Language of National Socialism

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The language of National Socialism describes a vocabulary of the German language and a certain public rhetoric , which was often used during the time of National Socialism and which strongly influenced the use of language in the Nazi state . It contains new creations of words as well as changed meanings for existing words. Both were partly created ( coined ) intentionally , partly naturalized without reflection.

Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels are considered to be the leading representatives of this language. For the most part, they acted as demagogues with their speech attacks and systematically used the mass media for their Nazi propaganda , so that their speaking style and vocabulary spread widely and prevailed in many public areas.

In today's analyzes of this language it is discussed to what extent the National Socialist linguistic usage already allows conclusions to be drawn about the political goals and intentions of the speakers.

With the emergence of Pegida and the founding of the AfD , terms from the language of National Socialism are being used again.

Special features

Nazi propaganda
Poland, arrested Jewish woman
Description: “Jewish female shotgun as leader of common murder bandits. This Warsaw ghetto Jew named Bajla Gelblung was picked up
by the German troops near Brest-Litowsk . She tried to flee in the uniform of a Polish soldier and was recognized as the leader of one of the cruelest murder gangs. Despite her genuinely Jewish cheek, she did not succeed in denying the acts. ”Date of
issue: 21 September 1939 The East German author Johannes Bobrowski wrote a poem about this source in 1961: Report Bajla Gelbung, / escaped in Warsaw / a transport from the ghetto, / the girl / went through the woods, / armed, the partisan / was arrested / in Brest-Litowsk, / was wearing a military coat (Polish), / was interrogated by Germans / officers, there is / a photo that the officers are young / People, impeccably uniformed / with impeccable faces, / their posture / is impeccable.
  • The language under National Socialism often contained superlatives and emphasized the “size” of individual people and / or their achievements with words such as “unique”, “unique”, “gigantic”, “historical”, “total”, “enormous” etc. In 1940, after the quick victory over France, Hitler was addressed by Keitel as the “Greatest General of All Time”. (Later mockingly referred to internally as " Gröfaz " by officers .)
  • In order to underline its claim to modernity and actual obsession with technology, National Socialism often used terms from the ever more widespread electrical engineering in irrelevant contexts (“ connection ”, “ synchronization ”).
  • Expressions from scientific or medical terminology were partly transferred to other areas and thus received a different meaning. In this way reinterpreted in a pseudo-scientific way , statements should appear scientifically sound, i.e. objective and rational. Among other things, groups of people were referred to as " cancerous ulcers ", and Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was rendered in a twisted way in a kind of Spartan worldview .
  • Non-judgmental technical and factual expressions often served as a euphemism to cover up and downplay plans for murder and cruel deeds. B. " Final solution to the Jewish question " for the intended annihilation of all Jews in the world or " special treatment " for deportation to concentration camps (which were officially represented as normal prisons), " annihilation of life unworthy of life " for Nazi murders , or " children's department " for Research into and killing of mentally retarded children.
  • The National Socialist propaganda adopted many terms, idioms and their language style from the field of religion , especially the ecclesiastical sacred language: z. B. Words like "forever", "creed", "salvation".
  • This was associated with public rituals that were similar to the church liturgy . The response call Sieg Heil of the “masses” to Hitler's speeches corresponded formally to the affirmative response of a community meeting to the liturgist.
  • Political opponents or minorities were often described by the National Socialists using animal metaphors , following the centuries-old tradition of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism . The racism used as comparisons of the pest . For example, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf : "The Jew is and remains the typical parasite , a parasite that spreads more and more like a harmful bacillus, and only invites a favorable breeding ground."
  • The subordinate position of the workers and employees of a company in relation to the company management was also made clear by the use of the term “allegiance” for the workforce ( see also: leadership principle ).
  • Abbreviations were used in an inflationary manner for new institutions, as if these institutions had long been known, e.g. BDM , HJ , JM , DJ , NSKK , NSFK , KdF , DAF etc.

Voice guidance and control

Leaflet of the Nazi Student Association , in 1933 the book burning was spread

The newly created Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (RMVP) took over the content control of the press , literature , visual arts , film , theater and music throughout Germany from March 1933 . It exercised control over almost all areas of culture and the media through the Reich Chamber of Culture founded in September 1933 . The Reich Press Chamber was one of its sub-organizations. Outside of the party's own media, the state apparatus could also be used to disseminate the Nazi ideology , as censorship or funding from the Ministry was able to achieve the Nazi party-compliant treatment of sports, cultural and interpersonal topics in feature films. The Reichsfilmkammer enforced its personnel policy right down to individual film productions.

The Nazi regime itself created the term language regulation for state language censorship and language manipulation . According to internal instructions from Joseph Goebbels, such censorship measures were not only given to the press but also the language to be used. Particularly for the persecution and extermination of the Jews , terms were prescribed that were intended to conceal the real purpose of the state measures for the German and foreign public. Often times, expressions that were deliberately played down, neutral or positive, were used for acts of terrorism and murder. They should appear in the area of ​​normality and prevent organized resistance against it.

Political goals of language use

The use of the vocabulary was aimed primarily at non-National Socialists. Non-members should be convinced of the aims of this party and the offices it holds. The language of National Socialism was only partially geared towards the internal effects of already convinced party members (PGs). The more the state apparatus could be used by the National Socialists, the more pronounced the vocabulary and other peculiarities of language usage became apparent in the life of the entire population. Often it was only the family where those who spoke could not feel surrounded by this language and the Nazi functionaries belonging to it. The grapevine and the private conversation were in the wartime constant threat of espionage by others. The list of goals here does not follow any system or chronology:

  • Use as a distinguishing feature of like-minded people (especially in the period before 1933)
  • Creation of an emotional togetherness and community of values
  • Inner-party formation and motivation of membership in order to prepare further measures against opponents or groups of people to be persecuted, heard in an extreme way in Heinrich Himmler's secret " Posen Speeches " of October 1943 to retrospectively justify the Holocaust .
  • Exclusion of dissidents, intimidation
  • After the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944 , the Hitler salute was made mandatory for the Wehrmacht in order to show their loyalty to Hitler. Until then, the Wehrmacht was one of the few areas within which one could get around the personality cult associated with it (but see the Oath of Leader ).
  • Propaganda of the partisan goals, in particular through the party press ( Völkischer Beobachter , The Attack ; for more see the party publisher Franz-Eher-Verlag , Munich, which was the head of a large press group) and through the propaganda newspaper Der Stürmer
  • to avoid substantive argumentation, almost in the literal sense of a homicide argument

Representations and analyzes


Karl Kraus ' Third Walpurgis Night was written as early as 1933 , which consistently contrasts the language of National Socialist propaganda with Goethe's world of thought and, based on the analysis of National Socialist language, comes to a consistent prediction of further developments. Even if Kraus quoted from it extensively (substantial parts appear in the essay Why the torch does not appear in Die Fackel , Vol. 890-905), he refrained from publishing the work that had already been set at the last moment, so that the Third Walpurgis Night only posthumously in 1952 appeared.

Literary studies

The linguist and literary scholar Victor Klemperer (1881-1960) created his work LTI - notebook of a philologist (published 1947) an inventory of the language in Germany between 1933 and 1945. The book's title was a parody on the abbreviatitis the Nazis: LTI stood for Lingua Tertii Imperii (Latin), meaning "language of the Third Reich". Klemperer advocated the thesis that it was not so much individual speeches, leaflets , words or the like that made the greatest impression on the population, but rather the stereotypical repetitions of the whole torrent of words. They led to a constant influence in the sense of a suggestion .

Between 1945 and 1948, Dolf Sternberger , Gerhard Storz and Wilhelm E. Süskind wrote similar language-critical articles about the Nazi language for the magazine Die Wandlung . In 1957 these were published as a book under the title From the Dictionary of the Unhuman . The author HG Adler wrote several critical articles for the magazine Mutterssprache .


Charles Chaplin's film The Great Dictator 1940 is a Hitler parody and satire to the Nazi regime. Chaplin alienated the names of the politicians and states involved, but adopted Nazi terms such as “ race ”, “ ghetto ” and “ concentration camp ” in plain language. The speeches of the main character Hynkel (Hitler) are given in a completely incomprehensible made-up language, in Tomaniac . But the aggressive tone, the staccato , facial expressions and gestures of the speaker make the figure of Hitler unmistakable and suggest the brutal content and purpose of his sentences. With this, Chaplin made an early contribution to the analysis of the National Socialists' linguistic style.


Since 1973, the Austrian actor Helmut Qualtinger has been reading from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf , which have also been released as a phonogram.


  • Victor Klemperer : LTI - Lingua Tertii Imperii. Philologist's notebook . 15th edition. Reclam, Leipzig 1996, ISBN 3-379-00125-2 ; Book guild Gutenberg, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-7632-5492-7 (1st edition, Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1947).
  • Dolf Sternberger , Gerhard Storz , Wilhelm Emanuel Süskind : From the dictionary of the monster. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1989, ISBN 3-548-34335-X (1st edition, Claassen, Hamburg 1957).
  • Joseph Wulf : From the lexicon of murderers. “Special treatment” and related words in National Socialist documents . Mohn, Gütersloh 1963.
  • Sigrid Frind: The language as a propaganda instrument of the national socialism . In: mother tongue . 76, 1966, ISSN  0027-514X , pp. 129-135.
  • Charlie Chaplin : The roots of my comedy . In: General independent Jewish weekly newspaper . March 3, 1967, ISSN  0002-5941 , abbreviated in: Jüdische Allgemeine. Weekly newspaper for politics, culture, religion and Jewish life . April 12, 2006, ISSN  1618-9698 , p. 54.
  • Gerhard Lange: Language reform and language reform in Hitler's speeches. In: Native 78, Issue 11, 1968, p 342-349.
  • Siegfried Bork: abuse of language. Tendencies of National Socialist language regulation. Francke, Bern et al. 1970.
  • Michael Kinne (Ed.): National Socialism and the German Language . Working materials on the use of German during the National Socialist rule. Diesterweg, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1981, ISBN 3-425-06294-8 ( communication / language ).
  • Utz Maas : "When the spirit of community found a language". Language in National Socialism. Attempt to analyze historical arguments. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1984, ISBN 3-531-11661-4 .
  • Wolf Oschlies : Theory and empiricism of the "Lagerszpracha" . In: Contemporary History . No. 1, 1985, ZDB -ID 2564047-1 , pp. 1-27 ( summary on ).
  • Gerhard Bauer: Language and Speechlessness in the “Third Reich”. Bund-Verlag, Cologne 1988, ISBN 3-7663-3097-7 .
  • Karl-Heinz Brackmann, Renate Birkenauer: Nazi German. "Self-evident" terms and catchphrases from the time of National Socialism. Edited by the European College of Translators . Straelener Manuskripte, Straelen 1988, ISBN 3-89107-021-7 ( Glossary 4); New edition ibid. 2015.
  • Ulrich Ulonska: Suggestion of credibility. Investigations into Hitler's rhetorical self-expression between 1920 and 1933 . Verlag an der Lottbek, Ammersbek 1990, ISBN 3-926987-46-4 ( Scientific contributions from European universities . Series 17: Rhetorik 1), (At the same time: Göttingen, Univ., Diss., 1990).
  • Werner Bohleber, Jörg Drews (ed.): "Poison that you drink unconsciously ...". National Socialism and the German Language. Aisthesis-Verlag, Bielefeld 1991, ISBN 3-925670-37-8 ( Breuninger-Kolleg 1).
  • Ulrich Nill: The "ingenious simplification". Anti-intellectualism in ideology and language use in Joseph Goebbels. Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1991, ISBN 3-631-43870-2 ( Language in Society 18), (At the same time: Tübingen, Univ., Diss., 1991).
  • Johannes G. Pankau (Ed.): Rhetoric in National Socialism. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1997, ISBN 3-484-60411-5 ( Rhetoric 16).
  • Cornelia Schmitz-Berning: Vocabulary of National Socialism . de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 1998, ISBN 3-11-013379-2 ( Review by Jutta Lindenthal at the Fritz-Bauer-Institut ( Memento from May 26, 2006 in the Internet Archive ). Alternatively: Review by Jutta Lindenthal in Fritz-Bauer- Institute (ed.), Newsletter No. 16, 8th year, spring 1999. ISSN  1437-6288 .)
  • Stefan Moritz: Grüß Gott and Heil Hitler. Catholic Church and National Socialism in Austria. Picus-Verlag, Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-85452-462-5 .
  • Christian A. Braun: National Socialist style of language. Theoretical approach and practical analyzes on the basis of a pragmatic, text-linguistic style . Winter, Heidelberg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8253-5381-0 ( Language - Literature and History 32), (At the same time: Munich, Univ., Diss., 2007).
  • Thorsten Eitz, Georg Stötzel: Dictionary of " coming to terms with the past". The Nazi past in public usage Georg Olms, Hildesheim et al. 2007, ISBN 978-3-487-13377-5 .
  • Wolfgang Ayaß : "Accordingly, anti-social, for example ..." On the language of social exclusion under National Socialism. In: Contributions to the history of National Socialism . 28, 2012, pp. 69-89.
  • Matthias Heine : Burned words. Where we still talk like the Nazis - and where not. Dudenverlag, Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3-411-74266-0 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The language of the Nazis is creeping back ( memento from August 31, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) rbb , October 16, 2016, replaced by, August 28, 2018.
  2. Article language regulation . In: Enzyklopädie des Holocaust , Volume III, Piper 1998, pp. 1361 f.