Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

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von thoma
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Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by von thoma » 05 Jun 2012 19:47

Recently I read contradictions between the Gefreiter and Unteroffizier ranks.
Was the Unteroffizier a Sergeant rank ? Some sources claim otherwise.
Very Thankful !
" The right to believe is the right of those who don't know "

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Christoph Awender
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Re: Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by Christoph Awender » 06 Jun 2012 08:33

Hello,

Well, I am no friend of rank comparisons because the Wehrmacht and the US Army were different armies and had a different command system.
But if you want so - a Unteroffizier is a Sergeant when you compare just the plain rank.

/Christoph

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BStahl
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Re: Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by BStahl » 08 Jun 2012 04:21

An Unteroffizier is pretty much a NCO. It literally translates to Sub-Officer or Under-Officer and (correct me if im wrong) is also a Feldwebel. They both roughly are equivalent to the rank Sergeant.

Now Gefreiter is just a Private First Class, it is the lowest promotion available to enlisted men. I'm positive. I hope this answers your question!

-Stahl
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history1
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Re: Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by history1 » 08 Jun 2012 08:33

BStahl wrote:[...]
Now Gefreiter is just a Private First Class, it is the lowest promotion available to enlisted men. [...]
-Stahl
That´s not correct, IMHO.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_ ... d_insignia

rossmcpharter
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Re: Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by rossmcpharter » 09 Jun 2012 14:49

I've always thought that unteroffizier applied to peace time or professional soldiers, whereas gefreiter applied to all soldiers, conscripts as well,

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Christoph Awender
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Re: Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by Christoph Awender » 09 Jun 2012 16:36

Hello,

No Unteroffizier and Gefreiter are definated ranks..
The ranks were in an infantry unit -
MEN = Mannschaften - rank group "M"
Schütze
Oberschütze
Gefreiter - promotion after 6 months total service including 2 months in a field unit or after 1 year service without field unit.
Gruppenführer - rank group "G"
Obergefreiter
Unteroffizier
Unterfeldwebel

/Christoph

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Re: Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by Michael Dorosh » 22 Sep 2012 14:28

BStahl wrote:An Unteroffizier is pretty much a NCO. It literally translates to Sub-Officer or Under-Officer and (correct me if im wrong) is also a Feldwebel. They both roughly are equivalent to the rank Sergeant.

Now Gefreiter is just a Private First Class, it is the lowest promotion available to enlisted men. I'm positive. I hope this answers your question!

-Stahl
You can't describe what it is based on a translation into English.

Unteroffizier is one of the ranks described in the category Unteroffizierie ohne Portepee - this was the Germans' own classification for "Junior non-commissioned officers". It literally means a soldier with sword knot - senior NCOs were Unteroffiziere mit Portepee and Wikipedia describes it well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unteroffiz ... t_Portepee

Gefreiter and Oberschütze both represented a step up from Grenadier, Schütze etc., however it is said that a Gefreiter was expected to have some prospect of additional promotion to NCO rank in the military while the Oberschütze rank was probably given to those who did not show much military merit and whose prospects for further promotion or training were poor. Tables of rank often show these two as a succession from one to the next but my understanding is that it may actually have been one, or the other. Gefreiter was a promotion that could take place in six months, while if you were a screw-up, you could wait for up to a year before promotion to Oberschütze, and then simply languish there.

If anyone knows of a source in English that discusses this in greater detail, I would be interested in learning more. What I've read has been anecdotal, or come from uniform books.

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Re: Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by history1 » 22 Sep 2012 18:32

Michael Dorosh wrote:[...] Unteroffizier is one of the ranks described in the category Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee [...]. It literally means a soldier with sword knot [...]
"Ohne Portepee" means "without swordknot". :wink:

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Re: Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by Michael Dorosh » 22 Sep 2012 18:38

history1 wrote:
Michael Dorosh wrote:[...] Unteroffizier is one of the ranks described in the category Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee [...]. It literally means a soldier with sword knot [...]
"Ohne Portepee" means "without swordknot". :wink:
Correct. The link I provided was the link to the article on Unteroffiziere mit Portepee, i.e. soldier with swordknot. Sorry for the confusion, but the salient point is that the Germans were very clear on what an NCO was, and wasn't; they even had specific categories - Uffz. mit Portepee and Uffz. ohne Portepee. Gefreiter was not included in either of those two categories.

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Re: Unteroffizier Vs Gefreiter

Post by Zuylen » 26 Nov 2012 13:25

This discussion is seen everywhere and time and again it ends up in the same odd one-on-one comparison with other armies. My friends, the Germans were champions in adding all sorts of ranks and functions, and they still are. One cannot compare ranks, one should compare functions and historical roots!

The Unteroffizier was clearly a corporal in most other armies and not a (junior) sergeant, except perhaps the American army that had many sergeants and sergeants already in very basic roles. Should one study the origin of the Unteroffizier in the old Prussian army, one will find that the good old "Corporal" was also present in the Prussian army, like the "Serge(a)nt". The Corporal was later called an Unteroffizier. Also the function of the Unteroffizier was one of a corporal in most armies. It was the lowest order-giving position (lowest rank with authority).

We often see the traditional error to translate Gefreiter to Corporal. That is false in every aspect. The "Gefreitene" - a term used in older German and Dutch - meant "liberated person". It referred to the old servitude armies of noblemen. When regular ranks had distinguished themselves in battle the noblemen they fought for might in return free such a man of impopular duties. To indicate such a distinguished regular, he was addressed as "liberated" or "Gefreitene". He remained an ordinary rank nonetheless.

The Germans had and have many ranks and functions in the other ranks (regulars). From Soldat/Schütze (etc.), Oberschütze, Gefreiter, Obergefreiter, Stabsgefreiter to Hauptgefreiter. All these were soldiers in different grades or functions. Not corporals.

The corporal functions were in fact Unteroffizier and Unterfeldwebel. Both received no knot (Portepee) on the sword and both were ranked as minors. Later the Unterfeldwebel was sort of lifted to the junior NCO level leaving the Unteroffizier (or Oberjäger) as the only actual corporal function.

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