Junker was a paramilitary Nazi rank that was used by the Schutzstaffel (SS) between the years of 1933 and 1945. The rank was
a special position held by those aspiring for officer
commissions in the armed wing of the SS, first known
as the SS-Verfügungstruppe and later as the Waffen-SS.
The SS rank of Junker was an appointed
position with an SS member required to enlist in the
SS for at least six months to a year before consideration
could be given for officer training. SS-Junker was also
strictly a rank of the Verfügungstruppe and Waffen-SS
and was not used by the Allgemeine-SS, or "General"
Typically, a Waffen-SS member reaching
the rank of Rottenführer could choose
either to embark on the career path of an
SS-non-commissioned officer or could apply
to join the officer corps of the Waffen-SS.
If choosing the later, an SS member was required
to obtain a written recommendation from their
commander and undergo a racial and political
screening process to determine eligibility
for commission as an SS officer. If accepted
into the SS officer program, an SS member
would be assigned to one of several Junkerschule
and would be appointed to the rank of SS-Junker
upon arrival. Situations did exist, however,
where SS members would hold their previous
enlisted rank while at the Junkerschule and
only be appointed to the rank of SS-Junker
after a probationary period had passed.
This officer candidate system was to
ensure that future SS officers had prior enlisted experiance
and that there were no “direct appointments”
in the Waffen-SS officer corps as was often the case
in other SS branches such as the Gestapo and Sicherheitsdienst.
Ample evidence exists, however, that certain SS members
with “connections” could obtain an appointment
as an SS-Junker without ever having served in the enlisted
ranks or with only a few weeks of basic enlisted training
before transferring to a Junkerschule.
The rank of SS-Junker was divided into
four levels, those being Junker, Oberjunker, Standartenjunker,
and Standartenoberjunker. The insignia for these ranks
was identical to the ranks of the SS non-commissioned
officer corps and promotion between the Junker ranks
was dependent upon passing a variety of written, physical,
and field exercise examinations while a student at the
Upon reaching the rank of SS-Standartenoberjunker,
the SS-Officer Candidate would be permitted to display
the silver chin strap of an SS officer and would be
assigned to a field SS unit for final evaluation and
field examination. Upon passing this final exam, the
Standartenoberjunker would be promoted to the rank of
SS-Untersturmführer usually in an elaborate ceremony.
The entire process for an SS-Junker
to become an SS officer usually took between 18 to 24
months to complete. The SS had planned, once World
War II had ended, to establish SS academies which
would be four year institutions much like the present
day United States service academies. As World War II progressed, however,
the manpower needs of the Waffen-SS grew to such a level
that SS officer candidates would undergo no more than
6 months training by 1945 and, in some cases, were directly
commissioned in the field without ever having attended
Junker as a military rank ceased to
exist in 1945 with the downfall of Nazi
Germany and the end of the Second World War. The
word Junker, however, continues to exist in Germany and has a variety of meanings.