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Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, the highest rank in the several European navies that used it. It is best known for its use in Germany as Großadmiral. A comparable rank in other navies is that of fleet admiral.


Grand admirals in individual naviesEdit


In Bourbon Restoration France, the rank was an honorific one equivalent to that of marshal in the French Army.


Insignia of a Kriegsmarine Großadmiral until 1945
Sleeve insignia
Shoulder board
Command post flag
Corps colour (Navy blue)

In the Imperial German Navy, and later in the Kriegsmarine, the rank Großadmiral was the equivalent of a British admiral of the fleet or a United States fleet admiral; as a five-star rank (OF-10). Like field marshals its holders were authorised to carry a baton.[1]

The rank was created in 1901 and discontinued in 1945, after seven men were promoted to it. The next most junior rank was Generaladmiral (admiral-general).

Imperial GermanyEdit

Before and during World War I, the following were made grand admirals of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine):

Nazi GermanyEdit

There were no more grand admirals until 1939. The following men were made grand admirals of the German Kriegsmarine, during the Nazi regime:

  • Erich Raeder, then-Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine, was made a grand admiral on 1 April 1939.
  • Karl Dönitz, commander of the U-Boat fleet, was made a grand admiral on 30 January 1943 upon succeeding Raeder as Commander-in-Chief.
Junior Rank
(Kriegsmarine Ranks)
Senior Rank


Insignia of an Austrian Großadmiral
sleeve insignia
command post flag
Corps colour (Navy blue)

Anton Haus, commander of the Austro-Hungarian navy for part of World War I, was given the title of Großadmiral in 1916. No other active-duty officer (except members of the Imperial family) was ever given this rank (although Haus's immediate successor, Maximilian Njegovan, was promoted to grand admiral on the retired list in 1918).


The rank of grand admiral (in Italian, grand' ammiraglio) was created by Benito Mussolini in 1924. It was established primarily to honour Paolo Thaon di Revel, who had been head of the Italian Regia Marina during World War I — he was the only person to be awarded the rank. It was equivalent to marshal of Italy in the army and also marshal of the Air Force.

In fictionEdit

Among the several grand admirals appearing in fiction and science fiction, one notable figure is Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Star Wars science fiction franchise.[3]


  1. ^ BROCKHAUS, The encyclopedia in 24 volumes (1796–2001), Volume 9: 3-7653-3660-2, page 164; definition: «Großadmiral»
  2. ^ "Latest intelligence - The German Emperor and the King". The Times (36806). London. 28 June 1902. p. 5. 
  3. ^ Trendacosta, Katharine. "Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn and Why Is His Appearance in Star Wars Rebels So Exciting?". io9.