The rank of Hauptsturmführer evolved from the much older rank of Sturmhauptführer, created in 1928 as a rank of the Sturmabteilung. The SS used the rank of Sturmhauptführer from 1930 to 1934 at which time, following the Night of the Long Knives, the name of the rank was changed to Hauptsturmführer although the insignia remained the same.
Some of the most infamous SS members are known to have held the rank of Hauptsturmführer. Among them are Josef Mengele, the infamous doctor assigned to Auschwitz; Klaus Barbie, Gestapo Chief of Lyon; Alois Brunner, Adolf Eichmann's assistant; and Amon Göth who was immortalized in the film Schindler's List.
The insignia of Hauptsturmführer was three silver pips and two silver stripes on a black collar patch, worn opposite a unit insignia patch. On the field grey duty uniform, the shoulder boards of an Army Hauptmann were also displayed. The rank of Hauptsturmführer was senior to the rank of Obersturmführer and junior to Sturmbannführer.