Could an enlisted soldier in German Imperial Army get rank above Gefreiter?

Could an enlisted soldier in German Imperial Army get rank above Gefreiter?



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According to wiki, up until 1918, Gefreiter was the only rank to which an enlisted soldier could be promoted.

Sounds strange. Is it true?

Where did Germans take their Corporals, Sergeants and Feldwebels?

Couldn't a soldier that already had become a Gefreiter be promoted further even if he had accomplished something big? Even during the Great War?

I remember from Hindenburg biography that he despised Hitler for reaching only Gefreiter rank in such a great war. I think, German marshal should know the rules…


Having done a bit more research I have found this page concerning Awards and Promotions on a website regarding Werner Voss.

The website states that, as would be standard, all soldiers started of with the rank of "Soldat" or a unit based equivalent.

It also states:

Furthermore German Soldiers progressed through the ranks at a very slow pace. Typically a Soldat would not be eligible for promotion to Obergefreiter until he had been in the Army for six years.

Given that wiki page you quoted mentions that the standard conscription period was 2-3 years it would appear that NCO's of a rank exceeding Gefreiter (Obergefreiter and above) would be drawn from the pool on Long-Term Volunteer Enlistee's, as I mentioned in my comment.

EDIT I have found the following quote on greatwar.com, which also states that only career soldiers could be promoted.

A private in the German Army made about $5.10 US per month(30- day month), whereas a US soldier made 30.00/month w/an extra $6.00 if on "foreign" service. This was comparable to other European Army pay, and it taught the soldier to spend his money on necessities and hardened them for tough times in the field. Promotions were reserved for the career soldiers. Seldom did a two year recruit receive any rank. The unit commander made all recommendations for promotions when a vacancy appeared, which was then approved by the regimental commanders. One year volunteers with excellent records and at least 9 months service could be promoted.

Elsewhere in the article it states that on the outbreak of war all conscripts were obliged to serve until their 45th birthday (A reasonably standard measure, the same happened elsewhere). This change effectively put them on a par with the long term volunteers, as far as term of service is concerned.


… Gefreiter was the only rank to which an enlisted soldier could be promoted.

The term "enlisted" is somewhat confusing here, as it translates poorly to the system of the German army.

In the Anglo-American system, you have two "classes": enlisted, and commissioned officers.

In the German system, you get three "classes": Privates, NCO's ("Unteroffiziere"), and officers.

If all you do is serving your conscription term (as the German army was a conscript army), you'll receive your basic training, then serve as a Private (Soldat / Gefreiter), and that's it. Insofar the Wiki page is correct -- you don't get promoted from Gefreiter to Unteroffizier.

So where do the NCO's come from? Easy: If you voluntarily extend your term, you'll receive your basic training, then receive NCO training, and rise to NCO rank (with accordingly better pay).

(This is, by the way, still the case in the German army today, even as conscription is suspended at this time. If you want to become Unteroffizier or higher in rank, you have to volunteer for a longer time of service and go through more extensive training.)


Of course, while the above was "the rule", there were always exceptions. A promising Private could be asked to attend NCO or even officer's training. Privates that had proven themselves in action could receive a battlefield promotion, although I would expect them to be sent back to receive the appropriate training at the next opportunity.

I was unable to come up with statistics on how often these things happened.

The best I could come up with during an ad-hoc web research was this paper (on page 21 ff.) talking about how, after WWI, the number of volunteers for officer's training did not meet the requirements. (The prestige of being a military officer had suffered badly, and a future in the shrinking military was an uncertain prospect in the early Weimar Republic.) So they filled vacancies in officer's training with promising NCO's and Privates, to the point where, in 1928, 3.5% of the officers corps (117 individuals) were former NCO's.

This is about NCO's reallocated to officer's training, not about Privates / Gefreite getting battlefield promotions to NCO rank. But I think it gives a general hallmark on both the existence and relative rarity of cross-career "jumping".


Ranks of the German Bundeswehr

The Ranks of the German Armed Forces, (in German: Bundeswehr), were set up by the President with the Anordnung des Bundespräsidenten über die Dienstgradbezeichnungen und die Uniform der Soldaten on the basis of section 4, paragraph 3 of the Soldatengesetz (federal law concerning the legal status of soldiers). The Bundesbesoldungsordnung (Federal Salary Scale Regulation) regulates the salary scales of all Federal office holders and employees including soldiers. The 'ZdV-64/10 - Abkürzungen in der Bundeswehr' gives the abbreviations and a list of the abbreviations.


Contents

In all three branches of the German armed forces there are three career paths: officers (Offiziere), NCOs (Unteroffiziere, non-commissioned officers) and enlisted soldiers (Mannschaften). Officers are subdivided into Lieutenants (Leutnante), Captains (Hauptleute), Staff Officers (Stabsoffiziere) and Admirals (Admiräle) or Generals (Generäle). NCOs are divided into those with or without a sword knot lanyard (mit / ohne Portepee).

The names of ranks in the army and air force are identical those of the navy and of medical officers are different. Female soldiers hold the same rank as their male counterparts. A (w) abbreviation is still sometimes added for women, but this is wholly without legal basis - the only additions allowed and maintained in ZDv 14/5 bzw. in the ZDv 20/7 are:

  • UA / RUA - NCO Candidate (Unteroffizieranwärter) / Reserve NCO Candidate (Reserveunteroffizier-Anwärter)
  • FA / RFA - Sergeant Candidate (Feldwebelanwärter) / Reserve Sergeant Candidate (Reservefeldwebel-Anwärter)
  • OA / ROA - Officer Candidate (Offizieranwärter) / Reserve Officer Candidate (Reserveoffizier-Anwärter)
  • SanOA - Medical Officer Candidate (Sanitätsoffizieranwärter)
  • MilMusikOA - Military Musical Officer Candidate (Militärmusikoffizier-Anwärter)

Help. Problems with NCO & Enlisted Ranks

Post by FANGIO » 17 Apr 2004, 06:21

Sorry to bother with this matter once again. I’m sure it has been discussed a million times but I still can’t understand some NCO & Enlisted Ranks. I’ve seen several web sites regarding german ranks in WWII, including this very same site (using search), and I always see different names (ranks), for example:

Enlisted Ranks:

Different enlisted system ranks I have seen:
1. Schutze – Oberschutze – Gefreiter – Obergefreiter
2. Schutze – Oberschutze – Gefreiter – Obergefreiter – Stabsgefreiter
3. Schutze – Oberschutze – Gefreiter – Unteroffizier-anwärterFähnenjunker-Gefreiter – Obergefreiter – Obergefreiter (with more than 6 years service) – Stabsgefreiter

Questions:
a) What’s the meaning of Fähnenjunker?
b) What’s the meaning of anwärter?
c) Of the three options above, would the third one be the exact enlisted rank system of the german army?
d) Another doubts I have regarding Enlisted Ranks are some names like: “Fahrer”, “Kraftfahrer”, “Reiter” and “Soldat”, what do they mean (excluding Soldat)?, are these ranks at a Schutze level?, which term did the german army use: Soldat or Schutze, or both of them?

1. Unteroffizier – Unterfeldwebel – Fähnrich – Feldwebel – Oberfeldwebel – Oberfähnrich – Stabsfeldwebel
2. Unteroffizier – Unterfeldwebel – Fähnrich – Feldwebel – Oberfeldwebel – Hauptfeldwebel – Stabsfeldwebel
3. Unteroffizier – Unterfeldwebel – Feldwebel – Oberfeldwebel – Stabsfeldwebel
4. Unteroffizier – Fähnenjunker-Unteroffizier – Unteroffizier Offizier-anwärter – Unterfeldwebel – Feldwebel – Oberfeldwebel – Stabsfeldwebel

Questions:
a) Did the Hauptfeldwebel rank really exist? I mean because it appears only in the 2nd option. If it did exist, did the men with this rank use any special shoulder strap or chevron?, any pic or graphic for this rank.
b) There’s one rank that I couldn’t see in any web site: Fähnenjunker-Oberfeldwebel. Although in http://www.das-ritterkreuz.de is listed a Fhj-Ofw Wilhelm Berkenbusch (just to give one example). Again, did the men with this rank use any special shoulder strap or chevron?, is there any pic or graphic of a shoulder strap for this rank?
c) What’s the meaning of Fähnrich?
d) Which would be the complete NCO system rank?

Sorry for so many questions. I think this is all (for now). Please, any help well be much appreciated as so any correction, any graphic example, pictures, etc.
Best regards to all.


My answer consists of three parts. I start with World War II because more (individual) records are available and I assume people are more interested in it. The second part focusses on World War I and possible research difficulties. The last part covers projects and institutions providing e.g. information on burial sites and memorials of both wars.

World War II

Your primary source for historical records on German armed forces, especially for World War II, is the national archive (Bundesarchiv). Since 2019, documents from the former Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt, Deutsche Dienststelle für die Benachrichtigung der nächsten Angehörigen von Gefallenen der ehemaligen deutschen Wehrmacht) are kept in department PA (Personenbezogene Auskünfte zum Ersten und Zweiten Weltkrieg).

Please see their list on their records. These include personnel documents, listings, documents on military losses and a register containing over 18 million soldiers from World War II.

You have to fill a request form, provide known information (obligatory: name and birth date) on your ancestors, check options what kind of information you are interested in. You also have to state your relationship, e.g. „grandson“.

(They may ask you to provide additional information to prove your relationship, especially if your family name differs or you are looking for ancestors other than your direct ancestors. It could help to provide this information in your first query. To give an example: If you are looking for a brother of your grandfather, the WASt most likely will send you information if you truthfully state that this brother was never married and died without known children.)

The report usually contains basic biographical information (father, date and place of birth), drafting date, dog tag number, training units and units in the course of war, ranks, notes on injuries and captivity.

You may have to wait up to two years before you receive an answer. The information is provided in accordance with the fee schedule of the Federal Archives.

Important: Please note that these compiled reports will not tell you what your ancestor experienced, whether he participated in war crimes, or what kind of man he was. It's a mere bureaucratic listing of his military career. A lot of records were destroyed, so there might be gaps and the military career might be reconstructed from listings only, not from individual personal records. Read publications on certain units (often written by veterans with a strong bias), literature on a particular theatre and modern literature on the general history of World War II for a broader perspective.

If your ancestor was an officer or official in the Wehrmacht, the Bundesarchiv in Freiburg (Bundesarchiv, Abteilung Militärarchiv) holds personnel documents. They also have documents on military trials and awards for all ranks. The Bundesarchiv in Berlin has records on members of SA, SS and Waffen-SS. For access and costs please contact the Bundesarchiv.

General note on using German archive resources:

  1. Contact them and tell them what you are looking for. Ask if it is necessary/possible to come by or if the research can be done by the archive. (The latter is often possible for simple tasks like information on the membership in the Nazi party (NSDAP) and other simple research tasks. German Archives usually do not conduct extensive research, you have to do this on your own or use a professional research service.)
  2. Their reply will contain information on available records, archive use and prices. They will also send you a Benutzungsantrag (application). You have to fill your details, what you are working on and what is the purpose of your research (academic, private (e.g. genealogy), official …) and sign their conditions. To give you an idea about the price tag: In summer 2013 I paid the Bundesarchiv for 30 minutes of research 15,34 EUR and 0,43 EUR for each copy. Visiting a archive and doing research there is usually free of charge.

Information on war captivity might be contained in your dossier from the Deutsche Dienststelle. The German Red Cross, Suchdienst München has access to records on prisoners in Soviet captivity and missing soldiers. A soviet record on a German prisoner of war usually consist of five pages. It contains information that might also be helpful for genealogical questions other than those concerning the POW himself:

  • notes on camps and relocations
  • biographical information about the POW (birth date and place, last known address, language knowledge, membership in political parties, confession, education, profession, family status, possessions, private connections to the Soviet Union, trials, practical skills)
  • military information (drafting date, branch of service, unit, dog tag number, rank, function, awards, if surrendered of captured, date and place)
  • visual nature and special characteristics of the POW
  • biographical information about his parents, wife and siblings (name, surname, age, profession, place of residence) and even more details on the father (possessions)

They send you the records within several weeks. The records are in Russian. They usually add a letter with a translation of notes on camps and relocations. They do not translate biographical and military details. You’ll get a summary where you can see which column contains which information and have to look for translation elsewhere.

As far as I know, this service is free of charge. They ask for donations. Please keep in mind, that the Suchdienst also helps to find missing individuals in modern conflicts.

The German Red Cross Suchdienst provides also access to Vermisstenbildlisten. These lists of casualties missed in action were created in the 1950s. The database was created from inquiries from family members and other parties, it is no collection of all missing soldiers. 125.000 pages in 225 volumes contain 1.400.000 soldiers (and civilians), 900.000 entries with photographs. The lists are online since April 2015, however using them remains complicated as they can’t be searched by name or birth date. You need a Feldpostnummer, a camp number, a field address or a last known place.

Information on Luftwaffe officers is compiled on a private website: Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries.

World War I

Looking at World War I it is important to know where in Germany your ancestors lived. Within the forces of the German Empire, dominated by Prussia, the contingents of Bavaria, Württemberg and Saxony remained semi-autonomous and also kept their own records.

A lot of of records on participants of World War I were destroyed when the Prussian military archive in Potsdam burned down in 1945. Except for some Reichsmarine (navy) records, almost all individual documents from the Prussian army are lost. Records on navy members from the years between 1871 and 1947 might available from the Deutsche Dienststelle (as detailed above).

Records on combatants from Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden and Saxony are kept in local archives:

The records from Württemberg and Baden are freely accessible online from the archive. Please see this introduction (in German): Soldaten im Ersten Weltkrieg Findmittel zu den Personalunterlagen des XIV. Armeekorps im Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe jetzt online. You choose the relevant time period for the personnel rosters and search them by unit (not indexed).

The Bavarian records (Kriegsranglisten und -stammrollen des Königreichs Bayern) are also available on Ancestry.com. They usually contain short biographical information like occupation and place of residence, military career (rank, participation in battles, awards) and information on the soldier’s parents.

I haven’t used the Saxon archive on my own, so I don’t know if research for individual military records is conducted by the archive. Please see my general hints above.

What to do if your ancestor fought in the Prussian army? During the war the army announced deaths, injuries, missing soldiers and prisoners of war in the so-called Verlustlisten. These lists were on public display. They contain names, places of births and complete or incomplete (just day and month) birth dates. The names are listed according to the soldier’s units, so if your ancestor was killed or injured, was missing in action or became a POW, you can reconstruct where he was fighting and which unit he was a member of around this time. List of abbreviations (with translations) for different types of injuries and deaths.

The German genealogy association Verein für Computergenealogie has the only complete, indexed and freely accessible collection of them. You can search the indexed records using this search mask. A list of Prussian soldiers missed in action was also indexed. These lists are sorted by unit and contain information on those to be contacted (mostly family members) as well.

There are a lot of publications on units from WWI, written by veterans. These books often give a detailed insight on routes and military action and sometimes also contain photos and listings.

For officers, other compiled lists exists, e.g. Friedrich Uebe: Ehrenmal des preußischen Offizier-Korps : alphabetisches Verzeichnis der im Weltkriege 1914/1918 gefallenen Angehörigen des preußischen Offizier-Korps. 1939. (Worldcat entry). This book contains an alphabetical list of surnames of fallen officers naming the last unit, date and place of death. A source for promotions and transfers of officers is the military journal Militär-Wochenblatt, available on Ancestry.

Fallen members of the navy are listed in the Marine-Gedenkbuch (34833 handwritten names) according to their units/ships. This book was indexed as well.

The archives of the International Prisoners-of-War Agency hold 500,000 pages of lists and six million index cards regarding prisoners of war (WW I), including German POW.

World War I and World War II

For military losses of both wars you can use a search engine (“Gräbersuche”) provided by the Volksbund. Their database of cemeteries contains information like date and place of death. It contains also information on soldiers missed in action or death soldiers not buried on known cemeteries. Contacting the Volksbund on one of their database entries can be useful. Often they have additional information like the original burial place or the last known military unit of the war victim in their repositories. Their help is free of charge, please consider a donation.

A widely overlooked source on dead combatants are local death registers in the place of last residence. These registers often note rank, place of death, the communicating military office and/or circumstances of death. A copy can be requested from the local Standesamt (register office) or from the communal archive (the registers can be transferred from the register office to the archive after a certain period of time, just ask the register office who holds the documents). Fees apply.


Contents

National Emblem (breast eagle): Hoheitszeichen or Wehrmachtsadler [ edit | edit source ]

The Reichswehr's visual acknowledgement of the new National Socialist reality came on 17 February 1934, when the Defense Ministry Ώ] ordered the Nazi Party eagle-and-swastika, now Germany's National Emblem, to be worn on uniform blouses and headgear effective 1 May. The design adopted, in silver for the Reichsheer (Army) and in gold for the Reichsmarine (Navy), was a stylized eagle with outstretched, beveled wings clutching a wreathed mobile Hakenkreuz, later to be called the Wehrmachtsadler ("Armed Forces eagle"). ΐ] On tunics this took the form of a cloth patch about 9 cm (3⅝") wide worn on the right breast, above the pocket. For enlisted uniforms it was jacquard-woven ("BeVo") or sometimes machine-embroidered in silver-grey rayon, for officers machine- or hand-embroidered in white silk or bright aluminum wire, and for generals hand-embroidered in gold bullion. Α] The backing was "badge-cloth" (Abzeichentuch), a close-woven velvetish fabric this was originally Reichsheer grey, but in late 1935 the renamed Wehrmacht Heer changed its Abzeichentuch color to a dark blue-green called flaschengrün (bottle-green).

The war brought several variations to the breast eagle, although it should be kept in mind that none of them was replaced or de-authorized, and all were being worn side-by-side at war's end. When hostilities began in 1939, on the enlisted Feldbluse or field blouse the eagle was changed from silver-white to matte grey for reduced visibility and in 1940 backings began to be produced in field-grey (feldgrau). Another version appeared with the advent of the Model 1944 Field Blouse, which used a triangular backing for speed and simplicity of manufacture. Very late in the war some Hoheitszeichen were simply printed on thin fabric.

Machine-embroidered Panzer Hoheitszeichen

There were also versions for other uniforms: both white and grey variants on black for the Panzer uniform, and in dull grey-blue on tan backing for the tropical (Afrikakorps) uniform. A stamped metal pin-on breast eagle was worn with the officers' white summer tunic.

Collar patches (Kragenpatten) Β] [ edit | edit source ]

Litzen [ edit | edit source ]

Doppellitze, circa 1900

WWI officer with Litzen

In 19th century German armies, Guard and other elite regiments wore lengths of double braid (Doppellitze) encircling all or most of the collar as a mark of distinction. By the middle of World War I these ornate collars had been reduced to an embroidered representation of short lengths of braid joined at the ends, sewn to patches worn at the front of the collar. When the Reichsheer was established in 1921 as Germany's first national army Γ] Litzen were prescribed as the universal collar device for all personnel other than generals, and the Third Reich continued the practice.

On the dress tunic (Waffenrock) and the later "ornamented" uniform, the Litzen were embroidered in fine aluminum thread on a patch of Abzeichentuch in the wearer's Waffenfarbe, or branch color the backing also showed through in the space between the two Litzen, the Mittelstreife. On field and service uniforms, beginning in late 1935, the patch (Patten) was dark bottle-green to match the collar the Waffenfarbe "showed through" (in fact colored cord was sewn into) the center strip of each braid, the Litzenspiegel. For enlisted men service Litzen were machine-woven in silver-grey rayon officers' were embroidered more elaborately in white silk or aluminum thread, and were somewhat larger to match their higher collars.

NCOs' M35 Litzen and Tresse

Non-commissioned officers (Unteroffiziere) wore standard enlisted collar patches but were distinguished by a strip of 9mm silver-grey diamond-woven rayon braid (Tresse) sewn around the collar's front and lower edges, except on the dress Waffenrock where the Tresse was bright aluminum and encircled the collar's upper edge.

Enlisted field Litzen

By 1938 the fast-growing Heer had found that it was impractical, for the enlisted field uniform, to manufacture and stock a multitude of collar patches in assorted Waffenfarben which also had to be sewn on and frequently changed by unit tailors. Accordingly, new universal Litzen were introduced with the Litzenspiegel and Mittlestreife woven in dark green to match the backing patch, and which could be applied at the factory Waffenfarbe was now displayed on the shoulder-straps, which simply buttoned on and were easily switched. With the wartime change to lower-visibility insignia enlisted Litzen were woven in matte "mouse-grey" with field-grey stripes, which were at first sewn to green collar patches as before but increasingly directly to the collar, which beginning in 1940 was made in feldgrau like the uniform grey Patten were never produced. The troops however preferred the green patches (and collars) if they had or could get them, especially on "clean" uniforms for walking-out and long-service veterans took particular pride in pre-38 Litzen with colored stripes.

NCO tunic with post-1940 insignia

In contrast, officers' service uniform collar patches never changed. While most officers in the front lines wore the enlisted field uniform as per wartime regulations, many opted to have their green-and-silver Kragenpatten added instead of (or on top of) the factory Litzen.

On olive tropical uniforms the collar patches were tan with dull grey-blue Litzen for all personnel officers again sometimes added their green Kragenpatten. Tropical NCO Tresse was copper-brown, or sometimes olive drab.

Armored vehicle uniforms [ edit | edit source ]

Panzer Totenkopf pin

A major exception to the wearing of collar Litzen was the "panzer wrap", the double-breasted jacket worn by crews of tanks and other armored vehicles. When the Panzertruppe were established in 1935 they were issued a distinctive black uniform and as a badge the Totenkopf or Death's-head, versions of which had formerly been worn by the Imperial tank corps and various cavalry units. These skulls took the form of white-metal pins attached to black Kragenpatten which were edged in Waffenfarbe piping.

In mid-1940 crews of assault guns (Sturmgeschützen) received a uniform of their own, identical in cut to the Panzerjacke but in standard field-grey, which they wore with red artillery piping. Over the course of the war a bewildering and changing series of regulations governed the uniforms and insignia for assault guns, tank destroyers, armored cars and self-propelled guns (SPG). Depending on the unit and the date either the black or grey wrap or the standard Feldbluse might be authorized, and on the grey "assault gun" jacket the regulation collar patches could be black with skulls, or grey with skulls, Litzen, or no device at all. The result in practice was chaos wartime photos show a mix of uniforms and insignia worn not only in the same battalion, but even in the same vehicle.

Officially both colors of panzer wrap were working and field uniforms to be worn only in or around the vehicle this regulation was universally ignored. Panzertruppen were issued standard uniforms for service-dress and walking out but rarely wore them, much preferring their unique jackets.

In North Africa, AFV crews wore the same tropical uniform as the other branches, including collar Litzen many tankers however pinned their Totenkopf badges to their lapels.

Infanterie Regiment "Großdeutschland" [ edit | edit source ]

Collar Litzen for NCO of I.R. "Großdeutschland"

In June 1939, the Wehrmacht Heer wanted to renew its ties with the Old Army tradition by introducing a new uniform for its most prestigious unit: Wachregiment "Berlin" which was renamed Infantry Regiment "Großdeutschland". The new Waffenrock for I.R. "Großdeutschland" had an elongated Litzen. Although shown to the press, this new uniform was not provided to the unit due to the outbreak of WWII. Instead, it was placed in depot storage.

General Staff Corps Officers [ edit | edit source ]

Litzen of General Staff officers

Generalstaboffiziere were officers carefully selected and trained to represent the German General Staff Corps in both command and staff functions. They ranked from Hauptmann im Generalstab (captain) through Oberst i.G. (colonel). All were before 1939 graduates of the Military Academy, the Kriegsakademie. On division staffs they held the position of Ia (operational chief of staff) or Ib (chief of the rear echelon). In the higher echelons, the intelligence and training staff sections were most of the time in the personal charge of General Staff Corps officers. The General Staff Officers had their own distinctive Litzen called alt-Preußische (old Prussian), or Kolbenstickerei ("lobe-embroidery"). These were the same whether on carmine dress Kragenpatten or green service patches colored Litzenspiegel were unnecessary. General Staff officers assigned to the supreme headquarters (the Reichskriegsministerium, later the OKH and the OKW), the Kriegsakademie, and military attaches were further distinguished by having their Litzen in gold rather than silver. These Generalstaboffiziere were called "des Generalstabs", Oberst d.G., etc. The special golden Litzen were abolished in November 1942. Only Military attaches kept their Litzen as long as they were in their present position. The Führer wanted a closer union between the front and the OKW and OKH.

In addition to their collar patches, General Staff Officers wore trouser-stripes, of the same design as generals' but in carmine rather than scarlet.

Generals [ edit | edit source ]

From 1900 Prussian generals had worn ornate collar patches embroidered in a style called alt-Larisch, which had first been worn in the 18th century by the 26th (älterer von Larisch) Infantry Regiment the Reichsheer and the Wehrmacht continued the tradition. These devices, sometimes called Arabesken (arabesques), were embroidered in gold bullion or golden synthetic Celleon on Hochrot (scarlet) backing. Field Marshals wore the same Arabesken as generals until April 1941, when they were authorized a longer variant with three rather than two iterations of the repeating pattern, for a total of six "prongs." In some cases GFM did not bother to replace their generals' tabs, or did so only on their dress uniforms.

General officers of the Special Troop Service (Truppensonderdienst — TDS) and of the specialist careers (medical, veterinary, ordnance, and motor park) wore the same insignia until April 1944, when they were ordered to exchange their scarlet Kragenpatten for alt-Larisch tabs backed in their respective Waffenfarbe:

  • medical – cornflower blue Waffenfarbe
  • veterinary – carmine Waffenfarbe
  • ordnance – orange Δ] Waffenfarbe
  • motor park – pink Waffenfarbe
  • TDS administrative – bright blue Waffenfarbe
  • TDS judiciary – wine red Waffenfarbe.

In October 1944, the wear-out period of the scarlet backing color for Generals of the specialist careers was extended for an undetermined period.

Chef [ edit | edit source ]

GFM von Rundstedt in infantry officer's tunic as Chef of the 18th I.R.

Shoulderboards and Litzen of von Rundstedt

In the Wehrmacht Heer, upon retirement, certain senior German generals were awarded the honorary post of Chef of a regiment, much like the Honorary Colonel in the British Army. It was a German custom dating from the late 18th Century. These generals were authorized to wear the tunic and insignia of an officer of the regiment, including ordinary officers’ Litzen. Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, Chef of the 18th Infanterie Regiment, wore a big 18 on his shoulderboards, and for everyday wear favored the ornamented tunic of an infantry officer with white piping rather than a general's uniform. Hitler appointed first Generaloberst Hans von Seeckt, ancient "Chef der Heeresleitung", to be Chef of the 67th Infanterie Regiment on his 70th birthday in April 1936, a few months before he died. Only seven German generals were appointed Chefs: in addition to Seeckt and Rundstedt they were General der Infanterie Ritter von Epp Chef of the 61st Infanterie Regiment in Munich  Generalfeldmarschall von Mackensen Chef of the 5th Kavallerie Regiment in Stolp, Generaloberst von Fritsch Chef of the 12th Artillerie Regiment in Schwerin, and Generalfeldmarschall von Böhm-Ermolli Chef of the 28th Infanterie Regiment in Troppau. Generalfeldmarschall von Blomberg was appointed Chef of I.R. 73 and wore a big 73 superimposed over the crossed batons of his shoulder board, but on 4 February 1938 he was dismissed and his name was deleted from the seniority list.

Shoulder-straps (Schulterklappen) and shoulderboards (Schulterstücke) [ edit | edit source ]

Enlisted men [ edit | edit source ]

The Reichsheer's shoulder-straps were very similar to those of World War I, made of feldgrau uniform cloth with pointed or "gable" button ends. In December 1934 the material was changed to grey badge-cloth (Abzeichentuch) and in September 1935 changed again to dark bottle-green (flaschengrün). These "first pattern" shoulder-straps were not edged in Waffenfarbe piping.

In 1938, simultaneous with the removal of Waffenfarbe from field-uniform collar patches, new shoulder-straps were issued. These "second pattern" straps had round rather than pointed ends, and were edged on three sides with wool (later rayon) piping in Waffenfarbe. This pattern would be used through the end of the war, although in 1940 manufacture reverted to field-grey uniform cloth, and as usual alternate versions were made to go with the Panzer uniform (black), tropical uniform (olive cotton) and HBT summer uniform (reed-green twill). Schulterklappen were not worn with the fatigue uniform, nor with camouflage smocks and parkas which used an alternate system of rank insignia.

For junior enlisted men (Mannschaften), rank insignia if any was worn on the left sleeve. However the epaulettes did indicate the wearer's unit (usually regiment or independent battalion) together with his sub-branch if any, machine-embroidered in branch-color. For example, a Schulterklappe with rose-pink piping and number "4" would indicate the 4th Panzer Regiment but if it carried a pink number "4" and letter "A" it would indicate the 4th Armored Reconnaissance (Aufklärungs) Battalion. The German Army used a very large assortment of Latin initials, Gothic initials, script ciphers, Arabic numerals, Roman numerals and symbols to designate all its various service branches and installations. Before the war, shoulder-buttons were embossed with the number of the wearer's company as well, this practice was discontinued "for the duration."

Cavalry Oberwachtmeister, tropical

Beginning in January 1940, shoulder-straps with unit insignia were (supposed to be) phased out as a security measure, and removable fabric loops with devices were issued instead. In May 1944 the embroidery was changed from waffenfarbe to light gray.

Non-commissioned officers wore their rank insignia on their shoulder-straps, consisting of braid and pips (pyramidal "stars"). An Unteroffizier's (corporal's) epaulette was edged with Tresse on three sides and an Unterfeldwebel's (sergeant's) on all four. Senior NCO's (Unteroffiziere mit Portepee) added one to three pips in addition, their unit identifiers took the form of white-metal pins rather than embroidery.

Shoulder-straps were made in both a standard width (4.5 cm, 1¾") and a wider one for three-digit unit numbers (5.3cm, 2"), and in three lengths depending on the size of the man. There was in addition an extra-large size for the overcoat (Mantel).

Officers [ edit | edit source ]

Officers' shoulderboards were constructed from "Russia" braid, an aluminum-thread double piping. Company-grade officers (Leutnant through Hauptmann/Rittmeister) wore epaulettes constructed by wrapping two side-by-side lengths of braid around the buttonhole and back, giving the appearance of eight parallel cords the whole was sewn to an underlay (Unterlagen) of Waffenfarbe badge-cloth. Until 1938 the underlay was of the same outer dimensions as the braid, and only visible edge-on in that year the underlay was made wider, so as to create the impression of edge piping like the enlisted shoulder-strap. Rank was indicated by zero to two gilt-metal pips unit designators were also of gilt metal.

Field-grade officer (Stabsoffizier) shoulderboards were made by plaiting together double widths of Russia braid and looping them to form a buttonhole, sewn to a Waffenfarbe underlay rank again was displayed by zero to two gilt pips.

Once the war began, dull grey aluminum braid appeared, but bright aluminum continued in use.

Generals [ edit | edit source ]

Generals' shoulderboards were constructed similarly to those of field-grade officers, but comprised a length of silver Russia braid between two braided cords of gold bullion or Celleon. Since the resulting combination was wider, generals' boards were plaited in four 'loops' rather than five. Their buttons were gilt, and rank was indicated by zero to three silver pips, or crossed batons in the case of field marshals. The underlay was scarlet, except (from 1944) for generals of staff corps, who were instructed to wear Waffenfarbe instead.

In April 1941, Generalfeldmarschall epaulettes were changed to incorporate a central gold cord instead of silver.

Colonels-in-chief wearing that uniform wore gold generals' shoulderboards underlaid with the Waffenfarbe of the regiment rather than scarlet GFM von Rundstedt sometimes simply pinned his crossed batons to an infantry colonel's epaulettes.

Retired Personnel [ edit | edit source ]

By order of Marshal Hindenburg in March 1932, soldiers who retired after 15 years of service received the right to wear the uniform of the unit they left. The shoulderboards and shoulder straps of retired soldiers had a bridle 1.5 cm wide attached under the middle.

Headgear [ edit | edit source ]

Caps and helmets bore two common insignia elements, in various forms: the National Emblem (eagle and swastika) and the national colors. World War I caps had carried dual cockades or roundels, one in Imperial black-white-red and one in the colors of the particular State within the Empire. The Reichsheer changed this to a single cockade in the Weimar Republic's black, red and gold almost as soon as Hitler took power he restored the pre-1919 tricolor flag, and ordered the Army to return to black-white-red.


Reference Key for Injuries for WWI German Casualty Lists?

Is anyone aware of a quick reference or list of injuries / cause of death for world-war-1 German Casualty lists, such as in the following example.

This doesn't appear to be just a death list, but any injury from translating a few but also seems to be broad.

I do not read or speak German, and Google Translate for like 'gefallen' says 'like' which doesn't make sense and also the 'bermenbet' I tried doesn't translate.. it could at least partially be my reading of German but would think it would be expedite my readings of these with a key.

I also looked at the very broad WWI and WWII German Soldier question and didn't see something jumping out in the links there as well as some other website's including Family Search's German Military Record page.

Is there a key to the casualty lists and more specifically the injuries / deaths associated with them?


Roman Army Ranks in Order

The following article describes in order the basic Roman army ranks. The Roman army was the most sophisticated armed force during its time. It was reformed several times in the course of history, and was finally disbanded in 476 A.D., as a consequence of the fall of Rome.

The following article describes in order the basic Roman army ranks. The Roman army was the most sophisticated armed force during its time. It was reformed several times in the course of history, and was finally disbanded in 476 A.D., as a consequence of the fall of Rome.

Efficient field and military formations, formidable fighting skills, a domineering infantry, genius garrison, arms, and armaments engineers and keenly crafted Roman weapons, are some of the features of the Roman army. This elite force not only consisted of Roman citizens but also of mercenaries who fought for wages. Among all these sophisticated features of the Roman army, the highly advanced structure of the army was a big contributing factor to the success of the force. The might of the army helped the Roman empire to rule a substantial part of central Europe, some part of Asia and also a part of Northern Africa, dominating the regions till its fall. On the whole the property and success of Roman civilization was largely aided by the army’s formidable campaigns.

Roman Army Corps and Field Formations

The army ranks which we know as of today, are an evolution of several reforms that were initiated after the blunders by Roman generals. Important lessons learned were during the wars against Carthage where Hannibal inflicted several losses on the Roman army in 216 B.C. Another incident in 9 A.D., where three Roman legions were slaughtered by the Germanic tribes in the ambush of Teutoburg forest, a loss too overwhelming. In 107 B.C., the Marian reforms gave birth to the initial and basic structure and ranks of the Roman army.

At the height of its power and glory, the Roman army was divided into 3 primary corps, namely, the Roman legions, Praetorian Guard and the Roman auxiliaries. The Roman cavalry is often considered to be a separate corps, however they were integrated into the field formations of the aforementioned corps. The basic armed unit was the legion and usually consisted of 6,000 soldiers, including officers. These men were divided into cohorts, which were further divided into centuries. The cohorts and centuries were commanded by the centurions and all the senior officers in turn commanded the centurions.

The primary field formation of the auxiliaries on the other hand was regimental. The auxiliaries were recruited from tribes, non-citizens, people from conquered Roman provinces. In general, they acted as mercenaries as compared to the Roman legions. Depending upon the deputation of auxiliary regiment and the need of the provinces strategic defenses, the ranks and field formations greatly differed. The auxiliaries consisted of three primary corps, namely, Cohortes (infantry), Alae (cavalry) and Cohortes equitatae (cavalry and infantry). These troops also often provided support such as logistics, patrolling, continuous watch, etc. They often acted as the paramilitary forces of Rome. There were some other corps of the auxiliaries, namely, heavily-armoured lancers, camel troops, scouts, and slingers.

The Praetorian guard was an elite force, which was under the direct command of the Emperor or the Generals. The primary task of the Praetorian guards was to act as bodyguards but the probability that this guard engaged in commando and covert operations cannot be dismissed. The history of the guard is shrouded with controversy as the guard also had a political arm.

Roman Army Ranks in Order

The following are tables depicting the ranks of the Roman army, classified as per the corps mentioned above. It must be noted that the ranks are in descending order:

Roman Legions
Senior Officers – Starting from Senior most
Sr.No Name of Rank/Position Note
1. Legatus legionis or Legate Legion commander, holding political authority, usually a senator with military experience, governor or head of the province, multiple legions under command, commanded an entire Legion of 6,000 men
2. Dux or Leader General of more than one provincial military unit
3. Tribunus laticlavius or the Broad Band Tribune Second in command of the legion, deputy or second in command of Legate or Dux
4. Praefectus castrorum Third in command and also usually a war hardened veteran, formidable field commander
5. Tribuni angusticlavii or Narrow Band Tribunes Every legion had about 5 or so Tribuni angusticlavii, who in most of the cases were members of high ranking families, and were quite young
Centurions – Starting from Senior most
Sr.No Name of Rank/Position Note
1. Primus pilus or 1st Centurion The senior most among all centurions and led the 1st century of the first cohort.
2. Pilus prior The next 9 Centurions younger and inexperienced to the Primus pilus
3. Primi ordines The next 5 Centurions, younger by experience to the Pilus priors
4. Other Centurions Centurions with lesser experience with 60 such centurions being attached to one legion
Other Ranks – Starting from Senior most
Sr.No Name of Rank/Position Note
1. Optio One deputy of each centurion again about 60 per legion, appointed by receptive centurions
2. Tesserarius or Guard commander Second in command and one for every century (100 men) and also acted as administrative assistant
3. Decurio Commander of a small cavalry unit known as eques legionis and has 10 to 30 men under his command.
4. Decanus Commanded 8 regular soldiers/legionaries
Praetorian Guard – Descending Order
Sr No Rank/Position Note
1. Praefectus Head of all Praetorian Guards
2. Tribuni Deputies to the Praefectus
3. Centuriones Commanders of Centuries of Guards, commanded up to 100 men
4. Evocati Augusti Guardsmen and soldiers who chose not to retire
5. Immunes Soldiers with highly specialized skills, right from engineers to intelligence and assassins
6. Milites Regular Soldiers

It must be noted that since auxiliaries were non-regular infantry soldiers. Due to the immense complexities in the organizations, their ranks have not been included. Within the legions some special duty ceremonial posts. These included, Aquilifer, Signifer, Cornicen, Imaginifer, Immunes, Evocati, and Duplicarius. Every cohort or century had at least one such post.


This Mayor took time off to go to war in Afghanistan

Posted On April 02, 2018 09:36:37

This post is reprinted with permission from NationSwell, new digital media company focused on American innovation and renewal.

Most of us can’t take a seven-month leave of absence from work, but most of us don’t have as good of an excuse as Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.

Mayor Buttigieg, better known as “Mayor Pete,” took office January 1, 2012, at the age of 29 — making him the youngest mayor in America to serve a city with more than 100,000 residents. He assumed command while still fulfilling his monthly commitments as a member of the Navy Reserve, but after about two years in office, he was called to serve abroad.

After a few months of preparation with his mayoral team, Buttigieg left South Bend in the hands of his Deputy Mayor Mark Neal and departed to perform intelligence counter-terrorism work in Afghanistan for seven months.

Buttigieg grew up in South Bend. His parents were transplants that arrived a few years before his birth to pursue work at the University of Notre Dame. Although his family found opportunity in the Indiana city, Buttigieg would come to learn while growing up that his hometown was a city in crisis: the all-too-familiar tale of a Midwestern town in an economic tailspin due to loss of industry. In South Bend’s case, it was the shuttering of the Studebaker car company, which until 1963, when its factories closed, was the largest employer in town.

After high school, Buttigieg left South Bend to pursue higher education, first at Harvard and later, at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. After spending some time in the private sector doing consulting work, he joined the Navy as a reservist in 2008, putting into practice his childhood admiration of his great uncle, a family hero who died while serving in 1941.

The Great Recession hit South Bend hard, and Mayor Pete recalls following his hometown’s news from a distance.

“I was reading headlines from home,” says Buttigieg, “I was thinking, ‘Jeez, we gotta do more, we gotta change things a little bit back home.’ And then beginning to stop asking that question ‘why don’t they…’ and start asking that question ‘why don’t we?’ or ‘why don’t I?'”

Buttigieg returned to South Bend in 2008 and made his first foray into politics: a run for Indiana State Treasurer in 2010 (an effort he lost decisively to incumbent Richard Mourdock). While contemplating his next step, it became apparent that South Bend would soon have an open-seat mayor’s race for the first time in 24 years. Encouraged by his supporters in town, Buttigieg ran and was elected mayor on November 8, 2011, with 74 percent of the vote.

Buttigieg’s administration works hard to reinvent South Bend, while still acknowledging and celebrating its past, including work to redesign the old Studebaker campus into a turbo machinery facility in partnership with Notre Dame. By taking advantage of its excellent Internet capability (thanks to fiber optic cables that run through the town via old railroad routes), the city is attracting tech start-ups. Additionally, a 311 line has been set up for city residents.

But what might be called Buttigieg’s signature program is his plan to demolish, renovate or convert 1,000 vacant homes in 1,000 days. Since 1960, South Bend has lost about 30,000 residents, and empty homes pepper the entire town — attracting crime and lowering property values. This ambitious program, dubbed the Vacant Abandoned Properties Initiative, was launched in February 2013. As of January 10, 2015, 747 properties have been addressed, putting South Bend is ahead of schedule.

Buttigieg recently announced that he is running for a second term, perhaps surprising those who assumed he was only interested in using the mayor’s office to further his career. He is also personally renovating a home in the neighborhood where he grew up, while continuing to give one weekend a month to the reserves. He sees the recent initiatives in South Bend as a way to establish the next era for the community and is excited about the way South Bend is once again investing in itself.

“I would like to believe that if the work matters to you,” says Buttigieg, “and the importance of it is what fills your sails, that people can see that.”

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