Heer shoulder and Marine sleeve insignia
|Rank||German enlisted rank|
|Next higher rank||Oberstabsgefreiter|
|Next lower rank||Hauptgefreiter|
In the 19th century's German Army (de: Heer) the OR2-rank Gefreiter (plural: Gefreite), always belonged to the rank group of enlisted men (below noncommissioned (NCO) level). However, during training and fatigue duty "Gefreite" were competent, authorized, and tasked to act on behalf of NCOs. So "Gefreite" became the first superior of buck privates. Nevertheless, until 1853 there were no special rank insignia to "Gefreiter". Certainly the Vice-Unteroffizier (= Deputy-Unteroffizier; en: deputy sergeant) wore from 1811–1853 the NCO portepee (en: sword-knot).
In 1846 the rank Obergefreiter (OR3; en: 1st/Senior gefreiter) was newly introduced. This rank was characterised by the so-called sergeant's button on the collar and the NCO portepee on the sword. From 1853–1919 promotion to "Obergefreiter" was suspended with the exception of the "Fussartillerie" (en: foot-artillery).
In the early German Reichswehr the ranks "Gefreiter" as well as "Obergefreiter" were characterised by one identical horizontal 9mm "Tressenstreifen" (en: galloon strip) on both upper arms of the uniform jacket.
Regarding regular 12 years duty time onward 1921 the newly introduced enlisted men ranks Oberschütze (en: 1st/Senior rifle man (OR1a)) and "Stabsgefreiter" (OR3; Staff gefreiter) were characterised by cuff chevrons (angular) on the left upper arm. The sequence of enlisted men ranks was now as follows:
- Oberschütze (OR1a, one angle, 1935 replaced by a pip)
- Gefreiter (OR2, two angles)
- Obergefreiter (OR3b, three angles)
- Stabsgefreiter (OR3a, three angles, one pip)
- Matrosenoberstabsgefreiter (introduced by the Kriegsmarine in 1940)
|Heer (Army)||Luftwaffe (Air Force)||Kriegsmarine (Navy)|
|OR-1||Soldat (private)||Flieger (aircraftman)||Matrose (seaman)|
National People's Army
In the GDR National People's Army the rank Stabsgefreiter was OR-3 as well and used until 1990. The equivalent of the Volksmarine was Stabsmatrose.
- See also main articles
A soldier of the German Bundeswehr might be promoted from OR1 Soldat (en: private) to Stabsgefreiter OR4b after a regular service time of 36 months.
(German enlisted men rank)
- BROCKHAUS, The encyclopedia in 24 volumes (1796–2001), Volume 20: 3-7653-3680-7, page 700.
- Official Website (Bundeswehr): Dienstgrade und Uniformen der Bundeswehr (Service Ranks and Uniforms of the German Federal Defence Forces), in German.
- Word and tradition in the German Army (de: Heer), by Transfeldt – v. Brand – Quenstedt, 6th increased edition, Hamburg 11 H.G. Schulz 1967, p. 48(§68).