Ranks of the National People's Army

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Coat of arms of NVA (East Germany).svg

This article lists the Ranks and rank insignias of the National People's Army (NPA), the Army of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1956 to 1990.


The design of the rank insignias followed, with some modifications, the tradition of the German Wehrmacht. For example, the cuff titles (chevron insignias) of the Gefreiter were replaced by cross-strips on the shoulder straps, which followed Soviet practice.

Shoulder straps, tucks and sleeve insignias

The shoulder straps of the lieutenant and captain ranks were made from silver satin string (German: Silberplattschnur). The Unterleutnant was characterized by one golden CO star, the Leutnant by two rank stars (side by side), and the Oberleutnant by three stars in a triangle. For the Hauptmann, there was an additional star above the triangular formation.

Staff officers were characterized by twisted silver shoulder straps, with one star for Major, two stars for Oberstleutnant, and three stars for Oberst. All of these followed the Soviet rank insignia system.

Generals wore one to four silver rank stars.

Ground forces, Air force, and Border troops

Remark: The different colours represent the appropriate service, branch, branch of service, or special troop.


General ränks of the NVA
Marschall der DDR Armeegeneral Generaloberst Generalleutnant Generalmajor
Ground forces Air Force Border troops
OF-10[1] OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6
zentriert zentriert zentriert zentriert zentriert zentriert
(Marshal of the GDR) (Army general) (Colonel general) (Lieutenant general) (Major general)

Commissioned officers

Commissioned officer ranks of the NPA
Oberst Oberstleutnant Major Hauptmann Oberleutnant Leutnant Unterleutnant Offiziersschüler
Rocket troops/Artillery Mech. infantry Logistics & supply Rocket troops/Artillery Communications Air Force Engineer corps 3rd year of studies
OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF-D[2]
75px 75px 75px zentriert zentriert zentriert zentriert
(Colonel) (Lieutenant colonel) (Major) (Captain) (First lieutenant) (Second lieutenant) (Under lieutenant) (Officer-student)

Fähnrich ranks

Fähnrichkorps and Fähnrichschüler of the NPA
Sleeve insignia
(not to Fähnrich-student)
Stabsoberfähnrich Stabsfähnrich Oberfähnrich Fähnrich Fähnrichschüler
Armor Mil. engineering Airborne troops Border troops Air Force
W-4[3] W-3 W-2 W-1 W-1 (Student)
GDR Army W1-4 Fähnrich sleeve.jpg GDR Army W4 Stabsoberfähnrich.gif GDR Army W3 Stabsfähnrich.gif GDR Army W2 Oberfähnrich.gif GDR Army W1 Fähnrich.gif GDR AF W1 FRS1-2.jpg
(Staff-senior-Warrant Officer) (Staff-Warrant Officer) (Senior-Warrant Officer) (Warrant Officer) (Warrant Officer-Cadet)

Non commissioned officer ranks

Unteroffiziere of the NPA
Stabsfeldwebel Oberfeldwebel Feldwebel Unterfeldwebel Unteroffizier
Rocket troops/Artillery Communications Mil. engineers Air defence Border troops
OR-8[4] OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4
zentriert zentriert zentriert 60px
(Staff Sergeant) (Senior Sergeant) (Sergeant) (Junior Sergeant) (Underofficer)

Enlisted men ranks

Enlisted rank soldiers of the NPA
Unteroffiziersschüler Stabsgefreiter Gefreiter Soldat
Armor Air Force Mech. infantry Rocket troops/Artillery
OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
70px zentriert zentriert
(Underofficer-student) (Staff Corporal) (Corporal) (Private)


While the sleeve ranks of the Volksmarine officers were of the style used by the Soviet Navy, all shoulder board insignia used were German in origin, with the star arrangement for officers based on the Soviet rank insignia.

Flag officer ranks

Flag officer ranks of the Volksmarine (dark blue / navy blue)
OF-6 to OF-9 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6
Arabesken Lampassen Flottenadmiral Admiral Vizeadmiral Konteradmiral
GDR Navy Arab OF6-9.jpg
Spod 6pul.png
GDR Navy OF9 Flottenadmiral.gif
GDR Navy OF8 Admiral.gif
GDR Navy OF7 Vizeadmiral.gif
GDR Navy OF6 Konteradmiral.gif
Cuff insignia
VM Aermelstreifen 3-4 Flottenadmiral.svg
VM Aermelstreifen 3-3 Admiral.svg
VM Aermelstreifen 3-2 Vizeadmiral.svg
VM Aermelstreifen 3-1 Konteradmiral.svg
Command flags
Flag of chief of VM (East Germany).svg
Flag of admiral of VM (East Germany).svg
Flag of vice admiral of VM (East Germany).svg
Flag of rear admiral of VM (East Germany).svg
(Arabesques) (Lampasses) (Fleet Admiral) (Admiral) (Vice Admiral) (Rear Admiral)

Commissioned officers

Unlike most Warsaw pact navies, the People's Navy also used staff corps insignia on the sleeve.

Commissioned officer ranks of the Volksmarine
zur See
Leutnant Unter
OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF-D
GDR Navy OF5 Kapitaen zur See.gif
GDR Navy OF4 Fregattenkapitaen.gif
GDR Navy OF3 Korvettenkapitaen.gif
GDR Navy OF2 Kapitaenleutnant.gif
GDR Navy OF1а Oberleutnant zur See.gif
GDR Navy OF1b Leutnant zur See.gif
GDR Navy OF1c Unterleutnant zur See.gif
VM Aermelstreifen 2-3 Kapitaen.svg
VM Aermelstreifen 2-2 Fregattenkapitaen vw.svg
VM Aermelstreifen 2-1 Korvettenkapitaen-md.svg
VM Aermelstreifen 1-4 Kapitaenleutnant kdl.svg
VM Aermelstreifen 1-3 Oberleutnant-mj.svg
VM Aermelstreifen 1-2 Leutnant-tl.svg
GDR Navy OF1c sleeve.jpg
(nautical career) (administrative career) (medical career) (costal career) (judicial career) (engineering
resp. techn. career)
(nautical career) (Studen-officer
2nd year of studies)

Fähnrich ranks

Fähnrichkorps and Fähnrichschüler of the Volksmarine
Sleeve insignia Stabsoberfähnrich Stabsfähnrich Oberfähnrich Fähnrich Fähnrichschüler
(2nd year of studies)
W-4 W-3 W-2 W-1 W-1 (Student)
en: Request for creation and upload of a picture!
GDR Navy W4 Stabsoberfähnrich.gif
GDR Navy W3 Stabsfähnrich.gif
GDR Navy W2 Oberfähnrich.gif
GDR Navy W1 Fähnrich.gif
GDR Navy W1 FR-Student II.jpg

Non commissioned officers

Unteroffiziere of the Volksmarine
(techn. career)
(nautical career)
Meister Obermaat Obermaat
auf Zeit
Maat Maat
auf Zeit
OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4
GDR Navy OR8 Stabsobermeister.gif
GDR Navy OR7 Obermeister.gif
GDR Navy OR6 Meister.gif
GDR Navy OR5 Obermaat.gif
GDR Navy OR5b Obermaat auf Zeit.gif
GDR Navy OR4 Maat.gif
GDR Navy OR4b Maat auf Zeit.gif

Enlisted ratings

Enlisted rating insignia of the Volksmarine
Stabsmatrose Obermatrose Matrose
OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
GDR Navy OR3 Stabsmatrose.gif
GDR Navy OR2 Obermatrose.gif
GDR Navy OR1 Matrose.gif


  1. The abbreviation "OF" stands for "officer / officier"
  2. Ranks designated as OF(D): In some NATO countries, the term "officer designate"is used. In the NATO rank scale, it comes below the grade of OF-1 and is annotated as OF(D).
  3. The abbreviation "WO/W" stands for " Warrant Officer, also warrant-officer ranks / de: ermächtigter Vorgesetzter / ru: уорент-офицер, между сержантами и младшими офицерами" between the rank groups CO and NCO
  4. The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"

See also