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HD H 52 Oberstleutnant HFla.svg
LD B 52 Oberstleutnant.svg
Army and Air Force insignia (Germany)
Country Germany


Service branch
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg
German Army
Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering.svg
German Air Force
Roundel of Austria.svg
Austrian Armed Forces
Coat of Arms of Switzerland (Pantone).svg
Swiss Armed Forces
NATO rank codeOF-4
Non-NATO rankO-5
Next higher rankOberst
Next lower rankMajor
Equivalent ranks

Oberstleutnant (German pronunciation: [ˈʔoːbɐstlɔʏtnant]) (abbr. OTL) is a rank of officer in the armed forces of German-speaking countries, including the German Bundeswehr, Austrian Bundesheer and the Swiss Army. In the past, it was used in the German Wehrmacht, the German Imperial Army, and the Austro-Hungarian Army. It is equivalent to the Lieutenant colonel rank of English-speaking countries. It is below the Oberst (equivalent of Colonel) and above the Major. The rank should not be confused with the lower-ranked but similar-sounding Oberleutnant, which is the equivalent of the First lieutenant.

Typically, suffixes can be applied to the word Oberstleutnant to specify the individual type of officer. Retired officers that are not incapacitated (i.e. theoretically available for reactivation) from service continue to use their title with the suffix a.D. (Germany)[1] or aD (Switzerland),[2] an abbreviation of außer Dienst, 'out of service'. Suffixes that specify military specialization in active service include Oberstleutnant i.G. ('im Generalstabsdienst') for general staff officers or Oberstleutnant d.R. ('der Reserve') for reservists. The suffix i.R. ('im Ruhestand'), implying retirement without the legal specification of a.D., is unofficial.



The armed forces of West Germany and unified Germany since 1955, the Bundeswehr uses the Oberstleutnant rank in the German Army and German Air Force. Equivalents in the other branches are Fregattenkapitän for the German Navy, Oberfeldarzt for medical staff, Flottillenarzt for naval medical staff, Oberfeldapotheker for apothecary staff, Flottillenapotheker for naval apothecary staff, and Oberfeldveterinär for veterinary medical staff.[3]

Within the German state employee paygrade system, the Oberstleutnant is placed within Besoldungsgruppe A and receives either the A14 or A15 paygrades, depending on individual seniority. Thus, the Oberstleutnant is paid an equivalent wage to that of first-class consuls and legates in the foreign service (A14) or state-employed school directors, ambassadors and general consuls (A15).[4]

The age limit for Oberstleutnant-rank officers is 61.[5]

The Oberstleutnant's shoulder straps in Army and Air Force are marked by two vertically aligned starts above oak leaves.

Heer Luftwaffe


The Bundesgrenzschutz police force used the rank Oberstleutnant until 1976, and was subsequently replaced by the terms Polizeioberrat and Polizeidirektor during the government's effort to differentiate between West Germany's police and armed forces.[6]

Wehrmacht & Waffen-SS

The Wehrmacht (1935-1945) of Nazi Germany used the rank of Oberstleutnant for Army and Air Force, much in the same style the Bundeswehr does. The Waffen-SS (1933-1945) used the rank Obersturmbannführer as an equivalent.[7]

Nationale Volksarmee (NVA)

The National People's Army (1956-1990) of East Germany used the rank Oberstleutnant (abbr. OSL) for its army and air force, whereas the Volksmarine used the term Fregattenkapitän.


Insignia for Austrian LtCol
Insignia for Austrian LtCol

Austria's armed forces, the Bundesheer, uses the rank Oberstleutnant as its sixth-highest officer rank. Like in Germany and Switzerland, Oberstleutnants are above Majors and below Obersts. The term also finds usage with the Austrian Bundespolizei (federal police force) and Justizwache (prison guards corps). These two organizations are civilian in nature, but their ranks are nonetheless structured in a military fashion.


Insignia for Swiss LtCol
Insignia for Swiss LtCol

In Switzerland, Oberstleutnant is the fifth-highest officer rank and is, like in Germany and Austria, subordinate to the Oberst and superior to the Major.

Because of the multilingual nature of Switzerland, Oberstleutnant-rank officers might also be referred to as lieutenant-colonel (French), tenente colonello (Italian) or litinent colonel (Romansh).

Junior rank
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg
Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering.svg

(German officer rank)

Senior rank

See also


  1. ^ Bundesbeamtengesetz (BBG) §86
  2. ^ Verordnung über die Militärdienstpflicht (VMDP), Artikel 95.
  3. ^ Scheel, Walter; Schmidt, Helmut; Apel, Hans (25 July 1968). "Presidential Order on Rank Designation and Uniform of Soldiers ("Anordnung des Bundespräsidenten über die Dienstgradbezeichnungen und die Uniform der Soldaten"), Bundesgesetzblatt Teil 1 1978 Nr. 40 vom 25.07.1978, p. 1067" (PDF). Bundesanzeiger Verlag (in German). Retrieved 16 Sep 2019.
  4. ^ German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (23 May 1975). "Bundesbesoldungsgesetz Anlage I (zu § 20 Absatz 2 Satz 1) Bundesbesoldungsordnungen A und B". Gesetze im Internet (in German).
  5. ^ Gesetz über die Rechtsstellung der Soldaten (Soldatengesetz - SG) §45 Abs. 2 (3)
  6. ^ Gesetz über die Personalstruktur des Bundesgrenzschutzes (BGSPersG), Art. 5
  7. ^ Lucas, James (2001) [1998]. "Anhang I: Gegenüberstellung der Rangbezeichnungen". Handbuch der Wehrmacht 1939-1945: Ein Nachschlagewerk (in German). Translated by Kaspar, Rudolf. Vienna: Tosa Verlag. p. 190.
This page was last edited on 29 December 2020, at 01:12
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