Ranks of the National People's Army

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 Heer. 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.

Main article: Corps colours (NPA)


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
(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]
(Colonel) (Lieutenant colonel) (Major) (Captain) (First lieutenant) (Second lieutenant) (Sub-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)
(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
(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
(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
Cuff insignia
Command flags
(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
(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)

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

Enlisted ratings

Enlisted rating insignia of the Volksmarine
Stabsmatrose Obermatrose Matrose


  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

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