"Captain of the Reserve"

Discussions on all aspects of Imperial Germany not covered in the other sections.
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Major Major
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"Captain of the Reserve"

Post by Major Major » 16 Nov 2003 04:23

In _Der rote Kampffleiger_ Richthofen says of his mother's family "The Schickfuss have, as a rule, only become Captains of the Reserve".
In _The Nemesis of Power_ Noske is referred to as a "Captain of the Reserve", but from the context this does not seem to be a compliment. (Another source referred to him as a former sergeant who fawned on generals.)
So, were we faced with actual Hauptmann Noske and Hauptmänner von Schickfuss, or is this a figure of speech similar to the "Hauptmann von Köpenick"?

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Grand Admiral
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Post by Grand Admiral » 16 Nov 2003 04:30

I think I have seen this same thing somewhere, and yes, it is a figure of speech. I could be wrong, however...

And your username is cool! Catch-22 rocks! :D

Karl da Kraut
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Post by Karl da Kraut » 24 Nov 2003 19:39

I guess you are faced with both actual captains and a figure of speech...

The reason: An important career step in the German army was (and is) the promotion to the rank of a major. Once being Leutnant, the promotion to Oberleutnant and Hauptmann after a certain span of time is pretty much obligatory. However, the promotion to a major (lowest rankof the group of staff officers) is much more difficult to obtain [if you become a major, it’s likely that you’ll gain the ranks of lt.col. and col., the lowest rank of generals being the next serious hurdle].

Therefore many officers didn’t make it to the rank of a major. Usually that implied they weren’t considered able enough for further promotion. During the 2nd Empire captains were often promoted to major on the day of their retirement as a “Social gift.” However, they were only paid a captain’s pension, thus being dubbed “character majors”.

I might be wrong, but I think there already was a thread about "Charakter-Majore" I contributed to.

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