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Luftwaffe Sonderfuhrer(Wartime Officials)

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Wartime Officials and Sonderfuhrers.

The Wartime Official was introduced on 31Oct1938. Many of these men were selected from within the ranks of the regular Luftwaffe. Applicants were NCO's or lower who possessed civilian acquired skills or knowledge needed by the Luftwaffe. Officers were not accepted. Others were brought directly into the Luftwaffe as Officials without any military training at all.

As a side note, the appointment of this type of official in 1938 should have been a huge hint toward the future plans of the German military.

Upon acceptance as a Wartime Official, these men were appointed a ranking as either an NCO or officer based upon their area of expertise and amount of experience. Such duties could be Administrative, Legal, or Technical. Once the member was designated a ranking, there would be no opportunity for promotion. The position as a specialist leader was not a career move. The position was to be held until the end of the war.

As the war began and waged on, manpower became an issue. As a result, on 05Aug1941, some restrictions were placed upon being accepted as a Specialist Leader...

1. For non technical branches, the applicant must have been born in 1909 or earlier. Specialist leaders who were already in the organization and born between 1910 and 1927 were retained.

2. Personnel of the technical branches and in the Reich's Weather Service as well as those with the birth years ranging between 1910 and 1917 were permitted pending the completion of basic military training.

3. For all other areas of Wartime Specialists, candidates born between 1910 and 1917 were permitted if found to be not fit for full duty.

On 24Sep1942, an order was passed which stopped all future appointments of the Wartime Officials.

Here is where it gets a bit confusing. Also on 24Sep1942, members who had certain military training/qualifications were retained as Reserve Officials. Members without the required military training had to complete it by 01October1943 at the latest. All other's had their status as a Wartime official renounced and were returned to their previous rankings and sent back to regular Luftwaffe units, with a few exceptions(based upon the needs of the Luftwaffe), which expired on 31March1944, at the latest.

The Wartime Officials had the title of their career and branch according to their position within the organization, along with "auf Kriegsdauer" abbreviated ""a.Kr" or "a.K." as a suffix. This was authorized on 24November1944.

For those who may be interested, the below link will take you to a paychart, which includes the Wartime Officials/Sonderfuhrers.


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Now we will get into the uniform requirements...

The prescribed uniform was the same as that of the regular Luftwaffe. The main difference being noticed in the collar tabs and shoulder cords.

Of a special note, Wartime officials assigned to the Reich Air Ministry were required to wear civilian clothes while on the job.

Here is a uniform from my personal collection. It is a tuchrock for a Feldwebel of the Medium Career Level. I will get into more detail on the insignia shortly.

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Now we will get into the insignia.

Collar tabs:

Per my references(Davis, Angolia, and Bender), there were two mentioned Waffenfarben:

Administrative/Specialists- Dark Green

Engineering Specialists- Pink

The collar insignia are very similar to those used by the Luftwaffe proper. The difference being that the gulls denoting rank are omitted. The use of the wreath is the same as with the basic Luftwaffe tabs, for officers.(full and half wreath). The exact ranking of the official was specified by the type of shoulder cord and the number of sliders on the cord.

As with the Administrative tabs(which we will get into in a future article), there were four career levels based upon education and experience. The level was noted by the type of piping around the collar tabs.

Lower Career Level

No piping(and no wreath... simply a plain dark green tab)- Feldwebel/Oberfeldwebel- Grade school education without further education/qualification was required.

Medium Career Level

Green/Silver Piping(was blue silver until Nov1940)- Oberfeldwebel/Oberleutnant- High School Diploma and an apprenticeship of a trade was required.

Elevated Career Level

Silver piping- - Leutnant-Oberstleutnant- Educational level between High School and College, with an addition two-three years of practical training required.

Highest Grade Career

Gold piping- University degree is required.

As a side note, the Corps Engineering Officials started on 15Jan43, the Wartime Members of the Corps of Engineers wore the same uniforms as those used by the Corps of Engineers. The insignia differed as stated below:

Tabs- Rose pink, as the Corps of Engineer tabs. Ranking consisted of the embroidered wreath only. No propellers or gulls were used. The exact ranking was noted on the shoulder cord.

As you can see, there is a single present of a yellow Wartime Official tab. This is for a member of the Luftwaffe Fire Service member brought into the regular Luftwaffe with a soldier's status(job stayed the same, the status was more of a legality).

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Shoulder Insignia:

The shoulder cords were very irregular when compared to the regular Luftwaffe(please see below descriptions). By order, these boards were not to have specialty piping nor any underlay. This rule was frequently broken though.

Lower Career Level

Oberfeldwebel- Blueish Dark green with 1 aluminum embroidered slider for the cord.

Hauptfeldwebel- Blueish Dark green with 2 aluminum embroidered sliders for the cord.

Middle Career Level

Oberfeldwebel- Braided dark green cord with 1mm center aluminum cord with 2 aluminum embroidered sliders for the cord.

Leutnant- Aluminum Flat cord, bent to form a loop. Both ends meet at the base. The ends are sewn into the sleeve seam. No Sliders for the cord.

Elevated Career Level

Oberleutnant- Aluminum Flat cord, bent to form a loop. Both ends meet at the base. The ends are sewn into the sleeve seam. 1 Yellow slider for the cord.

Hauptmann- Aluminum Flat cord, bent to form a loop. Both ends meet at the base. The ends are sewn into the sleeve seam. 2 Yellow sliders for the cord.

High Grade Career Level

Hauptmann- Aluminum Flat cord, bent to form a loop. Both ends meet at the base. The ends are sewn into the sleeve seam. 2 Yellow sliders for the cord.

Major- Braided aluminum cord with 8-11 lateral bends and two bends at the base. No Sliders.

Oberstleutnant- Braided aluminum cord with 8-11 lateral bends and two bends at the base. 1 yellow slider.

Oberst- Braided aluminum cord with 8-11 lateral bends and two bends at the base. 2 yellow Sliders.

Here is my Oberfeldwebel example from the tunic seen above. Notice the twisted cord with the silver center strip, indicative of an NCO in the Middle Career Level.

Also see the NCO cord for a Lower Career Level Official, which is ranked for an Oberfeldwebel.

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Specialist Leaders (Sonderfuhrer)

The special group of Sonderfurer was established by "Mobilmachungsplan fur die Luftwaffe" (Luftwaffe mobilization Order) of 31 Oct 1938 in the event of mobilization to fill then need of the soldiers with officer or NCO rank in T.O. & E's where special skills were needed and where officers?NCO's were not available to fill the positions. "For a limited transitional period of time" officer and NCO positions of construction units, medical services, signal construction units, and radio stations of the meteorological service were to be filled by personnel "with only limited or no military training and who seemed capable for the respective positions for their civilian knowledge (i.e.medical doctors, engineers etc).

The duty positions of Sonderfurer was graded in post groups (Stellengruppen), which also indicated the position of the leaders

Officer rank Equivalent

Post group R (regiment) Obrest

Post group B (battalion) Major

Post group K (company) Hauptmann

Post group Z (platoon) Leutnant

NCO rank

Post group O (company Sgt) Oberfeldwebel

Post group G (squad) Unteroffizier

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An order (L V 42, No.2497) dated 24 Sep 1942 prohibited all further appointment of wartime officials. Wartime officials with the prescribed requirements were appointed reserve officials. Wartime officials without, had to undergo additional military training in order to be appointed reserve officials. All other wartime officials were renounced and returned to their former soldiers status as NCO's or privates.

Shoulder boards were replaced with shoulder cords as prescribed for Sonderfuhrers and were without any underlay so that the branch was not identified. Apparently irregular shoulder cords were frequently worn, and prohibited by several orders but without much success.

An order (BLB 40. No.1223) dated 8 Oct 1940 expressly stated that shoulder cord width as 1.8cm and Leutnant rank width as 1.4 cm. Shoulder cords with backing or wider than prescribed were also prohibited on 3 Mar 1942 in Order L V 42 no.639

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Great stuff Larry!!!! Thank you for the great information and images. It is an amazingly complex area! Lets see more!!! Any photos, uniforms, insignia, documents, information, or stories from these actual members.

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