Glossary of the Third Reich

From Academic Kids

This is a list of words, terms, concepts, and slogans that were used in Nazi Germany. Some words were coined by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi Party members. Other words and concepts were borrowed and appropriated. Yet other terms were already in use during the Weimar Republic. Finally, some are taken from Germany's Cultural tradition.


Contents: Top - 0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • agrarpolitischer Apparat (aA) – Agrarian Apparatus; Agricultural Affairs Bureau of the NSDAP.
    • Leadership hierarchy: Reichsleitungsfachberater held by Walther Darré; Gaufachberater; Bezirksfachberater; Kreisfachberater; Ortsgruppenfachberater.
    • Agents: LVL; Landesfachberater (consultants).
    • Administrative: Hilfsreferenten (staff members); Sachbearbeiter (aides); Hilfsreferenten responsible for day-to-day propaganda campaign.
  • Aktion T4 – code name for the extermination of mentally ill and handicapped patients by the Nazi authorities. (Named after Tiergartenstrasse 4, the address of Nazi Central Office in Berlin.)
  • Altreichold state or country; term used to describe Germany before the annexation of Austria.
  • Amtsleiter – convener of NSDAP Party committees. They were personally answerable to Hitler.
  • Anschluss (Anschluß) – annexation, in particular the annexation of Austria in 1938.
  • Anti-Comintern Pact -- the agreement by Germany, Japan and Italy to oppose the Communist International (the Comintern).
  • anti-semitism
  • Arbeit macht frei – "Work makes free", an old German peasant saying. Unluckily placed above the gate to Auschwitz by the commandant Höss. It was not created by the Nazis.
  • Arbeitnehmerschaft – workforce. The Nazis took this word to mean both manual and mental workers.
  • "Arbeitertum der Faust und der Stirn" – "Workers of both manual and mental labor"; the Nazi Party self description as an "all-inclusive workers' party" (a term originally designed to carry anti-Communist overtones).


  • Beefsteak Nazi – SA term for the Strasser wing; brown on the outside and red on the inside. (7)
  • Bekennende Kirche – "Confessional Church" or better "Professing Church". The Orthodox and fundamentalist Protestant churches that resisted Nazification.
  • Berufskammern – Nazi's professional organizations
  • Bezirksleiter – NSDAP district leaders
  • Blitzkrieg – lightning war - quick army invasions aided by tanks and airplanes;
  • Blockleiter – lowest official of the NSDAP, responsible for the political supervision of a (city) block, usually 40 to 60 households.
  • Blut und Boden – "Blood and soil". Slogan adopted by the Nazis; it was originally coined by the German Social Democrat August Winnig, cf. his Das Reich als Republik 1918-1928, (Stuttgart and Berlin: Cotta, 1928), pg 3.
  • bodenständiger Kapitalismus – productive capitalism (as opposed to unproductive capitalism) was a Nazi economic concept.
  • Brown Creed – term for Nazism
  • Brown House – national HQ of the NSDAP opened 1931; Hitler purchased the Barlow Palace which was the old Italian embassy when Bavaria was an independent state.
  • Braunhemden (Brownshirts) – the SA; the leadership obtained khaki shirts that were supposed to be sent to the German troops stationed in colonies in Africa.
  • Bund Deutscher Mädel – NSDAP League of German Girls; It had three million members in 1937.



  • Das Schwarze KorpsThe Black Corps; SS "theoretical" journal
  • Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP) – German Workers Party started by railway workers in Bohemia, Austria and Munich Germany. These were the starter groups that evovled into the DNSAP and the NSDAP in their respective countries.
  • Deutsche Christen – the "de-judaized" Christian church; those who were "Nazified". They removed the whole Old Testament from the Bible.
  • Deutscher Frauenorden (DFO) – German Women's Order; The leader was Elsbeth Zander.
  • Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei (DNSAP) – the Austrian German National Socialist Workers Party.
  • "Die Juden sind unser Unglück" -- A Nazi slogan meaning, "The Jews are our misfortune."
  • Diktat – as in the Versailles Diktat. It was a sign of the German contempt for the Versailles Treaty.
  • Drang nach Osten – "Drive to the east", the historic German desire to expand into Slavic lands
  • Drittes ReichThird Reich or third empire. Möller van den Bruck coined this term for his book Das Dritte Reich published in 1923. The term "Third Reich" was a reference to the "First Reich" (the Holy Roman Empire, beginning with Charlemagne) and the "Second German Reich" (the German Empire, 1871 - 1918)


  • Eher Verlag – the Nazi Party's official publishing house
  • Ehrenliste der Ermordeten der Bewegung – Nazi honor roll of those who fought and died for the party before it came to power in January 1933.
  • Einsatzgruppen – armies formed mostly by volunteers that went after the Wehrmacht and SS batallions to the Eastern Front to mass-murder Jewish people and others whom the Nazis hated.
  • Endlösung – "final solution", short for "final solution to the Jewish question" (or "... problem"), a Nazi euphemism for the Holocaust; use of the phrase, even in non-Nazi contexts, e.g., "the final solution of a mathematics problem" is frowned upon in modern Germany.
  • Endlösung der Judenfrage – "final solution to the Jewish question"; see Endlösung, above.
  • Entartete Kunst – degenerate art; term used as the title of an art show consisting of modern and other "degenerate" art.
  • Erbhofgesetz – the 1933 NSDAP hereditary farm law; it guaranteed family farm holdings of three hundred acres (1.2 km²) or less.
  • Ermächtigungsgesetz – "Law to Relieve the Distress of the People and Reich"; Enabling Act of March 23, 1933
  • Ersatz – a substitute product. Germany did not have an easy access to some strategic materials. German scientist had to research how to produce artificial rubber (Buna), for example.


  • Fraktur – a fashion of blackletter popularly associated to Nazi Germany, though the blackletter typefaces were forbidden by Hitler in 1941 on grounds of it being Jewish.
  • Frontgemeinschaft – front line community. It was termed for the solidarity felt by the German soldiers of WWI in the trench warfare.
  • Führer – leader. Adolf Hitler was called "Der Führer".
  • Führerprinzip – the leader principle
  • Führerstaat – the concept of Hitler's dictatorship of one-man rule


  • Gau, pl. Gaue – territory divided into NSDAP regional districts.
    • Bezirk – districts
      • Kreise – counties or subdistricts; smaller units of the Bezirk
        • Ortsgruppen – Party branch or local branches. It took a minumum of fifteen members to be recognized.
          • Hauszellen – tenement cells
          • Strassenzellen – street cells
          • Stützpünkte – strong points
  • Gauleiter – leader of a gau. They had to swear personal loyality to the Führer. It was also handed out as an honorary title to deserving party members.
  • Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) – The Nazi Party secret police. Gestapo is made of the initials from this word: Geheime Staatspolizei.
  • Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz – "The common good before the private good"; Rudolf Jung popularized it in his book Der Nationale Sozialismus, 1922, 2nd edition. This became Hitler's basic stance on the subordination of the economy to the national interest. (6)
  • Gleichschaltung – the restructuring of German society and government into streamlined, centralized hierarchies of power, with the intention of gaining total control and coordination of all aspects of society
  • Godwin's law – any perceived injustice is too often and too quickly equated to one of the horrors of history
  • Golden pheasants – derogatory term Germans used for high-ranking Nazi Party members. The term derived from the brown and red uniforms worn at official functions and rallies by party members that resembled the brilliant colors of a male pheasant.
  • Goosestep – a ceremonial marching form of many countries especially of the ones in cold climates. (Germany and Russia) The vigorous marching helps keep the participants warm. The form consists of stepping forward without bending the knees. After the Nazi’s use of it in their parades it was later used when referring to other totalitarian governments.
  • Gröfaz – mocking acronym for Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten ("greatest general of all time"), an appellation of Hitler
  • Grossraumwirtschaft – contintental economic zone similar to Lebensraum


  • Hakenkreuzswastika
  • Herrenvolk – master race
  • Heimatvertriebene
  • HIB-Aktion – "Into the Factories Campaign"; a part of the Nazi campaign to recruit factory workers.
  • Hitlerism is another term for Nazism.
  • Hitlerproleten – "Hitler's proletariat"; what the Berlin working class Nazis called themselves (to distinguish themselves from the rest of the proletariat). (8)
  • Hitler salute – Used when addressing Hitler, higher ranking officers or the Empire.
  • Hitler Youth or Hitlerjugend in German – A youth organization founded by the Nazis.
  • Hoheitsabzeichen, or more specific Hoheitsadler or Reichsadler – national insignia (eagle and swastika). See Federal Coat of Arms of Germany.


  • Illustrierter Beobachter – NSDAP national tabloid


  • Jackboot – the German military footwear that guarded against the cold, mud, brambles and barbed wire. They were boots that reached up above the knee. Americans had gaiters and the British had puttees. It is a metaphorical term used to connote a totalitarian police state.
  • Judenrat – Jewish council. The Gestapo established judenrats in ghettoes to have them carry out necessary duties.
  • jüdische Grundspekulationsgesellschaften – Hitler's slang term for Jewish property speculation companies
  • Jungvolk – NSDAP young male association


  • Kameradschafts- und Gemeinschaftsstärkung – strengthening or comradeship and community; Nazi party Gleichschaltung of social institutions
  • Kapo (Cabo) – Privileged inmates of concentration camps, mostly common criminals. They had to oversee the work of the other inmates and were responsible for the results. Mainly brutal and mean criminals like murderers were assigned as Kapo.
  • Kommando – in general a group with a special assignment
  • Konzentrationslager often abbreviated KZ for concentration camp; in German the word is distinct from Vernichtungslager, "death camp"; in (American) English, the distinction is not usually made. The correct abbreviation would be KL, but KZ is chosen for the tougher sound.
  • Kraft durch Freude (KdF) – "strength through joy", state-sponsored programs intended to organize people's free time, offering cheap holidays, concerts, other leisure activities, and (unsuccessfully) a car (Kdf-Schiff, KdF-Wagen).
    • It was initially called Nach der Arbeit.
  • Kraut – a slang term for Germans applied by Allied soldiers.
  • KreditschöpfungstheorieGregor Strasser's idea for government spending and credit creation.
  • Kriegserlebnis – (myth of the) war experience
  • Kristallnacht or Reichskristallnacht -- Crystal Night ; referrs to the "Night of Broken Glass", Nov. 9-10, 1938, when mob violence against Jewish people broke out all over Germany.


  • Landwirtschaftliche Gaufachberater – NSDAP agricultural conventions; first one held in Feb. 8, 1931. They held Bauernkundgebung (farmer's rallies).
  • Landwirtschaftliche Vertrauensleute (LVL) – NSDAP agrarian agents; used to infiltrate other agricultural/husbandry/rural organizations to spread Nazi influence and doctrine.
  • Landwirtschaftlicher Fachberater – expert consultant on agriculture that was assigned to every NSDAP gau and Ort unit.
  • Lebensborn -- "Fountain of Life Society"; a human breeding plan intended to expand the "Aryan race". Gave aid to unmarried women who bore children by "Aryan" fathers. Especially "productive" mothers were awarded an honor pin: the Mutterkreuz.
  • Lebensraum – "Living space", specifically living space for ethnic Germans and generally referring to territories to be seized in Eastern Europe; see Drang nach Osten
  • Leistungsgemeinschaft – performance community; part of the Nazi Gleichschaltung of social institutions
  • Luftwaffe – military air force


  • Männerbund – bond of men; it was a distinctly masculinist mystiqe which became an essential part of SA ideology.
  • Mein Kampf – "My Battle", Adolf Hitler's autobiography and political statement
  • Militärbefehlshaber – military commander for Belgium and northeastern France
  • "Mit brennender Sorge (" -- A letter by the Pope warning against the Nazis.
  • Mussulman – “an immate who had resigned himself to death and lost the will to do anything to help himself survive”. (1)
  • Mutterkreuz -- a special cross awarded on three levels to all mothers "of favorable standing" who fulfilled the baby quota. A bronze medal was bestowed on mothers with four or five children, a silver one for six or seven children, and finally a gold one for eight or more children.



  • Old fighters – Nazi Party members who joined the party before the Beer Hall Putsch.
  • Ordensburgen – NSDAP training schools
  • Ordnungsdienst -- order service, ghetto police made up of Jewish ghetto residents.
  • Ordnertruppen – first name of the group created in the fall of 1920 by Hitler
    • Sportabteilung – Sports section (SA); the second name of the group.
    • Sturmabteilung (SA) – Storm troopers. NSDAP paramilitary group; the third name in late 1921.
  • OstmarkAustria as part of the German Empire after the Anschluß


  • Pan-Germanism – The idea that all Germans should live in one country.
  • Panzer, (military) – "Tank"; not specific to Third Reich, but listed here for its centrality to Blitzkrieg
  • Partei-Statistik – 1935 Nazi Party three volume publication of membership data
  • Planwirtschaft – a limited planned economy; Walther Funk promoted this idea within the Nazi party who thought genuine corporatism too stifling for business growth
  • Plötzensee – a place in Berlin, site of a notorious prison where Hitler's opponents were put to death.
  • Putsch -- German word meaning coup or revolt; has also entered the English language meaning the same.


  • Quisling -- A pejorative meaning "traitor", during WWII commonly used as an insult directed at a citizen who collaborated with the Germans in one of the conquered nations. The term was taken from Vidkun Quisling, the pro-Nazi illegitimate Norwegian leader.


  • Rasse – race, breed
  • Rassenschande – "miscegenation"; a Nazi term for sexual conduct or liaison between an Aryan and a Jew.
  • Rednerschule der NSDAP – National Socialist Speaker's School
  • Reich – Empire
  • Reichsbauernführer – National Farmers' Leader; title given to Darré
  • Reichskonferenz – national caucus; national caucuses held by the Austrian Deutsche Arbeiterpartei before WWI.
  • Reichsleitung – national leadership; members of the NSDAP Party Directorate. They all swore personal loyalty to the Führer.
  • Reichsmark (RM) – German money
  • Reichsmordwoche, Nacht der langen Messer – "Reich Murder Week", "Night of the Long Knives" of June–July 1934 during which Hitler assassinated hundreds of party-internal opponents, especially the SA, which was decapitated of its leadership.
  • Reichsschrifttumkammer – the Nazi Chamber of Literature. Hanns Johst was president.
  • Reichsstatthalter – Reich Governor; after the seizure of power in 1933, local governments were dissolved and the gauleiters were appointed to govern the states with full powers.
  • Reichstag (Imperial Diet; see Reichstag (building) and Reichstag (institution))
  • Revolution der Gesinnung – a revolution of feeling; the concept that the German people would not only develop a purified race but also a new mind and spirit. It was about, in Hitler's words, "to create a new man". (5)


  • Schönheit der Arbeit – Beauty of Labor program
  • Schutzstaffel (SS) – Defense Squads; Hitler's personal body guard unit which was also a paramilitary group. "SS" is formed from (S)chutz(s)taffel. They wore totally black uniforms.
    • Allgemeine-SS – general body of the Schutzstaffel consisting of full-time, part-time, and honorary members.
    • SS Totenkopfverbände – Death's-head units.
    • Verfügungstruppe – "ready" action troops organized by the SS in 1938.
    • Waffen-SS – later name of the Verfügungstruppe.
  • Sieg Heil! – "Hail to Victory", mass exclamation when bringing the Hitlergruß (Hitler Greeting).
  • Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd.Kfz.) – Special purpose motor vehicle; used to refer to tanks and other military vehicles.
  • Sprechabend – closed Nazi party meetings
  • Sprachregelung – a special language that masked the camp conditions and the policy of extermination. It took the words "extermination", "killing", "liquidation"; and substituted for them, the euphemisms: "final solution", "evacuation", "special treatment", "resettlement", "labour in the East". It was developed to deceive victims and to assist SS officials to avoid having to face reality. (2)
  • Ständesozialismus – corporative (or "corporate") socialism; promoted by O. W. Wagener, sometime head of the political economy section of the party organization.
  • Stosstrupp – Hitler's body guard unit before the Hitlerputsch; forerunner to the SS.
  • Strasser wing – named after Gregor Strasser who lead the left wing of the Nazi Party.
  • Stücke – pieces. A Sprachregelung term for Jews and other undesirables that dehumanized them. (They were no longer humans or persons but pieces.)
  • Thule Gesellschaft – "Thule Society". The Nazis sought themes for their ideology in the Occult and the Germanic and Nordic traditions.
  • Sturmabteilung (SA)


  • Turnvereine – German and Austrian calisthenic leagues. They were identically dressed men and women making identical movements in mass performance.


  • Übermensch – (lit. "higher human", or "over-human") an idea appropriated from the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and used by certain Nazis to describe the racially superior Germanic "Aryan" people.
    • Untermensch – (lit. "lower human" or "under-human") corollary of the term Übermensch, but reversed as a label given to peoples considered racially inferior to the "Aryans".
  • unzuverlässige Elemente – unreliable societal elements (Jews, communists, homosexuals, etc.)
  • Überwachungsdienst – surveillance service of the aA to protect the organization against Konjunkturritter (financial opportunists).
  • U-Bahn (abbreviated form of Untergrundbahn, lit. "underground railway") – subway
  • U-Boot (abbreviated form of Unterseeboot, lit. "underwater boat") – submarine
  • Umschlagplatz – (lit. "changing place") place of assembly. Kapos were told to collect Jews and bring them to this designated spot for pick up and transfer to the death trains.
  • Uschla – arbitration committee of the NSDAP Party Directorate


  • V-1 and V-2 – "Vergeltungswaffen" weapons of repayment, Missiles used to attack Britain and other countries controlled by the Allies.
  • Vernichtungslager – extermination camps. This word was never used by the nazis themselves.
  • Volk – People, folk, or nation.
  • Völkischer Beobachter – the official Nazi Party newspaper
  • Volkswagen – "people's car". Conceived during the mid 30s but reached its peak in the post war period.
  • Volksgemeinschaft – a concept that means national solidarity; popular ethnic community; classless folk community
  • Volkswirtschaft – a people's or national economy
  • von – an aristocratic appellation to German names though it does not always signify that class.


  • Wannsee Conference -- a conference held on January 20, 1942 beside Lake Wannsee near Berlin in which it was decided and made official Nazi policy that the total annihilation of European Jews was the only rational means of a "Final Solution" to the Jewish Question.
  • Wehrbauern – soldier-peasant settlements that were to be established in the East to act as a defensive shield against the inroads of Slav barbarianism.
  • Weltanschauungskrieg – war of ideologies
  • Winterhilfe – Winter Relief Program of the Nazi Party to support its members during the Great Depression of 1932.
  • Wirtschaftspolitische Abteilung – 1931 WPA; A NSDAP proposed program
  • Wirtschaftliches Sofortprogramm – 1932 Economic Program; A NSDAP proposed program
  • Wirtschaftliches Aufbauprogramm – 1932 Economic Reconstruction Plan; A NSDAP proposed program
  • Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) – codename for Hitler's secret headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia (nowadays Kętrzyn, Poland).


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  • Zeppelin – The rigid airships were a symbol of the German air technology.
  • Zielstrebigkeit – goal fixation
  • Zusammenstösse — gang fights; the brawls between the various party paramilitary groups
  • Zwangswirtschaft – forced or compulsion economy
  • Zwischenstaatliche Vertretertagungen – interstate meetings of representatives; DNSAP and NSDAP party congresses of the early years; first one held in Salzburg, Austria.
  • 25-point program – The Nazi Party platform and a codification of its ideology.
  • 581 Abel autobiography – Weimar period Nazi Party membership data source

List of abbreviations and acronyms

See the glossary above for explanations of the terms.

  • aA – NSDAP Agrarian Apparatus
  • DAP – German Workers Party
  • DFO – German Women's Order
  • DNSAP – the Austrian German National Socialist Workers Party
  • Gestapo – The Nazi secret police
  • KdF – Strength through Joy
  • LVL – agrarian agents for the NSDAP
  • Nazi – Portmanteau for "National Socialist"
  • NSBO – National Socialist Factory Cell Organization
  • NSDAP – the National Socialist German Workers Party
  • NSF – NSDAP's Women's group
  • NSV – National Socialist People's Welfare
  • RBA – National Socialist Factory Cell Division
  • RM – Reichsmark
  • SA – NSDAP Storm troopers
  • SS – Hitler's body guard and extra NSDAP paramilitary group

See also


  • Brustein, William (1996). The Logic of Evil, The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925–1933 New Haven, CN: Yale University Press (p. 143).
  • Carsten, F. L. (1969). The Rise of Fascism Berkeley, CA: University of California Press (p. 83).
  • Mitcham, Samuel W., Jr. Why Hitler? The Genesis of the Nazi Reich. Westport, CT: Praeger (p. 120).
  • Payne, Stanley G. (1995). A History of Fascism 1914–1945. University of Wisconsin Press (pp 55, 180).
  • Phillips, Peter (1969, 1970). The Tragedy of Nazi Germany. New York: Praeger Publishers (pp. 193, 179).
  • Turner, Henry A. (1972). Nazism and the Third Reich. New York, NY: Quadrangle Books, NY Times Co. (p. 41).

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