Ranks of the National People's Army

The Ranks of the National People's Army were the military insignia used by the National People's Army, the army of the German Democratic Republic, from 1956 to 1990.

Coat of arms of NVA (East Germany)

Design

The design of the rank insignias followed the tradition of the German Army (Heer) with some modifications. For example, the cuff titles (chevron insignias) of the Gefreiter were replaced by Soviet-styled shoulder straps with cross-stripes.

Shoulder strap rank insignias

Commissioned officer ranks up to Oberst featured four-pointed golden stars in increasing number according to seniority, and arranged following the Soviet pattern.

Junior officer (lieutenant and captain ranks) shoulder straps were made of silver satin string (German: Silberplattschnur). Unterleutnant had a single golden star, Leutnant two side-by-side stars, and Oberleutnant three stars in a triangle. Hauptmann rank had a fourth star above the triangular formation.

Senior officer shoulder straps were twisted silver cords, Major had a single star, Oberstleutnant two stars, and Oberst three stars, again arranged following the Soviet example.

Generals wore twisted golden and silver cords with five-pointed stars numbering from one (Generalmajor) to four (Armeegeneral).

Ground forces, Air force, and Border troops

Remark: The different colours represent the appropriate service, branch, branch of service, or special troop.

General and Officer ranks

Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
East Germany East Germany OF-11 Marschall der DDR OF-10 Armeegeneral.png OF-9 Generaloberst.png OF-8 Generalleutnant.png OF-7 Generalmajor.png OF-5 Oberst Pz.png OF-4 Oberstleutnant Pz.png OF-3 Major Mot.png OF-2 Hauptmann Ari.png OF-1c Oberleutnant Pz.png OF-1b Leutnant Med.png OF-1a Unterleutnant Na.png See below
Marschall der DDR Armeegeneral Generaloberst Generalleutnant Generalmajor Oberst Oberstleutnant Major Hauptmann Oberleutnant Leutnant Unterleutnant

Officer candidate or officer aspirant (OA)

The table below contains the Ofiziersschüler ranks (en: student officers; equivalent to officer candidate or officer aspirant (OA)).

Offiziersschüler (OF(D))
Academic year 6th 5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st Preparation course
Shoulder boards OF-D1 OS VI Studienjahr Med.png OF-D2 OS V Studienjahr Med.png OF-D3 OS IV Studienjahr Mot.png OF-D4 OS III Studienjahr Pio.png OF-D5 OS II Studienjahr Pz.png OF-D6 OS I Studienjahr Na.png OF-D7 OS Ausb zur Hochschulreife Mot.png
Corps colour/ Troops Air Force
(Luftstreitkräfter)
Motorized infantry
(Mot.-Schützen)
Engineers
(Pioniere)
Armourde troops
(Panzertruppen)
Communications
(Nachrichten)
Motorized infantry

Warrant officers

Fähnrichkorps and Fähnrichschüler of the NPA
Sleeve insignia
(1979-1990)
WO1 Fähnrich V unter 5Jahre

(not to Fähnrich-student)
Stabsfähnrich Oberfähnrich Fähnrich Fähnrichschüler
W-4 W-3 W-2 W-1 W (Student)
GDR Army W4 Stabsoberfähnrich.gif WO3 Stabsfähnrich Pz.png WO2 Oberfähnrich Pio.png GDR Army W1 Fähnrich WO-D2 FS 2. Studienjahr Pz.png WO-D1 FS 1. Studienjahr Pz.png
(Staff-senior-Warrant Officer) (Staff-Warrant Officer) (Senior-Warrant Officer) (Warrant Officer) (Warrant Officer-Cadet)
Sleeve insignia as to 1973-1979
20 years of service 15 years of service 10 years of service
WO4 Fähnrich II 15Jahre
WO3 Fähnrich III 10Jahre
WO2 Fähnrich IV 5Jahre

NCO and enlisted ranks

Equivalent
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
East Germany East Germany No
equivalent
OR9 Stabsfeldwebel Pz.png OR8 Oberfeldwebel Pz.png OR7 Feldwebel Pz.png OR6 Unterfeldwebel Pz.png OR5 Unteroffizier Pz.png OR4 Stabs- gefreiter Pz.png No
equivalent
OR2 Gefreiter Pz.png OR1 Soldat Pz.png
Stabsfeldwebel Oberfeldwebel Feldwebel Unterfeldwebel Unteroffizier Stabsgefreiter Gefreiter Soldat

Volksmarine

While the sleeve ranks of the Volksmarine officers were of the style used by the Soviet Navy, all shoulder board insignia used were German in origin, with the star arrangement for officers based on the Soviet rank insignia.

Flag officer ranks

Unlike most Warsaw pact navies, the People's Navy also used staff corps insignia on the sleeve.

Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
East Germany East Germany No equivalent OF-10 Flottenadmiral.png OF-9 Admiral als Chef der VM.png OF-8 Vizeadmiral.png OF-7 Konteradmiral.png OF-5 Kapitän zur See.png OF-4 Fregattenkapitän.png OF-3 Korvettenkapitän.png OF-2 Kapitänleutnant.png OF-1c Oberleutnant zur See.png OF-1b Leutnant zur See.png OF-1a Unterleutnant zur See.png GDR Navy OF-D-Student V OF-D3OS 4. Lehrjahr VM.png OF-D4 OS 3. Lehrjahr VM.png OF-D5 OS 2. Lehrjahr VM.png OF-D6 OS 1. Lehrjahr VM.png OF-D7 OS Ausb zur Hochschulreife VM.png
OF-10 Flottenadmiral VM.png OF-9 Admiral als Chef der VM, Ärmelstreifen.png OF-8 Vizeadmiral VM, Ärmelstreifen.png OF-7 Konteradmiral VM, Ärmelstreifen.png OF-5 Kapitän zur See VM, Ärmelstreifen.png OF-4 Fregattenkapitän VM, Ärmelstreifen.png OF-3 Korvettenkapitän VM, Ärmelstreifen.png OF-2 Kapitänleutnant VM, Ärmelstreifen.png OF-1c Oberleutnant zur See VM, Ärmelstreifen.png OF-1b Leutnant zur See VM, Ärmelstreifen.png OF-1a Unterleutnant zur See VM, Ärmelstreifen.png VM Aermelstreifen 1-1 Meister.svg
Flottenadmiral Admiral Vizeadmiral Konteradmiral Kapitän zur See Fregattenkapitän Korvettenkapitän Kapitänleutnant Oberleutnant zur See Leutnant zur See Unterleutnant zur See Offiziersschüler
Flag of chief of VM (East Germany)

Flottenadmiral

Flag of admiral of VM (East Germany)

Admiral

Flag of vice admiral of VM (East Germany)

Vizeadmiral

Flag of rear admiral of VM (East Germany)

Konteradmiral

Warrant officers

Fähnrichkorps and Fähnrichschüler of the NPA
Sleeve insignia
(as to 1979-1990)
WO1 Fähnrich VM Ärmel

(not to Fähnrich-student)

Stabsfähnrich Oberfähnrich Fähnrich Fähnrichschüler
W-4 W-3 W-2 W-1 W (Student)
WO4 Stabsoberfähnrich VM.png WO3 Stabsfähnrich VM.png WO2 Oberfähnrich VM.png WO1 Fähnrich VM1.png WO-D1 FS 2. Studienjahr VM.png WO-D1 FS 1. Studienjahr VM.png
WO4 Stabsoberfähnrich VM Ärmelstreifen.png WO3 Stabsfähnrich VM Ärmelstreifen.png WO2 Oberfähnrich VM Ärmelstreifen.png WO1 Fähnrich VM Ärmelstreifen.png
(Staff-senior-Warrant Officer) (Staff-Warrant Officer) (Senior-Warrant Officer) (Warrant Officer) (Warrant Officer-Cadet)
Sleeve insignia as to 1973-1979
20 years of service 15 years of service 10 years of service
WO4 Fähnrich Ärmel VM 15Jahre
WO3 Fähnrich Ärmel VM 10Jahre
WO2 Fähnrich Ärmel VM 5Jahre

NCOs and enlisted

Equivalent
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
East Germany East Germany No
equivalent
OR9 SStabsobermeister Technik.png OR8 Obermeister See.png OR7 Meister See.png OR6 Obermaat See.png OR5 Maat See.png OR4 Stabsmatrose.png No
equivalent
OR2 Obermatrose.png OR1 Matrose.png
Meister to Stabsobermeister
wore the career insignia on shoulder straps only
OR6 Obermaat Ärmel Technik.png OR5 Maat Ärmel See.png OR4 Stabsmatrose VM Ärmel Küste.png OR2 Obermatrose VM Ärmel See.png OR1 Matrose VM See.png
Stabsobermeister Obermeister Meister Obermaat Maat Stabsmatrose Obermatrose Matrose

See also

External links

  • "Germany 1949-1990 (Democratic Republic)". uniforminsignia.org. The International Encyclopedia of Uniform Insignia. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
Army general (East Germany)

Army general (German: Armeegeneral) was a senior military rank of East Germany, used until 1990.

Corps colours (NPA)

Corps colours, or Troop-function colours, (German: "Waffenfarbe(n)") were worn by the National People's Army of the German Democratic Republic from 1956 to 1990.

Fähnrich (East Germany)

Fähnrich (short: Fähnr / in lists: FR) was a military rank in the National People's Army (NPA) of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) including the GDR Volksmarine and Border troops, from 1973 to 1990. The minimum service time to this particular type of military specialist was 15 years.The official manner, in line to NPA Handboock, of formal addressing of military people with the rank Fähnrich was Genosse/Genossin Fähnrich (en: comrade Fähnrich).

Generaloberst

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.

National People's Army

The National People's Army (German: Nationale Volksarmee, NVA) was the armed forces of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1956 to 1990.

The NVA was organized into four branches: the Landstreitkräfte (Ground Forces), the Volksmarine (Navy), the Luftstreitkräfte (Air Force), and the Grenztruppen (Border Troops). The NVA belonged to the Ministry of National Defence and commanded by the National Defense Council of East Germany, headquartered in Strausberg 30 kilometers (19 mi) east of East Berlin. From 1962, conscription was mandatory for all GDR males aged between 18 and 60 requiring an 18-month service, and was the only Warsaw Pact military to offer non-combat roles to conscientious objectors, known as "construction soldiers" (Bausoldat). The NVA reached 175,300 personnel at its peak in 1987.

The NVA was formed on 1 March 1956 to succeed the Kasernierte Volkspolizei (Barracked People's Police) and influenced by the Soviet Army, becoming one of the Warsaw Pact militaries opposing NATO during the Cold War. The majority of NATO officers rated the NVA the best military in the Warsaw Pact based on discipline, thoroughness of training, and the quality of officer leadership. The NVA did not see significant combat but participated in the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, deployed military advisors to communist governments in other countries, and manned the Berlin Wall where they were responsible for numerous deaths. The NVA was dissolved on 2 October 1990 with the GDR before German reunification.

Oberfähnrich (East Germany)

Oberfähnrich (short: OFähnr / in lists: OFR; en: Senior-fähnrich) was a military rank in the Army of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1979 to 1990. Oberfähnrich did belong to the autonomous "Fähnrich rank group" between commissioned officer (CO) and non-commissioned officer (NCO) ranks. The position of the "Fähnrich rank group" might have been compared to the Warrant Officer (WO) rank group in Anglophone armed forces.

The official manner, in line to NPA Handboock, of formal addressing of military people with the rank Oberfähnrich was Genosse/Genossin Oberfähnrich (en: comrade Obrfähnrich).The bottom up approach in that rank group was as follows:

Fähnrich WO-1, (en: Fähnrich)

Oberfähnrich WO-2, (Senior-fähnrich)

Stabsfähnrich WO-3, (Staff-fähnrich)

Stabsoberfähnrich WO-4, (Staff-senior-fähnrich)⇒ see main article Ranks of the National People's Army

Oberwachtmeister

Oberwachtmeister (OWm) (ge: for senior master-sentinel; senior watch-master) is in Austria and Switzerland a military rank of non-commissioned officers (NCO). Besides Austria and Switzerland today, the rank was also used for example in Germany and Russia.

Stabsgefreiter

Stabsgefreiter (abbr. StGefr, on lits SG) is the second highest rank of enlisted men of the German Bundeswehr, that might be comparable to specialist (OR-4b) in Anglophone armed forces.

Stabsoberfähnrich (East Germany)

Stabsoberfähnrich (short: StOFähnr / in lists: SOFR; en: Staff-senior-fähnrich) was a military rank in the Army of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1979 to 1990. Stabsfähnrich did belong to the autonomous Fähnrich rank group between commissioned officer (CO) and non-commissioned officer (NCO) ranks. The position of the "Fähnrich rank group" might have been compared to the Warrant Officer (WO) rank group in Anglophone armed forces.

The official manner, in line to NPA Handboock, of formal addressing of military people with the rank Stabsoberfähnrich was Genosse/Genossin Stabsoberfähnrich (en: comrade Stabsoberfähnrich).The bottom up approach in that rank group was as follows:

Fähnrich WO-1, (en: Fähnrich)

Oberfähnrich (WO-2), (Senior-fähnrich)

Stabsfähnrich WO-3, (Staff-fähnrich)

Stabsoberfähnrich WO-4, (Staff-senior-fähnrich)⇒ see main article Ranks of the National People's Army

Stabswachtmeister

Stabswachtmeister (short: StWm) is in the Austrian Bundesheer a NCO-rank. As lowest grade of the Staff-NCO rank group he is normally dedicated to command a platoon or to serve in a military staff appointment (assignment group M BUO 1 / professional NCO; respectively M ZUO 1 / longer-serving volunteer). However, he might also be assigned to command a military squad (assignment group M BUO 2 / longer-serving volunteer).

During United Nations missions and in NATO Partnership for Peace the rank Stabswachtmeister will be designated in English with Staff Sergeant (SSG) and is equivalent to NATO-Rang code OR-7.

Besides Austria today, the rank was also used for example in Germany and in the k.u.k. Army.

With the foundation of the Austrian Bundesheer in March 1920 the «Stabswachtmeister» was introduced to all army branches of service. The OR7-rank Stabsfeldwebel of the generic infantry (de: Fußtruppen) was abolished.

See also

Military ranks and insignia by country
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Europe
Oceania
Post-Soviet states
Commonwealth of Nations
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