Annual volunteer

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Portrait of a one year old, painting by Wilhelm Trübner , 1874–75

One-year volunteers ( EF ) were conscripts (first introduced in the Kingdom of Prussia ) with a higher school leaving certificate ( Obersekundareife ) who, after voluntarily reporting, performed military service in a unit of their choice as military service. After completing basic training , they were able to become officers in the reserve .

The opportunity to serve as a volunteer in the Jägerdetachements that could clothe themselves and cater for, was first based on a proposal by Gerhard von Scharnhorst 1813 (introduction of the general in February conscription in the Kingdom of Prussia ) for possession - and the educated classes introduced. 1868 After this Prussian model (s. U.) Followed by the introduction in the army of Austria-Hungary , the army of Bavaria and finally to the German Empire in 1871 in the German Reich . The Kingdom of Italy , the Republic of Franceand the Russian Empire had similar regulations.

The Austrian Armed Forces are still recruiting reserve officers from the ranks of one-year volunteers and are using this service as an opportunity to check whether they are suitable for the "Military Leadership" college course at the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt .

Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire

The provisional regulations of the "Ordinance on the Organization of the Landwehr" of March 17, 1813 were made binding in the "Law on Obligation to Do Military Service" of September 9, 1814 and in the "Landwehr Ordinance" of November 21, 1815. The training in the troop units was nonetheless inconsistent in the following years, so that the requirements were specified again at the highest level. The one-year volunteer only served one year (after the Wars of Liberation) instead of the usual two or three years, but had to equip and support himself at his own expense. After completing the year of service and two military exercises, the one-year volunteers were usually promoted to officers on leave ( reserve ) (see below).

In 1868, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Kingdom of Bavaria took over the institute for one-year volunteers based on the model of the Royal Prussian Army . Under the impression of the wars of unification , France and Italy as well as a number of other European states also orientated themselves on this model. After the end of the North German Confederation , the one-year volunteer service was taken over by the German Army in the German Empire .


Call for applications with the deadline February 1, 1906 (newspaper advertisement)

An indispensable prerequisite was that the candidate had acquired the middle school leaving certificate (secondary school leaving certificate) at a grammar school or a middle school . For this reason, the secondary school leaving certificate has long been referred to as “the one-year-old”. A corresponding examination could, however, also be taken before a military commission. The one-year-old volunteer had to provide accommodation and equipment himself in peacetime, so that only sons from comparatively wealthy families were eligible as one-year volunteers. Wilhelm II expressly wished that only members of the so-called “officially capable classes” should be allowed to take a career as a reserve officer . The nobility of mind solved little by the " civil nobility " from as the main feature. At least 2,000 marks (around 10,000 € → German currency history from 1871) were to be added to the cost of active service with a modest lifestyle . Since the one-year-olds had free access to the officers' mess, much higher amounts were also possible. The date of entry into service as well as the branch of service were arbitrary, however, went out the right to a one-year volunteer service with 25 years of age.

One-year volunteers of the foot troops, who lacked the means, were allowed to be clothed and fed as an exception at state expense (so-called king volunteers).

Authorization to serve as a one-year volunteer was granted according to the German Defense Code of July 22, 1901 by issuing a certificate of entitlement. Proof of academic qualifications had to be provided by school reports or an examination. Those educational institutions that were able to issue valid certificates of academic qualification were recognized and classified by the Reich Chancellor . They differed in those with which

  1. the one-year successful attendance of the secondary (second to last class) was sufficient ( grammar schools , secondary schools, first class secondary schools )
  2. the one-year successful attendance of the Prima (last class) was necessary ( Progymnasien , Realschulen second order)
  3. the passing of the discharge test was required (higher middle schools , industrial and commercial schools, elementary school teacher seminars , also higher private teaching institutions)
  4. special conditions ( trade schools , private teaching institutions)

were fixed.

Young people who excelled in a branch of science or art or in another activity that would benefit society, also skilled or mechanical workers who achieved outstanding results, as well as members of the aristocratic theater employed for artistic achievements could be exempted from proof of scientific qualification. They only had to take an elementary knowledge test.

According to the Reich Military Law of May 2, 1874, one-year- old volunteers who were punished with transfer to the second class of the soldier's class during their service time lost their status as one-year-old volunteers and the right to dismissal after one year of service.


Anyone wishing to acquire the certificate of eligibility for service as a one-year volunteer had to report in writing to the examination committee for one-year volunteers in whose district they would have been required to be submitted by February 1 of the first year of compulsory military service at the latest. The notification had to be enclosed:

Proof of academic competence were either

  • attach the relevant school reports,
  • or to mention that these would follow (in this case there was time until April 1st)
  • or the application for admission to the examination had to be made in the notification , specifying two foreign languages ​​( Latin , Greek , English , French ) in which the applicant wanted to be examined.

The one-year-old volunteers were free to choose the type of weapon and the unit. Since October 1, 1903, one-year volunteers have also been accepted into the machine gun departments. Entry into service usually took place on October 1, for the train on November 1, and for individual units to be determined by the General Command on April 1.

One-year volunteers residing outside Europe were allowed to join the protection force for South West Africa at their own request .

Promotion to officer of the leave status

1. Austria-Hungary, mounted artillery 2. EF Uffz im Colberg. GR Graf Gneisenau (2nd Pomeranian) No. 9 3rd EF of the same regiment 4th EF in the Uhlan regiment of Kaiser Alexander III. from Russia (West Prussian) No. 1 5th EF in a hussar regiment 6th capitulant badge 7th field telegraph service 8th graduation from the military riding institute (one-year course)

After joining the army, the “one-year-olds” were given special instruction in addition to their practical training. Those who wished to be promoted to reserve officers were made private after six months if they were eligible . Only these were given special training during the second half of the military service. The officer candidates (officer aspirants) were transferred to the district command as "surplus NCOs" (before 1856: corporals ) at the end of their one-year military service , all others as commons with six-year reserve obligations.

In order to be promoted to officer on leave of absence ( reserve or Landwehr ), it was necessary to pass the officer's examination and successfully participate in usually two military exercises ( maneuvers ); this procedure had to be completed within two years after the end of the actual military service.

After the first voluntary military exercise (usually eight weeks), the aspirant took the officer examination and then moved on to the (extra-budgetary) deputy sergeant . During the second or third week exercise more, he made Officer Service and was, after consent of the regimental commander, and after passing the officer selection (co-opted) by his comrades, the lieutenant appointed the reserve. The reserve officer was required to perform a further three to four exercises, each lasting four to eight weeks. As a result, promotion to first lieutenant was possible; the rank of captain of the reserve was seldom achieved.

Legal definition

One year old volunteer badge
Angle EF (marine)

The law on the obligation of the North German Confederation to perform military service of November 9, 1867 stipulated in Section 11:

"Young people of education who dress, equip and feed themselves during their service, and who have presented the knowledge gained to the prescribed extent, are already in reserve after a year of active service in the standing army - counted from the day they enter service on leave. Depending on their capabilities and achievements, they can be proposed for officer positions in the Reserve and Landwehr. "

Special badges on the uniform

The badge of the German Annual volunteers consisted of a rotated in the national colors wool cord along the outer edge of the shoulder flaps proceeded. The cord was worn beyond the end of the one-year military service and was only discarded with promotion to officer.

The one-year-old volunteers in the Navy wore an angle in the imperial colors on the left sleeve.


Annual Volunteers (EF)
One-year volunteer corporal of the kuk Bosnian-Herzegovinian infantry.png
EF Corporal
Annual volunteer kuk Kriegsmarine.png
EF Kuk Kriegsmarine
Kuk Annual Volunteer Corporal 1915-18.png
Corporal EF
(apple green)
One-year volunteer cadet (kuk) 1908-14.png
Kadet EF
(scarlet red)
Distinction badge until 1918
See also


All conscripts who had passed the Matura were eligible as applicants for the Joint Army ; After the beginning of the First World War, exercising a civil profession or simply having an upscale social background was sufficient as a criterion.

Promotion to officer of the reserve

After a year with the troops (military service) and passing the officers' course, the one-year-old volunteer was appointed lieutenant in the reserve. Annual compulsory weapons exercises of six to eight weeks rounded off the training. With the sinking of the k. u. k. Monarchy In 1918, the one-year volunteer's army institute fell away; it was not reintroduced until 1935.

Legal definition

The Austro-Hungarian military order defined the annual voluntary service as follows:

“In peacetime, residents who can prove a certain scientific education are granted the privilege of only one year's military service. (…) The purpose of the institution of one-year volunteers is not to harm those conscripts who devote themselves to higher studies through the three-year presence period of service in a way that is sensitive to their later careers. (...) As a condition for admission as a one-year volunteer, it is necessary to complete a domestic secondary school or an equivalent educational institution, possibly the preliminary examination to be taken at a troop division command with the same scope of knowledge. "

Special badges on the uniform

During the one-year military service, the one-year volunteers ("EF") marked 1 cm wide, silk, imperial yellow transverse braids with a black central stripe ("intelligence braid"), which were to be sewn on the upper edge of the cuffs. Since 1915, a small, bare button was placed on each of the rear ends of the parole , which was to be attached behind the distinction badge of the titular rank (e.g. titular private: a white six-pointed star). Buttons and sleeve trims were removed with promotion to the officer ("hope button").

Republic of Austria


In the Austrian Armed Forces , having a university entrance qualification ( Matura ) is an essential requirement in order to be able to serve as a one-year volunteer. In the case of a post-Matura (repeat examination of the Matura in autumn), it is still possible to indent, for the examination an exemption is granted. If the post-school leaving examination is not passed, the course must be abandoned. Since the training service replaces the 6 months of the basic military service , it is necessary to complete a so-called aptitude test before starting military service. During this aptitude test, both the psychological suitability (divided into unfit, team, NCO and officer suitability) in the course of sleep deprivation and the physical performance, which is subject to a rating system based on points, are checked. The aptitude test is the same for all types of desired military careers, but it differs in the number of points to be achieved.

Physical requirements (women)
Points 10 9 8th 7th 6th 5 4th 3 2 1
2400 m run <11:14 until 11:27 am until 11:37 until 11:54 am until 12:08 until 12:21 until 12:35 until 13:00 until 13:15 until 13:30
pushup > 25 24 22-23 20-21 18-19 17th 15-16 13-14 11-12 9-10
Pull-ups (inclined slope) > 18 17th 16 15th 13-14 12 11 10 8-9 7th
Jump & Reach (standing vault) > 47 46 45 44 43 41-42 30th 38-39 34-37 32-33
Physical requirements (men)
Points 10 9 8th 7th 6th 5 4th 3 2 1
2400 m run <10:02 until 10:21 until 10:37 until 10:52 until 11:08 until 11:24 am until 11:43 until 12:00 until 12:15 until 12:30
pushup > 41 39-40 36-38 33-35 31-32 29-30 26-28 23-25 20-22 17-19
Pull-ups (inclined slope) > 29 28 26-27 25th 23-24 21-22 18-20 16-17 14-15 12-13
Jump & Reach (standing vault) > 63 62 61 59-60 57-58 55-56 53-54 50-52 47-49 42-46

Source: Army Personnel Office

To pass the exam, the candidate must have at least eight points, but at least one point in each discipline. In addition, the ability to swim is tested in that the candidate has to swim continuously for 15 minutes in a style of his choice. If the candidate has already completed his military service or if his previous period of service is longer than four months, he must achieve at least 12 points.

Entry into the Theresian Military Academy

All one-year volunteers in the armed forces are grouped together in their own EF companies . The so-called EF recruits have to choose a militia officer (MOA) or a professional officer (BOA) training during the EF course 1. The engagement date for all one-year volunteers is at the beginning of September, as the end of the training service must coincide with the start of studies at the Theresian Military Academy . If you have already completed military service, you have the option of joining as a so-called side entrant during the first few months of training. In January, the BOA is separated from the MOA and the so-called "preparatory semester" begins for the former, in which the unsuitable candidates for the 99 places on the MilAk are sorted out, while the suitability of the others through continuous stress tests through the review of leadership skills etc. is determined.

Promotion to officer of the reserve

Before the Austrian Armed Forces reintroduced the one-year voluntary service in 1964, their own companies took on the Maturanten (Maturantenkompanien).

Since 2009, promotion to lieutenant has taken place at the earliest three years (up to then it was four years) after the beginning of the one-year volunteer training - which in the current diction is strictly an officer in the "militia". During this period, several weeks of weapon exercises, seminars and corresponding tests must be completed. In contrast to the career officer candidates (BOA), who provide their training at the military academy with the rank of ensign , militia officer candidates (MOA) remain at the rank of sergeant (= lowest non-commissioned officer level) and are promoted directly to lieutenant after all time and technical requirements have been fulfilled. Further promotion as a militia officer is possible up to the rank of colonel , in exceptional cases also to brigadier . The prerequisite for this is a minimum number of completed training days in the assigned function and the completion of various courses at the academies or weapons schools of the Austrian Armed Forces.

Special badges on the uniform

In the Austrian Armed Forces, one-year-old volunteers are identified by a 3 mm wide silver stripe on the upper edge of the distinctions (for service or combat clothing). However, this strip is only worn during the first year and is removed when the rank of sergeant (= lowest NCO) is reached. Since 2009 the militia officer candidate (MOA) has had a 3 mm wide gold-colored stripe on the upper edge of the Wachtmeister distinction.

Figurative meaning

Until about the 1960s, the term “one year volunteer” was also used in a figurative sense for Christians who were distant from the church and who only attended church services once a year.

See also


  • The one-year volunteer in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy . Seidel, Vienna 1878.
  • Michael Elstermann: The Prussian “one-year volunteer” system . In: Zeitschrift für Heereskunde 73, 2009, No. 433, ISSN  0044-2852 , p. 113.
  • Manual for reserve and Landwehr cavalry officers, as well as for one-year cavalry volunteers . Duncker, Berlin 1870.
  • Lothar Mertens : educational privilege and military service in the empire. The social significance of the one-year voluntary military service for the German educated middle class . In: Bildung und Erbildung , 43, 1990, 2, ISSN  0006-2456 , pp. 217-228.
  • Lothar Mertens: The one-year volunteer privilege. Military service in the spirit of the German Empire . In: Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte , 42, 1990, 4, 316ff.
  • Lothar Mertens: The privilege of one-year voluntary military service in the German Empire and its social significance. To the state of research . In: Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen , 39, 1986, 1, ISSN  0026-3826 , pp. 59-66.
  • Erwin Steinböck: Memories of a one-year-old volunteer in the first Austrian army . In: Zeitschrift für Heereskunde , 51, 1987, ISSN  0044-2852 , pp. 332–333, 117–124.
  • Hugo Wernigk: Wernigks manual for the one-year-old volunteer, officer aspirant and the officers of the leave status of the field artillery . 18th completely reworked edition. War issue. Mittler, Berlin 1918.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Conscription at ( Memento from November 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Voluntary hunters at ( Memento from September 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  3. ^ Instruction on the Treatment and Training of One-Year Volunteers, March 21, 1843 Text on Google Books
  4. ^ Cabinet order of March 29, 1890
  5. ^ Roet de Rouet, Henning: Frankfurt am Main as a Prussian garrison from 1866 to 1914. Frankfurt am Main 2016. P. 72.
  6. after the experiences of a not well-off family of teachers for the 1st Lower Alsatian Infantry Regiment No. 132 in Strasbourg and the year from April 1, 1911: Maria Elisabetha Glasmann: Diary of my life, a family saga from the Hunsrück (1860–1942) , ed. by Hajo Knebel . Simmern 1973, p. 160
  7. ^ Law on the obligation to serve in the war. In: Federal Law Gazette of the North German Confederation . tape 1867 , no. 10 , p. 131-136 ( digitized from Wikisource ).
  8. ^ Alfons Freiherr von Wrede: History of the k. u. k. Wehrmacht , Vol. 1, pp. 91f., Vienna 1898
  9. Review of physical performance. (PDF; 252 kB) Heerespersonalamt, p. 1f , accessed on December 4, 2015 .