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For the use of this Four-star rank in other countries, see Colonel general.

Generaloberst (en: colonel general) was, in the German Reich, the Reichswehr, Wehrmacht and the Austria-Hungary Common Army, the second highest general officer rank comparable to the then four-star rank in many NATO-Armed forces (Rangcode OF-9). In armed forces, structured in line to the former Soviet Army or the today´s Russian Army, today it is a Three-star rank (OF-8). It was equivalent to Generaladmiral in the Kriegsmarine until 1945, or to Flottenadmiral in the Volksmarine until 1990.


A supreme general or senior general (Generaloberst,[1] often translated as "colonel-general" by analogy to Oberst, "colonel") was the second highest general officer rank—below field marshal (Generalfeldmarschall)—in the Prussian army as well as in the Deutsches Heer of Imperial Germany (1871-1919), the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic (1921-1933), and the Wehrmacht (which included the Luftwaffe, established in 1935) of Nazi Germany (1933-1945). It was generally reckoned as the equivalent of a full four-star general in the American and British armies.

The rank was created originally for Emperor William I—then Prince of Prussia—because traditionally members of the royal family were not promoted to the rank of a field marshal.

Since the rank of Generalfeldmarschall was also reserved for wartime promotions, the additional rank of a "supreme general in the capacity of a field marshal" — the Generaloberst im Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls — was created for promotions during peacetime. Such generals were entitled to wear four pips on their shoulder boards, compared to the normal three.

Preceded by
junior Rank
General ...

(German officer rank)

Succeeded by
senior Rank

The equivalent ranks of a colonel general were in the:

German Democratic Republic[edit]

East Germany's National People's Army (NVA) retained this rank as its third highest, behind Armeegeneral and Marschall der DDR.

Preceded by
Junior Rank
Coat of arms of NVA (East Germany).svg
(NPA rank)
Succeeded by
Senior Rank

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A literal translation of Generaloberst would be "uppermost general".