Oberleutnant (OF-1a) is the highest lieutenant officer rank in the armed forces of Germany (Bundeswehr), Austrian Armed Forces, and Military of Switzerland.

Senior Lieutenant
Army and Air Force insignia
Country Germany
Service branch German Army
 German Air Force
NATO rankOF-1a
Next higher rankHauptmann
Next lower rankLeutnant
Equivalent ranksOberleutnant zur See (Navy)


In the German Army, it dates from the early 19th century. Translated as "senior lieutenant", the rank is typically bestowed upon commissioned officers after five to six years of active duty service.

Oberleutnant is used by both the German Army and the German Air Force. In the NATO military comparison system, a German Oberleutnant is the equivalent of a First lieutenant or Poruchik in the Army/Air Forces of Allied nations.

Other uses

The equivalent naval rank is Oberleutnant zur See.

In Nazi Germany, within the SS, SA and Waffen-SS, the rank of Obersturmführer was considered the equivalent of an Oberleutnant in the German Army.[1][2]

junior Rank

(German officer rank)

senior Rank
Rank insignias Oberleutnant/Oberleutnant zur See (OF-1a)
Service uniform
(basic form)
(Armored corps)
Field uniform
(Armored infantry)
San OA Service uniform
(basic form)
Field uniform San OA Shoulder strap Sleeve insignia Mountain loop San OA

National People's Army

In the GDR National People's Army (NPA) the OF1a-rank «Oberleutnant» was the highest lieutenant rank, comparable to NATO first lieutenant, until 1990. This was in reference to the Soviet military doctrine and in line to other armed forces of the Warsaw pact.

The equivalent rank of the Volksmarine (en: GDR Navy) was the Oberleutnant zur See, later simple Oberleutnant. However, internal the wording Oberleutnant zur See was used continuously. In reference to the Soviet armed forces and to other armed forces of the Warsaw pact Oberleutnant was the second lowest officer rank until 1990.

Junior Rank

National People's Army rank
(Oberleutnant zur See)
Senior Rank
Rank insignias «Oberleutnant» / «Oberleutnant zur See» (OF-1a)
Land forces Air Force GDR Border troops Volksmarine
Oberleutnant Oberleutnant zur See

See also


  1. Flaherty 2004, p. 148.
  2. McNab 2009, p. 15.


  • Flaherty, T. H. (2004) [1988]. The Third Reich: The SS. Time-Life Books, Inc. ISBN 1 84447 073 3.
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The Third Reich. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-906626-51-8.
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