Stabschef (Chief of Staff) was an office and paramilitary rank in the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary stormtroopers associated with the Nazi movement. The rank is equivalent to the rank of Generaloberst in the German Army and to General in the US Army.
The position of SA-Stabschef, not yet a rank, was established in 1929 to assist the Oberste SA-Führer (Supreme SA Leader) with the administration of the fast-growing organization. Otto Wagener held the office under Oberste SA-Führer Franz Pfeffer von Salomon from 1928-1930, and effectively headed the SA from Hitler's assumption of the title Oberste SA-Führer in August until Ernst Röhm replaced him in January 1931.
The actual SA rank of Stabschef was created by Röhm for himself in 1933 after Hitler became Chancellor. Although Hitler was the supreme commander of the stormtroopers, the day-to-day running of the organization was left to the Chief of Staff, and the men who held the rank of Stabschef are typically connected with being the actual leaders of the SA.
The rank of Stabschef was held by three different people between 1931 and 1945 and was, in each case of succession, inherited due to the death of a predecessor. The following Nazi officers held the rank of Stabschef:
- Ernst Röhm (1931–1934) Executed
- Viktor Lutze (1934–1943) Accidental Death
- Wilhelm Schepmann (1943–1945) Fall of the SA; defeat of Nazi Germany
Early insignia for Stabschef consisted of an oak leaf patch worn on the collar of the stormtrooper uniform. Photographic evidence shows Ernst Röhm wearing such an insignia in his early days as the SA Chief of Staff. As Röhm's authority increased, so did his insignia and by mid 1931 photographic evidence shows him wearing wreathed star which was designed after that of a Bolivian General's collar, due to Röhm’s previous military experience as a military adviser in Bolivia.
After 1933, the insignia for Stabschef consisted of a "crossed lances" pattern, wreathed by a half oak leaf circle. After 1934, the insignia was changed to a wreathed tri-foil oak leaf pattern similar to the SS rank insignia of Reichsführer-SS. With the fall of Nazi Germany, the Sturmabteilung ceased to exist and with it the Stabschef.