Heer Officer Ranks of WWII
By Michael Dorosh

Notes: This was originally published on the LANDSER Website by Michael Dorosh and with his permission, I have resurrected it and revised it.

Notes II: Artwork is from Wikipedia's Wikimedia Commons, and is open source.

The following table lists the various officer ranks of the German Army, grouped according to category. A brief listing of rank-specific titles has been included also; this list has been greatly simplified as there were dozens of rank titles for soldiers holding specific appointments, from Senior Inspector of Music (Obermusikinspizient) to Army sports instructor (Heeressportlehrer). Many of the intricacies and cumbersome position/appointment/rank titles may indeed have been beyond the general knowledge even of serving German soldiers themselves.

The Waffenfarben piping on these examples is Rose Pink, worn by the Panzer and Anti-Tank Troops.

Kompanieoffiziere
(Company-Grade Officers)

Leutnante
(Lieutenants)

Hauptleute
(Captains)

Leutnant

Oberleutnant

Hauptmann

Branch Specific Ranks:

Assistenzarzt
(Medical Branch)

Veterinär
(Veterinary Branch)

Leutnant der Feldgendarmerie
(Military Police Branch)

Musikmeister
(Director of Music)

Branch Specific Ranks:

Oberarzt
(Medical Branch)

Oberveterinär
(Veterinary Branch)

Oberleutnant der Feldgendarmerie
(Military Police Branch)

Obermusikmeister
(Director of Music)

Branch Specific Ranks:

Rittmeister
(Cavalry/Reconnaissance/Horse-Drawn Supply Troops)

Stabsarzt
(Medical Branch)

Stabsveterinär
(Veterinary Branch)

Hauptmann der Feldgendarmerie
(Military Police Branch)

Stabsmusikmeister
(Director of Music)

While the American, British and Canadian militaries didn't/don't draw much of a distinction in everyday conversation between a Second Lieutenant and a Lieutenant, the German Army was very conscious of the distinction and the full rank title "Oberleutnant" was always used.

The plural of "Hauptmann" in German is "Hauptleute", literally "Main People." The pluralization of this word by replacement with another is unusual even for German.



Stabsoffiziere
(Field-Grade Officers)

Major

Oberstleutnant

Oberst

Branch Specific Ranks:

Oberstabsarzt
(Medical Branch)

Oberstabsveterinär
(Veterinary Branch)

Major der Feldgendarmerie
(Military Police Branch)

Musikinspizient
(Inspector of Music)

Branch Specific Ranks:

Oberfeldarzt
(Medical Branch)

Oberfeldveterinär
(Veterinary Branch)

Oberstleutnant der Feldgendarmerie
(Military Police Branch)

Obermusikinspizient
(Inspector of Music)

Branch Specific Ranks:

Oberstarzt
(Medical Branch)

Oberstveterinär
(Veterinary Branch)

Oberst der Feldgendarmerie
(Military Police Branch)


Generäle
(Generals)

All generals, including Generalfeldmarschalls, wore this collar patch until 1942.
In 1942, this collar patch was introduced for Generalfeldmarschalls.

Before a specific strap was approved in 1940, GFMs wore the shoulder straps of Generalobersts.

Generalmajor

Generalleutnant

General der...

Generaloberst

Generalfeldmarschall

Branch Specific Ranks:

Generalarzt
(Medical Branch)

Generalvetrinär
(Veterinary Branch)

Branch Specific Ranks:

Generalstabsarz
(Deputy General, Medical Services)

Generalstabsvetrinär
(Deputy General, Army Veterinary Department)

Branch Specific Ranks:

General der Artillerie
(Artillery)

General der Gebirgstruppen
(Mountain Troops)

General der Infanterie
(Infantry)

General der Kavallerie
(Cavalry)

General der Panzertruppen
(Armored Troops)

General der Pioniere
(Engineers)

General der Nachrichtentruppe
(Signals Troops)

Branch Specific Ranks:

Generaloberstabsarzt
(Head of the Medical Services)

Generaloberstabsvetrinär
(Head of the Veterinary Services)

Branch Specific Ranks:

NONE