Scharführer was a Nazi Party title that was used by several paramilitary organizations from 1925 to 1945. Translated as “Squad Leader,” the title of Scharführer can trace its origins to the First World War, where a Scharführer was often a Sergeant or Corporal who commanded special action or shock trooper squads.
Scharführer is most recognizable as a rank of the SS and title of the SA. Scharführer was first used as a title in the Sturmabteilung as early as 1921 and became an actual rank in 1928. Scharführer was the first NCO rank of the SA, and was denoted by a single pip centered on a collar patch. In 1930, veteran Scharführers were appointed to the new rank of SA-Oberscharführer, denoted by an additional silver stripe to the Scharführer collar patch.
The SS originally used the same insignia for Scharführer as the SA, but this changed in 1934 with a reorganization of the SS rank structure. At that time, the old rank of SS-Scharführer became known as SS-Unterscharführer with the title of SS-Scharführer becoming equivalent to an SA-Oberscharführer. The rank of SS-Truppführer was removed from the SS, to be replaced by SS-Oberscharführer and the new rank of SS-Hauptscharführer. The early Waffen-SS created an even higher rank, known as SS-Sturmscharführer.
Within the SA, Scharführer was senior to the rank of SA-Rottenführer while in the SS, a Scharführer was senior to that of SS-Unterscharführer. The rank of Scharführer was also used by some lesser known Nazi Party organizations; among them the National Socialist Flyers Corps (NSFK), National Socialist Motorist Corps (NSKK) and the Hitler Youth (HJ).