Stabsarzt (short: StArzt or SA), literally meaning "staff physician," is a military commissioned officer rank in German speaking armed forces. In the German Bundeswehr and the former Wehrmacht and Reichswehr, it describes a qualified or licensed surgeon or dentist who practises military medicine, with a rank equal to captain (German: Hauptmann) in the army or air force or lieutenant (German: Kapitänleutnant) in the navy. This rank corresponds to NATO code OF2, and is known in English as captain (Dr.) for army or air force officers or lieutenant (Dr.) for naval officers. The rank was historically also used in the Austro-Hungarian Common Army and corresponded to major or the NATO code OF-3, known as major (Dr.) in English.

While holders of this rank are commissioned officers, their authority is usually limited to medical matters and medical staff (such as other doctors, nurses and other medics working under their supervision), and they are regarded as neutral non-combatants and accorded the status of "protected persons" under international humanitarian law (specifically the First and Second Geneva Conventions) when participating in humanitarian work during armed conflicts, such as caring for the sick or wounded. They may wear the red cross as a protective sign. As such, they may not be attacked, harmed or taken as prisoners of war (attacking medical personnel is a war crime), and are entitled under the Geneva Conventions to carry out their work without being inhibited. They may be armed, usually with service pistols, for the purpose of self defense or the defense of patients.

Rank insignia German medical service ranks
Rank group Commissioned officers
short (in lists) *StArzt (SA)
*StApotheker (SAP)
*StVeterinär (SV)



In the Joint Medical Service of the German Bundeswehr Stabsarzt (en: Staff surgeon), Stabsapotheker (en: Staff pharmacist), and Stabsveterinär (en: Staff veterinary) are comparable in NATO to the OF-2 ranks Hauptmann, and Kapitänleutnant. The grades belong to the captain rank group (de: Hauptleute).


The manner of formal addressing of military surgeons/dentists with the rank Stabsarzt is, „Herr/Frau Stabsarzt“; with the rank Stabsapotheker, „Herr/Frau Stabsapotheker“; with the rank Stabsveterinär, „Herr/Frau Stabsveterinär“.

Rank insignias

On the shoulder straps (Heer, Luftwaffe) there are three silver stars 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
Leutnant SanOA
Oberleutnant SanOA

German medical officer rank
senior Rank


In the German Wehrmacht from 1933 until 1945 there were the OF2-ranks Stabsarzt, Stabsapotheker, and Stasveterinär, comparable to the Hauptmann/Captain OF2-rank as well. During wartime, the regular assignment of Stabsarzt was the management of a main dressing station (de. Hauptverbandsplatz), maintained by the 2nd platoon of the medical company, and supported by first lieutenants (Dr.), second lieutenants (Dr.), and help surgeons (de: Ober-, Assistenz-, and Hilfsärzte).

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 HSS was “cornflower blue”.

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
Oberazt First lieutenant (Dr.) Oberleutnant First lieutenant OF1a
Assistenzarzt Second lieutenant (Dr.) Leutnant Second lieutenant OF1b
Unterarzt Oberfähnrich (Dr.) Oberfähnrich Officer Aspirant OR7[3]


Josef Hauer (1769-1848), Stabsarzt.

In the Austro-Hungarian Common Army (de: Gemeinsame Armee or k.u.k. Armee) there were the OF2-ranks Regimentsarzt I. Klasse and Regimentsarzt II. Klasse (en: Regiment surgeon 1st class / – 2nd class) until 1918, equivalent to the OF2-rank Stabsarzt in Germany. That particular rank was comparable to the Hauptmann/Captain OF2-rank as well.

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)
Oberazt 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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