The Anglo-American armies share ranks up to "full" (or four star) general. (The German army has ranks equivalent to those armies for non-general officers). The American army deviated from the English pattern with a five star "General of the Army." This rank was created after the Civil War, first award to Grant and then Sherman, enabling them to outrank four star General Robert E. Lee. A "super five" star rank, General of the Armies, was created as a result of World War I for General Pershing who outranked Grant and Sherman (and later five star generals). In 1976, a BiCentennial Congress retroactively awarded George Washington "super five" star rank with effect before Pershing's, making him the most senior U.S. general.

What were German World War II ranks? Is Major General a division commmander, Leutnant General the equivalent of an Anglo-American Lieutenant General? What level is Colonel General? Where would Field Marshal fit on the four or five star continuum? Is there any rank higher than Field Marshal? And is it true the Germany (not just Hitler) never appointed any more Field Marshals after Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad?

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    Douglas MacArthur and a few other military leaders were also granted (exceptional) five-star rank in the U.S. army during WW II. My understanding is that this was meant to help them in projecting American power in allies that included e.g. Soviet Marshalls.
    – Drux
    Apr 3, 2013 at 12:17
  • @Drux: MacArthur (and Eisenhower) were among the "later" five star generals (than Grant and Sherman).
    – Tom Au
    Apr 3, 2013 at 12:36
  • yes, of course, them being WW II generals. I wonder if there are any "banana republics" that have "seven-star generals", or similar ("Generalississimi", say), in their local armies :)
    – Drux
    Apr 3, 2013 at 12:38
  • @Drux: I would call an American "super five" "General of the Armies a "six star general."
    – Tom Au
    Apr 3, 2013 at 12:49
  • Well, you might, but it looks as if Douglas MacArthur did not even get a raise (out of what e.g. Wikipedia still considers a promotion to five-star rank :)
    – Drux
    Apr 3, 2013 at 12:51

4 Answers 4


This wasn't a hard google search :)

On this topic the wikipedia page of WW2 German Army ranks serves with lot of data, with many related links.

I hope it serves the information you are looking for.

  • Wikipedia elsewhere also says that "the Institute of Heraldry produced a single sketch of how the insignia for a six-star rank would appear; this sketch was later filed in Douglas MacArthur's service record". I'd be curious if anybody has seen this service-record-plus-sketch (available online).
    – Drux
    Apr 3, 2013 at 12:35
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    @Drux hmm I am not an expert heraldist, but isn't german and american star counting going on a different platform? I saw only three stars at max. I have the impression they can't be compared this way. Apr 4, 2013 at 8:41
  • Where (for which country) did you see three stars at max? American four-star generals (e.g. Colin Powell) are frequently mentioned in the news.
    – Drux
    Apr 4, 2013 at 8:49
  • @Drux you are right about US stars, I counted the german side, the feldmarsall has some X shaped insignia instead of increasing star numbers, that's what I meant. Apr 4, 2013 at 9:00
  • I see. My comment and additional question re Douglas MacArthur was in a U.S-context and to people in general.
    – Drux
    Apr 4, 2013 at 9:33

For WWII at least, from bottom up, a Generalmajor wore an insignia without stars, a Generalleutnant wore an insignia with one star, a General (of Infantry, Cavalry, etc.) wore an insignia with two stars, a Generaloberst (literally, colonel-general) wore an insignia with three stars, and a Generalfeldmarschall wore an insignia with two diagonally crossed marshal batons. So their insignia had one star less than their American equivalents, the names of the ranks were not exact translantions of the American ones, and there were only four ranks, including that of Marshal.


In addition, Goering held the unique rank of "Reichsmarshall" which outranked a plain old Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) and would be equivalent to a six star US general were such a rank to currently exist. This was part of Hitler's nomination of Goering as his designated successor. Goering was of course subordinate to Hitler who was, as German head of state, commander in chief of all German forces (but that is of course usually a position not a rank as such).


Nope, there were seven more appointed after Paulus:


  • You are counting the number of promotions after Paulus' promotion, which is not the same as the number of promotions after his surrender at Stalingrad. A few significant days lie in between. It looks as if they make the requested list smaller, but not empty. It turns out that Robert Ritter von Greim (whom I've never heard about so far) accepted his just 5 days before his promoter's suicide: quite a promotion.
    – Drux
    Apr 3, 2013 at 13:07

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