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.
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.
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).
Before and during World War I, the following were made grand admirals of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine):
- King Edward VII of the United Kingdom (26 June 1902)
- Hans von Koester (28 June 1905)
- King Oscar II of Sweden (13 July 1905)
- Prince Henry of Prussia (4 September 1909)
- Alfred von Tirpitz (27 January 1911)
- Henning von Holtzendorff (31 July 1918)
- 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.
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).
- May 12, 1916 - Anton Haus (1851-1917)
- October 9, 1916 - Prince Henry of Prussia (1862-1929)
- November 1, 1916 - Karl Erzherzog von Österreich (1887-1922)
- February 22, 1917 - Wilhelm II König von Preußen, Deutscher Kaiser (1859-1941)
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.
Under the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko in the Republic of Zaire, Mavua Mudima, the commander of the Zairian navy and the country's defense minister from 1994 to 1997, held the rank of "grand admiral" even though the Zairian navy only consisted of some small patrol and river boats.
- BROCKHAUS, The encyclopedia in 24 volumes (1796–2001), Volume 9: 3-7653-3660-2, page 164; definition: «Großadmiral»
- "Latest intelligence - The German Emperor and the King". The Times (36806). London. 28 June 1902. p. 5.
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- Trendacosta, Katharine. "Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn and Why Is His Appearance in Star Wars Rebels So Exciting?". io9.