From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Country Nazi Germany
Service branch Schutzstaffel
National Socialist Motor Corps
National Socialist Flyers Corps
NATO rank codeOF-4
Next higher rankStandartenführer
Next lower rankSturmbannführer
Equivalent ranksOberstleutnant
Manfred Schönfelder, here Ostubaf of the Waffen-SS in 1944
Adolf Eichmann, shown on trial in 1961

Obersturmbannführer (Senior Assault-unit Leader; [ˈoːbɐʃtʊʁmbanfyːʁɐ]; short: Ostubaf) was a paramilitary rank in the German Nazi Party (NSDAP) which was used by the SA (Sturmabteilung) and the SS (Schutzstaffel).[1] The rank of Obersturmbannführer was junior to the rank of Standartenführer, and was equivalent to the military rank of Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel) in the German Army.[2]

As the SA expanded, the rank of Ostubaf was created in May 1933 to provide a rank above Sturmbannführer; likewise, the Ostubaf was an SS rank.[3] The Obersturmbannführer rank insignia was composed of four silver pips and a black stripe on a silver background, all elements are centered in the left wing of the collar of the tunic of an SS or of an SA uniform.[4] The rank also was worn on the shoulder boards of an Oberstleutnant and was the highest rank in the SS and the SA to display SS unit insignia on the collar wing opposite the rank insignia.[5]

Various Waffen-SS units composed of foreign recruits were considered distinct from the German SS, and thus they were not permitted to wear SS runes on their collar tabs but had their divisional insignia instead. Their ranks were also prepended with "Waffen" instead of "SS", as in, Waffen-Obersturmbannführer.[6]

Adolf Eichmann[edit]

In 1940, Adolf Eichmann was promoted to Obersturmbannführer, and was listed as such in the minutes of the Wannsee Conference held in January 1942. In 1961, during the Eichmann trial for Lt. Col. Eichmann's crimes against humanity, the chief prosecutor, Gideon Hausner, drew attention to the executive significance and command responsibility of the rank of Obersturmbannführer, in response to Eichmann's claim that he was merely a clerk obeying orders; Hausner asked, "Were you an Obersturmbannführer or an office girl?"[7]

In the book Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) the political theoretician Hannah Arendt said that Obersturmbannführer was not a rank of significance, because Eichmann whiled away the war time awaiting promotion to the rank of Standartenführer. That "people like Eichmann, who had risen from the ranks, were never permitted to advance beyond a lieutenant colonel [i.e. Obersturmbannführer] except at the front", in combat with the enemy.[8]

Rank insignia[edit]

Obersturmbannführer SS, SA, NSKK, and NSFK
Rank insignia

Schutzstaffel (SS)

Sturmabteilung (SA)

NS Motor Corps (NSKK)

NS Flyers Corps (NSFK)

Waffen-SS collar insignia
Junior Rank
SS rank and SA rank
Senior Rank

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McNab 2009b, p. 15.
  2. ^ Yerger 1997, p. 236.
  3. ^ McNab 2009, pp. 29, 30.
  4. ^ Flaherty 2004, p. 148.
  5. ^ Stein 2002, p. 300 chart.
  6. ^ Stein 2002, p. 155.
  7. ^ Ronald C. Naso; Jon Mills, eds. (2016). Ethics of Evil: Psychoanalytic Investigations. Karnac Books. p. 289. ISBN 9781782203957.
  8. ^ Arendt 2006, p. 147.