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Max Hansen, here as a SS-Sturmbannführer of the Waffen-SS

Sturmbannführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank equivalent to major[1] that was used in several Nazi organizations, such as the SA, SS, and the NSFK. Translated as “assault (or storm) unit leader”[2] (Sturmbann being the SA and early SS equivalent to a battalion), the rank originated from German shock troop units of the First World War where the title of Sturmbannführer would occasionally be held by the battalion commander.[citation needed]


The SA title of Sturmbannführer was first established in 1921. In 1928, the title became an actual rank and was also one of the first established SS ranks.[3] The insignia of a Sturmbannführer was four silver pips centered on a collar patch.[1]

The rank rated below Standartenführer until 1932, when Sturmbannführer became subordinate to the new rank of Obersturmbannführer.[3] In the Waffen-SS, Sturmbannführer was considered equivalent to a major in the German Wehrmacht.[4]

Notable recipients

One of the most notable recipients was Wernher von Braun, who developed the V-2 rocket, and later designed the Saturn V rocket for the U.S. space program. Also, Eberhard Heder and Otto Günsche.[5]

Popular culture

The rank of Sturmbannführer appears frequently in fiction, as in the British 1992 novel Fatherland where the protagonist, Xavier March, is a Sturmbannführer in the Kriminalpolizei. Cinematically, in The Keep (1983), Gabriel Byrne portrays SS-Sturmbannführer Kaempffer, head of an SS-Einsatzkommando. In Apt Pupil, Ian McKellen portrays Sturmbannführer Kurt Dussander, a former Nazi concentration camp officer. In the manga Hellsing, the main antagonist is Sturmbannführer. In the BBC TV series Secret Army, Clifford Rose portrays Sturmbannführer Kessler, of the Gestapo and, in the BBC series, 'Allo 'Allo, Gestapo agent Herr Otto Flick bears the rank, as does Major Hochstetter of Hogan's Heroes. In The Hiding Place, an SS-Sturmbannführer is portrayed as the officer who arrests the ten Boom family.

Moreover, in the Medal of Honor videogame series, Sturmbannführer Ratter is a recurring antagonist; once, in a secret level in Medal of Honor: Underground, once at Dorne Manor, in Holland, in Medal of Honor: Frontline, and once at the Steinberg salt mine in Alt Aussee, Austria, in the original Medal of Honor game.

In 2008 Success SRPG Operation Darkness, the main villain Alexander Vlado carries the rank of Sturmbannführer.

In Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, the character Dieter Hellstrom carries the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer. In the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, one of the villains, Arnold Toht, is a Sturmbannführer. In the 1968 World War II film Where Eagles Dare, the character Major Von Happen is a Sturmbannführer and member of Gestapo.

In the 1974 Yugoslav TV Series Otpisani, the character Krüger is a Sturmbannfuhrer and Head of Belgrade Gestapo.

Insignia of rank of Sturmbannführer of the Waffen-SS
Junior rank
SS rank
Senior rank
Junior rank
SA rank
Senior rank

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Flaherty 2004, p. 148.
  2. McNab (II) 2009, p. 15.
  3. 3.0 3.1 McNab 2009, pp. 29, 30.
  4. Yerger 1997, p. 237.
  5. Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 281.


  • Flaherty, T. H. (2004) [1988]. The Third Reich: The SS. Time-Life Books, Inc. ISBN 1 84447 073 3. 
  • Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, the Evidence, the Truth. Trans. Helmut Bögler. London: Brockhampton Press. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8. 
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 1906626499. 
  • McNab (II), Chris (2009). The Third Reich. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-906626-51-8. 
  • Yerger, Mark C. (1997). Allgemeine-SS: The Commands, Units and Leaders of the General SS. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.. ISBN 0-7643-0145-4. 

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