The military ranks of the German Empire were the ranks used by the military of the German Empire. It inherited the various traditions and military ranks of its constituent states.
The German Army from 1871 to 1914 inherited the various traditions and military ranks of its constituent states, thus becoming a truly federal armed service.
Additionally, the following voluntary enlistees were distinguished:
Note: Einjährig-Freiwilliger and Kapitulant were not ranks as such during this specific period of use, but voluntary military enlistee designations. They, however, wore a specific uniform distinction (twisted wool piping along their shoulder epaulette edging for Einjährig-Freiwilliger, the Kapitulant a narrow band across their lower shoulder epaulette) in the colours of their respective nation state. This distinction was never removed throughout their military service nor during any rank grade advancements.
|English designation||Capitulant||One-Year Volunteer Enlistee||Senior Lance Corporal||Lance Corporal||Private|
Critics long believed that the Army's officer corps was heavily dominated by Junker aristocrats, so that commoners were shunted into low-prestige branches, such as the heavy artillery or supply. However, by the 1890s, the top ranks were opened to highly talented commoners.
|Rank designation||Hauptmann/Kapitän I Klasse: infantry and artillery
Rittmeister I Klasse: cavalry
|Hauptmann/Kapitän II Klasse: infantry and artillery
Rittmeister II Klasse: cavalry
|Leutnant: infantry, cavalry and other arms|
|(English designation)||Captain||Staff Captain[d]||1st Lieutenant||2nd Lieutenant|
|(English designation)||Colonel||Lieutenant Colonel||Major|
|Rank designation||Generalfeldmarschall||Generaloberst mit dem
Rang als Generalfeldmarschall
|Generaloberst||General der Waffengattung||Generalleutnant||Generalmajor|
|(English designation)||General Field Marshal||Colonel General in the rank of Field Marshal||Colonel General||General of the branch||Lieutenant General||Major General|
The Imperial German Navy's rank and rating system combined that of Prussia's with the navies of other northern states.
|English designation||Grand Admiral||Admiral||Vice admiral||Rear Admiral|
|Title||Kapitän zur See||Fregattenkapitän||Korvettenkapitän||Kapitänleutnant||Oberleutnant zur See||Leutnant zur See||Deckoffizier-Leutnant|
|English designation||Captain at Sea||Frigate Captain||Corvette Captain||Captain Lieutenant||Senior Lieutenant at Sea||Lieutenant at Sea||Deck Officer Lieutenant (from 1916)|
|Officer training ranks|
|Title||Oberfähnrich zur See||Fähnrich zur See||Seekadett|
|English designation||Midshipman||Sea cadet||Junior sea cadet|
|English designation||Chief Warrant Officer
as Acting Commissioned Officer.
|Chief Warrant Officer||Warrant Officer|
|English designation||Acting Commissioned Officer||Chief Boatswain
|Senior Petty Officers||Junior Petty Officers|
|English designation||Chief Petty Officer 1st Class
(with additional stripe around the sleeve)
|Chief Petty Officer||Petty Officer 1st Class
|English designation||Seaman 1st Class||Seaman Volunteer
(i.e.: Reserve Officer Candidate)
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