The personal lexicon for the Third Reich

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The Personal Lexicon for the Third Reich (2005)

The personal lexicon on the Third Reich by Ernst Klee , subtitled Wer war was before and after 1945, is a lexicon on the "social elite " from the time of National Socialism that has been published in several editions and by publishers . It first appeared in 2003.


The author Ernst Klee informed about "4300 articles in detail about the most important people from the judiciary, churches, business, journalism, science, medicine, police, charities culture Wehrmacht and transferring people from NSDAP , SA and SS ." In addition, whose careers after 1945 are shown, "as far as these could be found."

In the foreword to the result of his almost 25 years of research, Ernst Klee wrote:

“The usual encyclopedias omit NS functions. Or end résumés in 1933 to start over in 1945. There are no Nazis in this lexicon world, especially not in science . Thousands of biographies have been falsified ...

The path to historical truth leads through the archives. However, anyone who wants to understand documents from the Nazi era must take into account that the perpetrators used a cover language. "Securing" art means theft of art . "The child can be treated" means in the language of the Berlin " euthanasia" headquarters : it should be killed. "Prevention" means in the language of the police and the SS: people are taken to the concentration camp as a preventive measure . By " fighting partisans " we mean the annihilation of the civilian population, including women and children. Mass murder is described as »resettling«, »resettling«, »resettling« or as »evacuation«. "

As a substitute for the perpetrators' camouflage language, Ernst Klee listed a quote from 1941 by SS-Obersturmbannführer Arthur Liebehenschel in the foreword to his lexicon :

“In the lists of proposals for awarding war merit crosses to members of the SS who were involved in executions, the reason must be entered:› Carrying out special military tasks ‹. The word execution must not be used under any circumstances. "

From the careers of the perpetrators in the Federal Republic of Germany, for example, Klee identified six former SS leaders who became heads of a state criminal investigation office after 1945 . Or about the former "special judge" of the National Socialists, Eduard Dreher , who, as Ministerialrat in the Federal Ministry of Justice , ensured a paragraph in the penal code "who put all desk killers (for example top officials of the Reich Main Security Office ) out of prosecution."

"All reference works also contain errors," wrote Ernst Klee about his encyclopedia, especially since in judicial documents, for example, dates of birth changed from statement to statement or names were misspelled, or those involved in mass murder had real passports with new names issued at the end of the war .

The lexicon contains in the appendix a list of the SS ranks , a “ glossary of terms”, references to further literature or references to the respective source.


In his account of Medicine and National Socialism, the medical historian Robert Jütte ranks Klee's book in the group of six lexical works that provide information on socio-political and medical functional elites in the 20th century. In addition to four more scientifically oriented books, Jütte lists Ernst Klee's personal dictionary as well as Klee's book on the careers of German doctors before and after 1945:

“The more than 4,300 entries provide information on numerous medical professionals. In addition to life data, they contain, among other things, information on career path, functions in National Socialist organizations as well as short excerpts from publications and official assessments. "

But Jütte makes the following restriction:

“Klee's collection of materials [...] should be used with some caution, as the articles were often (almost unchanged) compiled from other compilations, often incorrectly in the historical context, often unsatisfactory in terms of information content and sometimes also tendentious. The Bishop of Mainz, Albert Stohr , for example, is hardly adequately described by a critical remark on denazification if his protest against the National Socialist murders is not mentioned. "

The Romance scholar Frank-Rutger Hausmann , who has produced a large number of publications on the history of the humanities in the Third Reich, also expressed himself rather negatively . Hausmann criticizes the “rather random” selection of the persons included in the lexicon, the lack of objectivity and Klee's striking “black and white painting”, which in many cases does not correspond to “the state of research”. Like Jütte, he recommends "using the personal dictionary with caution."

Supplementary works

The author used his extensive research material for three additional works of his own:

  • The cultural lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945 . Completely revised edition, Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-596-17153-8 (with 3600 entries).
  • Auschwitz. Perpetrators, accomplices, victims and what became of them. A dictionary of persons . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2013, ISBN 978-3-10-039333-3 ( eBook : ISBN 978-3-10-402813-2 ).
  • German medicine in the Third Reich. Careers before and after 1945 . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-10-039310-4 .

Bibliographical information


  • Willi Jasper : Lexicon / The assistants of mass murder. More than a “Who's Who” of the “Third Reich” - Ernst Klee has succeeded in creating a standard work . In: Die Zeit from February 28, 2007, online . last accessed on February 5, 2013.


Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Ernst Klee: Foreword , in: Das Personenlexikon… (see bibliographical information ), p. 5ff.
  2. ↑ The spine of the first Klee: Das Personenlexikon ... (see bibliographical information ).
  3. ^ Robert Jütte: Medicine and National Socialism. Balance sheet and perspectives of research , Göttingen 2011. S. 18f.
  4. ^ Ernst Klee: German Medicine in the Third Reich. Careers before and after 1945 . S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 2001, ISBN 3-10-039310-4 .
  5. ^ Robert Jütte: Medicine and National Socialism. Balance sheet and perspectives of research , Göttingen 2011. S. 18f.
  6. ^ Robert Jütte: Medicine and National Socialism. Balance sheet and perspectives of research , Göttingen 2011. p. 19.
  7. .
  8. Dirk van Laak : E. Klee: The culture lexicon to the Third Reich . In: H-Soz-Kult , May 25, 2007.
  9. Angelika Ebbinghaus: Uninhibited Researchers Review in: Die Zeit , No. 44, on October 25, 2001.