General admiral

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Flag of a German General Admiral

General Admiral was a Danish, Dutch, German, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish naval rank. Its historic origin is a title high military or naval dignitaries of early modern Europe sometimes held, for example the (nominal) Commander-in-Chief of the Dutch Republic's navy (usually the Prince of Orange).


Third Reich

In the German Kriegsmarine of the Second World War, Generaladmiral was a rank senior to an Admiral, but junior to a Grand Admiral. Generaladmiral was a four-star Admiral rank, as in the traditional German ranking system until World War II an Admiral is equivalent to a British or American Vice Admiral.

The sleeve insignia for a Generaladmiral was the same as that of a regular Admiral, being a thick rank stripe below three regular stripes ("Kolbenringe" in German naval parlance). Generaladmirals wore a third pip on their shoulder boards to differentiate them from regular Admirals. The German Army and Air Force equivalent of Generaladmiral was the rank Colonel General (Generaloberst).


In 1943, a directive was issued that should the Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine (Commander of the Navy) hold the rank of Generaladmiral, he would wear the sleeve insignia of a grand admiral, but the shoulder boards of a Generaladmiral.

A similar practice was used in the German Army, allowing Colonel Generals to wear four pips on the shoulder board when engaged in duties befitting a field marshal.

The rank of Generaladmiral was first given to the future Grand Admiral Erich Raeder on 20 April 1936.

Other holders of the rank were:

      •   Conrad Albrecht,   1 April 1939,
      •   Alfred Saalwächter,   1 January 1940,
      •   Rolf Carls,   19 July 1940,
      •   Hermann Boehm,   1 April 1941,
      •   Karl Witzell,   1 April 1941,
      •   Otto Schultze,   31 August 1942,
      •   Wilhelm Marschall,   1 February 1943,
      •   Otto Schniewind,   1 March 1944,
      •   Walter Warzecha,   1 March 1944,
      •   Oskar Kummetz,   16 September 1944,
      •   Hans-Georg von Friedeburg,   1 May 1945.

It is interesting to note that Karl Dönitz was promoted to Grand Admiral without becoming a Generaladmiral first.

Russian Empire

General-admiral (Russian: Генера́л-адмира́л) was the highest rank of the Russian Navy as established by the Table of Ranks and equivalent to Field Marshal. This was purely honorific rank and for the most time of its existence, it was awarded to the only person in active duty, usually for a head of Naval Department, typically a descendant of Romanov Royal family.

There were only nine holders of this rank:

General Admiral rank was abolished with the fall of the Empire and was not revived when rank distinctions were reintroduced during 1935-40. Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union can be considered as a modern equivalent.


Kingdom of Spain

Almirante General is a rank in the Spanish Navy that is above an admiral, but subordinate to a captain general.


Kingdom of Portugal

Almirante-general was the highest rank in the Portuguese Navy, form 1892 until 1910. This rank was held only by the King of Portugal as the constitutional commander-in-chief of the Navy. It was the naval equivalent to the rank of marechal-general also held by the King as commander-in-chief of the Portuguese Army.