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< Bibliographies

Nazi Language and Terminology

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The entrance to the main camp at Auschwitz, bearing the motto “Arbeit Macht Frei.”

The entrance to the main camp at Auschwitz, bearing the motto “Arbeit Macht Frei.” ——US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Instytut Pamieci Narodowej

Introduction

Every detail of daily life was strictly controlled and regulated under National Socialism. This control by the state extended to the German language, both in the colloquial and the official context. Certain words such as Volk (“the people”) and Fanatismus (“fanaticism”) became synonymous with the official party line of the Third Reich. Other terms were created as euphemisms to hide acts of terror. For example, in the language of the Nazis, Sonderbehandlung (“special treatment”) meant execution, and the term Endlösung (“final solution”) referred to the systematic extermination and mass murder of the Jewish peoples.

The following bibliography was compiled to guide readers to materials on Nazi terminology and the use of the German language during the Third Reich that are in the Library’s collection. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Annotations are provided to help the user determine the item’s focus, and call numbers for the Museum’s Library are given in parentheses following each citation. Those unable to visit might be able to find these works in a nearby public library or acquire them through interlibrary loan. Follow the “Find in a library near you” link in each citation and enter your zip code at the Open WorldCat search screen. The results of that search indicate all libraries in your area that own that particular title. Talk to your local librarian for assistance.

Background Information

English

  • Bein, Alex. “The Jewish Parasite - Notes on the Semantics of the Jewish Problem, with Special Reference to Germany.” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 9 (1964): 3-40. (DS 135 .G3 A262 v.9) [Find in a library near you]

    Explores racist and derogatory descriptions of Jews in the German language, beginning with the 18th century with particular emphasis on the period of the Third Reich.

  • Bosmajian, Haig A. The Language of Oppression. Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1974. (P 120 .R48 B67 1974) [Find in a library near you]

    Includes a chapter on the antisemitic language of the Third Reich, illustrating the Nazi use of ambiguous terminology as a small step towards the Final Solution. Considers Hitler’s low regard of his audiences and the advantage of the spoken word over the written. Includes reference list of both primary and secondary sources.

  • Esh, Shaul. “Words and Their Meanings: Twenty-Five Examples of Nazi Idiom.” Yad Vashem Studies 5 (1963): 133-167. (DS 135 .E83 Y3 v.5) [Find in a library near you]

    Analyzes the changes in the German language under National Socialism, including artificially created terms such as Einvolkung (“assimilation”) and Entjudung (“de-Judaization”). Discusses how some of these terms and phrases, although grammatically incorrect, nevertheless became part of the official language of the Nazi administration. Includes an index of Nazi terms mentioned in the article.

  • Friedlander, Henry. “The Manipulation of Language.” In The Holocaust: Ideology, Bureaucracy, and Genocide, edited by Henry Friedlander and Sybil Milton, 103-113. Millwood, NY: Kraus International, 1980. (D 810 .J4 S25 1977) [Find in a library near you]

    Discusses the public and bureaucratic aspects of “Nazi language.” Includes information on euphemisms, code words, and idioms used in the concentration camps.

  • Horan, Geraldine. Mothers, Warriors, Guardians of the Soul: Female Discourse in National Socialism, 1924-1934. Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 2003. (PF 3074 .H67 2003) [Find in a library near you]

    Analyzes how women used language in Germany from 1924 through the early parts of the Nazi regime, with special emphasis on the years 1931-1934. Examines in detail the women’s movement and the role of women in German society during the 1920s and 1930s, and investigates how women involved in National Socialism defined themselves through language. Features images of original letters, detailed footnotes, and a bibliography.

  • Hutton, Christopher. Linguistics and the Third Reich: Mother-tongue Fascism, Race and the Science of Language. New York: Routledge, 1999. (P 119.32 .G3 H88 1999) [Find in a library near you]

    Re-examines long-standing myths about the role of language within the Nazi state. Compares and analyzes the work of numerous German linguists from the Third Reich period. Features a special chapter on Yiddish linguistics. Includes an extensive bibliography.

  • Pegelow, Thomas. “Linguistic Violence: Language, Power and Separation in the Fate of Germans of Jewish Ancestry, 1928-1948.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 2004. (P 119.32 .G3 P44 2004) [Find in a library near you]

    Focuses on the central role of political and cultural language during the Weimar period and Nazi era, discussing the significance of terms such as “Germanness” and “Jewishness.” Examines the role of government agencies and cultural organizations in the dissemination of these “racialized” categories and statements and highlights German resistance to language reforms. Includes a bibliography, footnotes, and an appendix of frequently used “racialized” terms in Nazi publications.

  • Saussure, Louis de, and Peter Schulz, editors. Manipulation and Ideologies in the Twentieth Century: Discourse, Language, Mind. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2005. (P 302.77 .M36 2005) [Find in a library near you]

    Collection of essays examining speeches given by totalitarian leaders, emphasizing ideologies presented and the language employed. Includes a linguistic analysis of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, an examination of significant Nazi speeches, and an exploration of the implications of the regulations and mandates issued to the German press during the Nazi regime. Includes examples from the original Nazi Press Instructions and an index.

  • Yahil, Leni. “Sprachregelung.” In Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, edited by Israel Gutman, 1398-1399. New York: MacMillan, 1990. (Reference D 804.25 .E527 1990 v.3) [Find in a library near you]

    An overview of the regulations imposed by the Nazis on everyday language during the Third Reich. Discusses the use of language for propaganda purposes and to disguise acts of terror and destruction, such as Endlösung (“final solution”) and Sonderbehandlung (“special treatment”).

  • Young, John Wesley. Totalitarian Language: Orwell’s Newspeak and its Nazi and Communist Antecedents. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991. (P 119.3 .Y68 1991) [Find in a library near you]

    Analyzes language in totalitarian regimes. Devotes one section to “Nazi German,” drawing comparisons with Orwell’s “Newspeak,” the fictional language set forth in his book 1984. Similarities include the dehumanization of man, militarization of speech, extensive use of jargon and rhetoric, “semanticide”, and calls to blind obedience. Includes an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

German

  • Birken-Bertsch, Hanno and Reinhard Markner. Rechtschreibreform und Nationalsozialismus: Ein Kapitel aus der politischen Geschichte der Deutschen Sprache. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2000. (PF 3151 .B47 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    Documents the Nazi pursuit of a uniform German Language through reforms of written German, commonly called the Rechtschreibreform. Examines inter-organizational conflicts and the struggle for language unification during the Third Reich. Extensively footnoted.

  • Ehlich, Konrad. Sprache im Faschismus. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1989. (PF 3087 .S63 1989) [Find in a library near you]

    A collection of essays by several linguists about the use of language and grammar under National Socialism. Features numerous examples of Nazi language use and multiple bibliographies.

  • Gorr, Doris. Nationalsozialistische Sprachwirklichkeit als Gesellschaftsreligion: Eine sprachsoziologische Untersuchung zum Verhältnis von Propaganda und Wirklichkeit im Nationalsozialismus. Aachen: Shaker, 2000. (PF 3087 .G67 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    Considers the role of language in Nazi society, examining the relationship between propaganda and reality. Examines both the Nazi manipulation of language as well as the pre-existing elements in society which served their causes. Also explores the religious tones of Nazi language and its impact on society. Introduces the reader to the basics of linguistic and social theories. Includes a bibliography and a guide for teaching on language in the Third Reich at modern day German high-schools.

  • Haensel, Carl, and Richard Strahl. Politisches ABC des neuen Reichs: Schlag- und Stichwörterbuch für den deutschen Volksgenossen. Stuttgart: J. Engelhorn, 1933. (Rare JN 3951 .A5 H3 1933) [Find in a library near you]

    A handbook issued to the German public in 1933 explaining the Nazi administration’s official terminology and giving practical examples of usage by members of the Nazi elite.

  • Römer, Ruth. Sprachwissenschaft und Rassenideologie in Deutschland. München: W. Fink, 1989. (P 35.5 .G3 R66 1989) [Find in a library near you]

    Examines the relationship between language and racist ideologies in Germany from the early nineteenth century through 1945. Analyzes the work of German philologists during this time period and the evolution of racial terminology and ideas in the German language. Includes a bibliography and index.

  • Sternberger, Dolf, Gerhard Storz, and W. E. Süskind. Aus dem Wörterbuch des Unmenschen. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch, 1962. (PF 3585 .S83 1962) [Find in a library near you]

    One of the earliest books about Nazi language and terminology. Examines post-War German language for the persistence of words reflecting the Nazi style and official tone. Analyzes particular words in view of their history.

  • Winckler, Lutz. Studie zur gesellschaftlichen Funktion faschistischer Sprache. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1970. (DD 247 .H5 W488 1970) [Find in a library near you]

    Analyzes the role of language in German society during the Third Reich, with emphasis on Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Includes an annotated listing of citations and sources.

Linguistic Analyses

English

  • Eskew, Margaret. The Syntactic Preferences of Adolf Hitler in his Declaration of War on Poland. New York: P. Lang, 2000. (DD 247.H5 E77 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    An analysis of Adolf Hitler’s treatment and manipulation of language, with emphasis on the syntactic and grammatical nuances present in his speeches. Reviews previous scholarly works on the subject and includes assessments of Hitler’s oratorical skills by Joseph Goebbels and Albert Speer, a transcript of Hitler’s speech before the Reichstag in September 1939, and related bibliographies.

  • Friedlander, Henry. “The Manipulation of Language.” In The Holocaust: Ideology, Bureaucracy, and Genocide, edited by Henry Friedlander and Sybil Milton, 103-113. Millwood, NY: Kraus International, 1980. (D 810 .J4 S25 1977) [Find in a library near you]

    Discusses the public and bureaucratic aspects of “Nazi language.” Includes information on euphemisms, code words, and idioms used in the concentration camps.

  • Klemperer, Victor. The Language of the Third Reich: LTI - Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist’s Notebook. New Brunswick, NJ: Athlone Press, 2000. (PF 3074 .K613 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    An analysis of Nazi terminology and phrasing based on the author’s diary entries and first-hand observations under the Third Reich. The Library also has an edition in German under the title, LTI: Notizbuch eines Philologen.

German

  • Beisswenger, Michael. Totalitäre Sprache und textuelle Konstruktion von Welt: Am Beispiel ausgewählter Aufsätze von Joseph Goebbels über “die Juden”. Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag, 2000. (PF 3087.B45 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    Linguistic analysis of nine texts written by Goebbels. Examines the language he employed to establish realities, capitalize on existing antisemitic ideas, and make his agenda acceptable to the public through subtly manipulative methods. Includes texts of the sources analyzed.

  • Fischer-Hupe, Kristine. Victor Klemperers “LTI, Notizbuch eines Philologen”: Ein Kommentar. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 2001. (PF 3074 .K63 F57 2001) [Find in a library near you]

    A scholarly examination of Victor Klemperer’s book on Nazi terminology and language, LTI: Notizbuch eines Philosophen. Discusses the book’s creation and publication history, Klemperer’s editing process, and the post-World War II reaction to the work by various scholars, critics, and the public. Features eight essays about Klemperer, his life and philosophy, and a lengthy historical commentary on topics discussed in his notebook. Also provides an appendix featuring facsimiles of handwritten pages from the original notebook, articles from contemporary newspapers, examples of book jackets of various editions of Klemperer’s work, a bibliography and an index.

  • Greule, Albrecht, and Waltraud Sennebogen, editors. Tarnung – Leistung – Werbung: Untersuchungen zur Sprache im Nationalsozialismus. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2004. (PF 3087 .T37 2004) [Find in a library near you]

    Examines the use of language in three key Nazi documents: the Wehrmachtbericht, Reicharbeitdienst, and the regulations of language in the Wirtschaftswerbung. Explores the use of language to neutralize and camouflage Nazi ideology. Analyzes individual word choice and lists the words in questions within their context. Includes index of foreign words replaced by German terms.

  • Kopperschmidt, Josef. Hitler der Redner. München: Fink, 2003. (DD 247 .H5 H567 2003) [Find in a library near you]

    Explores Hitler’s ability to motivate and seduce an audience through his speeches. Describes the influence of these persuasive speeches in film, radio, and photographic images on the German people. Addresses the staging of these speeches and critiques his skill as an orator. Includes multiple bibliographies.

  • Sauer, Christoph. Der Aufdringliche Text: Sprachpolitik und NS-Ideologie in der “Deutschen Zeitung in den Niederlanden.” Wiesbaden: Deutsche Universitäts Verlag, 1998. (P 301.5 .P73 S28 1998) [Find in a library near you]

    Attempts to reconstruct the linguistic relationship between National Socialist ideology and its power in occupied countries, by examining the language used in German newspapers in the occupied Netherlands. Analyzes both verbal and written Nazi communication, and discusses theories such as the heterogeneity of language and propaganda strategies. Includes excerpts from the Deutschen Zeitung in den Niederlanden as well as a bibliography.

  • Warmbold, Nicole. Lagersprache zur Sprache der Opfer in den Konzentrationslagern Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Buchenwald. Sprache - Politik - Gesellschaft. Bremen: Hempen, 2006. (D 805.6 .L35 W35 2008) [Find in a library near you]

    Documents the use of language by Survivors and the psychological and social aspects of language in three different camps: Sachsenhausen, Dachau, and Buchenwald.  Includes index and bibliography.

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Dictionaries

English

  • Majer, Diemut. “Glossary of Traditional German Legal Terms and National Socialist Legal Terminology.” In “Non-Germans” under the Third Reich: The Nazi Judicial and Administrative System in Germany and Occupied Eastern Europe, with Special Regard to Occupied Poland, 1939-1945. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003. (KK 6050 .M3413 2003) [Find in a library near you]

    Glossary of traditional German legal terms and Nazi legal terminology with a brief introduction. Presents English translations and brief explanation of the terms, as well as etymology. Library also has a copy in German under the title “Fremdvölkische” im Dritten Reich.

  • Michael, Robert, and Karin Doerr. Nazi-Deutsch/Nazi German: An English Lexicon of the Language of the Third Reich. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. (Reference PF 3680 .M48 2002) [Find in a library near you]

    A dictionary of Nazi language and specialized vocabulary, including the terminology of Nazi ideology, propaganda slogans, military terms, ranks and offices, abbreviations and acronyms, euphemisms and code names, slang, antisemitic and chauvinistic vocabulary, and racist and ethnic slurs. Includes scholarly essays by each of the authors, as well as supplementary information such as a list of the major concentration camps, military, government, and party ranks, the words to famous Nazi songs, and other Nazi indoctrination texts. Also provides a bibliography of related works.

  • Paechter, Heinz. Nazi-Deutsch: A Glossary of Contemporary German Usage, With Appendices On Government, Military, and Economic Institutions. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1944. (Reference PF 3689 .P35 1944) [Find in a library near you]

    One of the earliest dictionaries of Nazi terminology, originally compiled for the Office of European Economic Research. Based on German newspapers of the time, German military dictionaries, and the writings of Hitler, Goebbels, and others. Includes an introduction on “the spirit and structure of totalitarian language,” and a special appendix on terminology relating to Nazi philosophy and “Weltanschauung.”

  • Rademacher, Michael. Abkürzungen des Dritten Reiches: ein Handbuch für deutsche und englische Historiker. (Abbreviations in Use in the Third Reich: A Handbook for German and English Historians.) Vechta: M. Rademacher, 2000. (Reference DD 256.47 K33 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    A bilingual dictionary of more than 3,500 abbreviated terms used in official correspondence and reports during the Third Reich. Explains abbreviations in both German and English. Includes terminology from the state administration, Nazi party, and military areas. Based on the “C.I. Handbook” used by allied counterintelligence during World War II.

  • Wires, Richard. Terminology of the Third Reich. Muncie, IN: Ball State University, 1985. (Reference DD 256.5 .W57 1985) [Find in a library near you]

    A concise dictionary of terms and phrases used by the Nazis, meant to aid the user in understanding German terms that often are not explained or left untranslated in historical writings. Provides an annotation with a brief historical explanation for each term, including important geographical names.

German

  • Eitz, Thorsten, and Georg Stötzel. Wörterbuch der Vergangenheitsbewältigung: die NS-Vergangenheit im öffentlichen Sprachgebrauch. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms Verlag, 2007. (DD 256.48 .E48 2007) [Find in a library near you]

    Explores the past and present usage of a selection of terms relevant to or used by the Nazi regime. Contains excerpts from newspapers, political speeches, and other published materials to illustrate how terms were commonly used at a particular time. Includes a comprehensive bibliography and an index.

  • Peters, Ludwig. Volkslexikon Drittes Reich: Die Jahre 1933-1945 in Wort und Bild. Tübingen: Grabert, 1994. (Reference DD 256.5 .P439 1994) [Find in a library near you]

    Combines the features of a dictionary and encyclopedia to provide information on important geographical and personal names, Nazi terminology, and acronyms and abbreviations often used in Nazi correspondence and official communications.

  • Schmitz-Berning, Cornelia. Vokabular des Nationalsozialismus. Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1998. (DD 256.5 .S35 H3 1998) [Find in a library near you]

    A comprehensive vocabulary of Nazi terminology. Provides a brief explanation of each term followed by excerpts from Nazi literature, reports and public speeches in which the term is used. Includes an extensive bibliography arranged by type of source and time period.

Additional Resources

Subject Headings

To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on Nazi terminology and language, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:

  • German language–Political aspects–Germany
  • German language–Social aspects–Germany
  • German language–Style
  • Hitler, Adolf, 1889-1945–Language
  • Language and languages–Political aspects
  • Linguistics–Germany–History–20th century
  • Nazi propaganda

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