From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
SS Gorget patches
Country Nazi Germany
Service branch Schutzstaffel
National Socialist Motor Corps
National Socialist Flyers Corps
NATO rank codeOF-3
Next higher rankObersturmbannführer
Next lower rankHauptsturmführer
Equivalent ranksMajor

Sturmbannführer (German: [ˈʃtʊʁmbanˌfyːʁɐ]; lit.'assault unit leader'[1]) was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank equivalent to major[2] that was used in several Nazi organizations, such as the SA, SS, and the NSFK. The rank originated from German shock troop units of the First World War.

Max Hansen, Sturmbannführer of the Waffen-SS

The SA title of Sturmbannführer was first established in 1921. In 1928, the title became an actual rank and was also one of the first established SS ranks.[3] The insignia of a Sturmbannführer was four silver pips centered on a collar patch.[2] The rank rated below Standartenführer until 1932, when Sturmbannführer became subordinate to the new rank of Obersturmbannführer.[3] In the Waffen-SS, Sturmbannführer was considered equivalent to a major in the German Wehrmacht.[4]

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-Sturmbannführer.[5]

The rank was held by Wernher von Braun, who developed the V-2 rocket, and later designed the Saturn V rocket for the U.S. space program. Other rank holders included Eberhard Heder, Otto Günsche,[6] and war criminals, such as Otto Förschner, who was the commandant of Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp.

Rank insignia[edit]

Sturmbannführer SS, SA, NSKK, and NSFK
Rank insignia

Schutzstaffel (SS)

Sturmabteilung (SA)

NS Motor Corps (NSKK)

NS Flyers Corps (NSFK)

Waffen-SS collar insignia
Sequence of ranks in comparison with the Wehrmacht (Heer)
Junior rank
(until 1939/40: Sturmhauptführer)
SA rank
Senior rank
Junior rank
(until 1934: Sturmhauptführer)
SS rank
Senior rank
Junior rank
Hauptmann / Rittmeister
Wehrmacht rank
Senior rank

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McNab 2009b, p. 15.
  2. ^ a b Flaherty 2004, p. 148.
  3. ^ a b McNab 2009, pp. 29, 30.
  4. ^ Stein 1984, p. 297.
  5. ^ Stein 1984, p. 155.
  6. ^ Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 281.


  • Flaherty, T. H. (2004) [1988]. The Third Reich: The SS. Time-Life Books, Inc. ISBN 1-84447-073-3.
  • Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, the Evidence, the Truth. Trans. Helmut Bögler. London: Brockhampton Press. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8.
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-906626-49-5.
  • McNab, Chris (2009b). The Third Reich. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-906626-51-8.
  • Stein, George (1984) [1966]. The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939–1945. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-9275-0.