Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Feldwebel

Feldwebel

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Feldwebel'
Start a new discussion about 'Feldwebel'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Feldwebel is a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 military rank which has existed since at least the 18th century with usage as a title dating to the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. The word Feldwebel is usually translated as sergeant
Sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

 being rated OR-6 in the NATO rank comparison scale
Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies Enlisted
The following lists the enlisted ranks and insignia of NATO member armies:-Other/Enlisted ranks :-See also:* NATO* Ranks and insignia of NATO* Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies Officers* Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies Enlisted...

, equivalent to the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 Sergeant  and the US Army Staff Sergeant.

The rank of Feldwebel also exists in a number of higher grades, such as Haupt-Feldwebel, Stabs-Feldwebel and Oberstabs-Feldwebel. These are rated OR-7 to OR –9, equivalent to the higher grades of Sergeant (US) and of Sergeants-Major (British).

The rank has also been borrowed by several other militaries, namely Swedish fältväbel, Russian фельдфебель (fel'dfebel'), Bulgarian фелдфебел (feldfebel), Finnish vääpeli and Estonian veebel.

The German word Feldwebel derives from the old German term 'waibel', a part of a loom
Loom
A loom is a device used to weave cloth. The basic purpose of any loom is to hold the warp threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of the weft threads...

 to bring all strings on a line. The Landsknecht
Landsknecht
Landsknechte were European, predominantly German mercenary pikemen and supporting foot soldiers from the late 15th to the late 16th century, and achieved the reputation for being the universal mercenary of Early modern Europe.-Etymology:The term is from German, Land "land, country" + Knecht...

 regiments first installed Feldwaibel to keep the men at line at the battlefield. In the Swiss Army, the rank is still today called Feldweibel.

19th century and German Kaiserreich


Feldwebel gained its widest usage under the German military beginning from the early 19th century. The highest ranking Non-Commissioned Officer
Unteroffiziere mit Portepee
Unteroffiziere mit Portepee, literally "petty officers with swordknot", is the designation for German senior non-commissioned officers in the German Army. The name derives from earlier traditions in which senior enlisted men would carry a sword into battle. The word portepee derives from French...

 until 1918, the Feldwebel acted as Company Sergeant Major
Company Sergeant Major
A company sergeant major is the senior non-commissioned soldier of a company in the armies of many Commonwealth countries, responsible for standards and discipline. In combat, his prime responsibility is the supply of ammunition to the company...

. By contrast with some other countries, the position and duty of Regimental Sergeant Major
Regimental Sergeant Major
Regimental Sergeant Major is an appointment held by warrant officers class 1 in the British Army, the British Royal Marines and in the armies of many Commonwealth nations, including Australia and New Zealand; and by chief warrant officers in the Canadian Forces...

 never existed in Germany.

From 1877 veteran NCOs could be promoted to the rank of Feldwebel-Leutnant. This Army Reserve officer ranked with the Commissioned Officers, but was always inferior to the lowest Leutnant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

.

From 1887 the Offizierstellvertreter (Deputy Officer) ranked as a kind of Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer
A warrant officer is an officer in a military organization who is designated an officer by a warrant, as distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission, or from non-commissioned officer who is designated an officer by virtue of seniority.The rank was first...

 (more NCO than officer) between Feldwebel and the commissioned officers.

There were three further NCO ranks: Vizefeldwebel (Vice Feldwebel, senior NCO), Sergeant (junior NCO) and Unteroffizier
Unteroffizier
Unteroffizier is both a specific military rank as well as a collective term for non-commissioned officers of the German military that has existed since the 19th century. The rank existed as a title as early as the 17th century with the first widespread usage occurring in the Bavarian Army of the...

(Lance Sergeant or Corporal, junior NCO). The Gefreiter
Gefreiter
Gefreiter is the German, Swiss and Austrian equivalent for the military rank Private . Gefreiter was the lowest rank to which an ordinary soldier could be promoted. As a military rank it has existed since at least the 16th century...

was not an NCO as he had no powers of authority, and was a higher grade of private soldier.

Reichswehr and Wehrmacht


After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, in the German Reichswehr
Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

and Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

, the Feldwebel grade was divided into several ranks:
  • Feldwebel (deputy platoon leader)
  • Oberfeldwebel (platoon leader, possible appointment to Hauptfeldwebel
    Hauptfeldwebel
    In the German military, the appointment of Hauptfeldwebel was the German equivalent of a Commonwealth Company Sergeant Major or American Company First Sergeant. There was one such non-commissioned officer in every infantry company, artillery battery, cavalry squadron, etc...

    )
  • Stabsfeldwebel (special rank reserved for 25-year volunteers only.)


Feldwebel and above were Unteroffiziere mit Portepee
Unteroffiziere mit Portepee
Unteroffiziere mit Portepee, literally "petty officers with swordknot", is the designation for German senior non-commissioned officers in the German Army. The name derives from earlier traditions in which senior enlisted men would carry a sword into battle. The word portepee derives from French...

(Senior NCOs); Unterfeldwebel and Unteroffiziere were Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee
Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee
Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee is the designation for German junior non-commissioned officers in the German army...

(Junior NCOs). In 1921, the rank of Sergeant was renamed Unterfeldwebel. Unterfeldwebels did duty as squad/section leaders.

The Stabsfeldwebel rank was reserved for those who had enlisted for 25 year terms of service in the pre-war German military and those who were enlisted for shorter terms were not eligible to hold this rank.

The appointment of Hauptfeldwebel
Hauptfeldwebel
In the German military, the appointment of Hauptfeldwebel was the German equivalent of a Commonwealth Company Sergeant Major or American Company First Sergeant. There was one such non-commissioned officer in every infantry company, artillery battery, cavalry squadron, etc...

(Company Sergeant Major/First Sergeant) could be held by Stabsfeldwebels or Oberfeldwebels only. NCOs of a lower rank (Feldwebel, Unterfeldwebel, Unteroffizier) holding this position were titled Hauptfeldwebeldiensttuer (i.e. acting Hauptfeldwebel).

Not all Heer NCO's in this grade were called Feldwebel, which was a rank in the infantry tradition. In the cavalry and artillery, for example, the equivalent rank was Wachtmeister
Wachtmeister
Wachtmeister was a German, Austrian and Swiss military rank of non-commissioned officers. It was also adopted into Russian Army vakhmistr and was used as Sergeant-grade rank in cavalry , then Special Corps of Gendarmes and Cossack cavalry and Cossack Leib Guard units...

,
in the signals Funkmeister, in the ordnance branch Feuerwerker.
In the Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

the Oberscharführer
Oberscharführer
Oberscharführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that existed between the years of 1932 and 1945. Translated as “Senior Squad Leader”, Oberscharführer was first used as a rank of the Sturmabteilung and was created due to an expansion of the enlisted positions required by growing SA membership...

was the equivalent of Feldwebel in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Bundeswehr


In the modern German Bundeswehr
Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

, Feldwebel is considered a Senior NCO, due in part to the large number of Corporal positions which exist as junior grades.

The modern Bundeswehr NCO ranks are as follows:
  • Junior NCOs – Unteroffizier, Stabsunteroffizier (NATO-Rank Code OR 5a, 5c)
  • Senior NCOs – Feldwebel, Oberfeldwebel (OR 6a, 6c), Hauptfeldwebel (OR 7)
  • Senior NCOs receiving officers' pay – Stabsfeldwebel (OR 8), Oberstabsfeldwebel (OR 9)

(Fahnenjunker (OR 5b), Fähnrich (OR 6b) and Oberfähnrich (OR 7/OR 8) are ranks only held by officers candidates.)

In the Bundeswehr, Hauptfeldwebel is no longer an appointment, but a rank. Hauptfeldwebels and above may hold the equivalents of the appointment of Company Sergeant Major [US Army, "First Sergeant"] in the different branches of the army: Kompaniefeldwebel (infantry company), Batteriefeldwebel (artillery battery) or Staffelfeldwebel (air force wing).
In the Deutsche Marine (German Navy
German Navy
The German Navy is the navy of Germany and is part of the unified Bundeswehr .The German Navy traces its roots back to the Imperial Fleet of the revolutionary era of 1848 – 52 and more directly to the Prussian Navy, which later evolved into the Northern German Federal Navy...

, as part of the Bundeswehr), the equivalent to Feldwebel is the rank of Bootsmann
Bootsmann
Bootsmann was a highest-ranking Petty Officer position in German naval forces. A lower-ranking Bootsmann was called Bootsmannsmaat. These names were adopted for the Russian Navy as боцман and боцманмат by Peter the Great, among many other Prussian and Holland military ranks; they were initially...

("boatswain").

Switzerland


Feldweibel is the lowest rank of "Higher Non-Commissioned Officers" in the Swiss Army. Until the "Reform XXI" agenda, there were two branches of Feldweibels: technical and company level.

The Feldweibel oversees unit-level military service and operations. In 2004, the rank of Hauptfeldweibel was introduced. Since then, only technical specialists remain in the rank of Feldweibel.

On international missions, they are referred to as "Sergeant Major", NATO Code: OR-7.

Finland


The military rank of vääpeli was previously used by salaried NCOs. Responsibility was given for training and maintenance. It is being currently phased out, and conscript officers, salaried sergeants and commissioned officers have taken over the tasks.

The position of vääpeli in wartime formations still exists, but it can be given to soldier of any rank, typically sergeant or corporal. In peacetime, the term yksikköupseeri, literally "officer of the unit", is used, and this position is held by a salaried officer, typically senior lieutenant. The responsibility is for the provisioning, maintenance, human resources management and generally well-being of the unit (company).

Bulgaria


In the Bulgarian army, фелдфебел existed from the late 19th century to the late 1940s
1940s
File:1940s decade montage.png|Above title bar: events which happened during World War II : From left to right: Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching "Omaha" Beach on "D-Day"; Adolf Hitler visits Paris, soon after the Battle of France; The Holocaust occurred during the war as Nazi Germany...

, when the German-type military organization was phased out in favor of a new doctrine, identical to the Soviet one.

See also

  • Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies Enlisted (Army)
    Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies Enlisted
    The following lists the enlisted ranks and insignia of NATO member armies:-Other/Enlisted ranks :-See also:* NATO* Ranks and insignia of NATO* Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies Officers* Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies Enlisted...

  • Ranks and insignia of NATO
    Ranks and insignia of NATO
    Ranks and insignia of NATO are combined military insignia used by the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.The rank scale is used for specifying posts within NATO.-Definitions:...