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The SS (Schutzstaffel): Rottenführer

Rottenführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was first created in the year 1932. The rank of Rottenführer was used by several Nazi paramiltiary groups, among them the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Schutzstaffel (SS) and was senior to the paramilitary rank of Sturmmann.

Rottenführer was first established in 1932 as an SA rank due to an expansion of the organization requiring a greater number of enlisted positions. Since early SS ranks were identical to the ranks of the SA, Rottenführer became an SS rank at the same time.

Translated as “Team Leader,” a Rottenführer was the first SS and SA position to have command over other paramilitary troops, usually no more than five to seven persons. A Rottenführer, in turn, answered to a squad leader known as a Scharführer.

After 1934, a restructure of SS ranks made Rottenführer junior to the new rank of SS-Unterscharführer, although in the SA the rank continued to rate immediately below that of Scharführer.

Within the Waffen-SS, Rottenführer was considered equivalent to an Obergefreiter in the German Wehrmacht. While having command over some troops, a Rottenführer in the Waffen-SS was not considered a non-commissioned officer rank. Those aspiring for promotion above Rottenführer were required to pass a promotion evaluation and combat skills assessment, during which time the Rottenführer was known by the title Unterführer-Anwärter (Junior Leader Candidate). Waffen-SS Rottenführers also had the option to pursue an officer's commission through appointment as SS-Junker.

The insignia for Rottenführer consisted of two silver stripes on a bare collar patch. On field grey SS uniforms, the sleeve chevrons of an Obergefreiter (Senior Corporal) were also worn. Rottenführer was also a rank of the Hitler Youth where the position was considered a junior squad leader title.

A rank of Oberrottenführer also existed, but was only used in the Hitler Youth.

Sources: Wikipedia; Picture courtesy of: U.S. National Archives