Officer Candidates (Fähnrich/Offizieranwärter)

The rank of Fähnrich is something that has no direct comparison in the English speaking world (though the French Army has a similar position called an Aspirant).  A Fähnrich was a soldier who served in the ranks, first as a junior NCO then in subsequent grades equivalent to Unterfeldwebel, Feldwebel, and Oberfeldwebel.  The end goal was to create an officer out of the Fähnrich.

The word Fähnrich comes from an older German military title, Fahnenträger, and first become a distinct military rank on 1 January 1899.

Senior officer candidates were also entitled to distinctions of dress normally accorded to officers; specifically

  • silver cap cords

  • sliver portepee

  • in some cases (shown below) the wear of metal devices on his shoulder straps in place of the embroidered devices prescribed for Unteroffiziere and Unterfeldwebeln.

TRAINING

Up until 29 January 1940, any soldier who enlisted as a regular (aktiv) officer first went through basic military training at a Replacement Army unit.  Afterwards, he attended a military school - Kriegsschule - which catered to all arms of the Army.  The soldier - now called a cadet - did, however, begin to wear his branch colour at the Kriegsschule.   After Kreigsschule, the cadet entered either a school that catered to his arm of service, or a military academy if becoming an engineering, medical or veterinary officer.  After passing out from school or academy, the prospective officer then served as a probationary officer equivalent to Leutnant before finally becoming commissioned.

PROGRESSION OF OFFICER CANDIDATES (1 SEPTEMBER 1939 - 29 JANUARY 1940)

Rank Insignia Function Rank Titles
fahn1.gif (1471 bytes)
A standard Mannschaften shoulder strap, with standard unit embroidered unit numerals.
Identified a soldier accepted for officer training.  He underwent four months of basic training in a Replacement Army battalion.
Fahnenjunker (im San.Korps) Medical
Fahnenjunker (im Vet. Korps) Veterinary
Fahnenjunker (im Ing. Korps) Engineer Specialist
Fahnenjunker All other branches

fahn1.gif (1471 bytes) gef2.gif (1895 bytes)
A standard Mannschaften shoulder strap, as well as a Gefreiter's chevron, and the NCO's bayonet knot.

Identified a soldier accepted for officer training who had completed basic recruit training.  He now underwent advanced training in a Replacement Army battalion.
Fahnenjunker-Gefreiter (im San.Korps) Medical
Fahnenjunker-Gefreiter (im Vet. Korps) Veterinary
Fahnenjunker-Gefreiter (im Ing. Korps) Engineer Specialist
Fahnenjunker-Gefreiter All other branches
fahn3.gif (2059 bytes)
A shoulder strap as for an Unteroffizier, with a white metal senior NCO's numeral.
Identified a soldier attending a two month course at a Kreigsschule (military school).
Fahnenjunker-Oberjäger Rifle Regiment
Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier (im San.Korps) Medical
Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier (im Vet. Korps) Veterinary
Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier (im Ing. Korps) Engineer Specialist
Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier All other branches

fahn2.gif (2095 bytes)
A shoulder strap as for an Unterfeldwebel, with a white metal senior NCO's numeral.

Identified a soldier who passed out from military school.  Underwent a four month course at an Arm of Service School, or military academy (Medical, Veterinary or Engineering)
Fähnrich (im San.Korps) Medical
Fähnrich (im Vet. Korps) Veterinary
Fähnrich (im Ing. Korps) Engineer Specialist
Fähnrich All other branches
infober.gif (1917 bytes)
A shoulder strap as for an Oberfeldwebel, worn on an Officer's uniform (including collar patches). No unit devices, except for:
Unterarzt
(Medical Corps)
meddude.gif (2042 bytes)
Untervetrinär (Veterinary Corps) vetdude.gif (1997 bytes)
Oberfeuerwerker (mit bestandener Offiziersprüfung) (Ordnance) cogsch.gif (2144 bytes)
Identified a soldier passed out from the Arm of Service School, or alternately, having passed the Final Professional Examination of a military academy (Medical, Veterinary or Engineering) and serving a probationary period of two months in a field unit before commissioning..  
Unterarzt Medical
Untervetrinär Veterinary
Oberfähnrich (im Ing. Korps) Engineer Specialist
Oberfeuerwerker (mit bestandener Offizieraprüfung) Ordnance
Oberfähnrich All other branches
TRAINING

The system changed widely on 30 January 1940.  The growing need for officers in the Army meant that senior NCOs could now become officer candidates, in addition to officer candidates selected before joining the Army. 

Candidates (who from 1941 on were known as Cadets) completing basic training went to a Waffenschule (renamed in 1942 to become known as Schule für Offizieranwärter, or Officer Candidate School) or to a military academy if studying medicine, engineering or to become a veterinarian.  On 28 April 1943, the Officer Candidate Schools were again renamed, to become Cadet Schools (Schule für Fahnenjunker).

During the war, it was found necessary to interrupt the studies of certain specialist officer candidates undergoing veterinary, medical or engineering studies, and have them serve in field units as probationary officers ranked equivalent to Leutnant.   The insignia for these ranks are shown in the table below, and these men were ranked as Feldunterarzt, Feldunterveterinär and Fahnenjunker-Ingenieur.

INSIGNIA

On 30 January 1940, ordinary ranks were introduced for officer candidates, and insignia was no different than that for ordinary soldiers.

On 20 October 1942, to better differentiate between common soldiers and officer candidates, two loops of NCO lace were ordered worn on the shoulder straps of certain aspirant officers, as listed below.

RANK TITLES

After 30 January 1940, ordinary rank titles were used for officer candidates equivalent to Mannschaften, suffixed with (OB), short for Offizierbwerber (Officer Applicant).  For officer candidates equivalent to NCOs, the suffix (OA) was used, short for Offizieranwärter (Officer Candidate).  After 1941, the rank titles for NCO equivalent officer candidates were again changed, dropping the OA suffix and using the prefix Fahnenjunker (meaning Cadet).

 

ocan.jpg (68070 bytes)
Decorated former NCO wearing the insignia of an officer candidate.  Note the enlisted men's uniform and insignia; he would not have worn an officer's uniform until after passing an Officer's Candidate Course, or Professional Exam in a military academy.
ocan2.jpg (14741 bytes)

PROGRESSION OF OFFICER CANDIDATES (30 JANUARY 1940 - MAY 1945)
Field Grey shoulder straps are shown; dark green as above were also possible.

Rank Insignia
30 Jan 40 - 20 Oct 42
Rank Insignia
20 Oct 42 - May 45
Function Rank Titles

schoff1.gif (1362 bytes)

schoff.gif (1591 bytes)

Accepted for officer training, having completed four months basic training in the Replacement Army, and one month with the Field Army.
Schütze (SOB) Medical
Schütze (VOB) Veterinary
Schütze (OB)
Kanonier (OB)
etc.
All other branches.

schoff1.gif (1362 bytes)
gef2.gif (1895 bytes)

schoff.gif (1591 bytes)
gef2.gif (1895 bytes)

Accepted for officer training and undertaking two months of platoon commander training with the Field Army.
Gefreiter (SOB) Medical
Gefreiter (VOB) Veterinary
Gefreiter (OB) All other branches.
untsch1.gif (1639 bytes) untsch.gif (1816 bytes) Denoted a soldier beginning either an Officer Candidate course or professional studies at a Military Academy (Medical or Veterinary).

30 January 1940 - 1941

Oberjäger (OA) Rifle regiments
Offizieranwärter (W) Ordnance
Fahnenjunker (im San. Korps) Medical
Fahnenjunker (im Vet. Korps) Veterinary
Unteroffizier (OA) All other branches.

1942 - 1945

Fahnenjunker Oberjäger Rifle regiments
Fahnenjunker (W) Ordnance
Fahnenjunker (im San. Korps) Medical
Fahnenjunker (im Vet. Korps) Veterinary
Fahnenjunker Unteroffizier All other branches.
feldoff1.gif (1848 bytes) feldoff.gif (2061 bytes) Denoted a soldier either completing an Officer Candidate course before promotion to officer, or a soldier after three months study at a Military Academy (Medical or Veterinary).

30 January 1940 - 1941

Wachtmeister (OA) Artillery, cavalry and other mounted units.
Fahnenjunker Feuerwerker Ordnance
Fahnenjunker Feldwebel (im San. Korps) Medical
Fahnenjunker Feldwebel (im Vet. Korps) Veterinary
Feldwebel (OA) All other branches.

1942 - 1945

Fahnenjunker Wachtmeister Artillery, cavalry and other mounted units.
Fahnenjunker Feuerwerker Ordnance
Fahnenjunker Feldwebel (im San. Korps) Medical
Fahnenjunker Feldwebel (im Vet. Korps) Veterinary
Fahnenjunker Feldwebel All other branches.
feldoff2.gif (1999 bytes) feldoff3.gif (2204 bytes) Denoted a soldier formerly ranked Oberfeldwebel (or equivalent) attending an Officer Candidate course before promotion to officer.

30 January 1940 - 1941

Oberwachtmeister (OA) Artillery, cavalry and other mounted units.
Fahnenjunker Oberfeuerwerker Ordnance
Oberfeldwebel (OA) All other branches.

1942 - 1945

Fahnenjunker Oberwachtmeister Artillery, cavalry and other mounted units.
Fahnenjunker Oberfeuerwerker Ordnance
Fahnenjunker Oberfeldwebel All other branches.
stabsch2.gif (2020 bytes) stabsch.gif (2189 bytes) Denoted a soldier formerly ranked Stabsfeldwebel (or equivalent) attending an Officer Candidate course before promotion to officer.

30 January 1940 - 1941

Stabswachtmeister (OA) Artillery, cavalry and other mounted units.
Fahnenjunker Stabsfeuerwerker Ordnance
Stabsfeldwebel (OA) All other branches.

1942 - 1945

Fahnenjunker Stabswachtmeister Artillery, cavalry and other mounted units.
Fahnenjunker Stabsfeuerwerker Ordnance
Fahnenjunker Stabsfeldwebel All other branches.

Officer's uniform was worn by this rank.

Medical
(Feldunterarzt )
asch.gif (2075 bytes)
Veterinary
(Feldunterveterinär)
asch.gif (2075 bytes)
Engineer specialists
(Fahnenjunker-Ingenieur)
cogsch.gif (2144 bytes)
Indicated a candidate in a specialist field (medical, veterinary or engineer) having passed a Preliminary Professional Examination at a Military Academy (Medical, Veterinary or Engineering) and  serving as a probationary officer in a Field Army unit before resuming their studies.
Feldunterarzt
(from 25 Jul 1940)
Medical
Feldunterveterinär
(from 6 Feb 1942)
Veterinary
Fahnenjunker-Ingenieur
(from 7 Nov 1940)
Engineer specialists

Officer's uniform was worn by this rank.

Medical
(Unterarzt)
medsch.gif (2124 bytes)
Veterinary
(Unterveterinär)
vetsch.gif (2076 bytes)
Engineer specialists
(Feldingenieur)
cogsch.gif (2144 bytes)
All others
(Oberfähnrich)
Waffenfarbe dependent on branch
feldoff9.gif (1961 bytes)
Indicated a candidate having passed either an Officer Candidate course, or passed the Final Professional Examination at a Military Academy (Medical, Veterinary or Engineering), and was serving a two month probationary period in a Field Army unit before finally being promoted to officer.  
Unterarzt Medical
Unterveterinär Veterinary
Oberfähnrich (W)
(from 16 July 1943)
Ordnance
Feldingenieur
(from 7 Nov 1940)
Engineer specialists
Oberfähnrich
(from 1 July 1943)
All other branches.

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