The Full Wiki

Generaloberst: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to Colonel General article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colonel General is a senior military rank which is used in some of the world’s militaries. North Korea and Russia are two nations which have used the rank extensively throughout their histories. The rank is also closely associated with Germany, where Generaloberst has been the full General and a rank below Generalfeldmarschall.

Common military ranks
Navies Armies Air forces
Admiral of
the Fleet
Marshal / Field Marshal Marshal of
the Air Force
Admiral General Air Marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air Commodore
Captain Colonel Group Captain
Commander Lt. Colonel Wing Commander
Lt. Commander Major / Commandant Squadron Leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight Lieutenant
Sub-Lieutenant Lieutenant Flying Officer
Ensign 2nd Lieutenant Pilot Officer
Midshipman Officer Cadet Officer Cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant Officer Sergeant Major Warrant Officer
Petty Officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading Seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman



Colonel General (Generaloberst) was the second-highest rank in the Austro-Hungarian Army, introduced following the German model in 1915. The rank was not used after World War I in the Austrian Army of the Republic.


The People's Liberation Army rank of Shang Jiang (上将 : literally Senior General) is variously translated as either Colonel General or General, with the translation as Colonel General generally reserved for the period 1955-1965 when it corresponded to the Soviet rank of Colonel General. Rank was not used in the PLA between 1965 and 1988. When rank was restored, there was a reduction in the number of officer ranks, and the ranks have since been normally translated into English as the corresponding American or British rank, rendering the rank of Shang Jiang as simply General.

The United Kingdom

The title of Colonel General was used before and during the English Civil War in both Royalist and Parliamentarian armies. In these cases it often appears to have meant a senior colonel as opposed to a senior general.


In the French Army, under the Ancien régime, the officer in charge of all the regiments of a particular branch of service (i. e. infantry, cavalry, dragoons, Swiss troops, etc) was known as the Colonel General. This was not a rank, but an office of the Crown.


Wehrmacht Generaloberst insignia

A Colonel General (Generaloberst) was the second highest general officer rank — below Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) — in the Prussian Army and later in the Army of Imperial Germany (1871–1918), the Reichswehr (1918–1935), and the Heer and Luftwaffe (1935–1945).

The English translation of this rank is less than perfect. The rank in the German armed forces equivalent to a Colonel in the British or American army is an "Oberst". This word translates literally as "highest" and the literal, and functionally correct, translation of "Generaloberst" therefore is "highest General"; which is to say, the rank of general officer immediately below Field Marshal.

The rank was created originally for Emperor William I, then Prince of Prussia, because traditionally members of the royal family were not promoted to the rank of a Field Marshal.

Since the rank Generalfeldmarschall also was reserved for wartime promotions, the additional rank of a Colonel General in the capacity of a Field Marshal, the Generaloberst im Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls was created for promotions during peace. Such generals were entitled to wear four pips on their shoulder boards, compared to the normal three.

The equivalent of a Colonel General in the Kriegsmarine was a General Admiral (Generaladmiral). The equivalent SS rank was Oberstgruppenführer.

East Germany's National People's Army (NVA) retained this rank as its third highest, behind Armeegeneral and Marschall der DDR.

The Bundeswehr (first in West Germany and since 1990 in a unified Germany) does not use the rank.


In Hungary, the rank of Colonel General or vezérezredes has been introduced with the Imperial and Royal Army (the common ground force of the Dual Monarchy) in 1915. The rank replaced the ranks of gyalogsági tábornok (General of Infantry), lovassági tábornok (General of Cavalry), and táborszernagy (General of Artillery) in the early 1940s.

The rank title vezérezredes is still in use for the highest ranking (four-star) general officer of the Magyar Honvédség and foreign four-star general officers' rank titles are usually translated as vezérezredes in Hungarian.

North Korea

The North Korean rank of Sangjang translates as "Colonel General". Sangjang is senior to that of Jungjang (usually translated as "Lieutenant General") and junior to that of Daejang (usually translated as "General").

This rank is typically held by the commanding officer of units along the Korean DMZ and the North Korean security zone at Panmunjon.


The rank of Colonel General (Russian: генерал-полковник, general-polkovnik, General-Polkovnik) did not exist in Imperial Russia and was first established in the Red Army in 1940, and still exists in the contemporary Russian Army. Unlike the German Generaloberst (which it most probably calqued), the Soviet and Russian Colonel General rank is neither an exceptional nor a rare one, because it occupies the position between a two-star officer - General Lieutenant and a four-star officer Army General.

Other than that, the Soviet and Russian rank systems sometimes cause confusion in regard to equivalence of ranks, because the normal Western title for Brigadier or Brigadier General ceased to exist for the Russian Army in 1798. The combrig rank that corresponded to one-star general existed in Soviet Union in 1935-1940 years only. Positions typically reserved for these ranks, such as Brigade commanders, have always been occupied by Colonels (Polkovnik) or, very rarely, Major Generals (see History of Russian military ranks).

The rank has usually been given to district, front and army commanders, and also to Deputy Ministers of Defense, Deputy Heads of General Staff etc.

During World War II, about 150 officers were promoted to Colonel General. Before 1943, Soviet Colonel Generals wore four stars on their collar patches (petlitsy). Since 1943, they have worn three stars on their shoulder straps.

In some post-Soviet CIS armies (for example in Belarus) there are no Generals of the Army or Marshals, and so Colonel General is the highest rank, usually held by the Minister of the Defense.

The corresponding naval rank is Admiral, which is also denoted by three stars.


Colonel General (Generalöverste) has also been a senior military rank in Sweden, used principally before the 1800s.

See also


Data about Germany and Austria are based in part on the corresponding article "Generaloberst" in the German-language Wikipedia, retrieved October 15, 2004.

External links


Redirecting to Colonel General


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address