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Max Seela, here as SS-Hauptsturmführer of the Waffen-SS
Amon Goeth in 1946, shortly before his execution

Hauptsturmführer was a Nazi party paramilitary rank that was used in several Nazi organizations such as the SS, NSKK and the NSFK. The rank of Hauptsturmführer was a mid-grade company level officer and was the equivalent of a captain (Hauptmann) in the German Army and also the equivalent of captain in foreign armies.[1] Hauptsturmführer was the most commonly held SS officer rank during the Second World War.[citation needed]


The rank of Hauptsturmführer evolved from the much older rank of Sturmhauptführer, created in 1928 as a rank of the Sturmabteilung (SA). The SS used the rank of Sturmhauptführer from 1930 to 1934 at which time, following the Night of the Long Knives, the name of the rank was changed to Hauptsturmführer although the insignia remained the same.[2][3]

Some of the most infamous SS members are known to have held the rank of Hauptsturmführer. Among them are Josef Mengele, the infamous doctor assigned to Auschwitz; Klaus Barbie, Gestapo Chief of Lyon; Joseph Kramer commandant of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Alois Brunner, Adolf Eichmann's assistant; and Amon Göth, who was sentenced to death and hanged for committing mass murder during the liquidations of the ghettos at Tarnów and Kraków, the camp at Szebnie and the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, portrayed in the film Schindler's List.

The insignia of Hauptsturmführer was three silver pips and two silver stripes on a black collar patch, worn opposite a unit insignia patch.[1] On the field grey duty uniform, the shoulder boards of an army Hauptmann were also displayed. The rank of Hauptsturmführer was senior to the rank of Obersturmführer and junior to Sturmbannführer.[1]

Insignia of rank of Hauptsturmführer
Junior Rank
Nazi party paramilitary rank
Senior Rank

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Flaherty 2004, p. 148.
  2. ^ McNab 2009, pp. 29, 30.
  3. ^ Miller 2006, p. 521.


  • Flaherty, T. H. (2004) [1988]. The Third Reich: The SS. Time-Life Books, Inc. ISBN 1 84447 073 3. 
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-906626-49-5. 
  • Miller, Michael (2006). Leaders of the SS and German Police, Vol. 1. R. James Bender Publishing. ISBN 9-32970-037-3.