Officer boy

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A caricature from the German-Danish War : "An Austrian officer boy with marching equipment"

A batman , in Austria-Hungary batman or colloquially "Pipe cap" or "batman" called, was a younger orderly that the officers of all ranks, doctors and paymasters were assigned for personal use. They were entitled to soldiers outside active service who were not allowed to be private . In Austria-Hungary officer servants were not among the combatants , but were drafted to serve without a weapon.


Even the knights of the Middle Ages knew the squire as someone who, at the bottom of the military ladder, had to work himself up from the bottom up. The officer's boy developed from the personal and valet servants of the noble officers in feudalism . It was the duty of the officers' boys to be on hand to help the noble gentleman with the daily tasks and errands. These valets were mostly brought along and supported by the nobility themselves and were therefore not part of the official army. As more and more middle-class circles aspired to the career of an officer, a soldier was made available for these tasks, the officer boy, for those who usually did not bring a personal servant with them. In the German Empire , compulsory military service began at the age of 17, active service began at the age of 20 and lasted two years for the infantry and three years for the cavalry.

“As is well known , the officer has a boy , that is, a soldier, as a servant at his personal disposal. If the officer in question is on duty, from the captain upwards, he even has two of them. The second only has to take care of the horse and care for it. [also called riding boy , editor's note. V.] Every boy has to serve at the front for a year [what is meant is the ordinary military drill, editor's note. V.] and serves as a lad for the second year. A position that is very much in demand. These men are off duty in general and are only in the afternoon three times a week, either in the morning or used , so they are not too fat and not forget everything they have learned again. "

As a rule, there was a relationship of loyalty up to and including intimacy with the officer who chose his boy. Unconditional loyalty up to self-sacrificing devotion for the employer was expected. The regimental histories of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century are full of reports in which the boy did not leave his master in spite of the risk of his life, or in which he died while he was being recovered.

“Being a guy is a special kind of trust. Only those who the captain consider to be particularly loyal, reliable, orderly, independent and honest, will be determined to be a boy. "

- Major von Klaß :

His daily tasks included cleaning and caring for uniforms and weapons, running errands and running errands, riding the service horse on a daily basis if the officer did not come, cleaning the stable and caring for and feeding the animal, and providing the appropriate suit Parades, going to church or superiors, the organization of the daily routine. Officer boys held the lowest position within the armed forces, but they had a potent advocate in their officer and therefore enjoyed a certain freedom. Schwejk has become famous in the role of the officer boy, who spread the proverbial loyalty to the boy to the bigoted officer conceit in such a way that it has to be understood in a temporal sense as traditional social criticism: he helped his lieutenant out of all embarrassments and financial needs, put off the believers of the notorious gambling addict , organized the alcoholic brandy and arranged the women’s stories until the slacker was finally sent to the front.

In the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, the Wehrmacht and the Bundeswehr , there were or are no officer lads, but the orderly officer and the adjutant did .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Source: "Meyers Konversationslexikon" 1910
  2. “Once again the Junker” - Volume 1: From joining the Royal Prussian Army to the Engers War School (A Soldier's Life in 10 Volumes 1910-1923), p. 64
  3. The good comrade. A learning and reading book for the service instruction of the German infantryman. P. 90 ff


  • Major von Klaß (Ed.): The good comrade. A learning and reading book for the service instruction of the German infantryman. Edition for Bavaria, 20th edition, Berlin 1915