The rank of Reichserzmarschall was originally created before the 12th century, during the time of the Holy Roman Empire. During the era of the German Empire and World War I, no one in the German Army held the rank.

During World War II, Hermann Göring, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, was the only man elevated to Reichsmarschall. He was promoted by Adolf Hitler during the 1940 Field Marshal Ceremony on 19 July, primarily to make him as senior to the other Wehrmacht commanders made Generalfeldmarschall that day, and confirm his position as Hitler's designated successor.

Nevertheless, in April 1945, when Göring suggested to Hitler that he assume leadership, Hitler relieved Göring of his duties and named a new successor, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz. The appointment was made on or before the day of Hitler's suicide (30 April 1945), but notification by Martin Bormann and Joseph Goebbels was delayed until 1 May 1945.

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