Untersturmführer ([ˈʊntɐ.ʃtʊʁm.fyːʀɐ], "junior storm
leader") was a paramilitary rank of the German
first created in July 1934. The rank can trace its origins to the
older SA rank of
Sturmführer which had existed since the founding of
the SA in 1921. The rank of
Untersturmführer was senior to
Sturmscharführer in the Waffen-SS) and junior
to the rank of Obersturmführer.
3 General-SS commissions
5 Field commissions
6 See also
Untersturmführer was the first commissioned SS officer rank,
equivalent to a second lieutenant in other military organizations.
The insignia consisted of a three silver pip collar patch with the
shoulder boards of an army lieutenant. Because of the emphasis the
SS placed on the leadership of their organization, obtaining the rank
Untersturmführer required a screening and training process
different from the standard promotion system in the enlisted ranks.
In the early days of the SS, promotion to
Untersturmführer was simply
a matter of course as an SS member rose within the enlisted ranks to a
position where they were ready to assume the duties of an officer.
Untersturmführer was also occasionally an appointed position, given
to an SS member so that they would be able to immediately begin as an
officer in the organization. This was typically the case in security
organizations, such as the
Sicherheitsdienst (SD). A
typical scenario in the early SS was for a member to join as an
SS-Mann and then receive promotion directly to Sturmführer. In some
cases, where an officer was being "groomed" to take up an SS
leadership position, an officer could be promoted even higher. Such
was the situation with
Friedrich Jeckeln who was promoted directly
from Mann to
Sturmbannführer as well some situations of SS officers
joining the organization as an SS-Oberführer.
By 1938, the size and logistics of the SS brought about the need for
an established system of becoming an SS officer with this system
different for both the
Waffen-SS (military SS) and the general SS
formations of the Allgemeine-SS.
Adolf Eichmann's Lebenslauf for his application for promotion from
Hauptscharführer to SS-
Untersturmführer in 1937
Within the Allgemeine, or “General” SS, promotion to the rank of
Untersturmführer required satisfactory service in the enlisted SS
ranks with an SS member holding the rank of
consideration could be given for an officer’s commission. Those so
eligible were required to obtain a recommendation from their SS chain
of command followed by submission of a document known as the
Lebenslauf. A résumé of the SS member’s career, the Lebenslauf
stated why the SS member felt they should be commissioned as an
officer and gave, as evidence, a list of chronological accomplishments
both within the SS and before joining.
Following a racial and political background check, the SS member’s
service record would be reviewed, with the Lebenslauf and all SS
evaluations screened by the SS personnel office (known as the SS
Personalhauptamt). If found eligible for promotion, the potential SS
officer’s name would be forwarded to
Heinrich Himmler for final
approval of commission.
Between 1934 and 1938, Himmler personally reviewed all candidates for
promotion to the rank of Untersturmführer. However, during the Second
World War, manpower constraints and logistics prevented Himmler from
screening all SS officer applicants and the task typically fell to
Becoming an officer in the
Waffen-SS was a difficult and
time-consuming process. All candidates for commissions in the
Waffen-SS were required to attend SS Junkerschulen (Junker Schools)
which were training academies established to train future Waffen-SS
officers. The most famous of these academies was located at Bad
To be admitted into an SS Junkerschule a prospective officer must have
served in the enlisted ranks of the
Waffen-SS and must have been
recommended for a commission by his superiors. Those so recommended
were physically screened as well as politically and racially
investigated to ensure pure Germanic and
Aryan heritage. If approved
for admittance to an SS Junkerschule, the SS member was appointed to
the first of a series of SS officer candidate ranks which displayed
the same insignia as senior SS non-commissioned officers. The
following was the promotion tier of
Waffen-SS officer candidate ranks:
SS officer candidate rank
SS enlisted equivalent
Advancement through the SS officer candidate ranks required passing
physical screenings, written examinations, and displaying military
tactical and leadership traits under observation. Upon reaching the
rank of Standartenoberjunker, an SS officer candidate was permitted to
wear the silver chin strap of an SS officer, and was assigned to a
field unit for final field training and evaluation.
Upon completion of all training, the SS officer candidate was
incorporated (introduced) into the SS officer corps in a special
ceremony with officer insignia and SS sword presented. The entire
process of training to become a
Waffen-SS officer typically required
ten to sixteen months to complete.
As World War II drew to a close, and losses within the armed forces
began to rise, the strictness of admission to the SS officer corps
began to grow lax. By 1945, it was a common occurrence for local
Waffen-SS field commanders to grant promotions to the rank of
Untersturmführer when battlefield manpower needs required it.
Within the Allgemeine-SS, in particular the security forces of the
RSHA, promotions to
Untersturmführer still required careful scrutiny
and there were SS members awaiting approval of commissions as late as
Table of ranks and insignia of the Waffen-SS
^ a b McNab 2009, p. 30.
^ Stein 1984, pp. 297, 299 chart.
^ a b Flaherty 2004, p. 148.
^ a b McNab 2009, p. 54.
^ McNab 2009, p. 55.
^ McNab 2009, pp. 55, 58.
Flaherty, T. H. (2004) . The Third Reich: The SS. Time-Life
Books, Inc. ISBN 1 84447 073 3.
McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books Ltd.
Stein, George (1984) . The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at
War 1939–1945. Cornell University Press.
Nazi Germany paramilitary
Nazi Party ranks
National Socialist Motor Corps
National Socialist Flyer