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Schütze in German means "shooter" or "rifleman". It also occasionally occurs as a surname, as Schütz, like in the opera Der Wildschütz. The word itself is derived from the German word schützen, meaning to protect, or to guard. It was originally used for archers, and is the German equivalent to Sagittarius.
As a rank of the Armed Forces of Germany in First World War until 1918, Schütze was used for the lowest enlisted ranks in Machine Gun units and some elite troops like Saxon Schützen-Regiment 108 exclusively. Usually translated as "Private", from 1920 on it names the lowest enlisted rank of the Reichswehr Infantry. The equivalent of Schütze in the other branches of the German military was Jäger, Kanonier, Pionier, Kraftfahrer etc. in the Army, Flieger in the Luftwaffe from 1935 on, Matrose and Heizer (until 1938) in the Navy.
The present day German military maintains Schütze as the lowest enlisted grade, with a NATO rank code of OR-1. A Schütze ranks below Gefreiter which is the equivalent of a Private (OR-2); the equivalent of a PFC being an Obergefreiter or Hauptgefreiter (this was different before the 20th-century expansion of the Gefreiter into several ranks).
During various periods in German military history, a senior private rank known as Oberschütze existed between the grades of Schütze and Gefreiter.
In the modern German Army the rank of Schütze is not used very often. Every part of the Bundeswehr has a different name for this Rank. For example, in the Panzergrenadiertruppe (Heavy Mechanized Infantry) the name of the rank is Panzergrenadier, and within the Communication Troops (Fernmelder), the name is Funker (Radio Operator).