LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: Notizbuch eines Philologen (1947) is a
book by Victor Klemperer, Professor of
Literature at the Dresden
University of Technology. The title, half in
Latin and half in German,
translates to "The Language of the Third Reich: A Philologist's
Notebook"; the book is published in English translation as The
Language of the Third Reich.
2.1 Recurrent words
2.2 Euphemisms (Schleierwörter)
2.3 Recurrent expressions and motives
3 In film
4 See also
6 External links
Lingua Tertii Imperii studies the way that
Nazi propaganda altered the
German language to inculcate people with National Socialist ideas. The
book was written under the form of personal notes which Klemperer
wrote in his diary, especially from the rise of the Nazi regime in
1933, and even more after 1935, when Klemperer, stripped of his
academic title because he was Jewish (under the Nuremberg Laws), had
to work in a factory. His diary became a notebook in which he noted
and commented on the linguistic relativity of the German used by Nazi
officials, ordinary citizens, and even fellow Jews. Klemperer wrote
the book, based on his notes, in 1945–1946.
LTI demonstrates changes in the
German language in most of the
population. In contrast, the text also emphasizes the idea that
resistance to oppression begins by questioning the constant use of
buzzwords. Both the book and its author unexpectedly survived the war.
LTI was first published in 1947 in Germany.
It underlines odd constructions of words intended to give a
"scientific" or neutral aspect to otherwise heavily engaged
discourses, as well as significant every-day behaviour.
Klemperer notes that much of the Nazi language involved appropriating
old words and adapting their meaning, rather than making new ones.
Among the examples he recorded of propagandistic language use were the
Artfremd ("Alien to the species")
Ewig ("Eternal") E.gr.: der ewige Jude (the eternal Jew); das ewige
Deutschland (the eternal Germany)
Fanatical / Fanaticism (used in a particularly
Orwellian way: strongly
positively connotated for the "good" side, and strongly negatively
connotated for the "bad" side)
Evakuierung ("evacuation"): deportation
Holen ("pick up"): arrest
Konzentrationslager ("concentration camp"): extermination camp
Krise ("crisis"): defeat
Sonderbehandlung ("special treatment"): murder
Verschärfte Vernehmung ("enhanced interrogation"): torture
Recurrent expressions and motives
the war "imposed" onto a peace-loving
Führer (France and the United
Kingdom did declare war on Germany, but only after the invasion of
the "incommensurable hate" of the Jews – an example of
Orwellian ambiguity: the Jews have an "incommensurable hate" of the
Third Reich (aggressive or conspiratorial), but the German people have
an "incommensurable hate" of the Jews (spontaneous and legitimate).
Examples taken from Victor Klemperer's diaries: January 1,
1935 – language tertii imperii: Lutze's New Year message to the
SA...Our "fanatical will" twice in a non-pejorative sense. Emphasis on
believing without understanding. (1) "fanatical engagement of the SA,"
(2) "fanatical sense of commitment." Nov 24, 1936 – On the
language of the Third Reich:...The Fuhrer must be followed blindly,
blindly! They do not need to explain anything at all, since they are
accountable to no one. Today it occurred to me: Never has the tension
between human power and powerlessness, human knowledge and human
stupidity been so overwhelmingly great as now. May 23, 1938 –
The aim of education in the Third Reich and of the language of the
Third Reich, is to expand the popular stratum in everyone to such an
extent that the thinking stratum is suffocated. August 29,
1939 – Lingua...there is no longer any talk of Bolshevists, but
instead of the Russian people. December 31, 1940 – language
tertii imperii: In Hitler's New Year Order of the Day to the troops
again the "victories of unparalleled dimensions," again the American
superlative, "The year of 1941 will see the accomplishment of the
greatest victory in our history." 
Volk(s)- ("Volk = people, Volks = of or for the people (prefix)").
Volksgemeinschaft designated the racially pure community of nations.
Volkswagen is an example of a term which has outlived the Third Reich.
Welt- ("world", as in Weltanschauung, "intuition/view of the world"):
this was quite a rare, specific and cultured term before the Third
Reich, but became an everyday word. It came to designate the
instinctive understanding of complex geo-political problems by the
Nazis, which allowed them to openly begin invasions, twist facts or
violate human rights, in the name of a higher ideal and in accordance
to their theory of the world.
arisieren ("to aryanise")
aufnorden ("to nordicise up", make more Nordic).
entjuden ("to de-Jew"). Conversely, after the war, a strong trend of
Entnazifizierung ("denazification") took place.
Untermenschentum ("sub-humanity", from Untermensch)
Language Does Not Lie (La langue ne ment pas), a 2003 documentary
film based on Klemperer's book, directed by Stan Neumann
Glossary of Nazi Germany
^ Krajewski, Bruce (2002). "Rev. of Klemperer, The Language of the
Third Reich". Modern Language Quarterly. 63 (1): 133–36.
^ Wegner, Gregory Paul (2004). "Rev. of Klemperer, The Language of the
Third Reich". Holocaust and Genocide Studies. 18 (1): 106–108.
^ ""Verschärfte Vernehmung"". The Atlantic. May 2007.
^ Klemperer, Victor (1999). I Will Bear Witness. New York: Modern
Library. ISBN 9780375753787.
^ Language Does Not Lie
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Victor Klemperer
Nazi Language and Terminology at United States Holocaust Memorial
Index to the LTI (German)