Ranks and insignia of the Schutzstaffel
The ranks and insignia of the
Schutzstaffelwere a paramilitary rank system used by the SS to differentiate that organization from the regular German armed forces, the German state, and the Nazi Party. The original SS ranks were initially the same as the ranks of the SA but eventually developed their own unique titles. In line with the " Führerprinzip" (Leadership Principle) of the Nazi party's ideology, the word " Führer" was incorporated into all ranks except those for enlisted men.
The earliest SS ranks were titles with no recognizable insignia. By 1929, a system of white stripes, centered on an armband, denoted SS rank with the first established SS ranks listed below:
Reichsführer(Reich Leader) "Three Stripes"
Oberführer(Senior Leader) "Two Stripes"
Staffelführer(Squadron Leader) "One Stripe"
* Mann (Trooper) "No Stripes"
In 1936, the SS absorbed the regular German police and formed the
Ordnungspolizei. Known as the "Orpo", the Ordnungspolizei was considered a full branch of the SS but maintained a separate system of insignia and Orpo ranks. It was also possible for SS members to hold dual status in both the Orpo and the SS, and SS-Generals were referred to simultaneously by both rank titles. For instance, an "Obergruppenführer" in the SS, who was also a Police General, would be referred to as "Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei".
SS Generals of the
Waffen-SSwere typically addressed by both their SS rank title and a corresponding General's rank associated with the Wehrmacht. All such General ranks were followed by the phrase "der Waffen-SS" to distinguish the SS General from their counterparts in other branches of the German military. Thus, a typical title would be "Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS".
In 1944, all SS General Officers were granted equivalent Waffen-SS rank so that, in the event that they were captured by the Allies, they would have status as military officers instead of police officials. For those who had held police rank prior to 1944, the SS General's title could become rather lengthy.
Ernst Kaltenbrunner, for instance, was listed on the SS rolls in 1945 as "Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS".
enior SS Titles
In addition to the regular ranks of the SS, the SS also used a variety of titles which were commonly interchanged with ranks to denote senior levels of responsibility. Some of these titles included:
Führer": Originally an early rank of the SS, the title of SS-Führer was commonly used by any SS officer and translated as “SS Leader”.
* "SS-Unterführer": This title was often used in the
Waffen-SSby non-commissioned officersholding the rank of " Unterscharführer" and above. An enlisted SS soldier, applying for NCO status, was often known as an "Unterführer-Anwärter".
* "SD-Leiter": This title was used by senior officers of the
Sicherheitsdienst, typically those in command of a major SD office or regional headquarters
* "Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer": Translated as
Higher SS and Police Leader, these were some of the most powerful men in the SS, commanding all SS units in a given geographic region
* "Kriminalrat": A title used by the
Kriminalpolizeito denote those SS members who were also fully certified detectives. Artur Nebewent by the title of Kriminalrat for most of the 1930s, only using addressing himself by an SS rank when engaged in non-Kripo activities.
As with the senior SS titles, volunteers of non-Germanic countries had the title "Waffen" prefixed to their rank. For instance, an "Untersturmführer" in the foreign legions would be referred to as "Waffen-Untersturmführer" whereas a regular SS member would be addressed as "SS-Untersturmführer". This helped to indicate non-native volunteers, or to separate Germanic individuals in the divisions comprised primarily of non Germans.
Adolf Hitler, as the Führer of Germany, was by default the supreme commander of the SS and outranked Heinrich Himmler, who served as “Reich Leader” of the entire SS. In the early days of the SS, Hitler was "Oberster SA-Führer" and supreme commander of the " Sturmabteilung" stormtroopers. Hitler’s supreme SA rank, when the SS was still under the authority of the SA, could be seen as a rank superior to that of "Reichsführer-SS". Hitler also was considered SS Member #1, Emil Maurice(considered the founder the SS) was Member #2, while Himmler was SS Member #168. Based on the seniority system of SS membership number, this made Hitler senior in the SS to all other members even if not by rank. After the Night of the Long Knives, when the SS became independent from the SA, Hitler was listed on SS officer rolls as Member #1 and considered supreme commander of the entire SS by virture of his position as the Führer of Germany. There is no photographic record of Hitler ever wearing an actual SS uniform nor was there a special SS insignia for Hitler above that worn by Himmler.
Stabsscharführer" was a positional rank granted to the senior NCO of an SS Company. The position was the equivalent of a First Sergeant. Stabsscharführer was denoted by a special sleeve patch, worn on the upper right arm of the SS uniform.
* The rank of "
Staffelführer" was also commonly referred to simply as "SS- Führer".
* The rank of "
Sturmscharführer" was only used by the Waffen-SS.
* The rank of "
Oberstgruppenführer" did not exist until 1942 and was originally created to give senior Waffen-SS Generals equivalent rank to Wehrmacht Colonel Generals. Only four people ever held the rank of "Oberstgruppenführer".
* SS officers holding the rank of "
Standartenführer" and above wore rank insignia on both collar patches. All other SS members wore their rank on the left collar patch while an SS unit badge was worn on the right.
* SS had no standard dress uniforms unlike the Heer, so some SS officers occasionally wore custom designed mess dress with pre-1939
In popular culture
Harry Turtledove's Southern Victory series of alternate-history novels, the Confederate Freedom Party guardshave rank names imitating those of the SS.
Ian McKellenadaptation of Richard III, King Richard wears a paramilitary black uniform with the insignia of an "SS-Oberstgruppenführer".
* In the manga and OVA series
Hellsing, the main antagonists are a group of SS soldiers, and they are referred to by German rank in the OVA IV liner notes.
Ranks and insignia of the Sturmabteilung
Comparative military ranks of World War II
List of SS personnel
* Bedurftig, Friedemann, and Christian Zenter. "The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich". 1985.
* Personnel Service Records of the S.S.,
National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland
Deutsche Uniformen", National Socialist German Workers Party, 1938
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Ranks and insignia of the Sturmabteilung — The ranks and insignia of the Sturmabteilung (SA) were the first paramilitary rank system to be developed by the Nazi Party in 1920. The titles and phrases used by the SA were eventually adopted by several other Nazi paramilitary groups, among… … Wikipedia
Ranks and insignia of the Hitler Youth — The Ranks and insignia of the Hitler Youth were a Nazi Party paramilitary rank system that existed from 1932 to 1945. The Hitler Youth had existed for nearly a decade before, but the organization did not maintain any particular system of ranks.… … Wikipedia
Schutzstaffel — SS redirects here. For other uses, see SS (disambiguation). SS Schutzstaffel SS insignia … Wikipedia
Comparative officer ranks of World War II — The following table shows comparative officer ranks of major Allied and Axis powers during World War II. For modern ranks refer to Comparative military ranks. KEY: Navy Army Air Force Waffen SS/Allgemeine SS Generic ranks not specific to any… … Wikipedia
United States Army enlisted rank insignia of World War II — The U.S. Army enlisted rank insignia that was used during World War II differs from the current system. The color scheme used for the insignia s chevron design was defined as either silver grey on dark blue, olive drab on dark blue, or khaki on… … Wikipedia
Comparative military ranks of World War II — The following table shows comparative officer ranks of major Allied and Axis powers during World War II. For modern ranks refer to Comparative military ranks. KEY::Navy:Army:Air Force [Air Force ranks equal to generic Army ranks are not shown.]… … Wikipedia
List of comparative military ranks — This article is a list of various states armed forces ranking designations. Comparisons are made between the different systems used by nations to categorize the hierarchy of an armed force compared to another. Several of these lists mention NATO… … Wikipedia
Leadership ranks of the Sturmabteilung — were the titles and positions held by the commanders of the Sturmabteilung (SA) of the Nazi Party between the years of 1920 and 1945. The supreme commander of the entire SA was Oberster SA Führer, a titular position, while Chef des Stabes, the… … Wikipedia
Comparative military ranks of World War II/temp1 — PARENT ARTICLE: Comparative military ranks of World War IIThe following table shows comparative officer ranks of major Allied and Axis powers during World War II. For modern ranks refer to Comparative military ranks. Major participants not shown … Wikipedia
Nazi party paramilitary ranks — were pseudo military titles which were used by the National Socialist German Workers Party between the years of 1920 and 1945. Since the Nazi Party was by its very nature a paramilitary organization, by the time of the Second World War, several… … Wikipedia