Reichsmarschall

Summary

Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall Version 2 links.svg
Standard from 1941 to 1945 (left side)
Luftwaffe collar tabs Reichsmarschall 3D.svg
Collar insignia
Luftwaffe Reichsmarschall.svg
Shoulder boards
Country Nazi Germany
Service branchWehrmacht
RankReichsmarschall
NATO rank codeOF-11
Non-NATO rankSix-star rank
Formation12th century (historical)
19 July 1940
Abolished1945
Next lower rankGeneralfeldmarschall
Großadmiral

Reichsmarschall (German: Reichsmarschall des Großdeutschen Reiches; lit.'Reich Marshal of the Greater German Reich') was a specially created rank and the highest military office in the Wehrmacht during World War II. It was equivalent to a six star general and was senior to the five star rank of Generalfeldmarschall, which was previously the highest rank in the Wehrmacht.[1]

History

Until 1940 the highest rank in the German military was Generalfeldmarschall (transl. general field marshal). At the beginning of World War II, the only active holder of that rank was Hermann Göring, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe. On 19 July 1940, after winning the Battle of France, Hitler promoted twelve generals to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall. During the same ceremony, Göring was promoted to the newly created rank of Reichsmarschall to placate his thirst for prestige[a][2] and to highlight his position as senior to the other Wehrmacht commanders, without giving him any actual authority over them. This was done in order to ensure that the newly created Oberkommando Der Wehrmacht (OKW), the High Command of the German Armed Forces, which was headed by Hitler, would retain overall control and authority over the German military.

The rank of Reichsmarschall was equivalent to General of the Armies in the United States Army, senior to that of a five star general, meaning it was a six star rank. Because of Görings influence in the Nazi Party’s upbringings, Hitler saw him as more then a field marshal, which is why he created a new rank. Along with it being the highest rank in the Wehrmacht, Reichsmarschall was also a political rank that gave Göring much more influence throughout the Greater Germanic Reich, since he was the one and only person to hold the position. The duty of the Reichsmarschall expanded from not only the military, but political affairs and management of the Reich. Many German citizens acknowledged Göring highly because of his prestigious title as ‘Reichsmarschall des Großdeutschen Reich”, meaning in English “Empire Marshal of the Greater German Empire’.

Göring was also designated as Hitler's successor. Nevertheless, on 23 April 1945, when Göring suggested to Hitler that he assume leadership of the crumbling Third Reich, Hitler relieved Göring of his duties and named a new successor in his last will and testament, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz. Dönitz' appointment was made on or before the day of Hitler's suicide (30 April 1945).[3]

Standards

Uniform

Notes

  1. ^ Göring also held many other prestigious titles, such as Reichsjägermeister (Reich Master of the Hunt) and Commissioner Plenipotentiary of the Four-Year Plan.

References

Citations
  1. ^ Haskew 2011, p. 46.
  2. ^ Haskew 2011, pp. 25, 46, 119.
  3. ^ O'Donnell 1979, p. 217.
Bibliography
  • Haskew, Michael (2011). The Wehrmacht. Amber Books. ISBN 978-1-907446-95-5.
  • O'Donnell, James P. (1979). The History of the Reich Chancellery Group. London, UK: J. M. Dent. OCLC 638799214.
Junior rank
Generalfeldmarschall
(Army and Luftwaffe)
Großadmiral
(Kriegsmarine)
Balkenkreuz.svg
(Ranks Wehrmacht)
Reichsmarschall
Senior rank
None