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Flag of Germany.svg
(Heer / Luftwaffe)
HD H 31a Fähnrich Pi.svg LD B 31a Fähnrich.svg
Rank insignia German NCO rank
Introduction 1956
Rank group Non-commissioned officers
Army / Air Force Fähnrich
Navy Fähnrich zur See

Fähnrich (German pronunciation: [ˈfɛːnʁɪç]) is an officer candidate rank in the Austrian Bundesheer and German Bundeswehr. The word Fähnrich comes from an older German military title, Fahnenträger (flag bearer), and first became a distinct military rank in Germany 1 January 1899. However, Fähnrich ranks are often incorrectly compared with the rank of ensign,[citation needed] which shares a similar etymology but is a full-fledged (albeit junior) commissioned officer (CO) rank.

In the German Landsknecht armies, recorded from ca. 1480, the equivalent rank of a Cornet existed. The cornet carried the troop standard, known as a "cornet".



A Fähnrich of the Bundeswehr is a soldier who serves in the ranks, first as Fahnenjunker (OR-5, comparable to the junior non-commissioned officer rank Unteroffizier), then in subsequent grades: Fähnrich (OR-6, equivalent to Feldwebel), and Oberfähnrich (OR-7 equivalent to Hauptfeldwebel).

In the German Bundeswehr, an officer candidate (German: Offiziersanwärter) can reach the rank of Fähnrich after 21 months of service. The German Navy equivalent is Ensign at sea" (German: Fähnrich zur See).

An officer candidate's career is indicated by the enlisted rank with a thin silver cord on the shoulder strap.

Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering.svg German Navy
Flag of Germany.svg DH154-Oberfähnrich.png HD H 31a Fähnrich Pi.svg HD H 21a Fahnenjunker FJg.svg LD B 33a Oberfähnrich.svg LD B 31a Fähnrich.svg LD B 21a Fahnenjunker.svg MDS 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp.svg MDJA 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg MDS 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp.svg MDJA 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg MDS 21a Seekadett Trp.svg MDJA 21a Seekadett Trp Lo.svg
HA OS5 33a Oberfähnrich PzGren.svg HA OS5 31a Fähnrich HLog.svg HA OS5 21a Fahnenjunker PzGren.svg LA OS5 33a Oberfähnrich.svg LA OS5 31a Fähnrich.svg LA OS5 21a Fahnenjunker.svg MA OG5 33a Oberfähnrich zur See.svg MA OG5 31a Fähnrich zur See.svg MA OG5 21a Seekadett.svg
Distinction Oberfähnrich
(Senior cadet sergeant)
(Cadet sergeant)
(Officer cadet
senior grade)
(Senior aviation cadet)
(Aviation cadet)
(Officer cadet
senior grade)
Oberfähnrich zur See
(Senior midshipman)
Fähnrich zur See

(Naval cadet)

Rangcode (OR-7) (OR-6) (OR-5) (OR-7) (OR-6) (OR-5) (OR-7) (OR-6) (OR-5)
NATO Cadet sergeant Midshipman
USAF Aviation cadet auch Warrant Officer
RAF Acting pilot officer

National People's Army

Fähnrich (NPA)

The rank name Fähnrich was in use in East Germany NPA as a direct counterpart from the Soviet Praporshchik rank.

Fähnrich until 1945

Until 1945 in Heer and Luftwaffe of the Wehrmacht there were also three appropriate officer dedicated ranks:

  • Fahnenjunker, equivalent to Unteroffizier, additionally with two parallel braids
  • Fähnrich, equivalent to Unterfeldwebel, additionally with two parallel braids
  • Oberfähnrich, equivalent to Oberfeldwebel, additionally with two parallel braids

The status of an officer aspirant career (de: Offizier-Anwärter - OA) was indicated by additional two parallel silver braids as on the appropriate rank epaulet.

In the Waffen-SS there were the four ranks of SS-Junker, SS-Oberjunker, SS-Standartenjunker and SS-Oberstandartenjunker for officer candidates and officer cadets.

Heer Heer - decal for helmet 1942.svg and Luftwaffe eagle.svg Luftwaffe Kriegsmarine insignia casco.svg Kriegsmarine Waffen-SS
War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945).svg Heer Oberfahnrich.jpg Luftwaffe epaulette Faehnrich.svg Kriegsmarine shoulder Oberfähnrich zur see.svg Kriegsmarine shoulder Fähnrich zur see.svg None.svg[2] None.svg SS Standartenjunker.jpg None.svg None.svg
Kriegsmarine shoulder Fähnrich zur see.svg Kriegsmarine-Oberfähnrich zur See.png None.svg
Distinction Oberfähnrich
(Senior cadet sergeant)
(Cadet sergeant)
(Officer cadet)
zur See

(Senior midshipman)
zur See

(Junior midshipman)
SS-Oberjunker SS-Junker

Other countries

The rank also exists in a few other European military organizations, often with historical ties to the German system. Examples are the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and Finland (see Fänrik). The French Army has a similar position called an Aspirant.

In the Finnish landforces and airforce, Vänrikki (Fenrik) is the lowest commissioned officer rank, which is granted to the soldiers in the national service on the day they are released from their 362-day service. Finnish Vänrikki are thus of equal rank to the German lieutenant (also a platoon leader).


Austrian Bundeheer

Flag of Austria (state).svg
Fähnrich in Austria
Schulterstück Schulterstück Tellerkappe
Rank insignia Austrian Bundesheer
Introduction ca. 1955
Rank group Officers
Army / Air Force Fähnrich
Navy no equivalent

Fähnrich, short Fhr, is the lowest rank of the commissioned officers CO rank group (also rank group: Officers) in the Austrian Bundesheer.

Austria-Hungaria (until 1918)

Fähnrich was the lowest officer rank in the k.u.k. Common Army. In 1838 it was renamed to Unterleutnant 2. Gebürnisklasse, from 1849 to Unterleutnant 2. Klasse, since 1868 to Unterleutnant, and finally approximately from 1868 to Leutnant. In 1908 Fähnrich was re-introduced as lowest cadet-officer rank in order to replace the 1869 rank designation Kadett-Offiziersstellvertreter. Fähnrich, Kadett-Offiziersstellvertreter respectively completed training and education on the less famous so-called k.u.k. Kadettenschule. As the Kadett-Offiziersstellvertreter was the highest NCO-rank, became Fähnrich a separate rank-class. However, graduates from the much more famous Militärakademie became the officer patent for Leutnant.

In the k.u. Royal Hungarian Honvéd army Zászlós was the equivalent to the Fähnrich rank. It accounted immediately to the officer corps.

Designation Cadet officer-deputy until 1908 Fähnrich 1908-1918
K.u.k. Kadett-Offziersstellvertreter bis 1908.png Kadett-Offiziersstellvertreter k.k. Gebirgstruppe 1907-08.png K.u.k. Fähnrich 1908-18.png Fähnrich der k.k. Gebirgstruppe 1908-18.png
Rank description Kadett-Offizierstellvertreter Fähnrich
(Hungarian) (Hadapród-Tiszthelyettes) (Zászlós)

See also


  1. Langenscheidt´s Encyclopaedic Dictionary of the English and German language: „Der Große Muret-Sander“, Part II German-English, Second Volume L–Z, 8th edition 1999, ISBN 3-468-01126-1; p. 1.381
  2. On the lower end of both sleeves of the uniform jacket: One golden surrounding braid (de: Tresse), below the golden five-pointed naval star, typically to navy officers.