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Austro-Hungarian Military Rank Flags

Officers of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Army

Last modified: 2023-07-03 by
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Rank Flags

In 1914, there were four general officer ranks: Field-Marshal ("Feldmarschall"), General, Lieutenant-General ("Feldmarschalleutnant") and Major-General ("Generalmajor"). Full generals added the name of their parent arm of service to their rank title: "General der Infantrie," "General der Kavallerie," and the old
title "Feldzeugmeister"--Master General of Ordnance--for artillery generals.
Tom Gregg, 20 July 2002

Field Marshall (Feldmarschall)

[Austria-Hungary Fieldmarshall] 8:9, by Zeljko Heimer, 9 October 2000


Master General of Ordnance (Feldzeugmeister) and Cavalry General (General der Kavallerie)

[Austria-Hungary Fieldmarshall] 8:9, by Zeljko Heimer, 9 October 2000

Lieutenant General (Feldmarschalleutnant)

[Austria-Hungary Fieldmarshall] 8:9, by Zeljko Heimer, 9 October 2000

Major General  (Generalmajor)

[Austria-Hungary Fieldmarshall] 8:9, by Zeljko Heimer, 9 October 2000

Colonel General (Generaloberst)

According to the Rank Insignia site there was, at least in 1918 an additional rank "Generaloberst" just below "Feldmarschall".  This is not described by Siegel (1912) - however, it may be that it was added to the rank system after 1912 when Siegel was writing.
Zeljko Heimer, 15 October 2001

In 1915, the new rank of Colonel-General ("Generaloberst") was introduced. A Colonel-General ranked below a Field-Marshal and above a full general. This brought the Austro-Hungarian Army's rank structure for generals into line with the German Army practice.
Tom Gregg, 20 July 2002

In 1914, only the Emperor held the rank of Field-Marshal (though by 1918 several other generals had been promoted to this rank). The rank flag with eagles instead of stars was used by full generals in command of field armies, whereas a full general in command of a corps or in some other subordinate appointment would use the flag with three stars. During the war, the flag with eagles was probably used by the top three ranks, who would typically have commanded armies,
army groups and fronts. As far as I know, specific flags for the ranks of Field-Marshal and Colonel-General were never introduced.
Tom Gregg, 20 July 2002

Seniority Pennant

[Austria-Hungary Fieldmarshall] 4:9

by Zeljko Heimer, 9 October 2000

Pennant in the same colours and design as the Ensign since 1786, forked and with a shortened middle stripe, ratio 4:9: Seniority Standard since 1880, probably. 
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg

Also used as Commodore flag.

Dates of Adoption of Military Rank Flags

Initially I assumed all these flags were adopted after 1867, but as far as I can see today, I have no special reason for concluding that date. The year 1828 could also be one possibility when a similar starless flag was adopted for the Admiral (of any rank) but I don't actually see why it couldn't have been used before.
Zeljko Heimer, 15 October 2001

The information I have on Austro-Hungarian rank flags is virtually all from Baumgartner's Die Entwicklung der Österreichischen Marineflagge [bmg77]: He gives the adoption date of 1894 (source: Flaggen-Normale der k.u.k Kriegsmarine 1896 (supp.1902)--in use to 1918). 

The flag change of October 1915 created flags of different design for:

  1. Feldmarschall
  2. Generaloberst
  3. General der Infanterie, Kavallerie, Feldzeugmeister
  4. Feldmarschalleutnant
  5. Generalmajor

However although the 1915 changes were published in the following year, it appears that they probably never actually came into use - or at least, never came into general use (with the exception of the new standards for the Imperial family).

Baumgartner quotes Lehnert (1886) regarding the change in command after 1853-54 as being dated 1880, but claims that it actually was published by the State Publishing House in 1874. This change involved: 

  1. The former "Grossadmiralflagge was renamed the "Kommandoflagge für Admirale" (I think this means: for all admiral ranks - in any event no other flag for Grossadmiral, Vize-Admiral or Konter-Admiral)
  2. The former "Admiralsflagge" became the "Distinktionsflagge für Generale der k.k.Heeres" (again I think this means all generals and not only full generals, but I could be wrong)
  3. No change in the Commodore's flag
  4. A new seniority pennant. 

The next change was in 1894 and provided for special flags for various ranks of admirals and generals but does not mention "Grossadmiral". In referring to the 1874(1880?)-1894 flags Baumgartner refers to the three ranks of admiral so that perhaps there were no Grossadmirals between 1874 and 1915.
Norman Martin, 16 October 2001

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