Military Wiki

Schütze in German means "shooter" or "rifleman".[1] It also occasionally occurs as a surname, as Schütz, as in the opera Der Freischütz. The word itself is derived from the German word schützen, meaning to protect, or to guard. It was originally used for archers, and is the German equivalent to Sagittarius.[citation needed]


As a rank of the Armed Forces of Germany in First World War until 1918, Schütze was used for the lowest enlisted ranks in machine gun units and some elite troops like Saxon Schützen-Regiment 108 exclusively. Usually translated as "private", from 1920 on it names the lowest enlisted rank of the Reichswehr infantry. The equivalent of Schütze in the other branches of the German military was Jäger, Kanonier, Pionier, Kraftfahrer etc. in the army, Flieger in the Luftwaffe from 1935 on, Matrose and Heizer (until 1938) in the Reichsmarine and Kriegsmarine, respectively.[citation needed]

Rank insignias Schütze 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
--- Schütze

Second World War

During the Second World War, it also became a rank in the Waffen-SS, SS-Schütze. Other branches of the SS referred to the rank as Mann.[2]

Insignia of rank Schütze of the Waffen-SS
Junior Rank
Rank Waffen-SS
Senior Rank
Junior Rank
Rank Allgemeine-SS
Senior Rank
No equivalent

Modern day Schütze

Insignia of Bundeswehr modern day Schütze, here shoulder strap

The present day German military maintains Schütze as the lowest enlisted grade, with a NATO rank code of OR-1. A Schütze ranks below Gefreiter which is the equivalent of a private (OR-2); the equivalent of a private first class being an Obergefreiter or Hauptgefreiter (this was different before the 20th-century expansion of the Gefreiter into several ranks).[citation needed]

During various periods in German military history, a senior private rank known as Oberschütze existed between the grades of Schütze and Gefreiter. In the modern German Army the rank of Schütze is not used very often. Every part of the Bundeswehr has a different name for this rank. For example, in the Panzergrenadiertruppe (heavy mechanized infantry) the name of the rank is Panzergrenadier, and within the Fernmelder (communication troops), the name is Funker (radio operator).[citation needed]

See also

  • Modern day Schütze
  • Schutz


  1. McNab 2009, p. 30.
  2. Lumsden 2000, p. 109.


  • Lumsden, Robin (2000). A Collector's Guide To: The Waffen–SS. Ian Allan Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-7110-2285-2. 
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 1906626499. 

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