Oberstarzt (short: OTA) is a military rank in German speaking armed forces. It denotes a medical staff officer surgeon or medical staff officer dentist and is comparable to Colonel (de: Oberst) or Captain (naval) (de: Kapitän zur See) NATO-Rangcode OF5 in anglophone armed forces.

Oberstarzt (Joint Medical Service)
Rank insignia German medical service ranks
Rank group Commissioned officers
Army / Air Force Oberstarzt (equivalent Oberst)
Navy Flottenarzt (equivalent KzS)



In the Joint Medical Service of the German Bundeswehr Oberstarzt, Oberstapotheker, and Oberstveterinär are comparable in NATO to the OF-5 rank Oberst; Flottenarzt, and Flottenapotheker are equivalent to Kapitän zur See, OF-5 as well.


The manner of formal addressing of military surgeons/dentists with the rank Oberstarzt is "Herr/Frau Oberstarzt"; with the rank Oberstapotheker, "Herr/Frau Oberstapotheker". Military surgeons/dentists with the rank Flottenarzt are addressed "Herr/Frau Flottenarzt"; with the rank Flottenapotheker, "Herr/Frau Flottenapotheker".

The "Inspector of veterinary medicine of the Bundeswehr" (de: Inspizient Veterinärmedizin der Bundeswehr) holds the rank Oberstveterinär.

Rank insignias

On the shoulder straps (Heer, Luftwaffe) there are three silver stars in silver oak leaves and the career insignia (de: Laufbahnabzeichen) as symbol of the medical standing, or course of studies. The piping on shoulder straps shows the Waffenfarbe (en: corps- or troop-function colour), corresponding to the appropriate military service, branch, or special force. The corps colour of the Bundeswehr Joint Medical Service is dark blue.

In the Marines, the career insignia is in the middle of both sleeves, 3 cm above the cuff strips, and on the shoulder straps between strips and button.

junior Rank

German medical officer rank
senior Rank


In the German Wehrmacht from 1933 until 1945 there were the OF5-ranks Oberstarzt, Oberstapotheker, and Oberstveterinär, comparable to the Oberst OF5-rank as well.

During wartime, regular assignments of Oberstarzt was Division surgeon – IVb (de: Divisionsarzt – IVb).

The corps colour of the military Health Service Support (HSS) in German armed forces was traditional dark blue, and of the veterinarian service carmine red.[1] This tradition was continued by the medical service corps in Heer and Luftwaffe of the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht. However, the corps colour of the Waffen-SS and Kriegsmarine HSS was “cornflower blue”.

Rank insignias
corps colour dark blue dark blue cornflower blue cornflower blue
gorget patch shoulder strap gorget patch shoulder strap shoulder strap sleeve insigia gorget patches shoulder strap
rank Oberstarzt Oberstarzt Flottenarzt Standartenführer (Oberstarzt Waffen-SS)
Ranks Wehrmacht until 1945[2]
Medical service en Equivalent Heer en
Generaloberstabsarzt Senior Staff-Surgeon General General der Waffengattung General ... OF8
Generalstabsarzt Staff-Surgeon General Generalleutnant Lieutenant general OF7
Generalarzt Surgeon General Generalmajor Major general OF6
Oberstarzt Colonel (Dr.) Oberst Colonel OF5
Oberfeldarzt Lieutenant colonel (Dr.) Oberstleutnant Lieutenant colonel OF4
Oberstabsarzt Major (Dr.)
Stabsarzt Captain (Dr.) Hauptmann Captain OF2
Oberarzt First lieutenant (Dr.) Oberleutnant First lieutenant OF1a
Assistenzarzt Second lieutenant (Dr.) Leutnant Second lieutenant OF1b
Unterarzt Oberfähnrich (Dr.) Oberfähnrich Officer Aspirant OR7[3]


D.M. Andreas Mollat Roth, here as k. k. Oberstabsarzt, about 1863

In the Imperial & Royal Common Army of Austria-Hungary (de: Gemeinsame Armee or k.u.k. Armee) there was the rank Oberstabsarzt 1. Klasse (en: Senior staff surgeon 1st class) until 1918, equivalent to Oberstarzt in Germany. That particular rank was comparable to the Oberst OF5-rank (en: colonel) as well. There was also a rank Oberstabsarzt 2. Klasse (or másodosztályú fõtörzsorvos in Hungarian).

Officers with that rank

Ranks k.u.k. Army until 1918
Medical service en Equivalent Heer en
Generalstabsarzt Staff-Surgeon General Generalmajor Major general OF6
Oberstabsarzt I. Klasse Colonel (Dr. 1st class) Oberst Colonel OF5
Oberstabsarzt II. Klasse Lieutenant colonel (Dr. 2nd class) Oberstleutnant Lieutenant colonel OF4
Stabsarzt Major (Dr.)
Regimentsarzt I. Klasse Captain (Dr. 1st class) Hauptmann Captain OF2
Regimentsarzt II. Klasse Captain (Dr. 2nd class)
Oberarzt First lieutenant (Dr.) Oberleutnant First lieutenant OF1a
Assistenzarzt Secon lieutenant (Dr.) Leutnant Second lieutenant OF1b


  1. “War and victory 1870-71”, culture history, published by Julius von Pflugk-Harttung. (Original title: Krieg und Sieg 1870-71, Kulturgeschichte, Herausgeber Julius von Pflugk-Harttung.)
  2. F. Altrichter: “The reserve officer”, fourteenth checked addition, Berlin 1941, pages 158-159. (Original title: F. Altrichter: „Der Reserveoffizier“, vierzehnte durchgesehene Auflage, Berlin 1941, Seiten 158-159.)
  3. The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"
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