"Schütze" is a rank of the Armed Forces of
Germanywhich dates back to the First World War. Until 1918, Schütze was used for the lowest enlisted ranks in Machine Gununits and some elite troops like Saxon Schützen-Regiment 108 exclusively. Usually translated as "Private", from 1920 on it names the lowest enlisted rank of the Reichswehr Infantry. The equivalent of Schütze in the other branches of the German military was "Jäger", "Kanonier", "Pionier", "Kraftfahrer" etc. in the Army, "Flieger" in the Luftwaffefrom 1935 on, "Matrose" and "Heizer" (until 1938) in the Navy.
The word can also be used in German to mean "shooter" or "rifleman". It also occurs occasionally as a surname. The word itself is derived from the German word schützen meaning to protect, or to guard.
Second World War, "SS-Schütze" also became an rank in the Waffen-SS. Other branches of the SSreferred to the rank as "Mann".
The present day German military maintains "Schütze" as the lowest enlisted grade, with a
NATOrank code of OR-1. A "Schütze" ranks below " Gefreiter" which is sometimes considered the equivalent of a Private First Classor a Lance Corporalbut today is actually of Private (OR-2); the equivalent of a PFC being an " Obergefreiter" and that of a Lance Corporal a " Hauptgefreiter" (this was different before the 20th-century expansion of the "Gefreiter" into several ranks).
During various periods in German military history, a senior private rank known as "
Oberschütze" existed between the grades of "Schütze" and "Gefreiter".
In the modern German Army the rank of Schütze is not used very often. Every part of the Bundeswehr has a different name for this Rank. For example, in the Panzergrenadiertruppe (Heavy Mechanized Infantry) the name of the rank is Panzergrenadier, and within the Communication Troops (Fernmelder), the name is Funker (Radio Operator).
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