Generalfeldmarschall (English: general field marshal, field marshal general, or field marshal; listen ; abbreviated to Feldmarschall) was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire (Reichsgeneralfeldmarschall); in the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, the rank Feldmarschall was used. The rank was the equivalent to Großadmiral (English: Grand admiral) in the Kaiserliche Marine and Kriegsmarine, a five-star rank, comparable to OF-10 in today's NATO naval forces.

Preussischer Marschallsstab 1895
Prussian marshal's baton, awarded to Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria in 1895.

Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary

The rank existed in the Austrian Empire as Kaiserlicher Feldmarschall ("imperial field marshal") and in Austria-Hungary as Kaiserlicher und königlicher Feldmarschall - Császári és királyi tárbornagy ("imperial and royal field marshal"). Both were based on usage in the Holy Roman Empire. The monarch held the rank ex officio, other officers were promoted as required. Between 1914 and 1918, ten men attained this rank, of whom four were members of the reigning Habsburg dynasty.


Marshal's baton of Wolfram von Richthofen

Kingdom of Prussia and German Empire

DR Generalfeldmarschall 1918
Shoulder badge

In the Prussian Army, the Imperial German Army and later in the Wehrmacht, the rank of Generalfeldmarschall had several privileges, such as elevation to nobility, equal protocol rank with cabinet ministers, the right of reporting directly to the monarch, and a constant escort.

In 1854, the rank of colonel general (German: Generaloberst) was created in order to promote William, Prince of Prussia (the later 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. The equivalent of colonel-general in the German Navy was the rank of Generaladmiral ("general admiral" or "admiral-general").

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 as field marshals.

The exalted nature of the rank was underscored during World War I, when only five German officers (excluding honorary promotions to members of royal families and foreign officers) were designated Generalfeldmarschall: Paul von Hindenburg, August von Mackensen, Karl von Bülow, Hermann von Eichhorn, and Remus von Woyrsch. Only a single naval officer, Henning von Holtzendorff, was designated Grand Admiral. Not even such well-known German commanders as Erich Ludendorff, Erich von Falkenhayn, or Reinhard Scheer received marshal's batons or Grand Admiral rank.

Nazi Germany

General field marshal
Collar tabs of Generalfeldmarschall of the Heer
GenFeldmarschall until 1945 (Wehrmacht)
Arabesque and Epaulette
on camouflage uniform
Hoheitszeichen Kfz Generalfeldmarschall
Country Nazi Germany
Service branch German Army
NATO rankOF-10
Non-NATO rankO-11
Formation20 April 1936
Next higher rankReichsmarschall
Next lower rankGeneraloberst
Equivalent ranksGroßadmiral

Before World War II Hitler promoted War Minister Werner von Blomberg (20 April 1936) and Aviation Minister Hermann Göring (4 February 1938) to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall. In the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II, the rank of Generalfeldmarschall remained the highest military rank until July 1940, when Hermann Göring was promoted to the newly created higher rank of Reichsmarschall. The equivalent of a Generalfeldmarschall in the navy was Großadmiral ("grand admiral").

Unlike Kaiser Wilhelm II, Adolf Hitler distributed the rank more widely, promoting 25 Heer and Luftwaffe officers in total and two Kriegsmarine Grand Admirals. (Another promotion, that of Austrian General Eduard von Böhm-Ermolli, was honorary.) Four weeks after the Heer and Luftwaffe had won the Battle of France, Hitler promoted twelve generals to the rank of field marshal on 19 July 1940: Walther von Brauchitsch, Wilhelm Keitel, Gerd von Rundstedt, Fedor von Bock, Wilhelm von Leeb, Wilhelm List, Günther von Kluge, Erwin von Witzleben and Walter von Reichenau (Heer); and Albert Kesselring, Erhard Milch and Hugo Sperrle (Luftwaffe).[1]

In 1942, three other men were promoted—"Wüstenfuchs" (desert fox) Erwin Rommel (22 June) for the siege of Tobruk, Erich von Manstein (30 June) for the Siege of Sevastopol and Georg von Küchler (30 June) for his success as Oberbefehlshaber der Heeresgruppe Nord ("commander-in-chief of Army Group North").

Hitler promoted Friedrich Paulus—commander of the 6th Army at Stalingrad—to the rank of field marshal via field radio on 30 January 1943, a day before his army's inevitable surrender in order to encourage him to continue to fight until death or commit suicide.[2] In the promotion Hitler noted that no German or Prussian field marshal at that point in history had ever been captured alive. Paulus surrendered the following day anyway, claiming Ich habe nicht die Absicht, mich für diesen bayerischen Gefreiten zu erschießen ("I have no intention of shooting myself for this Bavarian corporal").[3] A disappointed Hitler commented, "That's the last field marshal I make in this war!" (In fact, he appointed seven more -- two on the very day after Paulus' surrender and the last just five days before his own suicide.)

Generalfeldmarschall was the highest regular general officer rank in the German Wehrmacht, comparable to NATO rank codes OF10, and to the five-star rank in anglophone armed forces. It was equivalent to Großadmiral of the German Kriegsmarine.

Financially the rank of Generalfeldmarschall in Nazi Germany was very rewarding as, apart from a yearly salary, Hitler introduced a tax free fringe benefits for generals in the range of ℛℳ 2,000 to 4,000 per month in 1940. He also bestowed generous presents on his highest officers, with Wilhelm von Leeb receiving ℛℳ 250,000 for his 65th birthday from Hitler.[4]

Promotion to the rank did not guarantee Hitler's ongoing favor, however. As the tide of the war turned, Hitler took out his frustrations on his top commanders, relieving most of the Generalfeldmarschalls of duty before the war's conclusion. Bock, Brauchitsch, Leeb, and List were all relieved of their posts in 1942 for perceived failures during Operation Barbarossa and took no further active part in the war. Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist, Manstein and Sperrle were similarly retired in 1944 and Rundstedt and Maximilian von Weichs in March 1945. Grand Admiral Erich Raeder was retired in January 1943 following a fierce argument with Hitler over the future of the German surface fleet. Walther Model, one of Hitler's most successful commanders, had nevertheless lost the Fuhrer's confidence by war's end and committed suicide to avoid capture and likely trial as a war criminal. Milch was relieved after conspiring unsuccessfully to have Göring removed from command of the Luftwaffe, and even Göring himself was stripped of his offices and expelled from the Nazi Party in Hitler's last days. Ferdinand Schörner ignominiously abandoned his command to save himself in the war's last days. Kluge, Witzleben and Rommel were either executed or forced to commit suicide for their real or imagined roles in assassination plots against Hitler. By war's end, only Keitel, Kesselring, Robert Ritter von Greim and Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz were still in positions of military responsibility.

Junior rank
(Ranks Wehrmacht)
Senior rank

East Germany

The National People's Army of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR (German Democratic Republic, i.e. East Germany) created the rank of Marshal of the German Democratic Republic on 25 March 1982. A general could be appointed to this rank by the State Council (Staatsrat; the head-of-state council of the GDR) during wartime or for exceptional military achievement; no one ever held the rank, however.

Modern Germany

The ranks of Generalfeldmarschall, Generaloberst, Großadmiral and Generaladmiral no longer exist in the new German (until 1990 West German) Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr, which were created in 1956. Currently, the highest military grades in the Bundeswehr are general and admiral.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Bundeswehr is in peacetime, according to Article 65a of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (constitution), the civilian Federal Minister of Defence, who holds supreme command authority over all soldiers. In wartime, during the State of Defence, that supreme command authority is transferred to the Federal Chancellor. The Inspector General of the Bundeswehr is the military chief of defence and heads the Armed Forces Command Staff (German: Führungsstab der Streitkräfte).

See also


  1. ^ Snyder, Louis (1994) [1976]. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, pp. 111, 112
  2. ^ Snyder, Louis (1994) [1976], p. 112
  3. ^ Beevor, Antony (1998). Stalingrad, The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943. New York: Penguin Books. p. 381
  4. ^ "Dienen und Verdienen. Hitlers Geschenke an seine Eliten" [Book review: Serving and earning. Hitlers presents to his elite]. (in German). Retrieved 19 March 2016.
Albert Kesselring

Albert Kesselring (30 November 1885 – 16 July 1960) was a German Generalfeldmarschall of the Luftwaffe during World War II who was subsequently convicted of war crimes. In a military career that spanned both World Wars, Kesselring became one of Nazi Germany's most skilful commanders, and one of the most highly decorated, being one of only 27 soldiers awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.

Kesselring joined the Bavarian Army as an officer cadet in 1904 and served in the artillery branch. He completed training as a balloon observer in 1912. During World War I, he served on both the Western and Eastern fronts and was posted to the General Staff, despite not having attended the War Academy. Kesselring remained in the Army after the war but was discharged in 1933 to become head of the Department of Administration at the Reich Commissariat for Aviation, where he was involved in the re-establishment of the German aviation industry and the laying of the foundations for the Luftwaffe, serving as its chief of staff from 1936 to 1938.

During World War II he commanded air forces in the invasions of Poland and France, the Battle of Britain and Operation Barbarossa. As Wehrmacht Commander-in-Chief South, he was the overall German commander in the Mediterranean theatre, which included the operations in North Africa. Kesselring conducted an uncompromising defensive campaign against the Allied forces in Italy until he was injured in an accident in October 1944. In his final campaign of the war, he commanded German forces on the Western Front. He won the respect of his Allied opponents for his military accomplishments, but his record was marred by massacres committed by his troops in Italy.

After the war, Kesselring was tried for war crimes and sentenced to death for ordering the murder of 335 Italian civilians, and for inciting and ordering his troops to kill civilians in reprisals. The sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment. A political and media campaign resulted in his release in 1952, ostensibly on health grounds. He was one of only three officers with the rank of Generalfeldmarschall to publish his memoirs, which were entitled Soldat bis zum letzten Tag ("A Soldier to the Last Day").

Army Group Don

Army Group Don was a short-lived army group of the German Army during World War II.

On 20 November Hitler ordered again to reorganize southern front in the Soviet Union. The order was following: "Between the Army Group A and B at the turn of the river Don has to be sent another Army Group."

Army Group Don was created from the headquarters of the Eleventh Army in the southern sector of the Eastern Front on 22 November 1942. The army group only lasted until February 1943 when it was combined with Army Group B and was made into the new Army Group South.The one commander of Army Group Don was Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) Erich von Manstein. It consisted of the Sixth Army (Germany) in the Stalingrad pocket, which included the encircled elements of the 4th Panzer Army, together with the Romanian 3rd Army.Zhukov stated, "We now know that Manstein's plan to rescue the encircled forces at Stalingrad was to organize two shock forces - at Kotelnikovo and Tormosin." The attempt "was a total failure."It was created to hold the line between Army Group A and Army Group B.

Colonel general

Colonel general is a three or four-star rank in some armies, usually equivalent to that of a full general in other armies. North Korea and Russian Federation have used the rank in that fashion throughout their histories. The rank is also closely associated with Germany, where Generaloberst has formerly been a higher rank above full General but below Generalfeldmarschall.

Crimea Shield

The Crimea Shield (German: Krimschild) was a World War II German military decoration awarded to military personnel under the command of Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein who fought against Soviet Red Army forces and captured the Crimea region (Krim in German) between 21 September 1941 and 4 July 1942. It was instituted on 25 July 1942. It was the most widely distributed of the various German shields with approximately 250,000 being awarded.

Eduard von Böhm-Ermolli

Eduard Freiherr von Böhm-Ermolli (12 February 1856 – 9 December 1941) was an Austrian general during World War I who rose to the rank of field marshal in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He was the head of the Second Army and fought mainly on the front of Galicia during the entire conflict. On 30 October 1940, Böhm-Ermolli was made a German Generalfeldmarschall.

Erwin von Witzleben

Job Wilhelm Georg Erdmann Erwin von Witzleben (4 December 1881 – 8 August 1944) was a German officer, by 1940 in the rank of Generalfeldmarschall (General Field Marshal), and army commander in the Second World War. A leading conspirator in the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was designated to become Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht in a post-Nazi regime had the plot succeeded.

Friedrich Adolf, Count von Kalckreuth

Friedrich Adolf Graf von Kalckreuth (22 February 1737 – 10 June 1818) was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall.Kalkreuth was born in Sotterhausen near Sangerhausen. He entered the regiment of Gardes du Corps in 1752, and in 1758 was adjutant or aide de camp to Frederick the Great's brother, Prince Henry, with whom he served throughout the later stages of the Seven Years' War. He won special distinction at the battle of Freiberg (29 September 1762), for which Frederick promoted him major.Personal differences with Prince Henry severed their connection in 1766, and for many years Kalckreuth lived in comparative retirement. He participated in the War of the Bavarian Succession as a colonel, and on the accession of Frederick William II was restored to favour. He greatly distinguished himself as a major-general in the invasion of the Netherlands in 1787, and by 1792 had become count and lieutenant-general. Under the Duke of Brunswick, he took a conspicuous part in the campaign of Valmy in 1792, the siege of Mainz in 1793, and the Battle of Kaiserslautern in 1794.Kalckreuth was defeated in the 1806 Battle of Auerstedt. In 1807 he defended Danzig for 78 days against the French under Marshal Lefebvre, with far greater skill and energy than he had shown in the previous year. He was promoted to field marshal soon afterwards, and conducted many of the negotiations at Tilsit. He died as governor of Berlin in 1818.The Dictées du Feldmaréchal Kalckreuth were published by his son (Paris, 1844).

General (Germany)

General (German pronunciation: [ɡenəˈʁaːl]) is the highest rank of the German Army and German Air Force. As a four-star rank it is the equivalent to the rank of admiral in the German Navy.

The rank is rated OF-9 in NATO. It is grade B8 in the pay rules of the Federal Ministry of Defence.

General der Panzertruppe

General der Panzertruppe (lit. General of the Armoured Corps) was a General of the branch OF8-rank rank of German Army, introduced in 1935. A General der Panzertruppe was a Lieutenant General, above Major General (Generalleutnant), commanding a Panzer corps.


Generaloberst, in English colonel general, was, in Germany and Austria-Hungary—the German Reichswehr and Wehrmacht, the Austro-Hungarian Common Army, and the East German National People's Army, as well as the respective police services—the second highest general officer rank, ranking as equal to a 4 star full general but below general field marshal. It was equivalent to Generaladmiral in the Kriegsmarine until 1945, or to Flottenadmiral in the Volksmarine until 1990. The rank was the highest ordinary military rank and the highest military rank awarded in peacetime; the higher rank of general field marshal was only awarded in wartime by the head of state. In general, a Generaloberst had the same privileges as a general field marshal.

A literal translation of Generaloberst would be "uppermost general", but it is often translated as "colonel-general" by analogy to Oberst, "colonel", including in countries where the rank was adopted, e.g. in Russia (генерал-полковник, general-polkovnik). "Oberst" derives from the superlative form of Germanic ober (upper), cognate to English over, thus "Superior General" might be a more idiomatic rendering. The rank was created in 1854, originally for Emperor William I—then Prince of Prussia—because traditionally members of the royal family were not promoted to the rank of field marshal. During the 19th century the rank was largely honorary and usually only held by members of the princely families or the Governor of Berlin. Regular promotion of professional officers to the grade did not begin until 1911. 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 peacetime. Such generals were entitled to wear four pips on their shoulder boards, compared to the normal three. As such, Generaloberst could be a peacetime equivalent of the general field marshal rank.

Generaloberst was the second highest general officer rank—below field marshal—in the Prussian Army as well as in the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1921–33), the Wehrmacht (which included the Luftwaffe, established in 1935) of Nazi Germany (1933–45), and the East German Nationale Volksarmee (1949–1991). As military ranks were often used for other uniformed services, the rank was also used by the Waffen-SS and the Ordnungspolizei of Nazi Germany, and the Volkspolizei and Stasi of East Germany. In East Germany, the rank was junior to the general of the army (Armeegeneral), as well as to the briefly extant, and never awarded, rank of Marschall der DDR.

German Army order of battle, Western Front (1918)

This is the German Army order of battle on the Western Front at the close of the war.

The overall commander of the Imperial German Army was Kaiser Wilhelm II, but real power resided with The Chief of the General Staff, Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg, and his First Quartermaster, General der Infanterie Erich Ludendorff.

Gneisenaustraße (Berlin U-Bahn)

Gneisenaustraße is a station on the U7 U-Bahn in Berlin, Germany. The station was opened in 1924 and created by Alfred Grenander. 1945 it was closed for a few months, 1967/68 the platform was elongated. Due to this the station has lost its appearance as it was when Grenander has planned it.The station is named after August von Gneisenau, a 19th-century Prussian Generalfeldmarschall. The next station is Südstern.

The station was opened on 19 January 1924 in the course of the extension of the nord-sud U-Bahn (today's lines U6 and U7) from Hallesches Tor towards Neukölln as a terminus before the extension to Neukolln proper. The platform length was initially 80 meters.

The line designated as line C1 (U7) operated until February 28, 1966 from Gneisenaustrasse to Britz-Süd via Neukölln in one direction and to Tegel via Friedrichstrasse in the other direction. One day later, with the commissioning of the route from Mehringdamm to Möckernbrücke this changed the U6 and U7, so that the now designated as line 7 between Britz-Süd and Möckernbrücke operated, until 1972, the extension of with the extension from Britz-Sud to Rudow and until 1971 from Möckernbrücke to Fehrbelliner Platz.

In 1968, the platforms were extended to 110 meters to allow the use of six-car trains instead of four-car trains. At the same time, the plastered walls were abandoned in favor of a green tile paneling.

Infantry Assault Badge

The Infantry Assault Badge (German: Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen) was a German war badge awarded to Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht Heer soldiers during the Second World War. This decoration was instituted on 20 December 1939 by the Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, Generalfeldmarschall Walther von Brauchitsch. It could be awarded to members of non-motorized Infantry units and units of the Gebirgsjäger that had participated in infantry assaults, with light infantry weapons, on at least three separate days of battle in the front line on or after 1 January 1940. When a counter offensive led to fighting, it could also apply. Award of the Infantry Assault Badge was authorized at regimental command level.

Luftflotte 2

Luftflotte 2 (Air Fleet 2) was one of the primary divisions of the German Luftwaffe in World War II. It was formed 1 February 1939 in Braunschweig and transferred to Italy on 15 November 1941. The Luftflotte was disbanded on 27 September 1944.

Marshal of the air force

"Marshal of the Air Force" (Five Star Rank) is the English term for the most senior rank in a number of Air Forces. The ranks described by this term can properly be considered "Marshal" ranks.

No Air Force in an English-speaking country formally uses the exact title "Marshal of the Air Force", although it is sometimes used as a shortened form of the full title. In several Commonwealth Air Forces and many Middle Eastern Air Forces the most senior rank is named "Marshal of the", followed by the name of the air Force (e.g. Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force).

Brazil and Italy have used rank titles which literally translate as Marshal of the Air, whereas Portugal's rank translates as "Marshal of the Air Force". Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe used the rank of Generalfeldmarschall (also used by the German Army). The premier rank of Reichsmarschall was held solely by Hermann Göring.

The first instance of this rank was Marshal of the Royal Air Force, which was established on paper in 1919 and was first held by Lord Trenchard (from 1927 onwards). Other Commonwealth countries later adopted their own national versions of the rank but, unlike the United Kingdom, they have only used it as a ceremonial honour.

Operation Grenade

During World War II, Operation Grenade was the crossing of the Roer river between Roermond and Düren by the U.S. Ninth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General William Hood Simpson, in February 1945, which marked the beginning of the Allied invasion of Germany.

On 9 February, the U.S. Ninth Army—operating under Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery's Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group since the Battle of the Bulge—was to cross the Roer and link up with the Canadian First Army, under Lieutenant-General Harry Crerar, coming from the Nijmegen area of the Netherlands in Operation Veritable, which had started at 05:00 on 8 February. However, once the Canadians had advanced, the Germans destroyed the dams upstream. This stopped the Americans from crossing as planned. It had been anticipated that the Germans would try to do this, and that General Omar Bradley′s U.S. 12th Army Group could capture them in time to stop the flooding.

During the two weeks that the river was flooded, Hitler would not allow Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt to withdraw behind the Rhine, arguing that it would only delay the inevitable fight. He ordered him to fight where his forces stood.

The Ninth Army was finally able to cross the river on 23 February. By then, other Allied forces were also close to the Rhine. German forces west of the Rhine during operations Veritable, Blockbuster and Grenade lost 90,000 men, of which more than 50,000 became prisoners of war (POW). Allied casualties amounted to some 23,000 men.

Pilot/Observer Badge

The Pilot/Observer Badge (German: Flugzeugführer- und Beobachterabzeichen) was a World War II German military decoration awarded to Luftwaffe service personnel who had already been awarded the Pilot's Badge and Observer Badge. It was instituted on 26 March 1936 by the Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe Hermann Göring. It was worn on the lower part of the left breast pocket of the service tunic, underneath the Iron Cross 1st Class if awarded. It was to replace the older 1933 Aircrew Badge.The badge was originally manufactured in bronze, and later zinc. The badge can be distinguished from the Pilot's Badge by the gold wreath; the Pilot's Badge had a silver wreath. There was also a cloth version of the badge which used embroidered bullion for the officer's version and cotton for the NCO's version. The presentation case was dark blue, with a blue satin top liner and a blue velvet bottom liner on the inside.


Not to be confused with: Marshal of the Realm (Denmark) and Marshal of the Realm (Sweden)

Reichsmarschall, Marshal of the Reich (literal translation: Empire or Realm), was the highest rank in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II.

SS Gneisenau (1935)

SS Gneisenau was a 18,160 GRT Norddeutscher Lloyd ocean liner that was launched and completed in 1935. Like several other German ships of the same name, she was named after the Prussian Generalfeldmarschall and military reformer August Neidhardt von Gneisenau (1760–1831).

Gneisenau was the second of three sister ships built for NDL. DeSchiMAG in Bremen built Gneisenau.Gneisenau was launched in Bremen on 17 May 1935.Gneisenau's maiden voyage began on Friday 3 January 1936.Until the outbreak of World War II, she worked NDL's express service between Bremen and the Far East. At 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) she was among the fastest ships on the route.On 2 May 1943, Gneisenau was mined in the Baltic Sea, capsized, and sank. The wreck was raised on 12 July 1950 and scrapped in Denmark.



This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.