Rank insignia of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces
This article deals with the rank insignia of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces, as worn by the Austro-Hungarian Army after the reorganisation in 1867 until 1918.
In Austrian armed forces rank insignia are traditionally called Paroli (pl. Parolis) and are worn as gorget patch or collar tap, appliquéd to the gorget fore-part of the uniform coat, uniform jacket and/or battle-dress.
The rank insignia – so-called Paroli – of the Austro-Hungarian Army (1867–1918) were worn on the fore-part of the sleeves for jackets, but never on shoulder straps of shirts, service jackets, and dress uniforms. They were identically for the Common Army as well as to the Imperial-Royal Landwehr. However, the mountain corps wore additionally an edelweiss since 1907 behind the distinction star(s).
The rank or distinction stars of enlisted personnel and non-commissioned officers (NCO) were made from white celluloid, those of the ranks Feldwebel and Stabsfeldwebel have been made from white silk since 1914. The rank stars of the junior officer ranks normally consisted of relief metal. Pertaining self procured uniforms, embroidered (from metallic fibre) rank stars might have been selected. The embroidered version was mandatory for staff officer ranks from major (OF3) onwards.
Even on the field shirts, officer rank stars showed the button-colour of the uniform jacket.
However, staff officers had additionally to wear a galloon on the uniform sleeve. If the galloon colour was silver, the colour of the buttons and the stars had to be golden and vice versa. On the galloon there was a serrated ornament. Generals wore always silver stars on golden galloon. From that derives, that the colour of the rank stars and galloons had nothing to do with the rank.
On coats rank insignias had never been worn. Officers of the so-called Kaiserschützen as well as of the "Landwehr infantry regiments number 4 and 27" (also Mountain infantry regiments 4 and 27) wore on their dress uniforms shoulder straps with the imperator´s insignias (not to be mixed up with the particular rank). For any rank description there had to be provided as well an equivalent expression in Hungarian language. Military units, who consisted mainly of Czech, Slovakian, and/ or Polish personal, used unofficially the rank term in their mother language. NCOs were counted to the enlisted personnel, and did not made up a separate rank group.
The Cadet (de: Kadett), in its position as aspirant to the professional officer career, ranked as well to the enlisted rank group. The cadet ranks counted to the appropriate nominal rank, however, behind the next higher rank. E.g. the "Cadet-gefreiter" was counted for the Gefreiter, however, behind the Corporal, who himself was lower than the "Cadet-corporal".
The characteristic of the cadet ranks was the so-called distinction-galloon on the sleeve ends. It was similar to the feldwebel-galloon, however, from gold colour instead of emperor-yellow. The particular rank was added as well.
|Rank description||Kadett (en: Cadet)||Kadett (en: Cadet)|
(with silk stars)
(with silk stars)
The ranks Stabsfeldwebel, Stabsoberjäger, Stabsfeuerwerker and Stabswachtmeister were introduced to the k.u.k. armed forces in 1913. Before it was equivalent to the Bezirksfeldwebel (en: District-Sergeant) of the Gendarmerie (as part of the Landsturm; in Austria Landwehr). To the Feldwebel–uniform the Stabsfeldwebel/ Bezirksfeldwebel wore a headgear similar to the officers cap, however, without the characteristic golden officers distinction. In 1913 the sleeve distinction consisted of a 1.3 cm broad feldwbel-galloon made from imperator-yellow silk. Additionally three white rank celluloid stars were appliquéd. In June 1913 the rank insignia was changed. The galloon was now silver designed, and the rank stars were made from white silk and embroidered. In 1915 the ranks Stabsfeldwebel/ Stabswachtmeister und Offiziersstellvertreter (en: officer deputy) were summarised to the new rank group higher/ senior NCOs (de: höhere Unteroffiziere).
The officer aspirant (de: Offizieranwaerter (OA)/ hu: Tisztjelölt) of the reserve undertook military training as a One-year volunteer (de: Einjaehrig-Freiwilliger (EF)/ hu: Egyévi Önkéntesi). The distinguishing badge was an imperator-yellow silk square-galloon on the upper part of the cuff. In 1915 the galloon was removed after passing the final examination. It was replaced by the so-called bright “EF-button” to be worn on the collar. The EF-button was fixed behind the nominal rank stars, and was removed on promotion to first officer grade.
|Designation||One-year volunteer with EF-button|
|(German)||(Kadett EF)||(Korporal EF)|
The rank „Cadet officer-deputy“ (de: Kadett-Offiziersstellvertreter) was renamed to Ensign (de: Fähnrich) in 1908. The service insignia was a map case, made from black coloured leather, and to be worn on the waist belt. More characteristics were the black officer's cap, however with imperator-yellow side ornament (instead from gold). The white celluloid star was replaced by a silver coloured star. Also in this year, the old term (rank) “Kadett-Feldwebel” was replaced by the new one Cadet (de. Kadett / hu: Hadapród).
|Designation||Cadet officer-deputy until 1908||Ensign 1908–1918|
In addition to the gorget rank insignias, the so-called distinction, the individual rank was indicated by the yellow distinction-galloon on the parade headgear, called shako (de: Tschako, hu: Csákó) a special version of helmet.
- Gefreiter: Was to be identified with a yellow, black-carved 0.5 Austrian inch (~0.5 cm) thick round cord
- Corporal: Wore a 1.5 Austrian inch (~4 cm) broad the yellow distinction-galloon (with zigzag trim ornament)
- Zugsführer, Wachtmeister, and Cadet officer-deputy (Ensign): As to the corporal, however, concentric divided by a 1/24 Austrian inch (~1 mm) small black stripe
The distinction galloons and pipings for enlisted ranks and NCOs were made from yellow sheep's wool, for Ensigns since 1908 from yellow silk, and for officers from gold yarn. Pertaining private procured special editions to enlisted ranks and NCOs, silk trims have been allowed as well.
The Waffenfarbe (en: corps colour) had to be in correlation to the appropriate military unit, branch, or branch of service.
Enlisted men, NCOs, officer aspirants, and officer-deputies
(RK means the Rangklasse (Rank classification. As the k.u.k. Army was never a member of NATO, it did not use NATO Rank Codes)
|Grade||Rank in German / Hungarian, equivalent in English||Rank insignia|
|Gemeine||Infanterist / Honvéd | Jäger | Dragoner | Ulan | Husar | Kanonier | Pionier | Trainsoldat | Sanitätssoldat||without rank insignia|
|Infantryman | Rifleman | Dragoon | Uhlan | Hussar | Gunner | Engineer | Trainmen | Medical|
|Charges||Gefreiter / Őrvezető | Vormeister | Patrouilleführer||1 white star|
|Private 1st class | Gunner 1st class | Rifleman 1st class|
|Korporal / Tizedes | Geschütz-Vormeister | Gewehr-Vormeister | Unterjäger | Bataillonstambour | Waffenmeister 3. Klasse | Bataillonshornist||2 white stars|
|Corporal | Gunner-Corporal | Machinegun-Corporal | Rifles-Corporal | Battalion drummer | Weapon master 3rd class | Battalion bugler|
|Zugsführer / Szakaszvezető | Kurschmied | Rechnungs-Unteroffizier 2. Klasse | Waffenmeister 2. Klasse||3 white stars|
|Sergeant - Sgt) | Stabführer | Fiscal Sergeant 2nd class | Weapon master 2nd class|
|no RK||Feldwebel / Őrmester | Wachtmeister | Feuerwerker | Oberjäger | Rechnungs-Unteroffizier I. Klasse | Waffenmeister I. Klasse | Beschlagmeister I. Klasse | Regimentstambour | Regimentshornist | Einjährig-Freiwilliger-Feldwebel | Kadett-Feldwebel (only until 1908)||3 white stars, 13mm yellow silk galloon|
|Master-sergeant | Cavaly master-sergeant | Artillery master-sergeant] | Rifles master-sergeant | Fiscal Sergeant 1st class | Weapon master 1st class | Master-Blacksmith 1st class | Regiment drummer | Regiment bugler | Feldwebel - volunteer serving one year | Kadet-Feldwebel|
|no RK||Stabsfeldwebel / Törzsőrmester | Stabswachtmeister | Stabsfeuerwerker | Stabsoberjäger||
|1st Sergeant | Cavalry 1st sergeant | Artillery 1st sergeant | Rifles 1st sergeant|
|no RK||Kadett-Offiziersstellvertreter / Hadapród-Tiszthelyettes, cancelled in 1908||Golden galloon as to Feldwebel with 1 silver-plated star|
|Kadett / Hadapród established in 1908||
|no RK||Offiziersstellvertreter / Tiszthelyettes since 1915||one 13mm silver galloon, above one 6mm galloon with one brass star|
|no RK||Fähnrich / Zászlós||1 silver star on 13mm on 13mm gold galloon|
Officers and officials
|Grade||Rank in German - Hungarian, equivalent in English||Rank insignia|
|RK XII||Praktikant (N.N.)||1 rosette with 13mm gold galloon|
|RK XI||Untertierarzt / Akzessist / Assistent / Lehrer 2. Klasse / Fechtmeister 2. Klasse / Wirtschaftsadjunkt||1 gold/silver embroidered star rosette|
|Veterinarian junior grade/ Accessist / Assistant (civilian army branch)/ Teacher 2nd class (civilian army branch)/ Fencing-master 2nd class / Economy adjunct (civilian army branch)|
|RK XI||Leutnant - Hadnagy / Assistenz-Arzt / Leutnant-Rechnungsführer||1 gold/silver embroidered star|
|Lieutenant / Assistant medical doctor / Fiscal lieutenant|
|RK XI||Tierärztlicher Assistent / Tierarzt / Apotheker / Offizial / Lehrer 1. Klasse / Fechtmeister 1. Klasse / Wirtschaftsunterverwalter / Kriegswirtschaftskommissär||2 gold/silver embroidered star rosettes|
|Veterinarian assistant / Veterinarian / Pharmacist / Official (civilian army branch)/ Teacher 1st class (civilian army branch)/ Fencing instructor 1st class / Economy manager junior grade (civilian army branch)/ War economy commissioner (civilian army branch)|
|RK X||Artillerieingenieur-Assistent / Militär-Bauingenieur-Assistent||2 gold/silver embroidered stars|
|Artillery assistant engineer / Military construction engineer assistant|
|RK X||Oberleutnant - Főhadnagy / Oberarzt / Oberleutnant-Auditor / Oberleutnant-Rechnungsführer|
|First Lieutenant / Assistant medical director / Auditor first lieutenant / Fiscal first lieutenant|
|RK IX||Tierärztliche Adjunkt / Obertierarzt / Oberapotheker / Oberoffizial / Oberlehrer / Oberfechtmeister / Wirtschaftsverwalter / Kriegswirtschafts-Oberkommissär / Forstverwalter||3 gold/silver embroidered star rosettes|
|Veterinarian adjunct / Veterinarian senior grade/ Pharmacist senior grade/ Official senior grade (civilian army branch) / Teacher senior grade/ Fencing-instructor senior grade / Economy manager (civilian army branch)/ War economy first commissioner (civilian army branch)/ Forest-administrator (civilian army branch)|
|RK IX||Sekretär der Militärkanzlei Sr. Majestät / Unterintendant / Artillerie-Ingenieur / Militär-Bauingenieur||3 gold/silver embroidered stars|
|Secretary of the military office of His Majesty / Director junior grade/ Artillery engineer / Military construction engineer|
|RK IX||Hauptmann - Százados / Rittmeister / Regimentsarzt / Hauptmann-Auditor / Hauptmann-Rechnungsführer|
|Captain / Captain cavalery / Regimental medical doctor / Captain auditor / Fiscal Captain|
|RK VIII||Stabsarzt / Stabstierarzt / Stabsapotheker / Technischer Rat / Rechnungsrat / Zahlmeister / Registrator / Artilleriezeugsverwalter / Verpflegsverwalter / Oberlehrer / Wirtschaftsoberverwalter / Kriegswirtschafts-Rat||1 gold/silver embroidered star rosette on 33mm gold/silver galloon|
|Veterinarian senior grade/ Pharmacist senior grade / Technical consultant (civilian army branch)/ Financing consultant (civilian army branch)/ Paymaster / Registry official / Artillery supply administrator / Food administrator / Senior teacher / Senior economy administrator / War economy consultant|
|RK VIII||Sekretär der Militärkanzlei Sr. Majestät / Intendant / Artillerie-Oberingenieur 3. Klasse / Militär-Bauoberingenieur 3. Klasse||1 gold/silver embroidered star on 33mm gold/silver galloon|
|Secretary of the military office of His Majesty / Intendant / Senior artillery engineer 3rd class / Military construction engineer 3rd class|
|RK VIII||Major - Őrnagy / Stabsarzt / Major-Auditor|
|Major / Surgeon / Major auditor|
|RK VII||Außerordentlicher Professor / Oberstabstierarzt / Oberstabsapotheker 2. Klasse / Technischer Oberrat / Artillerie-Oberzeugsverwalter 2. Klasse / Oberrechnungsrat 2. Klasse / Kassendirektor 2. Klasse / Oberverpflegsverwalter / Registratur-Unterdirektor / Wirtschaftsdirektor / Kriegwirtschafts-Oberrat 2. Klasse||2 gold/silver embroidered star rosettes on 33mm gold/silver galloon|
|Extraordinary professor (civilian army branch)/ Major veterinarian / Major pharmacist 2nd class / Senior technical adviser / Senior artillery supply administrator 2nd class (civilian army branch)/ Senior financing consultant 2nd class (civilian army branch)/ Cashier`s office director 2nd class / Senior food administrator / Registry official director junior grade/ Economy director / Senior war economy consultant 2nd class|
|RK VII||Hofsekretär der Militärkanzlei Sr. Majestät / Sekretär der Militärkanzlei Sr. Majestät / Oberintendant 2. Klasse / Artillerie-Oberingenieur 2. Klasse / Militär-Bauoberingenieur 2. Klasse||2 gold/silver embroidered stars on 33mm gold/silver galloon|
|Court-secretary of the military office of His Majesty / Secretary of the military office of His Majesty / Senior director 2nd class / Senior artillery director 2nd class / Senior military construction engineer 2nd class|
|RK VII||Oberstleutnant - Alezredes|
|RK VI||Ordentlicher Professor / Oberstabsapotheker 1. Klasse / Technischer Rat 1. Klasse / Technischer Oberrat 1. Klasse / Artillerie-Oberzeugsverwalter 1. Klasse / Oberrechnungsrat 1. Klasse / Registratur-Direktor / Kassendirektor 1. Klasse / Baurechnungsrat 1. Klasse / Kriegswirtschafts-Oberrat 1. Klasse||3 gold/silver embroidered stars rosettes on 33mm gold/silver galloon|
|Ordinary professor(civilian army branch) / Major pharmacist 1st class / Technical adviser 1st class / Senior technical adviser 1st class /Senior artillery supply administrator 1st class (civilian army branch)/ Senior financing consultant 1st class (civilian army branch)/ Registry director (civilian army branch)/ Cashier`s office director 1st class / Senior war economy consultant 1st class (civilian army branch)|
|RK VI||Sektionsrat der Militärkanzlei Sr. Majestät / Regierungsrat der Militärkanzlei Sr. Majestät / Oberintendant 1. Klasse / Artillerie-Oberingenieur 1. Klasse / Militär-Bauoberingenieur 1. Klasse'||3 gold/silver embroidered stars on 33mm gold/silver galloon|
|Section-consultant of the military office of His Majesty / Senior administrative officer of the military office of His Majesty / Senior director 1st class / Senior artillery engineer 1st class / Senior military construction engineer 1st class|
|RK VI||Oberst - Ezredes / Oberstabsarzt 1. Klasse / Oberst-Auditor|
|RK V||Hofrat der Militärkanzlei Sr. Majestät / Generalintendant / Artillerie-Generalingenieur / General-Bauingenieur / Hofrat der Mil. Tierärztlichen Hochschule / Ministerialrat / Kriegwirtschafts-Generalrat||1 silver embroidered star on 33mm gold galloon|
|Court-consultant of the military chancellery office of His Majesty / General-indendant / Artillery general-engineer / Construction general-engineer / Court-consultant of the veterinarian high school / Superior counsellor in a ministerial department / War economy director-general|
|RK V||Generalmajor - Vezérőrnagy / Generalstabsarzt / General-Auditor||1 silver embroidered star on 33mm gold galloon|
|RK IV||Sektionschef||2 silver embroidered stars on 33mm gold galloon|
|RK IV||2 silver embroidered stars on 33mm gold galloon|
||3 silver embroidered stars on 33mm gold galloon|
|RK II||Generaloberst - Vezérezredes since 1915||3 silver embroidered stars, underlaid by a 40mm silver embroidery wreath on 33mm gold galloon|
|RK I||Feldmarschall - Tábornagy||33mm gold embroidery with oak leaves directed below|
Members of the military personal status
|(equivalent)||(Rifle 1st class)||(Private 1st class)||(Gunner 1st class)|
|Designation||Enlisted / Corporal ranks|
|Rank description||Korporal k.u.k.
|(English)||(Cpl k.u.k. cyclistes)||(Regimental musician corporal)||(Mountain infantry corporal)||(Corporal)||(Corporal)||(Gunner-corporal)||(Corporal)||(Corporal porter unit)||(Corporal)|
|Designation||Enlisted / Sergeant ranks|
|(Zgf)||(Zgf cavalry)||(Blacksmith)||(Ordnance Sergeant
|(Zgf mil. engineering)||(Zgf vehicle troops)||(Zgf medical corps)|
|Designation||Feldwebel / Master Sergeant ranks|
|Rank description||Feldwebel||Kadett-Feldwebel||Oberjäger||Kadett-Oberjäger||Wachtmeister||Kadett-Wachtmeister||Feuerwerker||Kadett-Feuerwerker||Stabführer (Musikkorps)|
|Branch||Infantry||Mountain infantry||Cavalry||Artillery||Military band|
|(English)||(Master-sergeantl)||(Cadet master-sergeant)||(Rifles master-sergeant)||(Cadet master-sergeant )||(Cavalry
|(Cadet master-sergeant)||(Artillery master-sergeant)||(Cadet master-sergeant)||(Tambour-Major)|
|Designation||Stabsfeldwebel / First Sergeant ranks|
|Branch||Infantry||Mountain infantry||Cavalry||Artillery||Military band|
|(English)||(1st sergeant)||(Rifles 1st sergeant)||(Cavalry 1st sergeant)||(Artillery 1st sergeant)||(Military bandmaster)|
Higher Staff NCO-ranks and officer aspirant (OA) ranks
|Low grade officer ranks|
||Hadnagy||Second lieutenant||RK XI|
||Főhadnagy||First lieutenant||RK X|
|Staff officer ranks|
||Alezredes||Lieutenant colonel||RK VII|
The embroideries of the collars of the ranks major to colonel were always in the same color as the tunic buttons (silver/gold). The rank stars were converse (silver embroidery - golden star(s))
The ranks lieutenant to captain had stars in the same color as the tunic buttons.
|Designation||Commander in chief and generals|
|Rank description||General der Waffengattung|| Feldmarschall-Leutnant
|English||General of the branch
|| Lieutenant field-marshal: also
(equiv. Lieutenant general)
In the course of uniform reorganisation pertaining the Imperial-Royal Landwehr (de: k.k. Landwehr), the service coat (de: Waffenrock or Uniformrock) of all enlisted personnel was substituted by a tunic (de: Bluse) in general. The rotary-coloured gorget patch was replaced by a standard gorget patch (de: Paroli) in grass-green with rank insignias. According to the special function, e.g. as member to a "machine gun unit", the Edelweiss on the gorget patch was additional.
Enlisted personnel insignia of Guards formations
In the Austrian-Hungarian armed forces there existed five guard units. In two of them served exclusively officer grades. The remaining three of them were called “Enlisted men guards” (de: Mannschaftsgarden).
|Rank||Description of the rank insignia|
|Gardeinfanterist / Gardereiter||Guardsman / Guard trooper||15mm broad imperial yellow silk galloon; three white stars from silk; scarlet corps colour|
|Gardekorporal (Guard infantry)||Guard corporal||18mm broad imperial yellow silk galloon (divided by a 1mm broad black stripe); three white stars from silk; scarlet corps colour|
|Gardezugsführer (Guard infantry)||Guard sergeant||20mm broad imperial yellow silk galloon (divided by a 1mm broad black stripe); three white stars from silk; scarlet corps colour|
|2. Gardewachtmeister (Guard cavalry)||Guard master sergeant 2nd class||20mm broad imperial yellow silk galloon (divided by a 1mm broad black stripe); three white stars from silk; scarlet corps colour|
|Gardefeldwebel (Guard infantry)||Guard master sergeant||22mm broad imperial yellow silk galloon (divided by a 1mm broad black stripe); three white stars from silk; scarlet corps colour|
|1. Gardewachtmeister (Guard cavalry)||Guard master sergeant 1st class||22mm broad imperial yellow silk galloon (divided by a 1mm broad black stripe); three white stars from silk; scarlet corps colour|
|Trabanten-Leibgarde||Companion life-guards||18mm broad imperial yellow silk galloon (divided by a 1mm broad black stripe); three white stars from silk; ponceau-red corps colour|
|Vizeskondewachtmeister der Trabanten-Leibgarde||2nd vice master sergeant of the companion life-guards||20mm broad imperial yellow silk galloon (divided by a 1mm broad black stripe); three white stars from silk; ponceau-red corps colour|
There was no difference between the rank insignias of the officers in comparison to regular troops.
Estate riflemen troops
k.k. Estate riflemen units and companies were established in the 15th/16th century and did belong to the so-called Landwehr (en: home guard). However, k.k. Estate riflemen troops did not wear regular uniforms. After k.k. Estate riflemen troops had to be involved in 1915 to regular military engagement, the Austrian-Hungarian administration was forced to procure these units with regular uniforms. To emphasise the character and status of the Estate riflemen, they did wear slightly different rank insignias. Officer collar patches showed a gold embroidered rosette. Pertaining enlisted personnel and NCOs the rosette was silver embroidered. Because silver and gold embroidery was deficit, the rosettes were finally replaced by celluloid stars, as this was the case to regular troops. The rank insignias were fixed on the collar patches (de: Parolis) showing at the background the corps colour of the Riflemen infantry (also: Hunter-troops or Riflemen-troops; de: Jägertruppe) "Grass-green". Tyrolese collar patches showed the silver metallic "Tyrol eagle" behind the rosette/star. For the Vorarlberg estate riflemen the eagle was replaced by a white metallic shield with the "Vorarlberg coat of arms".
Major was the highest rank of the Estate riflemen troops.
As regards to military officials, there were in force exactly the same rules who applied to military officer ranks. However, military officials wore only four-leaved star rosettes instead of the rank stars (the only exception: officials with explicit star ranks!).
Fiscal officials (de: Rechnungsführer) in line service have been provided always with silver color buttons.
- Further exemptions from the principal rule are described as follows
- Military officials with port epée: Staff ranks wore a galloon with applied "cross-band ornament" (de: Kreuzbandmuster)
- Military commissariat official: in the Common Army – golden color buttons; in the home guard (de: Landwehr) silver color buttons
- Military construction engineers: in the Common Army – silver color buttons; in the home guard golden color buttons),
- Military officials without port epée: Staff ranks wore a galloon with "waved cross-band ornament" (de: gewelltes Kreuzbandmuster)
- Auditors: in the Common Army gold color buttons; in the Home guard silver buttons
- Military surgeon officer corps: in the Common Army gold color buttons; in the Home guard silver buttons (with the appropriate variations of collar)
The gallery below shows examples of different kinds of Adjustierung (en: uniforms).
Fähnrich (Deutsche Uniform)
(Ensign, German uniform)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Military uniforms of Austria-Hungary.|
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- Rank stars who consisted of relief metal were officially procured by the military administration
- The abbreviation "OF" stands for "officer / officier"
- Austro-Hungarian Army staff officer ranks from major (OF3) onwards had to were embroidered rank stars
- The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"
- Officer rank stars basically showed the button-colour of the uniform jacket i.g. gold coloured or silver coloured respectively brass coloured or white alloy.