Field Marshal General

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The field marshal (from Old High German marahscalc, " marshal , stable master, groom") was the leader of the cavalry in the 16th century. In the Thirty Years War the field marshal was a higher rank of general. Since the end of the 17th century, the designation field marshal was used as the highest military rank in many European armies . From 1664 until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire (1806), there was a field marshal who was in command of the imperial army , the imperial army . Derived from this, Brandenburg was initially the only country to introduce the Field Marshal General, who was later also taken over by the Tsarist Russian army. From 1871 this rank was awarded throughout the German Empire.

Field Marshal in Germany

Middle Ages to the 16th century

In the Middle Ages, the position of commander-in-chief of the cavalry developed from the original court office of a stable master . In the 16th century, the field marshal was usually the cavalry commander and the deputy commander in chief with judicial powers.

In the Holy Roman Empire , a field marshal general could only be appointed jointly by the emperor and the imperial estates in the Reichstag . Accordingly, the appointee had to take his oath before the emperor and the Reichstag.

18th century

The field marshal has been the highest general rank since the 18th century.

The marshal's baton , introduced in Germany in the 19th century, adorned with the emblem of the sovereign, and only awarded or sent by him, made the marshal a partner in the power of the sovereign.

Prussian Army

The field marshal general was a rank in the Prussian army which, as a rule, could only be awarded to officers for outstanding military successes. Field Marshal General could become anyone who had successfully led a campaign, stormed a fortress or won an important battle.

In peacetime, however, it was also given as an honorary gift to princes of friendly states or as a " character " (ie as an honorary rank) to generals who deserved to be retired.

Members of the royal family were traditionally not promoted to field marshal. In 1854 the rank of colonel general was created in order to be able to promote Prince Wilhelm without breaking this rule.

In the Prussian army - as well as in the Wehrmacht - a field marshal was entitled to certain privileges. A field marshal did not retire from active service and was listed and honored as an active soldier until his death. In Prussia , all field marshals were also members of the Prussian Council of State .

German Empire

With Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm and Prince Friedrich Karl , Prussian princes were appointed field marshals for the first time in history .

In the Reichswehr , according to the ordinance of the Reich President on the rank and superior relationship of the soldiers of the Reichsheer of December 10, 1920, the highest-ranking general ranks were initially only major general , lieutenant general and generals of infantry , cavalry and artillery . It was not until the new ordinance of November 13, 1926 that the ranks of the Colonel General and the General Field Marshal were reintroduced. At the time of the Reichswehr, no officer was promoted to General Field Marshal.

All General Field Marshals of the Royal Prussian Army ( Paul von Hindenburg , August von Mackensen ) and the Royal Bavarian Army (Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria and Prince Leopold of Bavaria ) who were still alive at that time were not included in the rankings or seniority lists of the Reichswehr, Hindenburg was named only as Head of the Reichswehr recorded.

"Third Reich"

Kfz-Stander Field Marshal 1941–1945

In 1936 the rank of field marshal was reintroduced in the Wehrmacht with the promotion of Reich Minister of War, Colonel General Werner von Blomberg .

In the wake of the Blomberg-Fritsch crisis in January 1938, Blomberg was forced to resign by Hermann Göring , apparently in the hope of becoming his successor as Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht. Hitler fired Blomberg, but decided to take over command of the Wehrmacht himself. He promoted Goering to Field Marshal General on February 4, 1938. At first Göring was the only bearer of this rank and thus the highest ranking officer in the Wehrmacht.

During the Second World War , after the end of the campaign in the west on July 19, 1940 , Hitler appointed nine generals of the army and three of the air force field marshal. Holders of this rank had the right to a “direct presentation to the Führer ”. For Göring, who was not to lose his position as the highest ranking officer through the appointments, Hitler created the Reichsmarschall as the highest officer rank in the Wehrmacht .

In 1942 three more generals were raised to field marshal general: Erwin Rommel for the attack on Tobruk , Erich von Manstein after the conquest of Sevastopol , and Georg von Küchler .

In the last days of the Battle of Stalingrad , at the end of January 1943, Hitler appointed Friedrich Paulus , the commander-in-chief of the enclosed 6th Army , and then his superiors and two other army group commanders on the Eastern Front as field marshals. After Paulus surrendered to the Red Army instead of going down fighting as expected , Hitler declared that he did not want to appoint another field marshal in the army. Nevertheless, Walter Model was appointed to the army in 1944 and Ferdinand Schörner was appointed in 1945 .

In April 1945, after Goering's dismissal, Hitler appointed Robert Ritter von Greim Field Marshal General of the Air Force.

In the Navy , the Grand Admiral corresponded to the Field Marshal General.

Federal Republic of Germany

In the Bundeswehr there are no ranks general field marshal, field marshal or marshal.


The National People's Army , based on the Soviet Army, knew the rank of Marshal of the GDR from 1982 to 1989 , but it was never awarded.

Field Marshal in other countries

Epaulet General
field marshal, Imperial Russian Army

Tsarist Russia

Field Marshal General ( Russian генерал-фельдмаршал ) was the highest military rank in Russia from the government of Peter the Great in 1700 until the February Revolution in 1917 . In the general ranking table he corresponded to 1st class, equal to the Admiral General in the Navy, the Chancellor and the Secret Council of 1st class in the civil service. The tsars also awarded the title General Field Marshal as a special honor to civilians such as the former Chancellors Golowin , Trubezkoi , and Shuwalov , who were thereby able to maintain their prominent position in court ceremonies , and foreign highly deserved military figures such as the Duke of Wellington , Archduke Albrecht , Radetzky , Ferdinand I. , Tsar of the Bulgarians , and the elder Moltke .


In 1933, the country introduced the rank of field marshal ( FI: Sotamarsalkka / SV: Fältmarskalk ). The only holder of this rank was Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim ; In 1942 he was promoted to FI: Suomen marsalkka / SV: Marskalk av Finland (Marshal of Finland), which corresponds to the Reichsmarschall .


Marshal of France

The field marshal corresponds to the Maréchal de France ( Marshal of France ). However, it is not a rank, but only an honorary position. He is therefore not promoted, but appointed. At the time of the Ancien Régime, the Maréchal général des camps et armées du roi (literally "Field Marshal General of the King") possessed a large amount of power ; however, this position was only sporadic. In the fourth republic (1947-1958) three marshals were appointed. After the death of the last Marshal of France Alphonse Juin in 1967, the title was no longer awarded.

In addition, the rank of Maréchal de camp (literally field marshal) existed until 1791 . This was only the brigade commander and the brigadier des armées du roi ; Both ranks disappeared in 1793 and went to the new rank of brigadier general ( général de brigade ).

The Mestre de camp (literally field master), on the other hand, referred to a regimental commander, especially in the cavalry. It corresponded to the Colonel ( Colonel ).

A mere NCO rank today is the Maréchal des Logis for motorized units and the gendarmerie. He is equal to the sergent .


In Sweden from 1561 to 1824 the title of field marshal ( fältmarskalk ) was awarded 83 times as the highest military rank.


Field Marshal corresponds to the Capitán general captain general . At present the king is the only one who holds this rank. During fascism , the commanders of the military districts were in the rank of captain general, who performed political and judicial functions in addition to military ones. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the captains general enjoyed unrestricted authority, as generalissimo he could order battles and sieges on his own initiative. Since 1630 ranked the Gobernador de las Armas y Ejército (about "Army Governor", ie. Commander of the Army) as his deputy.

Not to be confused with the field marshal is the Maestre de Campo (literally field master). Between 1534 and 1704, as a colonel , he commanded the new regiments ( Terzios ) that were set up at the same time . Since 1540 he was in charge of the Maestre de campo general ( Colonel General ), at that time the second highest rank in the army, with the Teniente de Maestre de campo general (about "Colonel General-Lieutenant", compare Field Marshal Lieutenant ) as deputy.

Subordinate to the Maestre de Campo was the Sargento Mayor (about major / lieutenant colonel ). Around 1640 the Sargento General de Batalla (about " General Sergeant of the Battle ") formed a further step directly above the Maestre de Campo.


In 1924 the Marshal of Italy was introduced as the highest rank of general. A total of thirteen army generals and one air force general were appointed marshals. With the end of kingship in 1947, the rank was abolished.
An Italian maresciallo is a non-commissioned officer.


The only active Marshal of Romania was Ion Antonescu . In addition to the Romanian kings since Ferdinand I , Constantin Prezan and Alexandru Averescu held the honorary title of the same name .

Today, Law No. 80 of July 11, 1995 regulates the appointment of the rank of military cadre to the effect that the rank of field marshal or admiral may only be awarded for special services in the event of war, and only by the president Romania .

Field Marshal shoulder board

United Kingdom

The rank of Field Marshal was introduced in Great Britain in 1736 by King George II , the second king of the House of Hanover , as an equivalent to the field marshal common on the continent with the appointment of two generals.

In the 20th century, the Chief of the General Staff (formerly Chief of the Imperial General Staff , now Chief of the Defense Staff ) is a regular field marshal. In addition, individual members of the royal family were raised to this rank. In the Royal Navy the Admiral of the Fleet corresponds to the Field Marshal , in the Royal Air Force to the Marshal of the Royal Air Force . Only the Royal Marines do not have a corresponding rank. The rank is associated with certain privileges, including a field marshal who does not retire.

See also: Category: Field Marshal (United Kingdom)

See also: Marshal of Great Britain , list of well-known British field marshals

Shoulder board of a General of the Army

United States

After the end of the First World War , John J. Pershing was the only one awarded the rank of General of the Armies of the United States . He was ranked above the four-star general of the US Army , comparable to the contemporary German field marshal.

In 1944, the General of the Army, or informally five-star general, was created as the equivalent of the British Field Marshal and Marshal of the Soviet Union and corresponds to the Fleet Admiral in the US Navy and the rank of General of the Air Force created in 1947 in the US Air Force . A total of five officers received this rank; with Omar N. Bradley died in 1981, the last owner of the rank. It has not been awarded since then.

List of field marshals

The sorting is based - as far as known - according to the order of appointment.

Field Marshal General of the Holy Roman Empire

1542 - Knight Johann Hilchen von Lorch (1484–1548)
1557 - Adam von Trott († 1564)

Since the late 17th century, the Reichstag, in agreement with the emperor, has always appointed two field marshals: one each from the Catholic and one from the Protestant camp.

1664 (Protestant) - Prince Georg Friedrich zu Waldeck (1620–1692)
1664 (Catholic) - Margrave Leopold Wilhelm of Baden-Baden (1626–1671)
1674 (Protestant) - Margrave Friedrich VI. of Baden-Durlach (1617–1677)
1702, September 30th (Catholic) - Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden-Baden (1655–1707), "Türkenlouis"
1707, February 21 (Catholic) - Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736)
1712, 9 September (Protestant) - Duke Eberhard Ludwig of Württemberg (1676–1733)

After Duke Eberhard Ludwig's death, three other Reich Field Marshals were appointed in addition to Prince Eugen.

1734, May 21 (Catholic) - Duke Karl Alexander von Württemberg-Winnental (1684–1737)
1734, May 21 (Protestant) - Duke Ferdinand Albrecht II of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern (1680–1735)
1734, May 21 (Protestant) - Prince Leopold I of Anhalt-Dessau (1676–1747)
1737 (Catholic) - Duke Franz Stephan of Lothringen (1708–1765), from 1745 Emperor Franz I.
1741 (Catholic) - Prince Joseph Friedrich of Saxony-Hildburghausen (1702–1787)
1753 (Protestant) - Prince Ludwig Ernst of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1718–1788)
1756 (Protestant) - Johann August von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg (1704–1767)
1760, March 17th (Catholic) - Count Palatine Friedrich Michael von Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld (1724–1767)
1760 (Protestant) - Margrave Karl August of Baden-Durlach (1712–1786)
1767, December 18 (Catholic) - Duke Albert Casimir von Sachsen-Teschen (1738–1822)
1793, spring (Protestant) - Prince Friedrich Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1737–1815)
1796, February 10 (Catholic) - Archduke Karl of Austria-Teschen (1771–1847) - last Reich Field Marshal

Imperial Field Marshal 1618–1806

The Roman-German imperial dignity was from 1452, only interrupted by the Wittelsbach period (1742–1745), with the Austrian House of Habsburg and from 1745 to 1806 Habsburg-Lothringen .

Field Marshals of Austria / Austria-Hungary

From 1804 the Habsburg field marshals were appointed in the new Austrian Empire .

Austrian Empire 1804–1867

Collar Tabs
Marshal's baton of Archduke Friedrich of Austria

Austria-Hungary 1867–1918

Electorate and Kingdom of Bavaria

Electoral Palatinate

Electorate and Kingdom of Saxony


Kurbrandenburg and Prussia

The great elector

Leopold I of Anhalt-Dessau
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Field Marshal General Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia
  • June 26, 1657 - Baron Otto Christoph von Sparr (1599–1668), the first in the series of Brandenburg and Prussian field marshals
  • January 24, 1670 - Prince Johann Georg II of Anhalt-Dessau (1627–1693), governor of the Kurmark Brandenburg, father of Leopold I, the "old Dessauer"
  • February 18, 1670 - Baron Georg von Derfflinger (1606–1695), defeated the Swedes in the Battle of Fehrbellin
  • June 28, 1675 - Landgrave Friedrich II of Hessen-Homburg "with the silver leg" (1633–1708), fought with Derfflinger at Fehrbellin and inspired Heinrich von Kleist to his drama "The Prince of Homburg"
  • May 1, 1688 - Hans Adam von Schöning (1641–1696), Brandenburg and Saxon (1691) field marshal, the conqueror of the Turks

Elector Friedrich III. / King Friedrich I.

Friedrich Wilhelm I.

Friedrich II.

Friedrich Wilhelm II.

Friedrich Wilhelm III.

Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

  • October 5, 1847 - Karl Freiherr von Müffling, called Weiss (1775-1851), military writer and geodesist, was Blücher's liaison officer on Wellington's staff during the Wars of Liberation, invented the name “Battle of Nations” in 1813
  • October 7, 1847 - Hermann von Boyen (1771–1848), Prussian military reformer and minister of war
  • October 9, 1847 - Karl Friedrich von dem Knesebeck (1768–1848), Prussian general and statesman
  • March 14, 1854 - Friedrich Burggraf and Count zu Dohna-Schlobitten (1784-1859), Prussian general, fought near Waterloo, Scharnhorst's son-in-law
  • August 15, 1856 - Friedrich Count von Wrangel "Papa Wrangel" (1784–1877), popular Prussian military leader, governor of Berlin, put down the revolution in 1848 without bloodshed; was the first living Prussian field marshal to receive a marshal's baton from his sovereign, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV., on the occasion of his elevation to this rank (1857).

Wilhelm I.

Friedrich III.

Wilhelm II.

Note: foreign monarchs who were chiefs of a Prussian regiment wore the badges of rank that corresponded to the rank they held in their own army.

German Empire 1933 to 1945


Marshal's Staff of the Army
Shoulder piece 1936–1944
Collar flap
  1. April 20, 1936 - Werner von Blomberg (1878–1946), Reichswehr Minister 1933–1935, Reich Minister of War 1935–1938
  2. July 19, 1940 - Walther von Brauchitsch (1881–1948), Commander in Chief of the Army 1938–1941
  3. July 19, 1940 - Wilhelm Keitel (1882–1946, executed), Chief of the Wehrmacht High Command 1938–1945
  4. July 19, 1940 - Gerd von Rundstedt (1875–1953), Commander in Chief West and Army Groups South and A 1939–1945
  5. July 19, 1940 - Fedor von Bock (1880–1945, fallen), Commander in Chief of Army Groups North, B, Center and South 1939–1942
  6. July 19, 1940 - Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb (1876–1956), Commander-in-Chief of Army Groups C and North 1939–1942
  7. July 19, 1940 - Wilhelm List (1880–1971), Commander in Chief of Army Group A 1942
  8. July 19, 1940 - Günther von Kluge (1882–1944, suicide), Commander in Chief West and Army Groups Center and B 1941–1944
  9. July 19, 1940 - Erwin von Witzleben (1881–1944, executed), Commander-in-Chief West and Army Group D 1940–1942
  10. July 19, 1940 - Walter von Reichenau (1884–1942, stroke), Commander-in-Chief of Army Group South 1941–1942
  11. October 31, 1940 - Eduard Freiherr von Böhm-Ermolli (1856–1941), Austro-Hungarian field marshal, army leader in the First World War ( character of a German field marshal)
  12. June 22, 1942 - Erwin Rommel , "the desert fox" (1891–1944, forced to commit suicide), for the conquest of Tobruk as Commander in Chief of the Panzer Army Africa, Commander in Chief of Army Groups Africa and B 1943–1944
  13. June 30, 1942 - Georg von Küchler (1881–1968), Commander in Chief of Army Group North 1942–1944
  14. June 30, 1942 - Erich von Manstein (1887–1973), Commander of the 11th Army, Army Group Leader for the conquest of Sevastopol
  15. January 29, 1943 - Friedrich Paulus (1890–1957), Army leader of the 6th Army in the Battle of Stalingrad
  16. February 1, 1943 - Ewald von Kleist (1881–1954), Panzer Group Leader, Army Group Leader
  17. February 1, 1943 - Maximilian Baron von Weichs (1881–1954), Army Group Leader
  18. February 1, 1943 - Ernst Busch (1885–1945), Army Group Leader
  19. March 1, 1944 - Walter Model (1891–1945), Army Group Leader
  20. April 5, 1945 - Ferdinand Schörner (1892–1973), Army Group Leader
Air Force Marshal's Staff

air force

Collar Tabs
  1. February 4, 1938 - Hermann Göring (1893–1946, suicide), Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force (appointed Reichsmarschall on July 19, 1940)
  2. July 19, 1940 - Albert Kesselring (1885–1960), Commander in Chief of Air Fleet 2, from 1941 Commander in Chief South or South-West or C
  3. July 19, 1940 - Erhard Milch (1892–1972), Inspector General of the Air Force
  4. July 19, 1940 - Hugo Sperrle (1885–1953), Commander in Chief of Air Fleet 3
  5. February 16, 1943 - Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen (1895–1945), Commander in Chief of Air Fleet 4
  6. April 25, 1945 - Robert Ritter von Greim (1892–1945, suicide), Commander-in-Chief of Air Fleet 6, from April 26, 1945 Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force


Grand Admiral
  1. April 1, 1939 - Erich Raeder (1876–1960), Commander in Chief of the Navy until January 1943, then Inspector General of the Navy (rank: Grand Admiral )
  2. January 31, 1943 - Karl Dönitz (1891–1980), Commander-in-Chief of the Navy (rank: Grand Admiral )

See also


  • Klaus Borchert: The General Field Marshals and Grand Admirals of the Wehrmacht . Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, Wölfersheim-Berstadt 1994, ISBN 3-7909-0511-9 .
  • Jürgen Hahn-Butry (ed.): Prussian-German field marshals and grand admirals . Safari, Berlin 1937.
  • Schematism for the Austro-Hungarian Army and for the Austro-Hungarian Navy for 1914. Vienna 1914.
  • JC Steiner: Schematism of the generals and colonels of the Austro-Hungarian army. Edition S and H, Vienna 1992, ISBN 3-901215-01-8 .
  • Kasamas: Austrian Chronicle. Hollinek brothers, Vienna 1948.
  • Wandruszka-Urbanitsch (Ed.): The Habsburg Monarchy 1848–1918. Volume V. The Armed Power. Verlag der Österr. Akad. Der Wiss., Vienna 1987, ISBN 3-7001-1122-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Field Marshal  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See Reichs-General-Feld-Marschall, Reichs-Feld-Oberster. In: Johann Heinrich Zedler : Large complete universal lexicon of all sciences and arts . Volume 31, Leipzig 1742, column 81 f.
  2. Heeres-Verordnungsblatt 1920, pp. 989–991.
  3. Heeres-Verordnungsblatt 1926, p. 125 f.
  4. ^ Annually published ranking lists of the German Reichsheeres, Verlag ES Mittler & Sohn, 1920–1932.
  5. Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. DVG, Stuttgart 2000.
  6. Fernando González de León: The road to Rocroi: class, culture and command in the Spanish Army of Flanders, 1567-1659 . Brill Publishers (Leiden) 2009, ISBN 978-90-04-17082-7 , pp. 16f.
  7. N. Apostu, D. Miler (coord.): "Mareşalii României", Editura Academiei de Înalte Studii Militare, Bucureşti 1999, p. 8 p.
  8. ^ TA Heathcote: Dictionary of Field Marshals of the British Army. Introduction, Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley 2012, ISBN 978-1-84884-881-8 , p. 1.
  9. ^ "Johann Hilchen" , in F.Otto: Annalen des Verein für Nassauische Altertumskunde a. Historical research published in 1892, Volume: 24, Pages 1 to 23
  10. See Reichsgeneralfeldmarschall. In: Christoph Gottlob Heinrich: General world history. Volume 97. Cristian Kroß, Vienna 1805, p. 21.
  11. ^ S. Karl Stiefel : Baden 1648-1952 , Karlsruhe 1978, Volume 2, p. 1073.
  12. See Heinrich Zeissberg: The last Reichsgeneralfeldmarschall Erzherzog Carl (1796). C. Gerold's Sohn, Vienna 1898.
  13. From 1618 until the fall of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1918, 287 field marshals were appointed. Cf. Antonio Schmidt-Brentano: Imperial and Imperial Generals (1618–1815) (PDF; 443 kB).
  14. Paul I. Prince Esterhàzy Accessed on June 3, 2012.
  15. Herbert Knötel, Paul Pietsch, Werner Baron Collas: Das Deutsche Heer - Peace Uniforms at the Outbreak of the World War , 2nd edition, Volume 1, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-440-81054-2 , page 34