Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian, and Swiss armies. While Haupt in contemporary German means 'main', it also has and originally had the meaning of 'head', i.e. Hauptmann literally translates to 'head-man', which is also the etymological root of captain (from Latin caput, 'head'). It equates to the rank of captain in the British and US Armies, and is rated OF-2 in NATO.
Army and Air Force insignia
|Next higher rank||Major|
|Next lower rank||Oberleutnant|
|Equivalent ranks||Kapitänleutnant (Navy)|
More generally, it can be used to denote the head of any hierarchically structured group of people, often as a compound word. For example, a Feuerwehrhauptmann is the captain of a fire brigade, while Räuberhauptmann refers to the leader of a gang of robbers.
Official Austrian and German titles incorporating the word include Landeshauptmann, Bezirkshauptmann, Burghauptmann, and Berghauptmann.
Hauptmann (from Early Modern High German Heubtmann) is cognate with the Swedish hövitsman, which also has the root meaning 'head-man' or 'the man at the head', and is closely related to hövding, meaning 'chieftain'. Since medieval times, both titles have been used for state administrators rather than military personnel. Heubtmann may also be the origin of the title hetman, used in Central and Eastern Europe.
On the shoulder straps (Heer, Luftwaffe) there are three silver pips (stars).
German Bundeswehr officer rank