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Oberführer was an early paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party dating back to 1921. Translated as “Senior Leader”, an Oberführer was typically a Nazi Party member in charge of a group of paramilitary units in a particular geographical region. From 1921 to 1925, the phrase Oberführer was used as a title in Sturmabteilungmarker, but became an actual SA rank after 1926.

Oberführer was also a rank of the Schutzstaffelmarker (SS), established in 1925 as a rank for SS officers in charge of one of several SS-Gaue throughout Germany. In 1930, the SS was reorganized into SS-Gruppen and Brigaden, at which time Oberführer became subordinate to the higher rank of Brigadeführer.

By 1932, Oberführer was an established rank of both the SS and SA and was considered the first general officer rank, approximately the equivalent to a Brigadier. Oberführer wore two oak leaves on the uniform collar rank patch, along with the shoulder boards and lapels of a General Officer. In 1938, the status of SS-Oberführer began to change with the rise of the SS-Verfügungstruppe which would later become the Waffen-SS. Since Brigadeführer was rated equal to a Generalmajor, and Standartenführer to an Oberst, Oberführer had no military equivalent and quickly became regarded as a Senior Colonel rank. This distinction continues in historical circles with some texts referring to Oberführeras a Senior Colonel rank while others state it has a military equivalent to Brigadier-General.

One of the more famous holders of the rank of Oberführer was Julian Scherner, immortalized in the film Schindler's List as the cold and calculating SS and Police Leader of Warsawmarker. Emil Maurice, the actual founder of the SS in 1925, also held the rank of Oberführer.

Junior Rank
SS rank and SA rank
Senior Rank

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