FANDOM


The ranks and insignia of the Schutzstaffel were 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.

SS rank insigniaEdit

1934–1945 Edit

SS General Officer Rank Translation Waffen-SS suffix Wehrmacht equivalent Collar Insignia

1934–1942

Collar Insignia

1942–1945

Duty Shoulder Insignia Dress Shoulder Insignia
Reichsführer-SS Reich Leader SS N/A Generalfeldmarschall RFuhrer RFuhrer RFuhrerShoulder RFuhrerShoulder
Oberstgruppenführer Supreme Group Leader Generaloberst der Waffen-SS Generaloberst N/A ' Obrgrpboards SSGeneralBoard
Obergruppenführer Senior Group Leader General der Waffen-SS General Oldgrpfuhrer ' SSGenBoard SSGeneralBoard
Gruppenführer Group Leader Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS Generalleutnant Oldgrpfhr SSgrupfuhr SSgrupfhrboard SSGeneralBoard
Brigadeführer Brigade Leader Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Generalmajor Picture Missing SSbrigadefhr SSBrigBoards SSGeneralBoard
Oberführer Senior Leader N/A N/A Oldobrfhr Picture Missing SSColonelBoard SSGeneralBoard
SS Officer Rank Translation German Army equivalent Collar Insignia

1934–1945

Duty Shoulder Insignia

1938–1945

Dress Shoulder Insignia

1934–1945

Standartenführer Regiment Leader Oberst Ss-standartenfuhrer SSColonelBoard Picture Missing
Obersturmbannführer Senior Storm Unit Leader Oberstleutnant SS-Obersturmbannführer SSLTColBrds Picture Missing
Sturmbannführer Storm Unit Leader Major
Major
SSMajBrds Picture Missing
Hauptsturmführer Head Storm Leader Hauptmann SS-hauptsturmführer SSCptBrds Picture Missing
Obersturmführer Senior Storm Leader Oberleutnant SS-Obersturmführer SS1LTBrds Picture Missing
Untersturmführer Junior Storm Leader Leutnant SS-Untersturmführer SS2Ltbrds Picture Missing
SS NCO Rank Translation Officer Candidate Equivalent German Army equivalent Collar Insignia

1934–1945

Duty Shoulder Insignia

1938–1945

Dress Shoulder Insignia

1934–1945

Sturmscharführer Storm Squad Leader N/A Stabsfeldwebel SS-Sturmscharführer SSsrgmjrbrds Picture Missing
Hauptscharführer Head Squad Leader Standartenoberjunker Oberfeldwebel SS-Hauptscharführer SS1stsrgbrds Picture Missing
Oberscharführer Senior Squad Leader Standartenjunker Feldwebel SS-Oberscharführer SSStfsrgbrds Picture Missing
Scharführer Squad Leader Oberjunker Unterfeldwebel SS-Scharführer SSSergbrds Picture Missing
Unterscharführer Junior Squad Leader Junker Unteroffizier SS-Unterscharführer SSCorporalBrds Picture Missing
SS Enlisted Rank Translation German Army equivalent Collar Insignia

1934–1945

Sleeve Insignia

1938–1945

Duty Shoulder Insignia

1938–1945

Dress Shoulder Insignia

1934–1945

Rottenführer Section Leader Obergefreiter SS-Rottenführer SScplshld SSSoldBrd Picture Missing
Sturmmann Storm Trooper Gefreiter SS-Sturmmann SSlcplsldr SSSoldBrd Picture Missing
Oberschütze/Obermann Senior Shooter / Senior Trooper Oberschütze SS-Schutze Oberschutze SSPFCptch SSSoldBrd Picture Missing
Schütze/Mann Shooter / Trooper Schütze SS-Schutze Oberschutze No Insignia SSSoldBrd Picture Missing
Anwärter Recruit No Equivalent No Insignia No Insignia No Insignia No Insignia
Bewerber Candidate No Equivalent No Insignia No Insignia No Insignia No Insignia

1932–1934 Edit

SS Rank Translation Army Equivalent Collar Insignia Shoulder Insignia
Obergruppenführer Senior Group Leader General Oldgrpfuhrer SSGeneralBoard
Gruppenführer Group Leader Generalleutnant Oldgrpfhr SSGeneralBoard
Brigadeführer Brigade Leader Generalmajor Picture Missing SSGeneralBoard
Oberführer Senior Leader Brigadier Oldobrfhr SSGeneralBoard
Standartenführer Regiment Leader Oberst FirstSScol Picture Missing
Obersturmbannführer Senior Storm Unit Leader Oberstleutnant Picture Missing
Sturmbannführer Storm Unit Leader Major Picture Missing
Sturmhauptführer Storm Head Leader Hauptmann OldSScptptch Picture Missing
Obersturmführer Senior Storm Leader Oberleutnant Picture Missing Picture Missing
Sturmführer Storm Leader Leutnant SSLT1 Picture Missing
Haupttruppführer Head Troop Leader Stabsfeldwebel SSsrgmagptch Picture Missing
Obertruppführer Senior Troop Leader Oberfeldwebel Picture Missing
Truppführer Troop Leader Feldwebel Picture Missing Picture Missing
Oberscharführer Senior Squad Leader Unterfeldwebel SSSrg1ptch Picture Missing
Scharführer Squad Leader Unteroffizier Picture Missing
Rottenführer Section Leader Obergefreiter Picture Missing
Sturmmann Storm Trooper Gefreiter Picture Missing
Mann Trooper Schütze SSMannptch Picture Missing
Anwärter Recruit Rekrut No Insignia No Insignia

1930–1932 Edit

SS Rank Army Equivalent Collar Insignia
Gruppenführer General Oldgrpfhr
Oberführer Brigadier Oldobrfhr
Standartenführer Colonel FirstSScol
Sturmbannführer Major
Sturmhauptführer Captain Picture Missing
Sturmführer Lieutenant SSLT1
Haupttruppführer Sergeant Major HTfhr
Truppführer Sergeant Tfhr
Scharführer Corporal Schrfhr
Mann Private


1925–1929Edit

SS-Armband

Early SS armband

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:

Police ranksEdit

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.

Waffen-SS GeneralsEdit

SS Generals of the Waffen-SS were 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.

Senior SS TitlesEdit

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:

  • SS-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-SS by non-commissioned officers holding 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 Kriminalpolizei to denote those SS members who were also fully certified detectives. Artur Nebe went by the title of Kriminalrat for most of the 1930s, only using addressing himself by an SS rank when engaged in non-Kripo activities.

Foreign VolunteersEdit

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 HitlerEdit

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 virtue 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.

Additional informationEdit

  • 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 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 Allgemeine-SS rank insignia.

In popular cultureEdit

  • In Harry Turtledove's Southern Victory series of alternate-history novels, the Confederate Freedom Party guards have rank names imitating those of the SS.
  • In the Ian McKellen adaptation 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.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit