German Army ranks

#1
Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but anyway.
I'm a bit mystified by some Bundeswehr ranks. Some of them have mit/ohne Portepee on the end, i.e "Unteroffizier mit Portepee", or "Unteroffizier ohne Portepee".
I've found out that this "Portepee" thingy is a silver or gold tassel attached to the handle of a sword. It was originally a leather strap or thong that could be tied around the wrist to prevent loss of the sword in battle.
What I couldn't find out is what it actually signifies and why some "Unteroffiziere" have one and some don't. Is it some sort of special privilege?
Anybody got any ideas?

MsG
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#2
Mit and Ohne Portepee refers to senior and junior NCOs. The German rank structure is slightly different to ours. The ranks of Gefreiter, Obergefreiter etc are not regarded as NCO ranks but senior grades of soldier, with Obergefreiter being roughly equivalent to our Lance Corporal. Then come the grades of Unteroffizier ohne Portepee which are, IIRC, Unteroffizier (roughly equivalent to a Corporal) and Unterfeldwebel; then above that are Unteroffizier mit Portepee - Feldwebel and above - which roughly correspond with our SNCO and WO ranks. I think that you are confused because Unteroffizier is both a rank in itself and also the generic word for NCOs.
 
#3
cpunk said:
Mit and Ohne Portepee refers to senior and junior NCOs. The German rank structure is slightly different to ours. The ranks of Gefreiter, Obergefreiter etc are not regarded as NCO ranks but senior grades of soldier, with Obergefreiter being roughly equivalent to our Lance Corporal. Then come the grades of Unteroffizier ohne Portepee which are, IIRC, Unteroffizier (roughly equivalent to a Corporal) and Unterfeldwebel; then above that are Unteroffizier mit Portepee - Feldwebel and above - which roughly correspond with our SNCO and WO ranks. I think that you are confused because Unteroffizier is both a rank in itself and also the generic word for NCOs.
That's pretty much it:

Mannschaft

Schutze/Pionier/Funker etc OR-1/2
Gefreiter OR-3
Obergefreiter OR-3
Hauptgefreiter OR-3
Stabsgefreiter OR-4
Oberstabsgefreiter OR-4

Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee

Unteroffizier OR-5
*Fahnenjunker OR-5
Stabsunteroffizier OR-5
- nb Unterfelwebel was a Wehrmacht thing, perpetuated in the NVA, not BW


Unteroffiziere mit Portepee

Feldwebel OR-6
*Faehnrich OR-6
Oberfeldwebel OR-6
*Oberfaenrich OR-7
Hautpfeldwebel OR-7
Stabsfeldwebel OR-8
Oberstabsfeldwebel OR-9

* = OCdts on active service with troops - which they do as part of training - will be Uffz, FW or HFW equivalent, but called different things.
 
#5
CrapSpy said:
Where does Fuhrer fit in?
Gefreiter. Then a sudden promotion to the most senior level. An experiment in the German rank system, for some reason they decided it hadn't worked, so they won't do it again.

Actually, it's interesting to look at this:

Name WWI Highest Rank Reached

Hitler Gefreiter
Goering Captain
Himmler Officer Cadet

...Which suggests to me that where they went wrong was in not recruiting enough senior NCOs to the higher echelon.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#6
I thought the ranks went vaguely like this:

German Rank - - - - - - - - British Rank or title

Oberstgruppen-Führer - - - Gen
Obergruppenführer - - - - - Lt Gen
Gruppenführer - - - - - - - - Maj Gen
Brigadeführer - - - - - - - - - Brig
Oberführer - - - - - - - - - - no equivalent
Standartenführer - - - - - - Col
Obersturmbannführer - - - - Lt Col
Sturmbannführer - - - - - - - Maj
Hauptsturmführer - - - - - - Capt
Obersturmführer - - - - - - - Lt
Untersturmführer - - - - - - - 2Lt

Sturmscharführer - - - - - - - RSM
Standarten-Oberjunker - - - no equivalent
Hauptscharführer - - - - - - - WO1 (Bn Sgt Maj)
Oberscharführer - - - - - - - CSM
Standartenjunker - - - - - - - no equivalent
Scharführer - - - - - - - - - - Plt Sgt
Unterscharführer - - - - - - - - Sgt
Rottenführer - - - - - - - - - - Cpl
Sturmmann - - - - - - - - - - - LCpl
Oberschütze - - - - - - - - - - - No equivalent
Schütze - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Pte


Maybe the list posted by Glad_its_all_over is the latest one.
 
#7
A lot of typing to get a bite Cuts. You must know those ranks were not and are not German Army ranks. They were all prefixed with 'SS' which is why they haven't been around for about sixty years.
 
#8
@ Cutaway:
The list posted by Glad_its_all_over is the one for the Bundeswehr - Federal Armed Forces while your list contains the ranks of the SS only. Those rank names were even different from Wehrmacht again.

Best Regards

M.I.
Stabsunteroffizier d.R. - no Portepee for me.
 
#9
As I understand it, the Unteroffizieranwaerter program has already been renamed to Feldwebelanwaerter program; although the Feldwebel+ ranks are still known as Uffze mit Portepee, more recognition is now given that to become Fw is a proper career progession, as separate from the Wehrdiensters who are in for their 9 months, Freiwilliges who tack on an extra year or so, and perhaps even the Z-Saus who seem to do at least two years but don't necessarily make a 12 year career out of it.

Unterfeldwebel isn't a rank that exists anymore, and Unteroffizier and Stabsunteroffizier are the ranks for Uffze o. Portepee.
 
#10
I just read 'storm of steel' by Ernst Junger (utter hero b t w) and this was something I was going to come on here and ask - all those WW1 ranks; are they abolished now? Did they translate to British ranks? Lieutenant as CO of a company, Kapitan CO of a battalion? And what was all this officer-cadet/Vice Sergeant-Major?

V confusing.
 
#12
WTF????


In 'storm of steel' there's a scene where Junger commiserates with an 'officer cadet' over the deterioration of his 'brand new sword knot' from silvery to green under the effects of British gas. Is that thing on Firestarter's link a sword knot?

(BTW, if it was me, being gassed would have given me a really, really big list of things to worry about before getting to the state of my sword knot unless 'sword knot' is a euphemism for 'penis'. And even then I would be just as concerned about a silver one as a green one)
 
#13
Steamywindow said:
WTF????


In 'storm of steel' there's a scene where Junger commiserates with an 'officer cadet' over the deterioration of his 'brand new sword knot' from silvery to green under the effects of British gas. Is that thing on Firestarter's link a sword knot?

(BTW, if it was me, being gassed would have given me a really, really big list of things to worry about before getting to the state of my sword knot unless 'sword knot' is a euphemism for 'penis'. And even then I would be just as concerned about a silver one as a green one)
Troddeln/Portepeen are on daggers "Degen/Seitengewehr".Sword-knots are "Faustrimemen".Ernst Junger's "Stahlgewitter" refers to the action of Chlorine gas on gilt (which turns the item green) God knows what colour it turns the inside of your lungs
 
#14
Steamywindow said:
I just read 'storm of steel' by Ernst Junger (utter hero b t w) and this was something I was going to come on here and ask - all those WW1 ranks; are they abolished now? Did they translate to British ranks? Lieutenant as CO of a company, Kapitan CO of a battalion? And what was all this officer-cadet/Vice Sergeant-Major?

V confusing.
German WW1 ranks were a wee bit different. Hazily, from memory:

Mannschaft

Schutze etc
Gefreiter
Obergefreiter

Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee

Unteroffizier
Sergeant

Unteroffiziere mit Portepee

Vizefeldwebel
(Etatmaessiger) Feldwebel
Offizierstellvertreter
Feldwebelleutnant

Offiziere

Leutnant
Oberleutnant
Hauptmann

Major
Oberstleutnant
Oberst

Generalmajor
Generalleutnant
General (der Infanterie, der Kavallerie, der Artillerie etc)
Generaloberst
Generaloberst mit dem Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls
Generalfeldmarschall


Not unusual to have Captains or even First Lieutenants commanding battalions, with 2Lts or WO equivalents commanding companies, certainly by 1918.
 
#15
These Germans are crazy. 2Lt as co of a company? I thought our MoD would go to any lengths to keep the wages bill down... no wonder they lost.
 
#16
Steamywindow said:
These Germans are crazy. 2Lt as co of a company? I thought our MoD would go to any lengths to keep the wages bill down... no wonder they lost.
Well Jeeeeez, they had Officers too Junior for their posts by 1918 because they'd lost so many officers! Just like the Ruskies in 1941, who lost all their senior officers from Stalins purges
 
#17
I guess it was just because of the great losses. Under normal circumstances a Captain or even Major would be in charge in a company.

Another word on ranking especially for german nco:
Untill some years ago a Unteroffizier was a group leader and a Feldwebel was platoon leader.
Now the German MoD changed this so a Unteroffizier is just responsible for a squad and a Oberfeldwebel is group leader.
I used to be group leader already but now I´ll have to go to the Feldwebel-course in order to regain this position. Thanks Mr. Struck :evil:
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads