Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian, and Swiss armies. While Haupt in contemporary German means 'main', it also has and originally had the meaning of 'head', i.e. Hauptmann literally translates to 'head-man', which is also the etymological root of captain (from Latin caput, 'head'). It equates to the rank of captain in the British and US Armies, and is rated OF-2 in NATO. (For the German maritime counterpart to captain, see Kapitän.) Currently there is no female form, like Hauptfrau within the military, the correct form of address is "Frau Hauptmann".[1][2]

More generally, a Hauptmann can be the head of any hierarchically structured group of people, often as a compound word. For example, a Feuerwehrhauptmann is the captain of a fire brigade[citation needed][dubious ], while Räuberhauptmann refers to the leader of a gang of robbers.

Official Austrian and German titles incorporating the word include Landeshauptmann, Bezirkshauptmann, Burghauptmann, and Berghauptmann.

In Saxony during the Weimar Republic, the titles of Kreishauptmann, and Amtshauptmann were held by senior civil servants.

Hauptmann (from Early Modern High German Heubtmann) is cognate with the Swedish hövitsman, which also has the root meaning 'head-man' or 'the man at the head', and is closely related to hövding, meaning 'chieftain'. Since medieval times, both titles have been used for state administrators rather than military personnel. Heubtmann may also be the origin of the title hetman, used in Central and Eastern Europe.



Army and Air Force insignia
Service branch  German Army
  German Air Force
AbbreviationH or Hptm
NATO rank codeOF-2
Formation19th century
Next higher rankMajor
Next lower rankOberleutnant
Equivalent ranksKapitänleutnant (Navy)

Rank insigniaEdit

On the shoulder straps (Heer, Luftwaffe) there are three silver pips (stars).

Heer Luftwaffe


Swiss GuardEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "VSB-Statement "weibliche Dienstgrade"". Verband der Soldaten der Bundeswehr. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  2. ^ Hegmann, Gerhard (March 8, 2019). "Wird "Frau Hauptmann" zur "Hauptmännin" oder "Hauptfrau"?". Die Welt. Retrieved February 12, 2021.

External linksEdit