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Oberschütze (English Senior Rifleman, otherwise Senior Private) was a German military rank first used in the Bavarian Army of the late 19th century.


Following its use in the Bavarian Army, the rank was in general introduced into the infantry branch of the German Reichswehr from circa 1920 and continued use in its successor the German Wehrmacht until 1945, with exception of the period from October 1934 to October 1936 where no promotions to this rank took place. In the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) there was no equivalent for this particular rank grade. The use of Oberschütze reached its height during the Second World War when the Wehrmacht maintained the rank in both the German Army (Heer) and the ground forces branch of the air force (Luftwaffe).[1]

The rank of Oberschütze and its specific unit type equivalents (Oberkanonier, Obergrenadier- from 1942, Oberpionier, Oberfahrer, Oberfunker etc.) was created to give recognition and rank promotion to those enlisted soldiers who had achieved or displayed an above-average aptitude and proficiency but would not, however, qualify for promotion to the Gefreiter rank. A consideration for promotion to the rank of Oberschütze could usually be achieved after six months to one year of military service. In the militaries of other nations, Oberschütze was considered the equivalent of a private first class.[2]

Rank insignias Oberschütze of the Wehrmacht until 1945
Collar patch Shoulder strap Sleeve badge
(left upper arm)
Collar tabs of Unteroffiziere and Mannschaften of the Heer.svg
Mannschaft Epaulette 1938.jpg
Rank insignia of Oberschütze of the Wehrmacht.svg Oberschütze
(Senior Rifleman)


The rank was also used in the Waffen-SS from 1940 to 1945, where the rank was known as SS-Oberschütze,[1] identified by a cloth star worn on the upper left sleeve, similar to the German Army.

Insignia of rank SS-Oberschütze of the Waffen-SS

See also

Junior Rank
Rank Waffen-SS
Senior Rank
Junior Rank
Rank Allgemeine SS
No equivalent
Senior Rank


  1. 1.0 1.1 McNab 2009, p. 30.
  2. Flaherty 2004, p. 148.


  • Flaherty, T. H. (2004) [1988]. The Third Reich: The SS. Time-Life Books, Inc. ISBN 1 84447 073 3. 
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 1906626499. 

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