Feldwebel (Fw or F), literally "field usher", is a non-commissioned officer (NCO) rank in several countries. The rank originated in Germany, and is also used in Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, and Estonia. The rank has also been used in Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria.

Feldwebel is a contraction of feld meaning "field" and weibel, an archaic word meaning "usher". Weibel comes from the Old High German weibôn, meaning to go back and forth.

There are variations on feldwebel, such as Oberstabsfeldwebel ("Superior Staff Field Usher"), which is the highest non-commissioned rank in the German army and air force.

HD H 31 Feldwebel Art
LD B 31 Feldwebel
Heer and Luftwaffe shoulder insignia
Country Germany
Service branch German Army
 German Air Force
RankGerman NCO rank
NATO rankOR-6
Non-NATO rankE-6
Next higher rankOberfeldwebel
Next lower rankStabsunteroffizier
Equivalent ranksBootsmann

Feldwebel in different languages

The rank is used in several countries: Swedish fältväbel, Russian фельдфебель (fel'dfebel'), Bulgarian фелдфебел (feldfebel), Finnish vääpeli and Estonian veebel.

In Swiss German the spelling feldweibel is used.


The Landsknecht regiments first installed Feldwaibel to keep the men at line at the battlefield.

The rank is used in the German Army and German Air Force.[1]

It is grouped as OR6 in NATO, equivalent in the US Army to Staff Sergeant, or in British Army / RAF to Sergeant.

In army/air force context NCOs of this rank were formally addressed as Herr Feldwebel.

19th century and German Kaiserreich

Feldwebel gained its widest usage under the German military beginning from the early 19th century. The highest-ranking non-commissioned officer until 1918, the Feldwebel acted as Company Sergeant Major. By contrast with some other countries, the position and duty of Regimental Sergeant Major never existed in Germany.

From 1877 veteran NCOs could be promoted to the rank of Feldwebel-Leutnant. This Army Reserve officer ranked with the Commissioned Officers, but was always inferior to the lowest Leutnant.

From 1887 the Offizierstellvertreter (Deputy Officer) ranked as a kind of Warrant Officer (more NCO than officer) between Feldwebel and the commissioned officers.

There were three further NCO ranks: Vizefeldwebel (Vice Feldwebel, senior NCO), Sergeant (junior NCO) and Unteroffizier (Lance Sergeant or Corporal, junior NCO). The Gefreiter was not an NCO as he had no powers of authority, and was a higher grade of private soldier.

Reichswehr and Wehrmacht

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-089-3779-07, Russland, Feldwebel mit Orden
German Feldwebel in Russia (1943)

After World War I, in the German Reichswehr and Wehrmacht, the Feldwebel grade was divided into several ranks:

  • Feldwebel (deputy platoon leader)
  • Oberfeldwebel (platoon leader, possible appointment to Hauptfeldwebel)
  • Stabsfeldwebel (special rank reserved for 25-year volunteers only.)

Feldwebel and above were Unteroffiziere mit Portepee (Senior NCOs); Unterfeldwebel and Unteroffiziere were Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee (Junior NCOs). In 1921, the rank of Sergeant was renamed Unterfeldwebel. Unterfeldwebels did duty as squad/section leaders.

The Stabsfeldwebel rank was reserved for those who had enlisted for 25 year terms of service in the pre-war German military and those who were enlisted for shorter terms were not eligible to hold this rank.

The appointment of Hauptfeldwebel (Company Sergeant Major/First Sergeant) could be held by Stabsfeldwebels or Oberfeldwebels only. NCOs of a lower rank (Feldwebel, Unterfeldwebel, Unteroffizier) holding this position were titled Hauptfeldwebeldiensttuer (i.e. acting Hauptfeldwebel).

13-Stabsfeldwebel, 14-Oberfeldwebel, 15-Feldwebel, 16-Unterfeldwebel and 17-Unteroffizier

Not all Heer NCO's in this grade were called Unterfeldwebel, Feldwebel, Oberfeldwebel and Stabsfeldwebel which are ranks in the infantry tradition. In some other service branches, for example, the equivalent ranks were as follows.


110619-N-LU859-083 (5880450879)
Feldwebel (2011)

In the modern German Bundeswehr, Feldwebel is considered a Senior NCO, due in part to the large number of Corporal positions which exist as junior grades.

The modern Bundeswehr NCO ranks are as follows:

The sequence of ranks (top-down approach) in that particular group (NCOs with portepee or Senior NCOs with portepee) is as follows:


The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицеров"!

junior Rank
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering

(German NCO rank)

senior Rank


Feldwebel was a typical infantry rank of the k.u.k. Austro-Hungarian Army (1867–1918). It might have been comparable to NCO-rank OR5[2]/ Sergeant ranks in Anglophone armed forces.

In the k.u.k. Austro-Hungarian Army Feldwebel was equivalent to:

  • Beschlagmeister I. Klasse (Master-Blacksmith 1st class) cavalry,
  • Feuerwerker (literal: Fire worker; en: Master-Sergeant) artillery,
  • Oberjaeger (en: Master-Sergeant) of the mountain troops and rifles,
  • Rechnungs-Unteroffizier I. Klasse (en: Fiscal sergeant 1st class),
  • Regimentshornist (en: Regimental bugler),
  • Regimentstambour (en: Regimental drummer),
  • Wachtmeister (en: Master-Sergeant) cavalry,
  • Waffenmeister I. Klasse (en: Weapon master 1st class) artillery and weapon arsenal,
    • Einjährig-Freiwilliger-Feldwebel (en: Master-Sergeant - volunteer serving one year), and
    • Kadett-Feldwebel (en: Cadet-Master-Sergeant).
Junior rank
Zugsführer (Sergeant)
War flag of Austria-Hungary (1918).svg
armed forces rank)

Senior rank
Stabsfeldwebel (First-Sergeant)

Then rank insignia was a gorget patch on the stand-up collar of the so-called Waffenrock (en: Tunic), and consisted of three white stars on 13 mm ragged yellow silk galloon. The gorget patch and the stand-up collar showed the particular Waffenfarbe (en: corps colour).

Examples (selection)
Designation Non-commissioned officers OR5/ Feldwebel ranks
K.u.k. Feuerwerker K.u.k. Wachtmeister Oberjäger k.k. Gebrigstruppe 1907-18 K.u.k. Feldwebel Feldwebel des k.u.k. Militärwachkorps
Rank insignia
Rank description Feuerwerker Wachtmeister Oberjäger Feldwebel
Branch Artillery Cavalry Mountain
Infantry Militärwachkorps
(English) (Artillery Master-Sergeant) (Cavalry LMaster-Sergeant) (Rifles Master-Sergeant) (Master-Sergeant) (Master-Sergeant mil. guards)
Feldwebel of the k.u.k. Army
Feldwebel im k.u.k. InfRgt 5
InfRgt Nr.5
(more than 9 years in service)
Feldwebel im k.u.k. InfRgt 13
InfRgt Nr. 13
Feldwebel im k.u.k. InfRgt 15
InfRgt Nr. 15
(German style uniform / more than 6 years in service)
Feldwebel im k.u.k. InfRgt 35
InfRgt Nr. 35
Feldwebel im k.u.k. InfRgt 44
InfRgt Nr. 44
Feldwebel im k.u.k. InfRgt 63
InfRgt Nr. 63
Feldwebel k.u.k. InfRgt Nr. 74
InfRgt Nr. 74
(German style uniform)
Feldwebel im k.u.k. InfRgt 79
InfRgt Nr. 79
(Hungarian style uniform)
Feldwebel k.u.k. InfRgt Nr. 98
InfRgt Nr. 98
Feldwebel im k.u.k. InfRgt 100
InfRgt Nr. 100
(German style uniform)
See also


In the Bulgarian army, фелдфебел (pronounced "feldfebel") existed from the late 19th century to the late 1940s, when the German-type military organization was phased out in favor of a new doctrine, identical to the Soviet one.


The Estonian rank of "veebel" is derived from the name of the German rank "Feldwebel".

Senior NCOs [3][4]
Maaväeülemveebel.png Maaväestbveebel.png Maaväevanemveebel.png Maaväeveebel.png Maaväenooremveebel.png
Ülemveebel Staabiveebel Vanemveebel Veebel Nooremveebel
Sergeant Major of the Land Forces Sergeant Major First Sergeant Master Sergeant Sergeant First Class
Mereväeülemveebel.png Mereväestaabiveebel.png Mereväevanemveebel.png Mereväeveebel.png Mereväenooremveebel.png
Ülemveebel Staabiveebel Vanemveebel Veebel Nooremveebel
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Petty Officer Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class
Õhuväeülemveebel.png Õhuväestbveebel.png Õhuväevanemveebel.png Õhuväeveebel.png Õhuväenooremveebel.png
Ülemveebel Staabiveebel Vanemveebel Veebel Nooremveebel
Chief Master Sergeant of Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Senior Master Sergeant Master Sergeant Technical Sergeant


Vääpeli kauluslaatta.svg
Vääpeli hihalaatta.svg

The military rank of vääpeli was previously used by salaried NCOs. Responsibility was given for training and maintenance.

The rank of vääpeli is a rank of wartime formation and can be given to soldier of "ylikersantti". In peacetime, the term yksikköupseeri, literally "officer of the unit", is used, and this position is held by a salaried officer, typically senior lieutenant. The responsibility is for the provisioning, maintenance, human resources management and generally well-being of the unit (company).


In the Imperial Russian Army Feldfebel (Russian: Фельдфебель; today comparable to NATO OR6[2]) was the highest Unteroffizier (Унтер-офицер/ Unter-ofitser; NCO) rank since its introduction in the Peter The Great's Table of Ranks in 1722, until 1826, with the introduction of the still-higher Unteroffizier ranks Podpraporshchik (Подпрапорщик; literal: Junior praposchschik) OR-7 and later Zauryad-praporshchik (Зауряд-прапорщик; Praporshchik deputy) OR-8 in 1884. Feldwebels, even after the introduction of these senior ranks, were usually the most senior Unteroffiziers in the unit and held the positions of the unit's CO senior assistant or Starshina (Старшина; Sergeant Major). When they were promoted to Zauryad-praporshchik OR-8 or Podpraporshchik OR-7 ranks, but still held the Feldfebel OR-6 positions, they were authorized to still wear the Feldvebel's bands on their shoulder boards. The Cavalry equivalent of this rank was the Wakhtmistr (Вахмистр/ derifed from German Wachtmeister ran), also OR-6.

Sequence of ranks
junior rank:
Starshy unterofitser

Lesser Coat of Arms of Russian Empire.svgГерб Российского государства.png
senior rank:
Rank insignia
designation Rank insignia as to the years 1904-1917

1904ir036-p05 1907-gr13-p05 1907ossr11-p05 1908ur03-e05 1911ur03-p05s 1906ossr11-p07
longer serving (1911)
on assignment
NATO rank OR-6 OR-7


Feldweibel is the lowest rank of "Higher Non-Commissioned Officers" in the Swiss Army. Until the "Reform XXI" agenda, there were two branches of Feldweibels: technical and company level.

The Feldweibel oversees unit-level military service and operations. In 2004, the rank of Hauptfeldweibel was introduced. Since then, only technical specialists have remained in the rank of Feldweibel.

On international missions, they are referred to as "Sergeant Major", NATO Code: OR-7.

See also

See also


  1. ^ BROCKHAUS, The encyclopedia in 24 volumes (1796–2001), Volume 7: 3-7653-3676-9, page 185
  2. ^ a b The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"
  3. ^ "Maaväe auastmed" (in Estonian). Estonian Defence Forces. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Land Forces Insignia". Estonian Defence Forces. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
Anton Schmid

Anton Schmid (9 January 1900 – 13 April 1942) was an Austrian recruit in the Wehrmacht who saved Jews during the Holocaust in Lithuania. A devout but apolitical Roman Catholic and an electrician by profession, Schmid was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I and later into the Wehrmacht during World War II. Put in charge of an office to return stranded German soldiers to their units in late August 1941, he began to help Jews after being approached by two pleading for his intercession. Schmid hid Jews in his apartment, obtained work permits to save Jews from the Ponary massacre, transferred Jews in Wehrmacht trucks to safer locations, and aided the Vilna Ghetto underground. It is estimated that he saved as many as 300 Jews before his arrest in January 1942. He was executed on 13 April.

After the war, Schmid was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for his efforts to help Jews and was seen as a symbol of the few Germans who defied their government's extermination program. His reception was more conflicted in Germany and Austria, where he was still viewed as a traitor. The first official commemoration of him in Germany did not occur until 2000, but he is now hailed as an example of civil courage for Bundeswehr soldiers to follow.

Fritz Tornow

Fritz Tornow (born 27 July 1924) was a Feldwebel in the German Army who served as Adolf Hitler's personal dog-handler. He was one of the last people to occupy the Führerbunker when it was captured by Soviet Red Army troops.

Fähnrich zur See

Fähnrich zur See (Fähnr zS or FRZS) designates in the German Navy of the Bundeswehr a military person or member of the armed forces with the second highest Officer Aspirant (OA – de: Offizieranwärter) rank. According to the salary class it is equivalent to the Portepeeunteroffizier ranks Bootsmann (Marine) and Feldwebel of Heer or Luftwaffe.

It is also grouped as OR-6 in NATO, equivalent to Technical Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, or Petty Officer First Class in the US Armed forces, and to Petty officer in the British Army and Royal Navy.

In navy context NCOs of this rank were formally addressed as Herr/ Frau Fähnrich zur See also informally / short Fähnrich.

The sequence of ranks (top-down approach) in that particular group is as follows:Portepeeunteroffiziere

OR-9: Oberstabsbootsmann / Oberstabsfeldwebel

OR-8: Stabsbootsmann / Stabsfeldwebel

OR-7: Oberfähnrich zur See and Hauptbootsmann / Oberfähnrich and Hauptfeldwebel

OR-6a: Oberbootsmann / Oberfeldwebel

OR-6b: Fähnrich zur See and Bootsmann / Fähnrich and FeldwebelThe abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"!

List of World War II aces from Germany

This is a list of fighter aces in World War II from Germany. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. It is relatively certain that 2,500 German fighter pilots attained ace status, having achieved at least 5 aerial victories. This article lists 890 (updated as of October 2017) of these aces.

German day and night fighter pilots claimed roughly 70,000 aerial victories during World War II, 25,000 over British or American and 45,000 over Russian flown aircraft. 103 German fighter pilots shot down more than 100 enemy aircraft for a total of roughly 15,400 aerial victories. Roughly a further 360 pilots claimed between 40 and 100 aerial victories for round about 21,000 victories. Another 500 fighter pilots claimed between 20 and 40 victories for a total of 15,000 victories. These achievements were honored with 453 German day and Zerstörer (destroyer) pilots having received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. 85 night fighter pilots, including 14 crew members, were awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.German losses on the other hand were very high as well. Roughly 12,000 German day fighter pilots were killed or are still missing in action with a further 6,000 being wounded. The Zerstörer (destroyer) pilots suffered about 2,800 casualties, either killed or missing in action, plus another 900 wounded in action. German night fighter losses were in the magnitude of 3,800 pilots or crew members killed or missing and 1,400 wounded.

Military Merit Cross (Prussia)

The Military Merit Cross (Militär-Verdienstkreuz) was the highest bravery award of the Kingdom of Prussia for non-commissioned officers and enlisted soldiers. It was also known as the Golden Military Merit Cross (Goldenes Militär-Verdienstkreuz) to distinguish it from the Military Decoration 1st Class (Militär-Ehrenzeichen I. Klasse), a lesser Prussian enlisted bravery decoration which was an identical cross but in silver. The Military Merit Cross came to also be known as the "Pour le Mérite for non-commissioned officers and enlisted men" (Orden Pour le Mérite für Unteroffiziere und Mannschaften), after the Pour le Mérite, Prussia's highest military decoration for officers.

The Military Merit Cross was founded by King Wilhelm I of Prussia on February 27, 1864. It was originally reserved for those in the rank of Feldwebel (the then-highest NCO grade) and below, but eligibility was later extended to soldiers in the rank of Offizier-Stellvertreter, a rank created in 1887 which was roughly comparable to a warrant officer-type rank.

The first 16 awards were made for the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. No awards were made for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, where the principal Prussian military decoration, for both officers and enlisted men, was the Iron Cross. The next group of awards were 17 made in 1879 to Russian soldiers for bravery in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Only five more awards were made before World War I: four for colonial conflicts and one for the Boxer Rebellion.

During World War I, the Iron Cross was again reinstituted, and for the first years of the war that again became the principal Prussian military decoration. The first Military Merit Cross was awarded in October 1916, followed by 54 more awards in 1917. The rest of the awards of the Military Merit Cross were made in 1918. Despite the much larger number of awards in 1918, the decoration remained extremely rare compared to the number of eligible Prussian soldiers and compared to the number of awards of the Iron Cross and most of the enlisted decorations of the other German states. Recipients received a monthly stipend, which was maintained even after the end of the Prussian monarchy in November 1918 through the Third Reich era, and was reestablished in West Germany in 1957.

Military ranks of the German Empire

The military ranks of the German Empire, were the ranks used by the military of the German Empire. It inherited the various traditions and military ranks of its constituent states.


Oberfeldwebel (OFw or OF) is the fourth-lowest non-commissioned officer (NCO) rank in German Army and German Air Force.


Oberfähnrich (OFähnr or OFR) designates in the Heer of the Bundeswehr a military person or member of the armed forces with the last or highest Officer Aspirant (OA – de: Offizieranwärter) rank. According to the salary class it is equivalent to the Portepeeunteroffizier ranks Hauptfeldwebel of Heer or Luftwaffe, and Hauptbootsmann of Marine.

It is also grouped as OR-7 in NATO, equivalent to Sergeant 1st Class, Master Sergeant, or Chief Petty Officer in the US Armed forces, and to Warrant Officer Class 2 in the British Army and Royal Navy.

In navy context NCOs of this rank were formally addressed as Herr Oberfähnrich also informally / short Oberfähnrich.

The sequence of ranks (top-down approach) in that particular group is as follows:

OR-9: Oberstabsfeldwebel / Oberstabsbootsmann

OR-8: Stabsfeldwebel / Stabsbootsmann

OFD: Oberfähnrich and Hauptfeldwebel / Oberfähnrich zur See and Hauptbootsmann

OR-6a: Oberfeldwebel / Oberbootsmann

OR-6b: Fähnrich and Feldwebel / Fähnrich zur See and BootsmannRemark

The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"!

See also


Oberscharführer ([ˈoːbɐ.ʃaːɐ̯.fyːʀɐ], "senior squad leader") was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that existed between 1932 and 1945. Translated as "senior squad leader", Oberscharführer was first used as a rank of the Sturmabteilung (SA) and was created due to an expansion of the enlisted positions required by growing SA membership in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The SA rank of Oberscharführer was senior to Scharführer and junior to the rank of Truppführer.Since early ranks of the Schutzstaffel (SS) were identical to the ranks of SA, Oberscharführer was created as an SS rank at the same time the position was created within the SA. Initially, the rank of SS-Oberscharführer was equal to its SA counterpart; however, this changed in 1934 following the Night of the Long Knives.At that time, the SS rank system was reorganized and several new ranks established with older SA titles discontinued. The rank of SS-Oberscharführer was therefore "bumped up" and became equal to an SA-Truppführer. The insignia for the SS rank was changed, as well, becoming two silver collar pips in contrast to the SA insignia for Oberscharführer which was a single collar pip with silver stripe.Within the SA, an Oberscharführer was typically a squad leader, answering to a platoon non-commissioned officer. The responsibilities varied across a wider range in the SS, in particular between an Oberscharführer in the Allgemeine SS (general SS) and one holding the same position in the Waffen-SS (armed SS).

After 1938, when the SS adopted field grey uniforms as the standard duty attire, SS-Oberscharführer displayed the shoulder insignia of a Wehrmacht Feldwebel. The rank of SS-Oberscharführer was junior to SS-Hauptscharführer.


Oberstabsfeldwebel (OStFw or OSF) is the highest Non-commissioned officer (NCO) rank in German Army and German Air Force. It is grouped as OR9 in NATO, equivalent to a Sergeant Major in the United States Army / Chief Master Sergeant (United States Air Force), and a Warrant Officer Class 1 in the British Army / Warrant officer (Royal Air Force). Attainment of this rank requires at least sixteen years since promotion to feldwebel and at least six years since promotion to hauptfeldwebelIn army/ air force context NCOs of this rank were formally addressed as Herr Oberstabsfeldwebel also informally / short Oberstaber.

The rank was introduced in the German Heer equivalent to the Marine grade Oberstabsbootsmann in 1955, and belongs to the grad group Unteroffiziere mit Portepee.

The sequence of ranks (top-down approach) in that particular group (Senior NCOs with portepee) is as follows:

OR-9: Oberstabsfeldwebel / Oberstabsbootsmann

OR-8: Stabsfeldwebel / Stabsbootsmann

OR-7: Hauptfeldwebel / Hauptbootsmann

OR-6a: Oberfeldwebel / Oberbootsmann

OR-6b: Feldwebel / BootsmannRemark

The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"!

Rank insignia of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces

This article deals with the rank insignia of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces, as worn by the Austro-Hungarian Army after the reorganisation in 1867 until 1918.

In Austrian armed forces rank insignia are traditionally called Paroli

(pl. Parolis) and are worn as gorget patch or collar tap, appliquéd to the gorget fore-part of the uniform coat, uniform jacket and/or battle-dress.

See also

Rank insignia of the German Bundeswehr

The rank insignia of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany indicate rank and branch of service in the German Army (Heer), German Air Force (Luftwaffe), or the German Navy (Marine).

They are regulated by the "presidential order on rank designation and military uniform".

The 'ZDv-37/10 – Anzugsordnung für Soldaten der Bundeswehr' (ZDv: Zentrale Dienstvorschrift - Central Service Provision) gives the dress order and design variations. Further, the Federal Office of Equipment, IT, and In-Service Support of the Bundeswehr (Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr) provides numerous details.

Ranks and insignia of the Waffen-SS

This table contains the final ranks and insignia of the Waffen-SS, which were in use from April 1942–45, in comparison to the Wehrmacht. The highest rank of the combined SS (Gesamt-SS) was that of Reichsführer-SS; however, there was no Waffen-SS equivalent to this position.

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.


Stabsfeldwebel (StFw or SF) is the second highest Non-commissioned officer (NCO) rank in German Army and German Air Force. It is grouped as OR8 in NATO, equivalent to a First Sergeant, Master Sergeant, or Senior Master Sergeant in the US Armed forces, and to Warrant Officer Class 2 in the British Army and Royal Navy. Promotion to the rank requires at least twelve years total active duty, of which at least eleven years have elapsed since promotion to unteroffizier, with at least ten years since promotion to stabsunteroffizier, and nine years since promotion to feldwebel.

In army/ air force context NCOs of this rank were formally addressed as Herr Stabsfeldwebel also informally / short Staber.

Uniforms and insignia of the Kriegsmarine

The Kriegsmarine was the navy of Nazi Germany prior to and during World War II. Kriegsmarine uniform design followed that of the preexisting Reichsmarine, itself based on that of the First World War Kaiserliche Marine. Kriegsmarine styles of uniform and insignia had many features in common with those of other European navies, all derived from the British Royal Navy of the 19th century, such as officers' frock coats, sleeve braid, and the "sailor suit" uniform for enlisted personnel and petty officers.


Unteroffizier is a military rank of the Bundeswehr and of former German-speaking armed forces (Heer and Luftwaffe). The equivalent in anglophone armed forces is sergeant or staff sergeant. However, Unteroffizier is also the collective name for all non-commissioned officers.

Unteroffiziere mit Portepee

Unteroffizier(e) mit Portepee, also Portepeeunteroffizier(e) (en:

NCO(s) with sword knot" also "Sword knot NCO(s)"), is the designation for German senior NCO in the Armed forces of Germany. The name derives from earlier traditions in which senior enlisted men would carry a sword into battle. The word portepee derives from French port(e)-épée.

Any Portepeeunteroffizier of the former Prussian Army was entitled to wear (in addition to the dress uniform - to go with a ...) a "sword knot" to its personal sabre, which was originally restricted to officers only.The sequence of ranks (top-down approach) in that particular group is as follows:

OR-9: Oberstabsfeldwebel / Oberstabsbootsmann this rank was introduced by the Bundeswehr in 1983

OR-8: Stabsfeldwebel / Stabsbootsmann (in the Kriegsmarine Stabsoberbootsmann, Stabsobersteuermann, and Stabsobermaschinist)

OR-7: Hauptfeldwebel (Oberfähnrich)/ Hauptbootsmann (Oberfähnrich zur See), this rank was introduced by the Bundeswehr after being an assignment/ position of service (informally Spieß and officially now Kompaniefeldwebel in the Reichswehr, Wehrmacht, and National People's Army)

OR-6a: Oberfeldwebel / Oberbootsmann

OR-6b: Feldwebel / BootsmannRemark

The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"!

See also

⇒ Article: NCOs without portepee

⇒ Article: Ranks of the German Bundeswehr

⇒ Article: Rank insignia of the German Bundeswehr

⇒ Article: Ranks and insignia of NATO navies enlisted

And equivalents of the Navy—replacing Feldwebel with Bootsmann—and, historically, the Cavalry and Artillery (with Wachtmeister). The latter is not to be confused with the Navy's "Kompaniefeldwebel" of today which are also called Wachtmeister.

German non-commissioned officers were identified by the use of metallic lace (called Tresse) on the collar of the uniform jacket, as well as the edges of the shoulder straps. Senior non-commissioned officers in the Wehrmacht also used silver "stars" on the shoulder strap to differentiate between ranks; one star for a Feldwebel, two for an Oberfeldwebel, and three for a Stabsfeldwebel.


Wachtmeister (Wm) (ge: for master-sentinel; watch-master) is in Austria and Switzerland a military rank of non-commissioned officers (NCO). The Wachtmeister was initially responsible for the guard duty of the army. Later it became the Feldwebel equivalent NCO-grade of the Cavalry and Artillery. Besides Austria and Switzerland today, the rank was also used for example in Germany, Russia, and Poland (wachmistrz).

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