-training, and did 4 months basic training and then one month in a field unit. When he added the gefreiter chevron, it meant he was accepted for officer training, and underwent platoon command training in a field unit. Like everything else in the German Army, the ranks and titles of officer candidates/cadets changed during the war. There are probably better sources but the Osprey book has a good basic intro.

In short, not unusual that your father would have served in a field unit while an officer cadet, and yes, the Fahnenjunker title was used during the war.

Post Reply