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The Wehrmacht, military of Nazi Germany, established in 1935.

The Weimar Republic had already been covertly breaking the Treaty of Versailles, but the Nazis did it openly.

Component Parts

  • Heer (Army)
  • Kriegsmarine (Navy)
  • Luftwaffe (Air Force)

The SS, itself almost a state within a state, had its own military wing separate from the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS. Particularly later in the war, they tended to get new equipment before the Wehrmacht, not exactly easing their relationship which was already strained.

  • Waffen SS (Waffen Schutzstaffel- "Armed Protection Squad")

Because it is absolutely not true that All Germans Are Nazis, even while Hitler was in power, it should come as no surprise that most members of the Wehrmacht were not in it for the ideology. In fact, there was a fairly clear division between the branches of the Wehrmacht in terms of politics; the Luftwaffe tended to be the most Nazified service, as it had only been re-created under Hitler's regime; the Army was not so much Nazi as merely conservative, especially in its Junker-dominated officer corps (and the Wehrmacht soldiers were more free to crack jokes about Hitler than they were at home); and (as anyone who's seen Das Boot can tell you) the Navy was the least-Nazi service, occasionally considered to be a hotbed of democratic and leftist sentiment (sailors of the High Seas Fleet had started the democratic [[wikipedia:German Revolution of 1918%E280%9319|German Revolution]] at the end of WorldWarOne). Hitler himself was known to joke that he had "a conservative army, a Nazi air force, and a communist navy."

Given this situation, My Country, Right or Wrong was a very common attitude among many Wehrmacht soldiers. Due to German laws, everyone needed to resign from a political party before joining the Wehrmacht. While a few were supporters of the Nazi regime, most were just conscripts (just like many other militaries). Even the Hitler salute was not used by the Wehrmacht unless they were greeting Hitler. By July 1944, with everything falling apart, the distinction between the military and the Nazi Party had all but disappeared.

As part of a means of keeping the Wehrmacht in check, Hitler created an extremely convoluted chain-of-command to keep the branches from working in concert, and thus, keep all of them from being a threat to his power. The Oberkommando der Heer, for example, was in charge of the Eastern Front while the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was in charge of all other theaters. In fact, the OKW and OKH headquarters outside Berlin were so isolated from each other that the staff joked either bunker could be destroyed and the other one would not notice for days. Only in the final days of the war did Hitler finally make the OKH subservient to the OKW.

Apes with steel helmets: the Heer

Leader: Ferdinand Schörner Second: Hanz Krebbs

The largest organization of the German war machine, the Heer is often erroneously referred to as the Wehrmacht. Properly, the Wehrmacht refers to the entire armed forces of Nazi Germany while the Heer refers to the ground forces. The most recognized symbol of the Heer was the "coal scuttle" helmet known as the Stahlhelm ("steel helmet"). It was such a popular design that it was used by the rest of the Wehrmacht, as well as civil organizations such as police and fire departments. Today, it can still be seen in the Chilean Army, with American military PASGT helmets having a similar swooped-back design (which has found its way back into the German military). Neutral Ireland used this helmet in the first year of WW 2. But with British soldiers on the other side of the border, nervous about any sign at all of a German invasion through the Irish back door, it was thought wise to retire it and replace it with a different design. Irish soldiers patrolling their side of the border in German-style helmets and uniforms were considered too much of an accident waiting to happen.

Many of the high-ranking Heer officers were respected by their Allied opponents. The most famous of these is Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox and the Trope Namer of Magnificent Bastard. Churchill himself said it was a shame Rommel was on the other side. As most in the Heer were conscripts who believed in "My Country, Right or Wrong", quite a few officers were able to salvage their careers following the war. Erich von Manstein, known as the master of strategy, became a senior advisor to the new West German military in the 1950s.

Compared to other infantry forces, the Heer used mission-type tactics, with squads given a specific goal and any means to achieve it. The Heer also introduced a revolutionary new formation: the Panzer division. In World War I, the new technology known as the tank was used as an infantry support vehicle. The Germans switched things around and focused on the tank as the principle weapon of attack which was supported by infantry, which was mechanized for the first time so that they could keep up with the advance. Contrary to popular belief, the Panzer divisions did not have more tanks then contemporary Allied formations (in fact they usually had less) but instead were designed from the ground up as combined arms forces with tanks, mechanized infantry and organic artillery and reconnaissance built in rather than working together in an ad-hoc fashion.

As part of their training, Heer infantrymen were encouraged to think two steps of command above themselves. That way, if their squad leaders were killed, the troopers next in line could take charge quickly.

Gnarly Weapons

Despite the common belief that German weaponry was exclusively high-tech, the average soldier in the Heer would find himself equipped with a Mauser bolt-action rifle, the Karabiner 98 Kurz, a slight modernisation of a weapon his grandfather would have been familiar with. It was a perfectly servicable rifle (although nothing special in WWII terms) and was comparable to the Russian Mosin-Nagant and Japanese Arisaka, though the Mauser action was significantly slower than that used by the British Lee-Enfield. These started to be replaced in the middle of the war with the Gewehr 43, which is a bit comparable with American M1 Garand.

Probably the most iconic German weapon of WWII was the MP-40 sub-machine gun. Near ubiquitous in war films, it wasn't quite so common in real life as it was only really useful in short ranged firefights (such as Stalingrad, where the Germans realized how useful entire squads armed with sub-machine guns are in urban settings). It was issued to paratroopers, tank crews, platoon and squad leaders. The MP-40 is also noteworthy for being specifically designed to be easy to mass produce.


Nazi Germany developed a lot of military technology that remains in use today. The idea of disposable one-shot anti-tank weapons started with the German Panzerfaust. The first widely used assault rifle, the MP43 / MP44 / Sturmgewehr 44 (StG44), was of Nazi origin. For other stuff see below.

The iconic pistol associated with Nazis is the Pistole 08, universally known as the "Luger". The pistol was actually used in World War One, but was gradually being replaced by the Walther P38 after 1938. The pistol just looks evil (so does the P38, just that it's slightly boxier) and enough were collected as trophies by Allied soldiers to ensure continued currency. The P38 is also associated with another evil figure in modern culture, Megatron.

The MG-34 was the first General Purpose Machine Gun to be adopted by any nation, and its successor - the infamous MG-42 machine gun - is actually still in use by many countries, including Germany itself, as the MG-3 (with only minor modifications).

Paratroopers or Fallschirmjager soldiers were sometimes equipped with the FG-42 Paratroop Rifle It was one of the first selective fire weapons and had a hand in the development of modern assault rifles. It was made in limited numbers so most paratroopers would have used the MP40 instead.

Perhaps the greatest innovation in personal equipment the Nazis came up with, however, was not a weapon at all. The Wehrmachtskanister, better known as the "jerrycan", might seem totally ordinary nowadays, but in 1939 it was considered so advanced and secret that German soldiers were ordered to destroy them if there was a risk of their being captured. Compared to the flimsy, leaky fluid containers used by other armies (it was estimated the British in North Africa lost 30% of all shipped fuel to leaking containers), the jerrycan was nothing short of miraculous; it could be opened and closed without the use of tools, was self-sealing without additional parts, included a pouring spout rather than requiring a funnel, couldn't be overfilled as a failsafe against heat and vapor expansion and was still cheap to manufacture despite being much more sturdy. The design proved so good that it remains in use to this day by both military forces and civilians.

Halftracks and hooves

Perhaps the most distinctive of Nazi Germany's transport vehicles were their numerous halftracks; the Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251 series of halftracks (often simply called "Hanomags" after their manufacturer) being the most common of these. In spite of this, the majority of German supplies were still moved using horse-drawn limbers, including most light and medium field artillery pieces; only the heaviest would be moved by the giant "Famo" prime movers. It has been suggested that the reason the Germans did not resort to chemical warfare in WWII (as both sides had in WWI) was due to the reliance on horse-power transport to support their mobile style of maneuver warfare.

Big kitty cats: the Panzers

Nazi Germany always appreciated the tank's role in combined arms, building fast, relatively light tanks at the start of the war to support infantry; the Panzer I was only ever intended as a training tank and was equipped with two machine guns, while the Panzer II carried a 20 mm gun. Germany's ability to engage heavy armour was very poor right up until partway through the campaign in Russia; in France, Rommel found the British Matildas could not be damaged at all by anything short of his HQ's giant fixed 88 mm FlaKs. In Russia a single KV-2 tank held up elements of the Sixth Panzer Division for over a day, and in an ambush at Krasnogvardeysk five KV-1 tanks destroyed 43 German tanks with no losses whatsoever. Events like this showed a clear need for heavier hardware.

The result was the up-gunning of the Panzer IV, formerly an infantry tank specifically not designed to engage armour; many obsolete hulls were turned into tank destroyers with heavier fixed main guns, and a new series of Panzers envisioned; larger, with heavy armour and powerful main guns. Despite that, the Panzer IV would remain the Heer's workhorse for the duration of the war.

Commencing the Heer's late-war policy of trying to put an 88 mm gun on absolutely everything (tanks, tank destroyers, chairs, trees, surprised farm animals, etc), the Tiger I was the first of the new heavy tanks. While it used a traditional armour scheme and was hideously over-engineered (to the point where the manual was a picture book made by the tank crews), it proved a fearsome opponent. Almost as famous, and produced in much larger numbers, was the Pz V Panther medium tank which featured thick, sloped armour, excellent firepower, good mobility and is widely viewed as the best all round tank of the war. However, the late war tanks suffered from rushed development and were never as reliable in service as their American and Russian opponents. In addition, their high quality and over-engineering meant that Panthers and Tigers were incredibly outnumbered by Shermans and T-34s, which the Americans and Russians could crank out in vast numbers very quickly. Another factor that limited their effectiveness was Allied air superiority. Tigers and Panthers could not risk staying in the open too long for fear of being strafed by Allied planes.

Wolf-packs and battleships: the Kriegsmarine

Leader: Karl Dönitz Second: Hans-Georg von Friedeberg

The U-boats (unterseeboot, "undersea boat") were not true submarines in the modern sense of the word, but rather submersibles - they spent most of their time on the surface and were slow underwater. Midway through the war Germany employed the schnorchel (snorkel) device, which they copied from a pair of Dutch submarines captured in 1940 (their design having been begun in in 1938), allowing U-boats to draw air from the surface and stay underwater indefinitely. The U-boats were probably the single most successful weapon at the Kriegsmarine's disposal, but even they had issues; persistant problems with faulty torpedoes led to many vessels escaping destruction, and at least two U-boats sank themselves with faulty acoustic homing torpedoes. Even with those corrected, U-boat tactics and technology would be outpaced by Allied anti-submarine warfare (ASW) tactics and technology, leading to tremendous losses for the U-boat service.

Note: (The Type XXI U-boat was the first true submarine thanks to the snorkel, a greatly increased battery capacity and much greater submerged speed than previous U-boats, but due to severe construction faults all but two Type XXIs would never make it to wartime patrol... and then Germany surrendered before either of those two could sink a ship.)

Because Admiral Karl Doenitz expected the British to adopt the convoy system quickly, which led to a sharp decline in kills by U-boats during the first world war, he instituted a new tactic for dealing with them: the Wolfsrudel, or wolf pack. A group of five or more U-boats would stalk a convoy by day and then attack at night. Due to Doenitz's micromanagement of the Atlantic campaign, this tactic was eventually turned against itself; with his high usage of radio traffic, the Allies were eventually able to hunt down the boats with High Frequency Direction Finding ("Huff-Duff"). However, in their heyday, known as the "Happy Time", this tactic did prove deadly against convoys. It proved so useful that the Americans started using wolf pack tactics in the Pacific Theater against the Japanese.

Germany's surface navy wasn't up to a tremendous amount. Capital ships take a long time to design and build and the Navy had scarely begun its ambitious expansion plans when the war started (Admiral Raeder had been assured by Hitler that there wouldn't be a major war until 1945). It's widely agreed that, without Alien Space Bats, Operation Sealion would have failed as the landing craft would have been devastated by British naval power, and because, lacking the mobile harbours of operation Overlord, it would have had to have taken one of the British channel ports relatively intact to keep the invasion forces supplied. Notably, Nazi Germany never completed an aircraft carrier, though two were laid down; this was largely due to politics. Hitler found the carriers thoroughly uninteresting and Goering viewed the concept of a naval air arm as undermining the Luftwaffe's authority; Erich Raeder even found opposition within the Kriegsmarine itself from the influential Admiral Karl Dönitz. Much of the ocean-going fleet was seriously damaged in the Norwegian campaign. Various measures took care of their two biggest capital ships, Bismarck and Tirpitz; even if they hadn't, both ships were hardly state-of-the-art, using two types of deck guns rather than modern dual-purpose guns and an obsolete pre-Jutland armouring scheme that left their rudders and steering gear without any effective protection.

While the Kriegsmarine was generally more liberal than the rest of the Wehrmacht, they did serve a rather unwitting role in the Holocaust. After returning from a successful patrol, U-boat crews were treated to a luxurious train ride back to Germany. In one of the cars, the crews found a large sea chest inscribed "From the Commander-in-Chief of the U-boats to his men". Inside were hundreds of pocket watches of every type: small ones, big ones, gold ones, Arabic numbers, Roman numerals, but each one without a chain. These watches were taken from the discarded clothing of Jews in concentration camps. Many U-boat crewmen would later say that the fact none of these watches had chains made them very uneasy.

Like the Heer soldiers, because the fleet was anti-Nazi, many Kriegsmarine officers were able to salvage their careers in the new West German military. Fregattenkapitan (Commander) Otto Kretschmer and Erich Topp, the first and third highest scoring U-boat aces respectively, joined the Bundesmarine and eventually retired with the lovely ranks of Flottillenadmiral and Konteradmiral (Rear Admiral).

Unlike just about every other navy, the Kriegsmarine never developed a marine corps. Part of the reason was because, well, Germany didn't need one. All of its campaigns were over land and the few island invasions were conducted by paratroopers. If Operation Sea Lion went ahead, the Heer would have been the invasion force. Another reason was simply how the Wehrmacht operated, with each branch operating on its own. In the last months of the war, the Kriegsmarine did start to organize its personnel into infantry divisions, mostly because they were cut off from their French ports and there was not much else to do until the surrender.

U-boat Types:

  • Type II: Short-range boat. Used to patrol coastal waters.
  • Type VII: Medium-range boat. The workhorse of the U-boat fleet. Many of the most well-known boats were of this type, such as U-96 (used in Das Boot).
  • Type IX: Long-range boat. Used to patrol waters off of America or Africa.
  • Type XIV: Supply boat, nicknamed the "Milchkuh" ("Milk Cow"). Only ten were built and all ten were sunk.
  • Type XXI: The first true submarine, in that it was designed for use solely underwater. Readied in the final months of the war, only two made wartime patrols, neither of which sunk any ships.


Warbirds large and small: the Luftwaffe

Leader: Herman Göring Second: Robert Ritter von Greim

The Luftwaffe found substantial favour with Hitler for much of the early war, and was a key element in Nazi Germany's highly effective combined-arms strategy; the infamous Stuka dive-bombers were a common sight on the front lines, attacking targets in support of advancing tanks and infantry. Politically, the Luftwaffe was committed mainly to a tactical bombing role, with Goering convinced that there was no need for Germany to field the four-engined heavy bombers that formed the backbone of the RAF and US Army Air Force's strategic bombing operations. The Luftwaffe high command generally tried to do things their own way; Goering even at first resisted the idea of tricycle undercarriage on the Me 262, saying the nosewheel was "too American."

The Luftwaffe's strength as a fighting force was severely damaged by the Battle of Britain, as Hitler, not satisfied with early results, demanded a shift from tactical bombing of British industry, RAF airfields and radar installations to strategic bombing of major cities, something the Luftwaffe was in no way equipped to carry out; Bf 109 escorts would arrive at London with just ten minutes' worth of fuel remaining, not nearly enough to offer effective protection for their charges. The battle proved a disaster, failing to meet its objective of gaining air superiority over England as a prelude to an amphibious invasion, and significantly decreasing the Luftwaffe's political influence.

Germany was one of the first countries to get jet aircraft into military service (the jet engine was an independent, simultaneous German and British invention, as agreed on by both inventors), but the Me 262 arrived too late in the war to have a major impact due to a lack of pilots, fuel, manufacturing capacity, viable runways (the plane required a longer runway to take off), and raw materials. It is also sometimes argued that Hitler himself crippled the Me 262 program by demanding that the new aircraft be purposed as a fighter-bomber rather than the originally designed air superiority fighter. Powerful engines that would have made it a nimble and incredibly fast interceptor made for a merely decent ground attack aircraft due to their high fuel consumption, and heavy bombs ruined the jet's biggest advantage -- an enormous climb speed.

Unlike other militaries, the Luftwaffe had its own ground troops: the Fallschirmjäger, or paratrooper (normally, paratroopers are part of the army and not the air force). Germany employed the first large scale airborne operations during their invasion of Norway. However, a massive loss at Crete convinced Hitler that airborne operations would no longer be feasible. Ironically, the Allies were so impressed by the Fallshirmjäger's performance at Crete that they started building up their own airborne divisions (which would play a critical role at Normandy). For the rest of the war, they were pretty much used alongside regular infantry forces. Luckily, they did get a pretty nice Crowning Moment of Awesome in 1943: the rescue of Mussolini without the loss of a single life. The guys were so elite, they had their own [[wikipedia:Fallschirmj%C3A4ger (World War II)#The Parachutist.27s .22Ten Commandments.22|Ten Commandments]] for combat.

The Luftwaffe had more troops than just the elite Fallschirmjäger. Goering had the "bright idea" to bolster Eastern Front strength by building field divisions from ground, support and other auxiliary personnel. In total, the Luftwaffe Field Divisions bolstered strength by some 200,000 to 250,000 troops. Sadly, these guys were pretty much just one step up from the Volkssturm, the difference being these were men who were in their prime to actually serve as soldiers. They performed horribly in combat and were eventually reduced to rear duties.

Worst of the worst: Die Schutzstaffel

Leader: Heinrich Himmler Second: Hermann Fegelein

The Schutzstaffel (Protection Squad) rose from being a simple thousand man bodyguard detail for Hitler to a state-within-a-state. After the war, Himmler intended to make an SS nation out of Schleswig-Holstein, with his men being the absolute highest order of the master race (and even held on to these goals in the last week of the war). While the SS itself was not a part of the Wehrmacht, two of its sections were respectively under the command of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (High Command) and attached to Heer units. These were the Waffen (Armed) SS and Einsatzgruppen ("Task forces"). These were administrated by Hermann Fegelein. Yes, that Fegelein.

The Waffen SS was a mostly-volunteer organisation with many recruits from across Europe, ranging from Germans to Austrians to White Russians to French to Scandinavians to Muslim Bosniaks and even to Indians. In some ways, a Nazi version of the French Foreign Legion. At its height, it consisted of around 1,000,000 total personnel. The reason for this being the fact Heer could not recruit men who were not German citizens for being bound by pre-war military regulations, while the SS was not - they were responsible practically in all matters to Heinrich Himmler and above him to the Führer himself.

It is a myth that the entirety of the Waffen SS was elite. Many of them actually received poorer equipment and training than their Heer counterparts, and only three divisions are generally considered by militaria experts to be elite, namely the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte (Life Guard) Adolf Hitler, Hitler's personal bodyguard, the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, infamous for their actions at the French town of Oradour-sur-Glane (it says something that the officer responsible would probably have been tried for war crimes even if Germany had won the war) and the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf, infamous for both their Death's Head insignia and their roots in the prewar Totenkopfverbände (Death's Head Organisation), which administered the prewar (and slightly less brutal) concentration camp system. The SS was notorious for scavenging enemy weapons, especially the Soviet SVT-40, which was used because their own semiautomatic rifles were so seldom supplied. In fact many of the enlisted men in the earlier days of the 3rd SS Division had been guards at conectration camps. Other few Waffen SS divisions (at least 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen, 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg, 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, 28th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Wallonien and 34th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Landstorm Nederland) claimed elite status similar to the first 3 divisions, due to both their arduous training and the fierce resistance they displayed when facing enemies, Hitlerjugend being renowned for their fierce attitude during the Normandy battles.

The Einsatzgruppen were death squads established by SS leader Heinrich Himmler for the purpose of murdering Jews, Gypsies and Soviet political commissars. They were a far smaller group, consisting of around 15,000 members. 6 groups of them existed, 2 of them thankfully never seeing action. They were responsible for the deaths of more than 1,300,000 people, among their most infamous crimes being the massacre of 33,771 civilians at Babi Yar, a ravine near the capital of Ukraine.

Thunderbolts from a clear sky: Nazi rocketry

Germany was the first country to use cruise missiles (the V-1) and ballistic missiles (the V-2) in a war, against France, Britain and Belgium.

The former, sometimes known as "The Doodlebug" or "Buzz-Bomb" due to its distinctive noise, had a system where the missile would be forced into a dive after a certain number of revolutions, which also cut the engine. Once the engine stopped, people on the ground knew an explosion was imminent. The V-1 was somewhat inaccurate, generally falling short of London and false intelligence from British double agents led to this not being corrected before the V-1 sites were overrun by the Allies. They could also be shot down with anti-aircraft gun firing shells with proximity fuses, while fighter planes were able to down them, albeit with considerable difficulty. One popular, though difficult and potentially dangerous, method used by fighter pilots was to slide one of their planes' wingtips underneath a V-1's wingtip, then tilt their planes' wings until the V-1 tipped over (the V-1's rudimentary guidance system, which was basically a gyroscope and little more, could not stabilize the missile if it made too much a turn). That’s right: to defeat a V-1, make it Do A Barrel Roll.

The latter was built using slave labour, killing far more people in its construction than its actual use (c.25,000 v. 7,000). There was no warning and no defence against these - not only did the V-2's engine cut off long before impact, the missile was traveling faster than sound when it came down. As noted in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, this produced the very eerie effect of a large explosion followed by the whistling sound of an incoming projectile. A project that would have allowed V-2s to be launched at US cities from a sub-towed platform was tested, but never really got anywhere and probably wouldn't have been very effective anyway.

When the war ended, the Allies sneered at the great cost of the V Weapons - especially compared to the actual damage they inflicted - whilst simultaneously rushing to copy them. Both the US and the USSR grabbed as much V-2 stuff as they could, brought back personnel (sometimes overlooking possible war crimes) and created the modern version of the Mad Scientist in the process. Wernher von Braun, a major player in the V-2 project, would later create the launchers that would take man to the Moon.

We still have reserves, dammit!: the Volkssturm

Military service has been part of German society for decades, so it was not surprising to see that most men in Germany had some military experience. In 1944, with the Red Army rapidly approaching, Hitler ordered the creation of a national militia to bolster strength. On paper, they could mobilize roughly six million men to defend the country against the Soviets. This lead to the creation of the Volkssturm (People's Militia).

In practice, this boiled down to rounding up anyone who was not already in the Wehrmacht or Waffen-SS in some capacity. Nazi supporters would "conscript" old men, many of whom were veterans of the First World War, and place a gun in their hands in the hopes of killing as many Russians as possible. Boys from the Hitler Youth were also given weapons. Allied solders were shocked and disbelieving at being attacked by children, who were often fiercer than the old men due to youthful foolishness and actually believing in Nazism. There was barely any standardization. For uniforms, only a few managed wear from the stockpiles, while most Volkssturm members simply wore their own clothes with Nazi armbands. With the tattered remnants of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS, the Volkssturm comprised a good number of Berlin's defense forces.

Regular army officers called Volkssturm battalions "casseroles" because they were a mixture of old meat and green vegetables.

Ranks

Heer

  • Enlisted Ranks
    • Grenadier/Fusilier (Equivalent to Private)
    • Obergrenadier/Oberfusilier (Equivalent to Private First Class)
    • Gefreiter (Equivalent to Lance Corporal)
    • Obergefreiter (Equivalent to Corporal)
    • Hauptgefreiter (Equivalent to Senior Corporal)
    • Stabsgefreiter (Equivalent to Administrative Corporal)
  • Non-Commisioned Officer Ranks
    • Unteroffizier (Equivalent to Sergeant)
    • Unterfeldwebel (Equivalent to Staff Sergeant)
    • Feldwebel (Equivalent to Sergeant First Class)
    • Oberfeldwebel (Equivalent to Master Sergeant or Warrant Officer Class Two)
    • Stabsfeldwebel (Equivalent to Sergeant Major)
  • Commissioned Officer Ranks
    • Leutnant (Equivalent to 2nd Lieutenant)
    • Oberleutnant (Equivalent to (1st) Lieutenant)
    • Hauptmann (Equivalent to Captain)
    • Major
    • Oberstleutnant (Equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel)
    • Oberst (Equivalent to Colonel)
    • Generalmajor (Equivalent to Brigadier General)
    • Generalleutnant (Equivalent to Major General)
    • General der (arm) (Equivalent to Lieutenant General)
      • Arms included Kavallerie (calvary), Artillerie (artillery), Infanterie (infantry), Panzertruppen (armoured troops), Gebirgstruppen (mountain troops), Pioniere (engineers), Fallschirmtruppen (parachute troops), and Nachrichtentruppen (communications troops).
    • Generaloberst (Equivalent to General)
    • Generalfeldmarschall (Equivalent to Field Marshal or General of the Army)

Kriegsmarine

  • Rates
    • Matrose (Equivalent to Seaman)
    • Matrosengefreiter (Equivalent to Ordinary Seaman)
    • Matrosenobergefreiter (Equivalent to Able Seaman)
    • Matrosenhauptgefreiter (Equivalent to Leading Seaman 3rd class)
    • Matrosenstabsgefreiter (Equivalent to Leading Seaman 2nd class)
    • Matrosenoberstabsgefreiter (Equivalent to Leading Seaman 1st class)
  • Non-Commisioned Officer Ranks
    • Maat (Equivalent to Petty Officer 3rd class)
    • Obermaat (Equivalent to Petty Officer 2nd class)
    • Feldwebel (Equivalene to Petty Officer 1st class)
    • Stabfeldwebel (Equivalent to Chief Petty Officer)
    • Oberfeldwebel (Equivalent to Warrant Officer)
    • Staboberfelbwebel (Equivalent to Chief Warrant Officer)
  • Commissioned Officer Ranks
    • Leutnant zur See (Equivalent to Ensign)
    • Oberleutnant zur See(Equivalent to Lieutenant Junior Grade)
    • Kapitanleutant (Equivalent to Lieutenant)
    • Korvettenkapitan (Equivalent to Lieutenant Commander)
    • Fregattenkapitan (Equivalent to Commander)
    • Kapitan zur See (Equivalent to Captain)
    • Kommodore (Equivalent to Commodore)
    • Konteradmiral (Equivalent to Rear Admiral)
    • Vizeadmiral (Equivalent to Vice Admiral)
    • Admiral (Equivalent to Admiral)
    • Grossadmiral (Equivalent to Fleet Admiral)

Luftwaffe

  • Enlisted Ranks
    • Flieger (Equivalent to Airman Basic or Aircraftman)
    • Gefreiter (Equivalent to Airman)
    • Obergefreiter (Equivalent to Airman First Class)
    • Hauptgefreiter (Equivalent to Senior Airman or Corporal)
  • Non-Commisioned Officer Ranks
    • Unteroffizier (Equivalent to Staff Sergeant or Sergeant)
    • Unterfeldwebel (Equivalent to Technical Sergeant or Flight Sergeant)
    • Hauptwachtmeister (Equivalent to Master Sergeant)
    • Stabsfeldwebel (Equivalent to Warrant Officer Master Aircrew)
  • Commissioned Officer Ranks
    • Leutnant (Equivalent to 2nd Lieutenant or Flying Officer)
    • Oberleutnant (Equivalent to 1st Lieutenant or Flight Lieutenant)
    • Hauptmann (Equivalent to Captain or Squadron Leader)
    • Major (Equivalent to Wing Commander)
    • Oberstleutnant (Equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel or Group Captain)
    • Oberst (Equivalent to Colonel or Air Commodore)
    • Generalmajor (Equivalent to Brigadier General or Air Marshal)
    • Generalleutnant (Equivalent to Major General or Air Chief Marshal)
    • General der Flieger (General of the Aviators; Equivalent to Lieutenant General)
    • Generaloberst (Equivalent to General)
    • Reichsmarschall (Special rank created for Hermann Goering, equivalent to General of the Air Force or Marshal of the Royal Air Force)

Waffen SS

  • Enlisted Ranks
    • SS-Schütze (Equivalent to Private)
    • SS-Oberschütze (Equivalent to Private First Class)
    • SS-Sturmmann (Equivalent to Lance Corporal)
    • SS-Rottenführer (Equivalent to Corporal)
  • Non-Commissioned Officer Ranks
    • SS-Unterscharführer (Equivalent to Sergeant)
    • SS-Scharführer (Equivalent to Staff Sergeant
    • SS-Oberscharführer (Translates to ?Sergeant First Class?)
    • SS-Hauptscharführer (Equivalent to Master Sergeant)
    • SS-Sturmscharführer (Equivalent to Sergeant Major)
  • Commissioned Officer Ranks
    • SS-Untersturmführer (Equivalent to Second Lieutenant)
    • SS-Obersturmführer (Equivalent to (1st) Lieutenant)
    • SS-Hauptsturmführer (Equivalent to Captain)
    • SS-Sturmbannführer (Equivalent to Major)
    • SS-Obersturmbannführer (Equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel)
    • SS-Standartenführer (Equivalent to Colonel)
    • SS-Oberführer (Equivalent to Brigadier-General)
    • SS-Brigadeführer (Equivalent to Major General)
    • SS-Gruppenführer (Equivalent to Lieutenant General)
    • SS-Obergruppenführer (Equivalent to General)
    • SS-Oberstgruppenführer (Equivalent to Field Marshal or General of the Army)
    • Reichsführer-SS (Special rank for the head of the entire Schutzstaffel. Equivalent to General of the Armies)

The Wehrmacht in Fiction

Where do we start?

The standard soldiers of the Wehrmacht have been Mooks since (and even during) the Second World War. They're generally considered Acceptable Targets, so to speak. They can't shoot straight (contrary to their Real Life counterparts).

The SS are almost always utterly evil.

There have been some notable recent German works on the Wehrmacht, making them more human and providing an interest perspective from the other side.

Not to be confused with Stupid Jetpack Hitler.

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