Encyclopedia of National Socialism

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The Encyclopedia of National Socialism is an encyclopedia about the time of National Socialism and its processing, which was first published in 1997. It was edited by Wolfgang Benz , Hermann Graml and Hermann Weiß . The book was first published by Klett-Cotta and then by dtv .


In their own words, the editors wanted to collect “all the necessary information about organizations, about events and terms, about facts and data of the National Socialist ideology and its realization in the Nazi state”, based on the current state of research. In total, over 132 authors from German and foreign-speaking countries worked on this edition, including Ian Kershaw , Marie-Luise Recker , Hermann Glaser , Ágnes Ságvári and Bernd-Jürgen Wendt.

The third edition from 1997 consists of three parts. The first part (manual) provides an overview with (initially 22) 25 essays , followed by a subject lexicon with around 1,400 articles and finally an annotated list of persons with a good 1,100 annotated short biographies relating to the first two parts. The facts are illustrated by numerous illustrations, maps and graphics. An expanded new edition was published in 2007.

The range of topics in the essays now includes a. “Führer and Hitler Cult” (Author: Ian Kershaw ), “Propaganda” (Winfried Ranke), “Racial Policy and Genocide ” ( Konrad Kwiet ), “Foreign Policy” ( Bernd-Jürgen Wendt ), “Justice and Internal Administration” (Ernst Ritter) , "Wehrmacht" ( Gerd R. Ueberschär ), "Economy" (Werner Bührer), "Social Policy" ( Marie-Luise Recker ), "Science" ( Michael Grüttner ), "Art" (various authors), "Churches and Religion" ( Kurt Nowak ), "Youth" ( Rolf Schörken ), "Women" ( Ute Frevert ), "Sport" (Wolf-Dieter Mattausch), "Technology" (Karl-Heinz Ludwig), "Persecution" ( Ludwig Eiber ), " Emigration ”(Marie-Luise Kreuter),“ Resistance ”( Hermann Graml ),“ World War 1939–1945 ”(Thomas Bertram) and“ Sources on National Socialism ”( Heinz Boberach ).


Based on the third edition, a CD-ROM was first published in 1998 . It is Volume 25 of the Digital Library of Direct Media . At the request of some editors of the print edition, printing errors have been eliminated and errors corrected. The wording of the two editions can therefore differ in detail. The digital encyclopedia also consists of the above three parts.

There are three permanent highlighter pens of different colors available for research, which make it possible to mark text passages. A list is automatically created for the marked passages.


Critics rated the user-friendly, easy-to-use, clear form of presentation in the encyclopedia as positive. It will meet its own standards. Friedemann Needy called the encyclopedia “a really comprehensive reference work that will set standards” and “become a standard work”. Nevertheless it has gaps; Completeness cannot be achieved in view of the complexity of the topic.

In the third edition, the third part in particular was criticized. Individual biographies of personalities with partly relevant life histories under National Socialism were missing in the person register. On the other hand, however, people would be listed together with superfluous information who cannot be directly connected with National Socialism, such as Johann Sebastian Bach , Ludwig van Beethoven , Georg Büchner , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or Friedrich Barbarossa . The reason for this is that they were mentioned in the first or second part. This creates the impression of randomness in the selection of people.

In the first part of the third edition of the encyclopedia, it was criticized that people were quoted, but the work from which the corresponding quotation is not listed in the literature appendix. It has also been argued that essays that look at certain aspects from only one point of view are not suitable for an encyclopedia.

In the lexicon part of the third edition, the unbalanced choice of keywords was criticized, since important keywords such as the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials and their initiator Fritz Bauer are not mentioned. In contrast to this, rare terms such as Aviso Grille and Julleuchter are listed.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Encyclopedia of National Socialism, edited by Wolfgang Benz, Hermann Graml and Hermann Weiß. With numerous illustrations, maps and graphics, 3rd, corr. Edition: Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1998, digital edition, p. 8.
  2. a b Review by Rainer Bert, 1998 ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein , Berlin)
  3. ^ Ansgar Diller: Wolfgang Benz u. a. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of National Socialism. (PDF, 3 MB) In: Rundfunk und Geschichte , Volume 24, Issue 4 (1998), p. 270.
  4. Friedemann Needs: Comprehensive , Time , November 21, 1997th
  5. a b Review by Klaus Bleeck, 1998 (at bsz-bw.de)
  6. a b Caroline Harth: Wolfgang Benz's Encyclopedia of National Socialism
  7. www.klett-cotta.de