This is a list of words, terms, concepts, and slogans that have been
or are used by the German military. Ranks and translations of
nicknames for vehicles are included. Also included are some general
terms from the
German language found frequently in military jargon.
Some terms are from the general German cultural background, others are
given to show a change that was made before or after the
Some factories that were the primary producers of military equipment,
especially tanks , are also given. Contents
Wehrmacht military ranks
* Operation code names
* External links
* See also
* A-Stand — forward defensive gunner's position on aircraft.
* abgeschossen — shot down; destroyed by means of firing.
* Abschnitt — sector, district.
* Ablösungsdivision — relief division (1917), later renamed
Eingreif division (intervention division).
Abteilung (Abt.) — a battalion -sized unit of armor , artillery
or cavalry ; in other contexts a detachment or section .
* Abteilungsarzt — battalion physician
* Abteilungschef — battalion commander in artillery and cavalry
* Abteilungsführer — substitute battalion commander in artillery
and cavalry formations
* Abteilungsveterinär — battalion veterinarian
Abwehr — "defense"; as a shortening of Spionage
defense) the term referred to the counter-espionage service (German
Secret Service) of the German High Command, headed by Admiral Canaris
. Also an element in such compounds as Fliegerabwehr-Kanone
* Abzeichen — insignia ; badge of rank, appointment or
* Adlerangriff — "Eagle Attack"; term for projected "decisive
attack" by the
RAF Fighter Command
RAF Fighter Command under the direction of
Hermann Goering , instituted to gain control of the skies from the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force and soften Britain for the impending invasion forces
planned in Operation Seelöwe (Sea Lion). These attacks ultimately
failed and the air campaign is now known in the anglophone world as
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain .
Afrika Korps - the elite German mechanized force commanded by
Erwin Rommel which performed exemplary in Hitler's North African
campaigns between 1941-1943. Allied efforts to defeat Rommel were
notable and many historians believe that had Rommel convinced Hitler
to provide him with three additional divisions of tanks, he very well
could have gained command of the
Suez Canal in early 1942 and cut off
the vast supplies being sent from America to the
Soviet Union via the
Persian Gulf . In the end, the
Afrika Korps was defeated by combined
offensives from the British and Americans.
* Aggregat 4 (A4) — original name of the German V2 rocket .
* AGRU-Front — Technische Ausbildungsgruppe für Front U-Boote –
technical training group for front-line U-boats .
* AK — Alle Kraft (voraus), naval command for flank speed . Also
* Aal — "eel "; slang for torpedo .
* "Alarm!" —
U-boat order to activate the alarm and begin a crash
dive . Also "Fire!", "Air raid!" for
Luftwaffe fighter pilots, etc.
* Alarmtauchen — crash dive.
* "Alle Maschinen stop!" — naval command: "Stop all engines".
* "Alle Mann von Bord!" — naval command; "All hands, abandon
Allgemeine SS — "General SS", general main body of the
Schutzstaffel made up of the full-time administrative, security,
intelligence and police branches of the SS as well as the broader
part-time membership that turned out for parades, rallies and "street
actions" such as
Kristallnacht ; also comprised reserve and honorary
* Alte Hasen — "Old hares"; slang for military veterans who
survived front-line hardships.
Amerika Bomber - A spring 1942 aviation contract competition for a
Luftwaffe trans-oceanic range strategic bomber, only resulting in a
few completed prototype aircraft from two firms, and many advanced
designs that mostly remained on paper.
* Ami — German slang for an American soldier.
* Anton —
German spelling alphabet for A equivalent to Alpha (e.g.
Case Anton )
* Ärmelband — cuff title . Worn on the left sleeve, the title
contains the name of the wearer's unit or a campaign they are part of.
Cuff titles are still used in the German
Army and Luftwaffe.
* Amt — office, main office branch.
* Amt Mil — German
Army intelligence organization that succeeded
* Amtsgruppe Allgemeine Wehrmachtsangelegenheiten (Office of General
Military Affairs) - Department of the OKW responsible for general
military affairs. in 1938-39, this office was called the
Military Economics Staff).
* Angriff — attack.
* Angriffsmuster — attack pattern.
* Angriffsziel — attack objective.
* Ansatz (attack) – First World War military term, used in
National Socialist vocabulary in the same ways as the word Einsatz,
though less frequently; one referred to bringing a piece of equipment,
troops or a weapon "zum Ansatz" (into attack, or play).
Anschluss — unification of
Austria and Germany
* Armee — army, typically a numbered army.
* Armeeabteilung — command between a corps and an army , an
enlarged corps headquarters.
* Armeekorps — infantry corps.
Army Signals Officer, served on the
staff HQ of an Army.
* Armeeoberkommando — Field
Army Engineer Officer, served on the
staff HQ of an Army.
Army medical unit.
* Artillerie (Art.) — artillery .
* Atomwaffe — nuclear weapon .
* Atomkrieg — nuclear war .
* Aufbau Ost (Buildup East) - code name for the preparatory measures
taken amid great secrecy for the attack on the Soviet Union, now known
Operation Barbarossa .
* aufgelöst — "dissolved"; disbanded, written off the order of
* Aufklärung — reconnaissance .
Abteilung — reconnaissance unit or battalion, also
used to designate certain battalion-sized units.
* Aufklärungsgruppe (Aufkl.Gr.) - "
Reconnaissance group", an aerial
recon group of the Luftwaffe, e.g.
Aufklärungsgruppe 11 .
* "Auftauchen!" — "surface the boat".
* Auftragstaktik — mission-type tactics , the central component of
German warfare since the 19th century
* Aus der Traum — "It's over!", "It's finished!", literally, "The
dream is over"; a common German phrase for dashed hopes and a slogan
painted by German soldiers near the end of the war expressing the
inevitability of their situation.
* Ausführung (Ausf.) — version, model, variant, batch, for
non-aviation related vehicles and ordnance.
* Ausführung!/Ausführen! — command to execute a given order
* ausgefallen — Statement that equipment is down, has failed, is
out of action.
* Ausrüstung — equipment
* Ausschreitungen — bloody atrocities (see Greuelerzählungen).
* Auszeichnung — medal, accolade, distinction.
* außer Dienst (a.D.) — retired (literally: out of service)
* B-Stand — Dorsal (top of fuselage) defensive gunner's position
* Backbord (Bb) — Port side of a ship.
Balkenkreuz — equal-armed black cross flanked in white, the
emblem used on German Empire and
Third Reich military aircraft and
vehicles from March/April 1918 until
* Banditen — bandits, partisans in occupied territories in World
War II; bewaffnete Banden — armed gangs; Soldaten in Zivilkleidung
— soldiers in civilian dress; (see Franktireure).
* Bandengebiet — territory controlled by partisan squads in
occupied territories during World War II.
* Barbarossa (Red Beard) - code name for the massive
Soviet Union (
Operation Barbarossa ) which began during
June 1941 and failed miserably in the end despite early success.
Operation Barbarossa is the English rendering of the German
“Unternehmen Barbarossa.” Barbarossa or `Redbeard' (Frederick I)
lived from 1123 AD to 1190 and was both King of
Germany and Holy Roman
emperor from 1152–90. He made a sustained attempt to subdue Italy
and the papacy, but was eventually defeated at the battle of Legnano
in 1176. He was drowned in Asia Minor while on his way to the Third
Crusade. Nonetheless, German superstition holds to this day and
certainly was evoked by
Hitler at the time, that Barbarossa rests in a
Germany awaiting the moment to emerge and save Germany
from certain defeat and to establish German ascendancy.
* Bataillon (Btl.) — battalion
* Bataillonsadjutant - battalion adjutant
* Bataillonsarzt — battalion physician
* Bataillonsführer — substitute battalion commander
* Bataillonskommandeur — battalion commander
* Bataillonsveterinär — battalion veterinarian
* Batterie (Bttr.) — battery , artillery piece; also used for an
electrical battery . sometimes also called Akkumulator, abbreviated as
* Batteriechef — battery commander
* Batterieführer — substitute battery commander
* Batterieoffizier — Gun Position Officer
* Baubelehrung — vessel familiarization; when a boat or ship crew
studied the construction of a new vessel; see "KLA."
* Baubeschreibung — General arrangement drawing sheet, giving
basic dimensions and other measurement or Beute/"captured" Allied
aircraft, in World War I. The same term was used in the Third Reich
era for more comprehensive, multi-page technical document works for
factory proposals concerning combat aircraft designs to the RLM and
* Baupionier — army construction engineer.
B-Dienst — Beobachtungsdienst, literally, "observation service";
German Navy cryptanalytical department.
* BDM Bund Deutscher Mädel — League of German Girls, the girls'
segment of the
Hitler Youth .
* B. d. U. —
Befehlshaber der U-Boote – Commander-in-Chief of
the U-boats (Admiral
Karl Dönitz ); see FdU.
* Befehl (pl. Befehle) — order, command. "Zu Befehl!" was an
affirmative phrase on par with "Jawohl".
* Befehlshaber — commander-in-chief; lit. "one who has (the power
to issue) commands." Sometimes also used to refer to the headquarters
of a C-in-C as an alternative to Hauptquartier.
* Benzin — gasoline , petrol.
* Benzintank — fuel tank .
* Beobachter — artillery or air observer
* Beobachtungsoffizier —
* Beobachtungswagen — observation or reconnaissance vehicle.
* Bereitschaft — readiness.
* Bergepanzer — armoured recovery vehicle.
* Berlin radar - most advanced airborne intercept radar of the WW II
Luftwaffe in 1944-45, based on captured cavity magnetron technology,
operated on SHF -band 3.3 GHz frequency
* Beschlagschmied — blacksmith; see Hufbeschlagschmied.
* Betriebstoff — fuel.
* Beutepanzer — captured tank or armoured vehicle.
* Bewährungseinheit — probationary unit.
* BK — Bordkanone. heavy-calibre (usually over 30 mm) cannon for
offensive use on aircraft.
* Blasen —
U-boat order; "Blow the tanks!"
* Blechkoller — "tin fright"; in U-boats , a form of nervous
tension that could be caused by depth charge attacks and resulted in
violence or hysteria .
* Blechkrawatte — "tin necktie," slang for the Knight\'s Cross
Blitzkrieg — "lightning war"; not a widely used German military
term, this word became popular in the Allied press and initially
referred to fast-moving battle tactics developed principally by German
military theorists, most notably
Erwin Rommel ,
Heinz Guderian , and
Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein , using massed tanks and ground-attack bombers to
speedily penetrate enemy lines at points and move to their rear,
causing confusion and panic among enemy forces.
* Blaukreuz — chemical warfare agent consisting of arsenic
compounds, respiratory poison
* Bola — contraction of Bodenlafette, a lightly armoured casemate
-style of bulged ventral defensive gunner's position, using only
flexible (unturreted) weapon mounts, a common fitment on German bomber
aircraft designs, usually under the nose.
Bomber B - the abortive World War II-era aviation contract
competition meant to replace all previous
Luftwaffe medium bombers
with a single design, meant to be used for all but the longest-range
missions, and function as a combination of medium and heavy bomber ,
and meant to be powered by a pair of high-output aviation piston
engines such as the
Junkers Jumo 222
Junkers Jumo 222 .
* Brotbeutel — haversack
* Brücke — bridge . Can mean either the road structure or a
ship's command center, also the supporting framework that existed
below the bird-like monoplane wings of the earlier examples of the
Etrich Taube before World War I.
* Brückenleger — bridgelayer.
Brummbär — "grumbling bear "; a children's word for "bear" in
German. It was the nickname for a heavy mobile artillery piece.
* Bundes — federal .
Bundeswehr — "Federal Defense Force", name adopted for the West
German armed forces after the fall of the
Third Reich . (Between 1945
and 1955 there was no German army.) The
Bundeswehr consists of the
Luftwaffe (Air Force) and Marine (Navy), as well as
(since the late 1990s) the
Streitkräftebasis (Joint Service Support
Command) and Zentraler Sanitätsdienst (Central Medical Service).
* Bürger — citizen .
* Bürgerkrieg — civil war .
* C-Stand — Ventral (underside of fuselage) defensive gunner's
position on aircraft.
* Chef — commander of a unit or sub-unit, e.g. Regimentschef. A
substitute in case of absence would be referred to as Regimentsführer
* Chef des Generalstabes — Chief of the
General Staff .
Condor Legion - volunteer forces of the
Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe
(6000 or more strong) sent by
Hitler to assist Franco during the
Spanish Civil War (1936) on the stipulations that it remained
exclusively under German command. The aerial branch of the Condor
Legion gained notoriety for their comprehensive bombing of the Spanish
rebel lines and the surrounding civilian centers, most notably the
Spanish city of Guernica on April 27, 1937. After the successful
utilization of the Condor Legion, a homecoming parade was held in
Berlin on 6 June 1939 to honor the 300 Germans who died fighting in
* Dachschaden - "roof damage"; a head wound, more commonly used in
the sense of "gone bonkers", "Section 8"
Daimler-Benz (DB) — A producer of military vehicles, and engines
to power both German aircraft and surface vehicles.
* Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK) — German troops sent to North Africa
under the command of
Erwin Rommel to prevent the loss of
Libya to the
British by the Italians . The term is properly used to refer to
Rommel's original force of two divisions that landed in
February 14, 1941 (which stayed as a distinct formation for the
remainder of the
North African Campaign
North African Campaign ), but often refers to all
German forces that operated in North Africa, eventually consisting of
several divisions and corps and formed into an entire
* Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke (DAW; German Armament Works) - an
armaments organization established in 1939 under SS control.
* Deutsche Minenräumleitung (DMRL) — German mine-sweeping group
* Dienst — service.
* Division — in the army and air force a military formation, in the
navy either a sub-unit of a squadron or trainings units of battalion
* Divisionsarzt — Medical officer of a division.
* Divisionskommandeur — commanding officer of a division,
typically a General officer. In the imperial army this was the post of
* Dienstdolch — service dagger (uniform dagger).
* Donnerbalken — "thunder beam"; latrine .
* Drahtverhau — barbed-wire entanglement. Slang term used by
German soldiers during World Wars I and II for a military-issue
mixture of dried vegetables.
Drang nach Osten
Drang nach Osten — "Push to the East", Germany's ambitions for
territorial expansion into Eastern Europe.
* Düppel — German code name for radar chaff , used by the Royal
Air Force as Window, possibly from düpieren (to dupe). or from a
suburb of Berlin of the same name, where it was allegedly first found
* Eagle's Nest — English name given to Hitler's mountain-top
Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps , not far from the
Berghof . In German, it is known as the
Kehlsteinhaus . Hitler,
however, only visited the property ten times and each visit was under
* EG z.b. V. — Einsatzgruppe zur besonderen Verwendung – SS
Special Purpose Operational Group.
* Ehrendolch — literally, "honor dagger", a presentation dagger
awarded for individual recognition, especially by the SS.
* Eichenlaubträger — holder of Oak Leaves to the Knight\'s Cross
Iron Cross .
* Eid — oath . The current oath when joining the
"Ich gelobe, der Bundesrepublik Deutschland treu zu dienen, und das
Recht und die Freiheit des deutschen Volkes tapfer zu verteidigen" ("I
pledge to faithfully serve the Federal Republic of
Germany and to
bravely defend the right and the freedom of the German people"). For
soldiers joining for an extended period of time beyond the mandatory
conscription of nine months, "so wahr mir Gott helfe" ("so help me
God") is optionally added.
* Einfall — invasion .
* Eingeschlossen — encirclement , surrounded, cut off.
Eingreif division — interlocking (counter-attack) division
* Einheit — detachment or unit.
* Einheitsfeldmütze - standard field cap
* Einsatz — duty, mission, deployment, action.
* Einsatzbereit — statement meaning, "Ready for action."
Einsatzgruppen — "mission groups", or "task forces".
Einsatzgruppen were battalion-sized, mobile killing units made up of
SiPo, SD or SS
Special Action Groups under the command of the RSHA.
They followed the
Wehrmacht into occupied territories of Eastern
Europe and the
Soviet Union . These units were supported by units of
the uniformed German Order Police (Orpo) and auxiliaries of volunteers
(Estonian , Latvian , Lithuanian , and Ukrainian ). Their victims,
primarily Jews, were executed by shooting and were buried in mass
graves from which they were later exhumed and burned. At least a
million Jews were killed in this manner. There were four
Einsatzgruppen (A, B, C, D), which were subdivided into company-sized
Einsatzkommando — company-sized subunits of the Einsatzgruppen
that took care of the mobilization and killing of Jews, partisans,
Communists and others during the German invasion into the Soviet
* Einsatz Reinhard (Mission/Action "Reinhard") - code name given on
June 4, 1942 for the assignment to exterminate all Polish Jews in
honor of SS Deputy Chief
Reinhard Heydrich who had been assassinated
by Czech nationalists during a covert operation.
* Einsatztrupp (Troop Task Force) - smallest of the Einsatzgruppen
units responsible for liquidations in the German occupied territories.
* Einwohner — resident, inhabitant.
* Eisenbahn — "iron road"; railroad.
* Eisernes Kreuz — "iron cross"; medal awarded for valorous
service, and the German national military insignia from 1910 to the
beginning of spring 1918, and once again from 1955 (with the
establishment of the
Bundeswehr ) to today.
* Eiserne Kuh — "iron cow"; evaporated milk
* Eiserne Ration — "iron ration"; emergency rations
* El Alamein (October–November 1942) - crucial battle of WW2
pitting the British under General Montgomery's 8th
1200 tanks) against General
Erwin Rommel 's
Afrika Korps (500 tanks)
and fought primarily in Egypt. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Germans
never regained the operational initiative, forcing Rommel to withdraw
the bulk of his forces into Libya, marking the final stages of the
Nazis' North African campaign.
Elefant — "Elephant"; a heavy
Panzerjäger (tank hunter or tank
destroyer) built on the chassis of Porsche's unsuccessful prototypes
for the Tiger tank, and mounting the 88mm L/71 PaK 43.
* Elektra — a German radio-navigational system.
Endlösung or Endziel — the "Final Solution"; refers to the
genocide planned against the Jewish people.
Endsieg — final victory.
* Enigma — German message encryption equipment.
* Ententeich — duck pond, maritime manoeuvre to create an area of
calm sea in order to lower boats into the water or land aircraft
* Entmenscht — bestial, inhuman, brutish.
* Entscheidender Sieg — decisive victory .
Entwicklung series , more commonly known as the E-series, was a
World War II
World War II attempt by
Germany to produce a standardised series
of tank designs.
* Ereignismeldung (ERM: Operational Report) - Einsatzgruppen
commanders' report delivered daily to the Reichssicherheitshauptamt
RSHA in Berlin which comprehensively listed secretly coded murder
activities in the occupied territories along the Eastern Front.
* Erobert — conquered.
* Erkennungsmarke — identity tag; "dog tag".
* Erprobungsstelle — test centre.
* Ersatz — substitute, replacement, reserves; could refer to
replacement troops or any substance used in place of another (e.g.,
ersatz coffee, ersatz rubber, etc.).
* Ersatzbataillone or Marschbataillone — coherent military
* Erschießungsaktion - Shooting action usually carried out by a
member of a firing squad (Erschießungskommando).
* Etappendienst — German naval intelligence department.
* Etappenschwein — (slang) "rear swine" (
REMF ), a soldier with a
safe job away from danger. Compare with Frontschwein.
* Exerzierpanzer — practice or exercise tank.
* Exzellenz — honorary address for a General officer from the rank
Generalleutnant upwards in the Prussian and Imperial Army
* Fahndung Funk (F. Fu.:
Radio Search) – department of German
Military Intelligence tasked to locate forbidden radio transmitters in
* Fahne (pl. Fahnen) — flag or banner.
* Fahnenjunker — lowest officer candidate rank equivalent to
* Fahnenflucht — desertion
* Fahnenschmied — farrier NCO
* Fähnlein (Squad) - unit of the Deutsches Jungvolk within the
* Fähnrich — officer candidate rank equivalent to Feldwebel
(Sergeant). A Fähnrich is an NCO, though, and will have commensurable
* Fähnrich zur See — naval officer candidate rank equivalent to
Petty Officer 1st Class). A Fähnrich zur See is an NCO,
though, and will have commensurable tasks.
* Fall — "case." A name for a German operation. The most important
German offensives were called "cases," as they were viewed as problems
to be solved.
Fallschirmjäger — paratroopers ; German airborne troops .
* FdM —
Führer der Minensuchboote
* FdU —
Führer der Unterseeboote ; Commander-in-Chief of U-boats
(used from World War I to 1939, when the title was reduced to
* FdV —
Führer der Vorpostenboote
* Feigling — coward .
* Feind — enemy . "Feindlich-" is used as an adjective, such as
"feindliche Truppen" (enemy troops) or "feindliche Stellung" (enemy
* Feindfahrt — "enemy trip"; in
U-boat terminology, a war cruise
or combat patrol against the enemy.
* Feindbild — "enemy image"; prejudiced 'bogeyman' image of the
* Feld — field.
* Feldersatzbatallion — field replacement battalion, usually one
per infantry division.
* Feldflasche — canteen.
Abteilung — "field airmen's section", abbreviated as
"FFA". The earliest form of Fliegertruppe German
Army (Deutsches Heer)
flying unit in World War I, first formed in 1914 with six two-seater
observation aircraft per unit.
Feldgendarmerie — Field Gendarmerie or "Field Police", the
military police units of the
Feldgrau — "field gray"; the color of the ordinary German
soldier's tunic – by extension the soldiers themselves.
Feldjäger — military police detachments formed late in the war
to root out deserters; later the name was applied to all military
police units of the postwar
* Feldkoch — cook.
* Feldlazarett — field hospital .
* Feldpolizeibeamter — field police officer.
Feldpost , Feldpostbrief — mail to and from troops at the front.
Feldwebel — non-commissioned rank in the Heer and Luftwaffe, the
most junior of the "Unteroffiziere mit Portepee" (senior NCO) ranks.
Approximately equal to sergeant.
* Feldzug — military campaign
* Fernglas — binoculars ; literally "remote glass".
* Fernmelde- — telecommunication.
* Fernsprech- — telephone.
* Festung — fortress .
* "Feuer auf mein Kommando" — "fire on my command".
* "Feuer Frei" — "fire at will".
* Feuerschutz — suppressive fire , covering fire.
* Feuerwerker — ordnance NCO
* FlaK — Fliegerabwehrkanone, Flug(zeug)abwehrkanone – air
defense gun; anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) (e.g., the "eighty-eight
* FlaK-Helfer — "FlaK helper"; often underaged auxiliaries used to
load and operate FlaK batteries and man searchlight batteries.
* Flakpanzer — armoured self-propelled antiaircraft gun, such as
* Flammpanzer — flame-throwing tank.
* Flammenwerfer — flame-thrower .
Flecktarn — spotted camouflage.
Abteilung — anti-aircraft battalion.
* Fliegerabwehrkanone — see FlaK.
* Fliegerbombe (FliBo) — aerial bomb
* Fliegerdivision - lit. Flight division.
* Fliegerkorps - lit. Flight corps
* Fliegerschwert — airman's sword (part of an officer's regalia ).
* Fliegertruppe - part of the official name (Die Fliegertruppen des
Deutschen Kaiserreiches) of the Imperial German
Army Air Service,
existing under that name from 1910 to October 1916, when it was
reorganized as the
* Flotte — naval fleet
* Flottille (Fl.) — flotilla.
* Flucht nach vorn — "flight to the front"; trying to assault
rather than wait or retreat while under threat.
* Flüchtlingslager — refugee camp .
* Flügelmann — wingman
* Flugbombe V-1 (
V-1 flying bomb
V-1 flying bomb ) - pulse-jet engine powered flying
bomb carrying high-explosive warhead known to the Allies as the "buzz
* Flugzeug — aircraft.
* Flug(zeug)abwehrkanone — see FlaK.
* Flugzeugträger — aircraft carrier .
* Fluten —
U-boat order; "Flood the tanks!"
* Forschungsamt — intelligence service of the
* Forstschutz — Forest Police (see
* Frachter — freighter .
* Franktireure — terrorists ; (see
* Franktireurkrieg — terrorist warfare .
* Fregattenkapitän — Naval rank, literally meaning "Frigate
Captain ", in between Korvettenkapitän and Kapitän zur See.
Commanded a light cruiser, or served as the executive officer on a
capital ship, hence often translated as
Freikorps — volunteer corps; (see Freiwillige). The Freikorps
was an early volunteer paramilitary organizations formed in the wake
of the German defeat of the First World War making up the German army
in lieu of the restrictions mandated by the
Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles ;
they consisted primarily of demobilized soldiers, disillusioned young
men, and fanatical conservative nationalists who blamed Social
Democrats and Jews for Germany's problems.
Freischärler — irregular or guerrilla (see Widerstandskräfte).
* Freischärlerunwesen — "pestering by guerrillas"; guerrilla
activities or terrorist incidents.
* Freiwillige — volunteer.
* Fremde Heere Ost/West (FHO/FHW) — Foreign Armies East/West,
staff intelligence specialist on the subject.
* Frieden — peace .
Fritz-X — The Luftwaffe's radio-controlled glide bomb, precursor
to today's "smart weapons" or PGMs.
* Fronterlebnis — front experience. Fronterlebnis was a literary
genre which romanticized the war experience and the camaraderie of
* Frontgemeinschaft — front-line comradeship or community; group
of front-line combat soldiers.
* Frontkämpfer — front line soldier
* Frontschwein — (slang) "front pig" soldier serving long at the
front, often used as an ironic accolade for a soldier with the will to
fight. Compare with Etappenschwein.
Führer — "The Leader"; title used by Adolf
Hitler : Mein
Führer, Der Führer.
Führerbunker — (literally meaning "shelter leader" or "
Führer's shelter") was located about 8.2 metres beneath the garden of
Reich Chancellery building at Wilhelmstraße 77, and about 120
metres north of Hitler's New
Reich Chancellery building in Berlin.
This underground bunker was Hitler's last FHQ and where he and his
Eva Braun ended their lives on 30 April 1945.
* Führerhauptquartiere (FHQ) — a number of official headquarters
especially constructed in order to be used by the
* Führersonderzug — a special train built for and used by the
Führer — in the army a substitute commander of a unit or
sub-unit in absence of the regular commander (see 'Chef'); in the navy
a flag officer (e.g.
Führer der Uboote)
SS-Führungshauptamt — SS Leadership Head Office, the
administrative headquarters of the Waffen-SS.
* Funke — 1) radio ; 2) spark ; the literal (pre-radio) meaning of
* Funker — radio operator (from funken , to transmit by radio).
* Funkgerät (prefix: FuG) — generic term for radio and airborne
IFF , RDF and airborne and some ground based radar equipment.
* Funkmessbeobachtungsgerät (FuMB) — radar detector .
* Füsilier — historic term often used to refer to light infantry
, originally named after the fusil, or musket , such troops once
carried. During World War II, a name given to infantry formations with
some reconnaissance abilities that replaced an infantry division's
reconnaissance battalion mid-war when the Germans reduced the number
of standard infantry battalions in their divisions from 9 to 6.
* Füsilierbataillon — In the Imperial army the 3rd battalion of a
Grenadier-Regiment. Its designation was F, as in F/GR10 for
Füsilierbataillon of the Genadier-
* Futtermeister — Quartermaster responsible for fodder
Freya radar — first operational radar with the
* Gabelschwanzteufel —
P-38 Lightning "Fork Tailed Devil".
* Garnison - garrison
* Gasmaske — gas mask
* Gasmaskenbehälter — gas mask container.
* Gaspistole — starting pistol ; a gun that fires blanks.
* Gau - An administrative region equivalent to a shire or province.
Gauleiter — supreme territorial or regional
authority(-ies). Gau leader.
Gebirgsjäger — mountain troops; a mountain "unit" might be
referred to as either Gebirgs or Gebirgsjäger.
* Gebirgstruppe — mountain troops.
* gefallen (gef.) — fallen, killed in action
* Gefecht — combat, action.
* Gefechtsgepäck — infantry assault pack.
* Gefechtsstand — command post .
* Gefechtsstation — naval term, "battle stations " or (more
literally) "combat stations".
* Gefechtsverband - defensive aerial tactic employed against USAAF
heavy bombers when Zerstörer twin-engined heavy fighters had proven
too vulnerable to Allied single-engined fighters — used heavily
armed Fw 190As as bomber destroyers in place of the slower Zerstörer
aircraft, with Bf 109Gs for escort.
Gefreiter — enlisted rank, senior to privates but not considered
* Gegenangriff — counterattack .
* Gegenoffensive — counter-offensive .
* Gegenstoß — hasty counter-attack.
* Gegenschlag — counter stroke.
* geheim — secret.
Geheime Feldpolizei (GFP) — Secret Field Police. It was
Germany's secret military police that was organised by the German high
command (OKW) in July 1939 to serve with the
Wehrmacht . It was mainly
designed to carry out security work in the field, as the executive
agent of the
Geheimfernschreiber — (literally, "secret distance writer")
* Gelbkreuz — mustard gas
* Geleit — escort.
* Geleitschutz — convoy .
* Gemeindepolizei — local police.
* Gemeinschaft — community.
Field Marshal .
* Generalkommando — the headquarters of an army corps.
* Generalstab des Heeres (Gen. St.d. H.) — German
* gepanzert (gep.) — armoured.
* Geschütz — cannon, gun.
* Geschützführer — gun captain / commander / layer.
* Geschwader – originally and literally a naval "squadron " and,
therefore, equivalent to the French escadre or Italian squadriglia; in
military aviation, the translation varies:
* World War I
Luftstreitkräfte : a unit comprising four fighter
squadrons (Staffeln), such as Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1) –the famous
"Flying Circus", led by
Manfred von Richthofen
Manfred von Richthofen ("The Red Baron"); also
used for the Kagohl and Bogohl heavy bomber units , the last two
mentioned unit types specifically tied to the
Oberste Heeresleitung or
World War II
World War II Luftwaffe: comprising three or more Gruppen, each
made up of three (or sometimes four) Staffeln; a WW2 Geschwader was
equivalent to a British Commonwealth air force group , French escadron
, Italian stormo , IJAAS hikōdan , IJNAC sentai , Soviet aviation
division , a USAAF/USMC air wing and/or a US Navy carrier air group ;
* current Luftwaffe: a Geschwader comprises a "technical group"
(Technische Gruppe), a "flying group" (Fliegende Gruppe), along with
two or three other flying squadrons (Staffeln);
* Geschwaderkennung — the two-character alphanumeric
identification code used by a non-day-fighter Geschwader for unit
identification, that appeared to the left of the fuselage Balkenkreuz
World War II
World War II
Luftwaffe aircraft. It also included two letters
to the right of the cross, the third letter designating the aircraft's
individual identification, with the fourth letter designating the
aircraft's assigned squadron (Staffel) within the unit.
Gestapo — Geheime Staatspolizei – Secret State Police.
Originally the Prussia secret state police and later (as part of the
SiPo then merged into the RSHA) the official secret police force of
Gestapo was derived as follows: GEheime STAatsPOlizei.
* Gewehr — rifle, such as the
Gewehr 43 .
* Gift — poison; giftig: poisonous, toxic.
* Gleichschaltung — "coordination", coordination of everything
* Gliederung — table of organisation
* Goldfasan (
Golden pheasant ) — derogatory slang term for
Nazi Party members. Derived from the brown-and-red
uniforms similar to the colors of male pheasants and the perceived
behaviour of high-ranking party officials living in peace and luxury
* Gotenstellung —
Gothic Line German defense line in
Italy , north
* Grabenkrieg — trench warfare .
* Granate — grenade , used not only for hand grenades
(Handgranate) but also for other explosive ordnance such as mortar
(Werfgranate) and armor-piercing (Panzergranate) shells.
* Granatwerfer (GrW) — mortar .
Grenadier — traditional term for heavy infantry , adopted during
World War II
World War II from mid-war onward as a morale -building honorific often
indicative of low-grade formations.
* Grenze — border.
* Grenzschutz — border patrol .
* Greuelerzählungen — numerous atrocities.
* Gröfaz — German soldiers' derogatory acronym for Größter
Feldherr aller Zeiten, a title initially publicized by
to refer to Adolf
Hitler during the early war years; literally, the
Commander of all Time".
* Grundausbildung (abbr. Grundi) — basic training
* Gruppe (Gr) — In the army it is the equivalent to a squad , a
Luftwaffe gruppe was equivalent to a US/French group or a British
Commonwealth wing .
Gruppenführer - squad leader, also a
Nazi party rank .
Gruppenhorchgerät (GHG) — hydrophone array.
* Gulaschkanone — "goulash cannon", mobile field kitchen
* Gruppenstab — command staff.
Gustav Line — German defense line in
Italy , centered on the
Monte Cassino .
* GvD —
Gefreiter vom Dienst — soldier who is the runner of CQ .
* Hafen — harbor . "Flughafen" is airport .
* Hakenkreuz — (literally, "hooked cross") the version of the
swastika used by the
* "Halbe Fahrt!" — Naval command calling for half-speed. "Halbe
Fahrt voraus" is "half-speed ahead" and "Halbe Fahrt zurück" is
* Halsschmerzen — "sore throat" or "itchy neck;" used to describe
a reckless or glory-seeking commander, implying an obsession with
winning the Knight\'s Cross .
* Halt — Stop! Freeze!
* Handelsmarine — German merchant marine .
* Hannoversche Maschinenbau AG (
Hanomag ) – producer of military
vehicles, principally the
SdKfz 251 medium-armoured halftrack .
* "Hart..." — Naval command calling for a sharp turn. "Hart
Backbord" is "hard-a-port" and "Hart Steuerbord" is
* Härteübung — hardiness training.
* Haubitze — howitzer .
Sicherheitspolizei (HA-SiPo) — Security Police
* Hauptbahnhof - central station .
* Hauptfeldwebel - company sergeant-major or first sergeant
* Hauptkampflinie (HKL) — literally main combat line, official
term for "front" until the end of World War II
Hauptmann — army captain .
* Hauptquartiere (HQ) — headquarters .
* Hauptstadt — capital city .
* Hauptwachtmeister - company first sergeant in artillery and
* Heckenschütze — "hedge marksman" hidden, ambushing sniper.
* Heckschütze — tail gunner the man to handle the Heckstand.
* Heckstand — tail gun defensive position on aircraft.
* Heer — regular German Army. Can also be used for any national
* Heeresgruppenkommando (HGr.Kdo) —
Army Group Command.
Heimat — home, homeland.
* Heimatkurs — the way home. Literally "homeland course".
* Heimatschuß — "homeland shot"; a wound not severe enough to be
permanently disabling, but of sufficient severity to require
evacuation from the battlefront. The German soldier's equivalent of
the American G.I.'s "million-dollar wound " or the British soldier's
Blighty wound ."
* Heldenklau — "stealing" or "snatching of heroes"; slang term
used to denote the practice of commandeering rear-echelon personnel
for front-line service.
* Henschel — railroad locomotive and rolling stock manufacturer,
and a firm responsible for many German
World War II
World War II weapons systems
for both the
Wehrmacht Heer and the Luftwaffe, especially the heavy
Tiger I and
Tiger II tanks and the
Henschel Hs 293
Henschel Hs 293 guided anti-ship
* "Herr..." — In past and modern German military protocol, "Herr"
("mister") is said before ranks when someone is addressing a person of
higher rank. For example, a lieutenant ("Leutnant") would address his
captain as "Herr Hauptmann" ("Mr. Captain"). Superior officer address
subordinates with "Herr" and their last name or simply their rank, but
not adding "Herr" to the rank. This practice was forbidden in the
Waffen-SS , as it offended
Himmler 's egalitarian principles.
Hetzer — agitators; also a hunting dog and as such the
unofficial name of a certain mid-war model of German tank destroyer .
* Hilfswillige (Hiwis) — German
Army volunteer forces usually made
up of Soviet volunteers serving in non-combat capacities.
* Himmelfahrtskommando — literally, "trip to heaven mission", a
* Hinterhalt — ambush.
* Hitler-Jugend (HJ) —
Hitler Youth . The German youth
organization founded by the
Nazi Party (NSDAP). Made up of the
Hitlerjugend proper, for male youth ages 14–18; the younger boys'
section "Deutsches Jungvolk" for ages 10–14; and the girls' section
"Bund Deutscher Mädel" (BDM).
* Hitlersäge — "
Hitler saw", nickname of the
MG42 machine gun.
Also named „Singende Säge“(singing saw), „Knochensäge“(bone
saw) or „Hitlersense“(
* HJ-Fahrtenmesser — common dagger specially designed for the
Spätlese — nickname for the
* Höckerhindernisse — anti-tank obstacles often referred to as
"Dragon\'s Teeth ".
* Hoheitsabzeichen — national insignia e.g. on a tank or aircraft.
* Hohentwiel — FuG 200 UHF-band (500 MHz) maritime patrol airborne
* Hubschrauber — helicopter .
* Hufbeschlagschmied, farrier .
* Hummel — "bumble-bee"; nickname for a piece of mobile artillery
* Hundehütte — literally, "dog house", punishment hut.
* im Dienst (i.D.) — in service.
* Indianer — Indians.
Luftwaffe slang for an enemy fighter (from
the game of cowboys and Indians.)
* Infanterie (Inf.) — infantry .
* Inhaber der Befehls- und Kommandogewalt (IBuK) —
Commander-in-Chief, Minister of Defence (peacetime) or Federal
* Iststärke — actual strength (compared to Soll-Stärke)
* Iwan — German slang for a Soviet soldier (similar to "Jerry" or
"Kraut", the British and American slang terms for Germans).
* Jabo (Jagdbomber) — fighter-bomber .
* Jagdgeschwader (JG) — single-engine fighter wing /group ,
literally hunting squadron.
Jagdpanzer — "hunting tank"; armoured casemate -style
self-propelled tank destroyer .
* Jagd-Kommando — "hunting commando"; generally refers to a
commando outfit that remained behind enemy lines when an area was
overrun and would carry out sabotage and other guerrilla actions .
These units did not generally operate as such and were later taken
over by the SS and used as frontline combat troops in 1944-1945.
* Jäger — light infantry ; used alone or as part of a specialty
Fallschirmjäger . Fighter Airplane. The
root Jagd- is also used in its literal meaning of "hunter" for weapon
* jawohl — simply the word "yes" with the emphatic "wohl", which
one might translate as "Yes, indeed!", "Aye, aye, sir!" or "Absolutely
yes!" Widely used in World War II.
* Junkerschule — SS officer academy.
Kaczmarek " — wingman
* Kadavergehorsam — "absolute duty and blind obedience till
death."; lit.: "carcass obedience"
* Kaiserliche Marine (KM) — Imperial
* Kaiserlicher Yacht-Club (KYC) — Imperial Yacht Club
* Kameradschaft — small military unit, or phrase for "comrade
support amongst soldiers" (see Volkgemeinschaft).
* Kampf — struggle, fight or conflict.
* Kampfeinsitzer Kommando (KEK), the first specialist, single-seat
armed scout/fighter units of the Fliegertruppe predecessor of the
Luftstreitkräfte , first formed by Inspektor-
Major Friedrich Stempel
in February 1916, and the direct predecessor units to the Jagdstaffeln
fighter squadron units first formed in the late summer of 1916.
* Kampfflotte — battle fleet.
* Kampfgeist — fighting spirit.
* Kampfgeschwader (KG) — bomber wing (
USAAF practice)/group (RAF
Kampfgruppe —1. an
Army battlegroup or task force; formal
designation of an ad hoc task force, or informal term for a combat
unit at greatly reduced strength. 2. In the Luftwaffe, a bomber unit
equivalent to a US/French group or a British Commonwealth wing .
* Kampfmesser — combat knife.
* Kampfplan — battle plan.
Kampfschwimmer — frogman .
* Kampfzone — battle zone.
* Kampfwunde — battle injury.
* Kanone — gun (as opposed to a howitzer).
* Kanonier — gunner
* Kapitän — Naval rank of Captain ; in full Kapitän zur See (KzS
or Kpt.z.S.) ;literally, Sea Captain. Commanded any capital ship.
* Kapitänleutnant (Kptlt.) — Naval rank of Lieutenant Commander
Captain Lieutenant . Officers of this rank generally
command small vessels such as U-boats and minesweepers. The rank is
often shortened to "Kaleun", with junior officers addressing people of
this rank as "Herr Kaleun".
* Kapitulation — surrender .
* Kapo — overseer, NCO (sl). Esp. a prisoner who acted as an
overseer of his fellow inmates in the
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps (see
* Karbol-Tränke — field dressing station
* Kartenstelle — mapping detachment, normally part of staff
company of a division or higher
* Kaserne — barracks , casern.
* Kavallerie (Kav.) — cavalry .
* KdE - abbreviation for the Kommandeur der Erprobungsstellen, the
commander of all German military aviation test facilities in World War
II, an office held by
Edgar Petersen late in the war.
* Kesselschlacht — lit. "cauldron battle" encirclement often
shortened to Kessel e.g. "Kessel von
* Kette — chain, in the air force a sub-unit of 3—6 aircraft
* Ketten — chains, chain-drive, tracks (e.g. Panzerketten)
* Kettenantrieb — track , such as a tank track; tracked vehicle.
* Kettenhund — "chained dog", slang for a
(derived from the metal gorget worn on a chain around the neck).
* Kettenkraftrad — a tracked motorcycle; also Kettenkrad .
* Kindersärge — "children's coffins", slang term applied to
small, wooden antipersonnel box-mines .
* KLA: Kriegsschiffbaulehrabteilung — was a warship-construction
training division that supervised a Baubelehrung.
* Kleinkampfverband (K-Verband) — special naval operations unit,
comprising a few frogmen .
* Kleinkrieg — guerrilla war .
* Knickebein — "crooked leg", also "bent leg" (in the sense of
"dogleg"); German navigational system using radio beams to guide
* Knochensammlung — gathering the bones of dead soldiers.
* Kochgeschirr - mess tin
* Koffer - in the
Bundeswehr a derogatory term for a raw recruit
* Koffer, schwerer - large calibre shell, similar to the British
coal box or the American trah can
* Kolonne — column, also supply units (e.g. leichte
* Kommandanten-Schießlehrgang —
U-boat Commander's Torpedo
* Kommando (Kdo.) — command; detachment; detail.
* Kommissarbefehl — the notorious 6 June 1941 "
Commissar Order "
to kill all political commissars in the Red
Army and civil government.
* Kompanie (Kp.) — company , unit.
* Kompaniechef — company commander
* Kompaniefeldwebel — company first sergeant
* Kompanieführer — substitute company commander in case of
absence or if the ‘Kompaniechef ’ is only an honorary function
(similar to a
* Kompanietruppführer — Company headquarters section leader
* Konteradmiral — Naval rank of
Rear Admiral .
* Konzentrationslager (KZL) — concentration camp .
* Korvettenkapitän (K.Kpt) — Naval rank of (literally) "Corvette
Captain". The grade senior to Kapitänleutnant; frequently translated
as either Lieutenant
Commander . Typically commanded a
* Krad (Kraft-Radfahrzeug) — motorcycle (dated in civil use, but
still common in the Bundeswehr).
* Krad-Melder — motorcycle dispatch rider
* Kradschütze(n) — motorcycle unit or soldier.
* Kraft — strength.
* Kraftei - literally "power-egg", used both for the unitized
aviation engine installation system that combined all major engine
ancillary components (radiator, oil cooler, etc.) with the engine
itself, into a single interchangeable unit for ease of field
maintenance and rapid replacement, or as a slang term for the
Messerschmitt Me 163
Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet rocket fighter.
* Krankenstation — sick bay of a ship.
* Krankenträger — stretcher bearer
* Kraut — for sauerkraut ; slang term used by Americans to refer
* Krieg or Krieg(s)- — "war" or "wartime-".
* Kriegserlebnis — (myth of the) war experience.
* Kriegsfischkutter (KFK) — patrol vessels constructed to a
fishing-vessel design; (see Vorpostenboote).
* Kriegsflagge — "war ensign"; military form of the national flag,
quartered by a black cross with an
Iron Cross in the canton.
* Kriegsgefangener — prisoner of war .
* Kriegsgericht — court-martial ; slang for a war dish or poor
meal. Also "Militärgericht".
Kriegsmarine — German Navy, 1935–45.
* Kriegsneurose — battle fatigue . Mod. post traumatic stress
* Kriegsstärkenachweisungen (KStN) — The German equivalent of the
American table of organization and equipment (TO a kind of militia .
* Landser — historical term for a German infantryman ; slang:
Landwehr — Territorial Army, a type of militia .
* Lastensegler — cargo glider
* Latrinenparole — "latrine talk", rumor.
* laufende Nummer — serial number.
Lebensraum — "living space", or in Hitler-speak the minimum
space the German people needed to live in.
* Lehr — "demonstration"; usually part of the name of an elite
formation used as or mobilized from instructional troops (e.g.,
Leibermuster — a camouflage pattern.
* leicht — "light", usually to refer a lighter type, such as light
tank: leichter Panzer. Several classes of divisions were also
classified as "light".
* Leopard — the name originally used for the Porsche-produced VK
3601(P) prototype tank hull design, and later used by the Federal
German Republic for the
Leopard 1 and
Bundeswehr main battle
tanks in service from the 1960s into the 21st century.
* Leuchtpistole — flare pistol
* Leuchtgeschoss/-granate — star shell
Army rank, equivalent to
Leutnant zur See — Naval rank, equivalent to Lieutenant, junior
* Lichtenstein — German airborne radar used for nightfighting , in
UHF -band BC and C-1 versions, and later
VHF -band SN-2 and SN-3
* Lorenz Schlüsselzusatz — German cipher machine.
Lorenz (navigation) — pre-war blind-landing aid used at many
airports. Most German bombers had the radio equipment needed to use
* "Los!" — "Go!" or "Away!" Also the
U-boat command to fire a
* Luchs — "lynx"; nickname given to the Model L version of the
Panzer II .
* Leuchtkugel — signal flare .
* Luftangriff — air attack, air raid.
* Luftflotte - lit. air fleet. Largest sub-units within the
* Luftschutz — air raid protection
Luftwaffe — "air force"; the German Air Force.
Luftwaffenhelfer — "
Luftwaffe assistant"; see FlaK-Helfer.
* Luftschutzpolizei — air raid wardens.
Luftstreitkräfte - originally (October 1916) the name for the
Army Air Service of World War I, later part of the
name for the East German dedicated air arm.
* Mannschaften — enlisted personnel
* Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (M.A.N.) — Augsburg-Nuremberg
Machine Factory; a German engineering works and truck manufacturer.
Now called MAN AG , and primary builder of the
Panther tank .
* Marineausrüstungsstelle (Mast.) — naval equipment store
* Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen Hannover (MNH) — weapon (tank)
development and production firm.
* Maschinengewehr (MG) — machine gun , as in the
* Maschinengewehrschütze — machine gunner
* Maschinenkanone (MK) - an autocannon used for aircraft armament,
as with the MK 108 30mm calibre weapon.
* Maschinenpistole (MP or MPi) — submachine gun , as in the
* Maschine — "machine". Commonly used as airplane or engine .
* Maskenball - German slang for fighting with NBC-protective gear,
or at least with gas mask
* Maultier —
SdKfz 4 half-track truck, German for mule
* Maus — "mouse"; nickname for a large, Porsche-designed
super-heavy tank, the heaviest tank ever actually built and tested,
that never passed beyond prototype stage.
Maybach (M) — a German automotive and engineering company.
* Melder — runner
* Meldereiter - horse despatch rider
Metox — radar warning receiver (named for manufacturer) fitted
to U-boats; superseded by Naxos-U
* Milchkuh — "milk cow", nickname for the Type XIV resupply U-boat
* Militär — military .
* Militärnachrichtendienst — military intelligence .
* Mine (pl. Minen) — an anti-personnel, tank or ship mine .
* Mineneigenschutz (MES) — ship's degaussing cable ; literally
* Minensuchboote (M-boats) — large minesweepers .
* Mißliebige — undesirables.
* Mitarbeiter — assistant clerk
* Motorkanone — engine-mounted autocannon armament firing through
a hollow propeller shaft on inline-engined fighter aircraft.
* MP(i) — sub-machine gun
* Mörser — mortar
* Munitionskanonier — ammunition handler
* Munitionsschlepper — ammunition carrier.
* Munitionsschütze — ammunition handler
* Mütze — cap or small hat, such as the
M43 field cap
M43 field cap , also
known as the Einheitsfeldmütze.
* Nachricht(en) — signals / news / communication, also
* Nachrichtendienst — intelligence
* Nachrichtenoffizier — signals officer
* Nachrichtentruppen — Signal
* Nachschub — supply
* Nachschubtruppen — supply troops .
Nacht und Nebel
Nacht und Nebel — "night and fog"; code for some prisoners that
were to be disposed of, leaving no traces; bei
Nacht und Nebel
Nacht und Nebel (idiom)
— secretly and surprisingly, at dead of night.
* Nachtjagdgeschwader (NJG) — night-fighter wing /group .
* Nahkampfmesser — close-combat fighting knife.
Nahverteidigungswaffe — "close defense weapon"; an attachment to
Panzers to combat close-assaulting infantry .
Nashorn — "rhinoceros", nickname for a type of tank destroyer .
* Nationalsozialistische Führungsoffiziere (NSFO) — National
Socialist Leadership Officers.
Naxos radar detector — The FuG 350 radar detector set; "NAXOS Z"
was developed for night fighters , "NAXOS U", was provided to U-boats
, to locate Allied H2S microwave-band radar transmissions, not able to
H2X radar gear.
Nebelwerfer (Nb. W) — "fog thrower"; rocket artillery ,
multi-barrel rocket launchers that could be used for smoke or
Neptun radar - Low-to-mid
VHF band (125 to 187 MHz) airborne
intercept radar for night fighter aircraft, to take the place of the
Lichtenstein SN-2 unit, which had been compromised by July–August
* Niederlage — defeat.
* Norden — north.
* Notsignal — distress signal .
* NSKK — the Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrerkorps, or National
Socialist Motor Corps.
* Nummer (Nr.) — "number"; some divisional organizations with a
unit number but no combat assets, often converted to ordinary
divisions later on. (E.g., Division Nr. 157 .)
* Ober-* — higher; part of several military ranks and titles like
Oberleutnant and "Oberkommando".
Oberst — lit. "Uppermost" or "Seniormost," German equivalent of
* Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Ob.d.H.) — Commander-in-Chief of
Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) — "High Command of the Army" and
General Staff from 1936 to 1945.
* Oberkommando der
Kriegsmarine (OKM) — "High Command of the (War)
* Oberkommando der
Luftwaffe (OKL) — "High Command of the Air
* Oberkommando der
Wehrmacht (OKW) — "High Command of the Armed
Forces". The OKW replaced the War Ministry and was part of the command
structure of the armed forces of
Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL) — "Supreme
Army Command", the OHL
was the highest level of command of the World War I Deutsches Heer .
* Offizier im Generalstab —
General Staff officer
* Offizier-Lager (Oflag) — "officer camp"; German prisoner-of-war
camp for Allied officers.
Ordnungspolizei (Orpo) — "order police" - the regular uniformed
police after their nationalization in 1936.
* Ordonnanzoffizier — aide-de-camp
* Ortskampf — combat in towns, urban warfare .
* Osten — east.
* Ostfront — eastern front (Russian Front)
* Ostjuden — eastern Jews in
* Ostmark — lit. Eastern march, post-
* Ostpreußen — province of
East Prussia .
* Panjewagen — one-horse carriage.
Panzer — "armour"; German word is derived from Old French
pancier, meaning "armour for the belly". It can refer to a tank (see
Panzerkampfwagen below) or to an armoured formation. (
is literally "
Tank Division"; the adjective for "armoured" is
* Panzerabwehrkanone (PaK) — anti-tank gun ; literally, "tank
defence cannon", also used for the main armament for a typical
casemate style turretless German tank destroyer .
* Panzerbefehlswagen (Pz. Bef.Wg) — the commanding tank of any
panzer detachment; also used of purpose-built command tanks with extra
* Panzerbüchse — anti-tank rifle
* Panzerbüchsenschütze — anti-tank rifleman
Panzerfaust — literally "armour fist"; a light disposable
infantry anti-tank weapon, a small recoilless gun firing a
fin-stabilized shaped charge grenade, and a forerunner of the Soviet
RPG (rocket-propelled grenade ) although the
Panzerfaust was not
* Panzerführer — tank commander, literally "tank leader".
* Panzerkommandant — tank commander
Panzerschreck — literally "armour terror," officially
Raketenpanzerbüchse "rocket armour rifle;" a heavy re-usable infantry
anti-tank weapon firing a rocket-propelled 88mm shaped charge grenade.
Also called Ofenrohr ("stovepipe") for its appearance.
Panzergrenadier — mechanized infantry ; a soldier belonging to a
mechanized infantry unit.
Panzerjäger — "tank hunter(s)", anti-tank troops; also used by
extension for their self-propelled tank destroyers (e.g., the Elefant
) until superseded by the
Jagdpanzer ("hunting tank") term.
Panzerkampfwagen (Pzkpfw.) — "armoured fighting vehicle ";
usually a reference to a type of tank with a 360° fully rotating
turret for the main armament.
* Panzerschiffe — "armoured ships"; i.e., "pocket battleships ".
* Panzertruppen — tank forces.
* Papier — paper . Often used as paper of identification .
* Papierkrieg — paper war. The struggle to keep up with reports
and record keeping
* Partei — political party .
* Pionier (pl. Pioniere) — combat engineer .
* Plattenpanzer — plate armour .
* Planoffizier — Triangulation officer
Porsche (P) — company that designed and produced tanks and other
military vehicles. They now produce cars.
* Protze — limber, a horse-drawn two-wheel chariot that was
hitched before a gun and usually transported munitions and crew. The
term derives from the Italian "birazzo", a two-wheeled cart.
* Putsch — coup d\'état ; the sudden overthrow of a government by
a small group, usually the military.
* Pyrrhussieg —
Pyrrhic victory .
* Quartiermeister — quartermaster
* Quist — one of several manufacturers of German helmets both
during and after World War II.
* Radikale Niederwerfung — ruthless suppression.
* Räumboot (R-boot) — small motor minesweeper .
Rasputitsa — semi-annual mud-season in Eastern Europe
* Regierung — government .
* Regimentsadjutant - regiment adjutant
* Regimentsarzt — Regimental Medical Officer
* Regimentschef — colonel of the regiment
* Regimentsführer - substitute for the colonel of the regiment
* Regimentskommandeur - commander of the regiment
* Regimentsveterinär — regimental veterinarian officer
Reich — realm, empire.
Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) — compulsory labor service in Nazi
* Reichsbahn — railway system.
Reich Leader of the SS, an office held by
Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) — "
Reich Main Security Office
Reich Security Head Office"; created by
Himmler in September 1939
to combine all German security and plainclothes police departments,
Kripo and SD (
Sicherheitsdienst der SS) into
one umbrella organization with seven departments.
Reichswehr — name for the German Armed Forces under the Weimar
Republic , from 1919 to 1935.
* Reiter — cavalryman. See also Ritter.
* Rekrut — coll. rookie, recruit , member of the military in the
* Rettungsboot — lifeboat .
* Richtkreisunteroffizier — Gun Director (NCO)
* Richtschütze — aiming gunner.
* Ringkanone (Rk) — built-up gun
* Ritter — knight, cavalier.
* Ritterkreuz — "knight's cross", usual abbreviated name for the
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (see next entry)
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes —
Knight's Cross (of the Iron
Cross); award for valorous service for those who had already received
the Iron Cross. Highest award class for bravery under fire or military
leadership. 7318 of these were awarded during the war. Previous
recipients of the Ritterkreuz would be awarded a higher degree of the
same award, and then successively higher ones. The higher degrees are,
in ascending order:
* Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub — "knight's cross with oak leaves".
890 recipients during the war.
* Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwerten — "knight's cross with
oak leaves and swords". 159 recipients total, plus one honorary
recipient (Japanese admiral
Isoroku Yamamoto )
* Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub, Schwerten und Brillanten — "knight's
cross with oak leaves, swords, and diamonds": 27 recipients total.
* Ritterkreuz mit Goldenem Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten:
"knight's cross with golden oak leaves, swords, and diamonds": only
* Ritterkreuzauftrag, "
Knight's Cross job" — soldiers' slang for
a suicidal mission.
* Ritterkreuzträger — a holder of the Knight's Cross.
Rittmeister — Captain, used instead of
Hauptmann in the cavalry,
reconnaissance, and horse-transport waffen.
* Rollkommando — small motorized (rolling) taskforce (non
military: band for hit-and-run crime)
Rommelspargel — "Rommel's asparagus"; slanted and barb-wired
poles placed in key places behind the
Atlantic Wall with the intention
of preventing paratroop and glider landings.
* Rotes Kreuz —
Red Cross .
* Rotte — two of a kind, especially ships, boats or aircraft. Also
the 'file' in rank and file
Rottenführer — leader of a 'rotte', also a
* Rottenknecht — subordinate in a 'rotte'
Rottenmann — see 'Rottenknecht'
* Rottmeister — first in a file of soldiers. Originally, soldiers
would file 10 – 25 deep, but in the 19th century two files were
standard, thus a 'rotte' described two of a kind. Also a
(non-commissioned) officer in charge of a detachment of 50 cavalry.
* RSO — the Raupenschlepper Ost fully tracked artillery towing
* Rückzug — retreat .
S-mine — a common type of anti-personnel landmine .
* SA — see
* Sachbearbeiter — clerk
* die Sahnefront — (the cream front) occupied Denmark during World
War II , a lot of food, minuscule fighting.
* Sanitäter ('Sani') — combat medic
* Sanitätsoffizier — Medical officer
* Sanitätsunteroffizier — Medical NCO
* Sanka — acronym for Sanitätskraftfahrtzeug, a term for German
* Saukopf — "pig's head", used to refer to the shape of a gun
mantlet or mount, alternatively called Topfblende in German military
* Schanzzeug — entrenching tool ; slang term for fork and knife.
* Schachtellaufwerk - name for the system of overlapped and
interleaved road wheels used on German military half-track and armored
fighting vehicles before and during World War II.
* Scharfschütze — "sharpshooter"; sniper , marksman .
* Schatten — "shadow"; division headquarters that controlled just
a few combat assets, usually for the purpose of misleading enemy
* Scheisskommando — latrine detail as referred to by survivors of
* Scheuch-schlepper - the adapted three-wheel agricultural tractor
(named from the maker of the original agri-version) used to tow the
Luftwaffe's Komet rocket fighter on the ground.
* Schiffchen — side cap
* Schirmmütze — officer's and senior NCO's peaked cap
* Schirrmeister — Harness keeper
* Schlacht — battle. "Von" is used for a general location and "um"
is used for what exactly was being fought over; for example, the
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway is referred to as the "Schlacht um Midway" while the
Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar is called the "Schlacht von Trafalgar".
* Schlachtschiff — battleship .
* Schleichfahrt — silent running .
* schnell — fast.
Schnellboot (S-Boot) — motor torpedo boat (British term:
"E-boat", for "enemy").
* Schnelle Truppen — lit. "fast troops" mechanized troops (whether
armour or infantry).
Schräge Musik — "slanted music", obliquely
upward/forward-firing offensive German night fighter armament.
* Schutzpolizei — "protection police", the urban police; largest
component of the uniformed police or
Schutzstaffel (SS) – "Protection Squadron", a major Nazi
organization that grew from a small paramilitary unit that served as
Hitler's personal body guard into an all-encompassing security, police
and combat force. "SS" is formed from (S)chutz(S)taffel. Had a
Allgemeine-SS or "General SS", general main body
of the Schutzstaffel; SS-
Totenkopfverbände responsible for the
concentration camps; SS-
Verfügungstruppe made up of military
"dispositional" troops which, in 1940, officially became part of the
* Schürze — "skirting", armour skirting added to tanks to give
* Schussline — line of fire .
Schütze — lit. shooter; member of the infantry. From 1920-45
also the lowest military rank. see also Scharfschütze.
* Schützenpanzerwagen (SPW) — armoured half-track or
* Schutzhaft — "protective custody "; a euphemism for the power to
imprison people without judicial proceedings, typically in
* Schutzhaftbefehl — "protective custody order"; document
declaring that a detained person desired to be imprisoned; normally
this signature was forced by torture.
* Schwadron (plural: Schwadrone) — "squadron "; used in the cavalry
, a squadron was basically company-sized.
* Schwadronführer — company commander in the cavalry
* Schwadrontruppführer — company HQ section leader
* Schwarm —
Flight (military unit)
Flight (military unit)
Schwarze Kapelle — "Black Orchestra"; a group of conspirators
within the German
Army who plotted to overthrow
Hitler and came near
to successfully assassinating him on 20 July 1944.
* Schweinereien — "scandalous acts" (lit.: "acts of a pig"); (in a
military context) crimes against civilians.
* schwer — (1) adjective meaning "heavy", the word "gross" (large)
can mean the same; (2) hard/difficult.
* Schwerer Kreuzer — heavy cruiser .
* Schwerpunkt — main axis of attack
* Schwert — sword .
* Schwimmpanzer — amphibious or "swimming" tank.
* SD — see Sicherheitsdienst.
* SdKfz — Sonderkraftfahrzeug
Seekriegsleitung (SKL) — directorate of the Naval War.
* Sehrohr — periscope ; literally "looking tube".
* Sehrohrtiefe — periscope depth.
* Seitengewehr — bayonet .
* Selbstfahrlafette — self-propelled gun carriage.
* Selbstschutz — lit. "self protection"; ethnic German civilian
Sicherheitsdienst (SD) — "security service"; the SS and Nazi
Party security service. Later, the main intelligence-gathering, and
counter-espionage sections of the RSHA; originally headed by Reinhard
Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) — "security police", the combined
forces of the
Gestapo and KriPo , made up of the Reich's criminal
investigators and secret state police.
* "sichern und laden" — "lock and load".
* Sicherungsflottillen — (1) escort ships, (2) paramilitary
organization of unemployed ex-soldiers, who were recruited to protect
Nazi speakers, and because of their clothing were called "Brown
* Sieg — victory .
* Sigrunen — the name of the double "S" runes used by the SS.
* SiPo — see Sicherheitspolizei.
* Sippenhaftung — the practice of arresting members of a person's
family for political crimes or treason committed by that person.
* SMS - abbreviation for
Seiner Majestät Schiff , the German
Empire's equivalent of the British
Royal Navy 's "HMS" (His/Her
Majesty's Ship) naval vessel naming prefix before 1918.
* Soldat — soldier/enlisted man.
* Soldbuch — pay book carried by every member of the German armed
forces. Unit information, a record of all equipment issued, and other
details were entered into this book.
* Sollstärke — authorized strength
Sonderbehandlung — "special treatment"; a
Nazi euphemism meaning
torture or killing of people in detention.
* Sonderfahndungslisten — wanted-persons list.
Sonderkommando — "special unit"; during WWII, an official term
that applied to certain German and foreign SS units that operated in
German-occupied areas, who were responsible for the liquidation of
persons not desirable to the
Nazi government; ALSO: Jewish inmates of
extermination camps , assigned to clear gas chambers of corpses, etc.
During WWI, the term was used to refer to special fleet groups, i.e.
the coastal defense force tasked with maintaining control over
* Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) — "special-purpose motor
vehicle", usually abbreviated and referring to an Ordnance Inventory
* Sonderreferat — special administrative section.
* Späher — scout .
* Spähtrupp - combat patrol
* Spähwagen — armoured car, scout/reconnaissance vehicle.
* Sperrfeuer — protective fire, curtain fire.
Artillery barrage to
stop advancing troops
* Störfeuer — harassing fire
* Sperrlinie — blocking line.
* Sperrschule — Mine Warfare School at Kiel-Wik.
* Spieß — "pike "; colloquial name for the mustering and
administrative non-commissioned officer of a company, the
Hauptfeldwebel. Typically held the rank of
Stabsfeldwebel. He exercised more authority than his American
counterpart (First Sergeant), but his duties did not ordinarily
include combat leadership.
* Spion — spy .
* Sprengstoff — explosive material .
* Sprung - an advance movement for infantry: jump up from cover, run
a few steps, take cover again. Repeat.
* "Sprung auf, marsch, marsch!" - command to initiate a Sprung
* SS — see
* SS-TV — SS-
Totenkopfverbände (SS Death's Head Units).
* SS-Verfügungstruppen — "units available" or military formations
of the SS; became the core of the
Waffen-SS formed in August 1940.
* Stab (pl. Stäbe) — "staff", sometimes HQ.
* Stabschef — chief of staff .
Stabsfeldwebel — lit. "
Staff Sergeant ", but roughly equivalent
to Sergeant Major: the highesr NCO rank in the Wehrmacht, the second
highest NCO rank in the Bundeswehr.
* Stacheldraht — barbed wire .
* Stadtkommandant — military commander of a city.
* Staffel — squadron ; the smallest operational air unit, and the
primary operational unit of the World War I era
Stahlhelm — (1) literally "steel helmet"; (2) inter-war
* Stalag — acronym for Stammlager, German prisoner-of-war camp for
ranks other than officers.
* Stalinorgel — "Stalin's Organ"; nickname for the Katyusha rocket
* Stammkennzeichen — four-letter radio identification code applied
Luftwaffe aircraft, also used for prototype
identification, not used on non-day-fighter aircraft assigned to a
Luftwaffe wing, where a Geschwaderkennung code would be
* Standarte — SS unit equivalent to a regiment
* Standort - garrison
* Standortältester - garrison commander
* Stellung — position
* Stellungskrieg — static warfare, contrary to Blitzkrieg, if
neither of the conflict parties is able to overcome the defense with
offensive operations, the result is an Abnützungskrieg .
* Stellungsunteroffizier — gun position NCO
* Steuerbord (Stb) — starboard side of a ship.
* Stielhandgranate — stick hand grenade: the "potato masher" Model
24 grenade .
* "stopfen" — a command to stop firing, probably derived from
"stop your vents"
* Stoßtrupp — small unit as shock or attack troops.
* Stoß- — Stoßbataillon, Stoßregiment, Stoßdivision, a
temporary designation for units, battalions, regiments or divisions
that were held as mobile reserve and thus could be used to push
(stoßen) an attacking force back in a counterattack. This term was
first used in trench warfare in WWI, when in 1917 the defensive tactic
of the German
Army changed to in depth defense. The rationale was that
frontline units in the trenches suffered so many casualties and
material losses as not to be able to mount an effective counterstroke.
* Strategischer Sieg — strategic victory .
* Stube — room in the barracks, quarters
Stuka — acronym for Sturzkampfflugzeug, literally: "downfall
combat aircraft" figuratively: *dive-bombing aircraft". Particularly
associated with the German Ju-87 dive bomber , although the German
term refers to any dive bomber.
* Stukageschwader — a dive bomberwing /group , later
Schlachtgeschwader in a ground support role (SG).
* Stupa — a Sturmpanzer IV assault gun .
* Sturm — assault.
Sturmabteilung (SA) — "assault detachment," party militia, not
part of the army. In the beginning the
Nazi Party's "Brown Shirt"
bully-boys and street brawlers that grew by 1934 into a paramilitary
force of nearly a half-million men; after the purge of its leadership
Schutzstaffel (SS) and
Gestapo during the Night of the Long
Knives rapidly decreased in numbers and influence.
* Sturmbann — lit. "storm band," a battalion; used by SA and SS
units until 1940.
Sturmgeschütz (StuG) — self-propelled assault gun , such as the
Sturmgeschütz III .
* Sturmgewehr — assault rifle.
* Sturmtrupp — assault troop, a specially drilled group of
soldiers, usually a squad or a platoon, that was used for assaults on
fixed positions in trenchwarfare. Later usage in WWII was for combat
patrols with orders to infiltrate
* Sturmbattaillon — assault battalion, specially trained and
equipped battalions of the German
Army in WWI, specifically created in
1917 and 1918 from the experience in trench warfare.
* StuK - Sturmkanone, prefix for the main armament of any German
self-propelled artillery, also "StuH" for Sturmhaubitze, when a
howitzer was used instead on a tracked chassis.
* Stützpunkt — military base .
* Süden — south.
Swastika — English term for the German Hakenkreuz.
* sWS —
Schwere Wehrmachtschlepper , late World War II
"replacement" half-track vehicle.
Tonne (t) — tonne (metric, 1000 kg)
Tonne (ts) — long ton
* Tagesbefehl — order of the day
* tauchen — dive; submerge.
* Tauchpanzer — submersible tank.
* Teilkommando — a small, section -sized command group.
* Testflug — flight test , shakedown cruise
* Tiger — name given to the PzKW
Panzer VI "
Tiger I " and "Tiger
II " series of tanks, as well as the
Jagdtiger tank destroyer , based
on the Tiger II, and
Sturmtiger , built on the Tiger I's chassis .
* Todesmärsche — "Death marches " — at the end of the war when
it became obvious that the German army was trapped between the Soviets
to the east and the advancing Allied troops from the west, the Nazis,
in an attempt to prevent the liberation of concentration camp inmates,
forced them to march westward toward
Germany proper. Thousands died in
* Tommy — German slang for a British soldier (similar to "Jerry"
or "Kraut", the British and American slang terms for Germans).
Totenkopf — "death's head", skull and crossbones, also the
nickname for the
Kampfgeschwader 54 bomber wing of the World War II
* Tornister - Back pack
Totenkopfverbände — "Death's Head units", employed as guards in
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps , many later became the members of units of
Waffen-SS , such as the SS Division
* Totaler Krieg — "
Total war " — In a total war, there is less
differentiation between combatants and civilians than in other
conflicts, and sometimes no such differentiation at all, as nearly
every human resource, civilians and soldiers alike, can be considered
to be part of the belligerent effort
* Totenkopfwachsturmbanne — Death's Head Guard battalions; units
of the SS that guarded concentration camps during the war.
* Treffer — hit. Mostly in past tense. "
Torpedo getroffen!" =
Torpedo hit!" or "
* Tropenhelm — pith helmet ; a wide-rimmed fabric-covered cork
helmet used in tropical areas, most notably by the
Afrika Korps .
* Trupp (pl. Trupps) — Smallest tactical unit of 2 to 8 men, best
Fireteam but also used in non-combat tasks as logistics.
* Truppe (pl. Truppen) — summarising term for armed forces, in
some context it stands for the enlisted personnel.
Truppenamt — "Troop Office", the disguised
Army General Staff
Versailles Treaty abolished the German
Army General Staff.
* Truppenarzt — physician in units and sub-units with organic
medical sections, e.g. Regimentsarzt, Bataillonsarzt
* Truppführer — team leader
* Ubootausbildungsabteilung (UAA) — see U-Fahrausbildungslehrgang.
* Uboot-Abnahme-Kommission (UAK) — submarine acceptance commission
* Ubootabwehrschule (UAS) — anti-submarine school
* U-Bootjäger (UJ-boats) — steam trawlers equipped for
anti-submarine operations .
* U-Fahrausbildungslehrgang — where submarine personnel learned to
* U-Lehrdivision (ULD) —
U-boat Training Division (see
* unabkömmlich (uk) — not available for military service
* Uk (Schnellladekanone in Uboot-Lafette) — quick-firing gun with
* Untermenschen — those peoples the Nazis derided as "subhuman"
Unteroffizier — (1) a non-commissioned officer; (2) the lowest
NCO rank, typical for e.g. infantry squad leaders and functionally
equivalent to US Sergeant or UK Corporal.
Unteroffiziere mit Portepee — senior NCO; lit. "underofficer
Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee — junior NCO; lit. "underofficer
* Unterführer — summarized term for all non-commissioned
officers; literally: "subleaders".
* Unterseeboot (U-Boot) — literally, "undersea boat"; submarine .
In the English-speaking world, there is a distinction between "U-boat"
and "submarine": "U-boat" refers to a German submarine, particularly
the ones used during the world wars. In German, there is no
distinction as "U-boat" is used for any submarine, such as "Deutsches
U-Boot" or "Amerikanisches U-Boot".
Ural bomber -
Luftwaffe General Walter Wever 's initiative to
build Germany's first four engined strategic bomber at the dawn of the
Third Reich, with prototypes coming from Dornier and Junkers . After
Wever's death in 1936, the program was shelved.
* Urlaub — furlough; also: vacation .
* Utof (Uboots-Torpedoboots-Fliegerabwehr-Lafette) — quick-firing
gun in submarine-torpedo boat-anti-aircraft mounting
* UvD —
Unteroffizier vom Dienst - Sergeant in charge of CQ
* V1 — the first of the operational German "weapons of vengeance",
or Vergeltungswaffen, the V1 was a pilotless, pioneering cruise
missile powered by a pulse-jet engine and carried an 850 kg (1875 lb)
high-explosive warhead . They had a range of up to 200 km. Nicknamed
"buzz bombs" by Allied troops ("doodlebug" by Australians) due to the
sound they made.
* V2 Rocket — Also known as the A4, the successor to the V1 was
the pioneering supersonic
SRBM powered by liquid oxygen and alcohol,
it had a 975 kg (2150 lb) high-explosive warhead and a range of 320
* V3 — long-range, smooth-bore multiple-chamber supergun nicknamed
the Hochdruckpumpe (high-pressure pump), designed to fire shells
carrying up to a 10 kg (22 lb) high-explosive warhead at a range of 93
km. It was never very successful as most installations were destroyed
by bombing before they could be used.
* Verband — formation (from a battalion to a brigade).
* Verbindungsoffizier — liaison officer
* verdächtige Elemente/Personen — suspicious elements/persons.
* Verfügungstruppen — " Disposal Troops"; SS combat units, became
Waffen-SS in 1940.
* Vergeltungsmaßnahmen — reprisals; retaliatory punitive
* Vernichtungskrieg — (1) "war of annihilation" against USSR
civilians; (2) dogmatic offensive.
* Vernichtungslager — extermination camp .
* Verpflegung - food supplies
* Verräter — traitor .
* "Verstanden" — procedure word ; "understood", "roger ".
* Verstärkung — reinforcement.
* Versuchs — experimental. Hence the "V" designation for any
military aircraft prototype for the
World War II
World War II era Luftwaffe.
Originated by the Fokker Flugzeugbau in 1916, solely for its own
* Versuchskonstruktion — prototype .
* Verwendung — duty position
* Veterinäroffizier — veterinarian officer
Vichy France — French regime set up in the city of
Marshal Philippe Petain in collaboration with the Germans following
the fall of France in 1940. It governed the southern half of France
until its dissolution in 1944.
* Vierling — German for "quadruple", referring to any weapons
mount that used four machine guns or autocannon of the same make and
model, in a single traversable and elevatible mount, used as part of
the name for the Flakvierling quadmount 20mm anti-aircraft cannon
system, and the experimental HL 131V (Hecklafette 131-Vierling) tail
turret, mounting four
MG 131 12.7mm machine guns in an enclosed,
powered defensive position for advanced German late-war bomber
* Vizeadmiral — Naval rank of
* völkisch — popular, in the sense of "of the (German) populace."
An adjective derived from "Volk" meaning "people," coming from the
racist, nationalist ideology that divided people into "pure" Aryans
and inferior Untermenschen.
Volksdeutsche — ethnic Germans.
* Volksgemeinschaft — national community or civilian population;
public support (see Kameradschaft).
Volksgrenadier — "People's Infantryman", a morale -building
honorific given to low-grade infantry divisions raised or
reconstituted in the last months of the war.
* Volkskrieg — "People's War".
Volkssturm — people's semi-military defense force, made up
mostly of boys and older men.
* Volkstumskampf — ethnic struggle.
* Vorausabteilung — advance detachment
* Vorgeschobener Beobachter — forward observer
* Vorpostenboote (VP-boot) — coastal escort vessels and motor
launches with anti-submarine and minesweeping gear. Also called
Küstenfischkutter (KFK), as they were patrol vessels constructed to a
* Wasserbombe (WaBo) —depth charge .
* Wach- — guard (in conjunction).
* Wachsamkeit — vigilance .
Wachtmeister — senior NCO (equivalent to Feldwebel) in cavalry
and artillery units.
* Waffe (plural: Waffen) — "weapon", or can be an adjective
Waffenamt — "weapons office" — arms inspection stamp or mark.
* Waffenfarbe — arm of service colour
Waffen-SS — "Armed SS". The military combat branch of the SS
that was created in August 1940 with the amalgamation of the
Verfügungstruppe , the Leibstandarte SS Adolf
Hitler (LSSAH) and the
combat Standarten of the
* Wagen — vehicle, car.
Wehrkraftzersetzung — undermining the fighting spirit of the
* Wehrkreis — German military district centered on an important
Wehrmacht — German armed forces under the
Third Reich consisting
of three branches: the Heer (Army), the
Luftwaffe (Air Force), and the
Kriegsmarine (Navy). The
Waffen-SS was a separate organization,
although SS combat units were usually placed under the operational
Army High Command (OKH) or
Wehrmacht High Command (OKW).
Wehrmachtbericht — a daily radio broadcast that described the
military situation on all fronts during
World War II
World War II .
* Wehrmachtführungsstab — Armed Forces Operations Staff.
* Wehrmachtsadler — the
Wehrmacht 's eagle insignia.
* Wehrmachtgefolge — Armed Forces Auxiliaries. These include those
organizations that were not a part of the armed forces but that served
such an important support role that they were given protection under
Geneva Convention and/or militarized. The armed forces auxiliaries
consisted in part of the
Reichsarbeitsdienst , NSKK , Organisation
Todt , and the
* Wehrmachtskanister — Robust tank used to carry fuel. Called a
Jerrycan " by the Allies.
* Wehrpass — German military individual service record booklet.
* Werkschutz — industrial plant protection service and security
Werwolf — German guerrilla fighters dedicated to harass Allied
rear areas. Initially conceived as an adjunct to the Jagd-Kommando
units and placed under the command of
Otto Skorzeny , the idea was
later appropriated by
Joseph Goebbels to represent the general rising
up of the German people to defend against foreign invasion. It was not
well organized or widely effective, and there were only a few known
instances of involvement, mainly after the war ended and mostly in the
Wespe — "wasp", a self-propelled 105mm howitzer on PzKpfw II
* Westen — west.
* Wetterbeobachtungsschiff (WBS) — weather ship
* Widerstandskräfte — insurgents (see Freischärler).
* Wolf — the military designation name for a Mercedes-Benz G-Class
in the German Bundeswehr.
* Wolfsrudel — wolf pack , an anti-convoy tactic developed by
Admiral Dönitz prior to the war.
Wolfsschanze "Wolf's lair" lit. "Wolf's entrenchment" — Hitler's
World War II
World War II Eastern Front military headquarters, one of several
Headquarters or FHQs located in various parts of Europe. The
complex, built for
Operation Barbarossa (the 1941 German invasion of
the Soviet Union) was located in the Masurian woods, about 8
kilometres (5.0 mi) from
East Prussia (N/K/A Kętrzyn ,
* Wotan — alternative name for the Y-GERäT radio navigation
Würzburg radar — German air defense radar that went into
service in 1940; over 3,000 of all variants were built.
* X-Gerät — "X-device" or "X-equipment"; radio navigation
equipment used on German aircraft.
* Y-Beam — German aircraft navigational system that utilized a
single station that radiated a directional beam plus a ranging signal
that the bomber picked up and re-transmitted to enable the ground
controllers to compute the range and know when to order the bombs to
* Y-Gerät — "Y-device" or "Y-equipment"; radio navigation
equipment used on German aircraft.
* Z-Plan (or Plan-Z) was the name given to the re-equipment and
expansion of the
Nazi German Navy) as ordered by Adolf
Hitler on 27 January 1939. The plan called for 10 battleships, four
aircraft carriers, three battlecruisers, eight heavy cruisers, 44
light cruisers, 68 destroyers and 249 U-boats by 1944 that was meant
to challenge the naval power of the United Kingdom. The outbreak of
World War II
World War II in September 1939 came far too early to implement the
* Z3 — pioneering computer developed by
Konrad Zuse in 1941, it
was destroyed by bombardment in 1944.
* z.b.V. — see zur besonderen Verwendung .
* Zeit — time.
* Zeitplan — timetable , schedule.
* Zeltbahn — a triangular or square shelter quarter made of
closely woven, water-repellent cotton duck . It could be used on its
own as a poncho or put together with others to create shelters and
tents. Also called Zeltplane.
* Zentralstelle II P — Central Office II P (Poland).
* Zerstörer — destroyer , also the designation for a Luftwaffe
heavy fighter combat aircraft.
* Ziel — target, objective.
Zimmerit — an anti-magnetic mine paste applied on the armour of
German tanks to prevent magnetic mines from being attached. It was
similar to cement, and was applied on the tanks with a rake, giving
the vehicle a rough appearance. From the summer of the 1943 to
Zimmerit became a standard characteristic on many German
Zossen — The underground bunker complex that was headquarters
for both the
Wehrmacht (OKW) and (Heer )
Army High Command (OKH)
located approximately 20 miles west of Berlin in Zossen, Germany.
* Zug — platoon or train.
* Zugführer — platoon leader
* Zugtruppführer — platoon HQ section leader
* Zur besonderen Verwendung (z.b.V.) — for special employment.
Sometimes a killing squad/unit, but also used for divisions raised for
special reasons (e.g., the Division zbV Afrika ).
Zyklon-B — commercial name for the prussic acid (hydrocyanic
acid) gas used in German extermination camps .
LIST OF GERMAN MILITARY RANKS
World War II
World War II German
Army Ranks and
Approximate ranks relative to US ranks:
Reichsmarschall – "Marshal of the Empire", the highest rank in
the German armed forces during
World War II
World War II (specifically created for
Hermann Göring to distinguish him from the other field marshals).
General of the Armies of the United States
Generalfeldmarschall – General of the
Army during World War II.
* Generaloberst – General, literally "highest" or "supreme
general", usually translated "Colonel-general"; not used in the
* General der Infanterie, Kavallerie, etc. – General (before 1956
equivalent to US Lieutenant General)
Generalleutnant – Lieutenant-General (before 1956 equivalent to
Generalmajor – Major-General (before 1956 equivalent to US
Brigadegeneral – Brigadier General; not used prior to the
Oberst – Colonel, literally "highest"
Oberstleutnant – Lieutenant Colonel
Major – Major
Rittmeister – Captain
Oberleutnant – First Lieutenant
Leutnant – (Second) Lieutenant
* Oberstabsfeldwebel/Oberstabsbootsmann – (Senior NCO )
Stabsfeldwebel /Hauptbootsmann – Master Sergeant (Senior NCO)
Oberfeldwebel /Bootsmannsmaat – Technical Sergeant (Senior NCO)
* Fähnrich/Oberfähnrich – no perfect equivalent. Senior Officer
Cadet with something like warrant officer status, used in functions
like Ensign , passed Midshipman or 2nd Lieutenant but not
* Fahnenjunker – no perfect equivalent. Most junior Officer Cadet
with sergeant (US) or corporal (UK) status.
Wachtmeister /Bootsmann –
Staff Sergeant (Senior NCO)
Unterfeldwebel – Sergeant; formerly called Sergeant prior to
1921 (not in use in the
* Stabsunteroffizer/Obermaat (Junior NCO)
Unteroffizier /Maat – Corporal (Junior NCO) (since the
Bundeswehr more comparable to
Petty Officer )
* Oberstabsgefreiter – (enlisted personnel); not used prior to the
* Stabsgefreiter – (enlisted personnel)
* Hauptgefreiter – (enlisted personnel); not used prior to the
Obergefreiter – Lance Corporal (enlisted personnel).
Historically, and up until 1945, the rank of
considered in English the equivalent to a British
Army Lance Corporal
with seniority, therefore named "Senior Lance Corporal", or rather
Second Corporal in the Artillery.
Gefreiter – Private First Class (enlisted personnel).
Historically, and up until 1945, the rank of
Gefreiter was considered
in English the equivalent to a British
Army Lance Corporal rank.
Oberschütze – Senior Rifleman. Historical rank used up until
1945, not in use in the Bundeswehr.
* Gemeiner – Private (enlisted personnel). Historically, and up
until 1918, the rank of Gemeiner was ordinarily used for an enlisted
soldier of Private rank.
Grenadier /Schütze/Soldat/Matrose/Flieger/Sanitäter – Private
For additional comparisons, see Comparative military ranks of World
War II .
LIST OF MILITARY OPERATIONS
The German term for "Operation" is Unternehmen, literally
* ADLERANGRIFFE (Eagle Attack) series of raids against Royal Air
* ADLERTAG — Eagle Day; day one of intense raiding against
August 1940 known as
Operation Eagle Attack (postponed from 10
* ANTON — occupation of
Vichy France, November 1942; later known
* ATILLA — occupation of
Vichy France, November 1942 (previously,
* AUFBAU OST — Eastern Buildup; build-up of arms prior to the
invasion of the Soviet Union.
* BARBAROSSA — invasion of the
Soviet Union in June 1941.
Barbarossa , or "Red Beard" was the nickname for Emperor Frederick I,
who attempted to unify Germanic states in the 12th century.
* BERNHARD — scheme to counterfeit British bank notes and put them
into circulation; begun in 1942.
* BODENPLATTE — Base Plate; air offensive against Allied airfields
in north-western Europe, New Year's Day 1945.
* EICHE — Oak; mission to rescue
Benito Mussolini by
Fallschirmjäger led by Skorzeny .
* EISENHAMMER - Iron Hammer, planned strategic bombing raid on
Soviet electric power generation water turbines, potentially knocking
out three-quarters of all western Soviet electrical generation
capacity, never carried out
* FALL BLAU - Case Blue; summer offensive in Southern Russia.
* FALL GELB — Case Yellow; invasion of the
Netherlands , Belgium
* FALL GRüN — Case Green; intended invasion of
* FALL ROT — Case Red; counterstrike against France in the event
of an attack from the West.
* FALL WEIß — Case White; invasion of
* FELIX — plan to capture
Gibraltar in 1941. It never took place.
* FISCHFANG — Fish Trap; counterattack on the Allied beachhead at
Anzio in February 1944.
* GREIF — Griffin; dropping of English-speaking troops wearing
American uniforms behind the Allied lines in the
Ardennes , prior to
Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge .
* HERBSTNEBEL — Autumn Mist; offensive in the Ardennes, December
1944. Better known as the Battle of the Ardennes.
* HERKULES — projected invasion of Malta by
the Navy. Never executed.
* KATHRIN — Plan to help the Irish Republican
Army to commit
terrorism and disrupt British internal security.
* MERKUR — Mercury (the planet or the Roman god , not the metal );
airborne invasion of Crete 1941.
* NORDLICHT — Northern Lights; attack on Leningrad in 1942.
* NORDWIND — North Wind; counteroffensive in Alsace and Lorraine
in January 1945.
* PANZERFAUST — Armored Fist; the October 1944 mission to kidnap
Miklós Horthy Jr, son of Hungarian Regent Admiral Miklós Horthy.
* PAUKENSCHLAG — Drumroll or Drumbeat; offensive against Allied
shipping in US and
Caribbean waters in the first half of 1942.
* PASTORIUS —
U-boat operation involving U-202 and U-548 setting 8
agents ashore in the USA in June 1942.
* REINHARD — covername for the entire process of building
extermination camps, deportation of Jews first to ghettos , then to
the concentration camps for extermination and incineration. Named for
Reinhard Heydrich .
* SEELöWE — Sea Lion; projected amphibious assault on Great
Britain in 1940/41. It never took place.
* STEINBOCK - the German
Luftwaffe bomber offensive against England
from late January through the end of May 1944
* STöSSER — parachute drop on evening of 16 December 1944;
purpose was to seize a crossroads for
Kampfgruppe Peiper during the
* STRAFGERICHT — "punishment" air attacks on
Belgrade , April
* TAIFUN — Typhoon; push towards
Moscow in September 1941.
* TANNENBAUM — "fir-tree"; projected invasion of
1940. Never carried out.
* TIGER — advance through the
Maginot Line on the French border in
* WACHT AM RHEIN — "Guard on the Rhine"; the December 1944
Ardennes offensive, known by Americans as the Battle of the Bulge.
* WALKüRE — Valkyrie Officially a Reserve
Army contingency plan
to restore law and order in the event a disruption caused by the
Allied bombing of German cities caused a breakdown in law and order,
or a rising by the millions of forced laborers German factories. Was,
in fact, a major part of the failed
July 20 Plot
July 20 Plot to arrest SS and
Nazi officials and seize control of the German government.
* WESERüBUNG — Weser Exercise (commonly, Water Exercise);
invasion of Denmark and Norway, 9 April 1940
* WINTERGEWITTER — Winter Gale; unsuccessful attempt to relieve
Stalingrad in December 1942.
* ZITADELLE — Citadel; attack on Soviet salient at
Kursk , July
* Glossary of
Weimar paramilitary groups
* Ranks and
Insignia of the German
World War II
World War II
* Ranks and insignia of the
* Comparative military ranks of
World War II
World War II
List of SS personnel
List of SS personnel
* ^ "Baubeschreibung des einmotorigen Jagdeinsitzers, Baumuster
162, mit TL-Triebwerk BMW 003 E-1 (in German)" (PDF).
deutsche-luftwaffe.de. Heinkel Flugzeugwerke. 15 October 1944.
Retrieved July 6, 2016.
* ^ "Verteidigungsminister besucht "Grundi" in Roth". Retrieved
* ^ Poulsen, Henning (1 January 1991). "Die Deutschen
Besatzungspolitik in Dänemark". In Bohn, Robert; Elvert, Jürgen;
Rebas, Hain; Salewski, Michael. Neutralität und Totalitäre
Aggression (in German). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 379. ISBN
978-3-515-05887-2 . Retrieved 20 April 2016.
* ^ A B "Galerie: Heer". Retrieved 2008-10-23.
* Andrew, Stephen; Thomas, Nigel; The German
Blitzkrieg. Osprey Publishing Lt., 1999.
* Bidermann, Gottlob Herbert. In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's
Memoir of the Eastern Front. Kansas, University Press of Kansas.
(2001): ISBN 0-7006-1122-3 .
* Niehorster, Leo (31 January 2015). "German Army. Military
Personnel Job Descriptions".
World War II
World War II Armed Forces. Orders of
Battle and Organizations. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
* Rottman, Gordon L. "FUBAR: Soldier Slang of World War II". London,
Osprey Publishing. (2007): ISBN 978-1-84603-175-5 . (Contains German
* Sajer, Guy ;
The Forgotten Soldier . Brassey's Inc. (2001): ISBN
1-57488-286-4 . Excellent, personal telling of a regular German
soldier's experience of the Eastern Front in World War II.
* Shirer, William; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Simon &
Schuster. (1990): ISBN 0-671-72868-7 .
* Snyder, Louis L. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. London: Robert
Hale, 1976. ISBN 978-0-73942-360-8
* Zentner, Christian and Friedemann Bedürftig (1991). The
Encyclopedia of the
Third Reich . Macmillan, New York. ISBN
* AFRIKAKORPS.Org German WWII Abbreviation List
* Luftarchiv.de List of