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Gefreiter is the German, Swiss and Austrian equivalent for Private (OR-2) in the armed services. Gefreiter was the lowest rank to which an ordinary soldier could be promoted. As a military rank it has existed since at least the 16th century. From the 1920s on Gefreiter has expanded into several additional ranks, those being Obergefreiter, Hauptgefreiter, Stabsgefreiter and Oberstabsgefreiter.

Gefreiter means "the exempted". It emerged in the 2nd half of the 16th century and denotes the older simple soldiers which were exempted from sentry duty.[1]

Efreitor (Russian: Ефрейтор, transliterated: Yefreytor) is the Russian rank that is similar to Gefreiter.

Contents

Germany

Modern German rank insignia

In today's German Bundeswehr, almost every soldier or sailor successfully passing the 12 weeks basic training is promoted to Gefreiter. Following the NATO ranking system, Gefreiter ranks as Private (OR-2), Obergefreiter as PFC (OR-3 lower half), Hauptgefreiter as Lance-Corporal (OR-3 upper half), Stabsgefreiter and Oberstabsgefreiter as Corporal (OR-4). The German equivalent of Private (OR-1) is Schütze or another unit type-specific term (like Kanonier, "gunner") in the Heer (German Army), Matrose in the German Navy, Flieger in the Luftwaffe, or simply Soldat ("[ordinary] soldier").

During World War I and World War II, Gefreiter was considered more to be a lance corporal, with the rank of full corporal known as Unteroffizier (lowest grading Junior Non-Commissioned Officer), which ranked between an American sergeant and corporal and approximately equivalent to a British corporal in responsibility.

The German Navy, Kriegsmarine, has also periodically maintained a rank known as Matrosengefreiter, translated as "Seaman Corporal", and equivalent to an Able Seaman or Leading Seaman.

One of the best known holders of the rank of Gefreiter was Adolf Hitler, who held the rank in the Bavarian Infantry during World War I. (Note: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a book written by William L. Shirer, a U.S. journalist and correspondent who reported from Berlin during the World War II, states that Adolf Hitler was examined for military service on February 5, 1914, and found unfit to serve by cause and or reason of poor health. When the World War I started, he petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria for permission to enter military service in a Bavarian regiment and was accepted.)

Switzerland

Swiss rank insignia

See Swiss army ranks.

Austria

Austrian rank insignia (field dress)

Efreitor in Russia and the post-Soviet states

Russian rank insignia (field dress)

In Russia, the rank of Efreitor was introduced by Peter I in 1716 in infantry, cavalry and engineer forces. However, the rank wasn't used since 1722. During the reign of Paul I was given an equivalent rank of the Private senior salary, which after the reign of Alexander I was saved only for the Imperial Guard, as an element of encouragement. Efreitor was re-introduced in the course of military reform of 1826.

In the armed forces of the USSR (and later the Russian Federation) Efreitor is higher on the Private rank and less the Junior Sergeant rank. In independent Ukraine this rank was changed to the "Senior soldier".

See also

References

  1. ^ Lutz Mackensen. Vom Ursprung der Wörter. Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache.

Simple English

Gefreiter is the German, Swiss and Austrian equivalent for Private (OR-2) in the armed services. Gefreiter was the lowest rank to which an ordinary soldier could be |promoted. As a military rank it has existed since at least the 16th century. From the 1920s on Gefreiter has expanded into several additional ranks, those being Obergefreiter, Hauptgefreiter, Stabsgefreiter and Oberstabsgefreiter.

A similar rank exists in Russia ("Ефрейтор"; yefreytor, efreitor), Ukraine (Єфрейтор, ; yefreytor, efreitor) and Belarus and existed in late Soviet Union.








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