Yes sir in german military

Yes sir in german military DEFAULT

Glossary of German military terms

Wikipedia glossary

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 Nazi era. Some factories that were the primary producers of military equipment, especially tanks, are also given.



  • 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 formations
    • Abteilungsführer – substitute battalion commander in artillery and cavalry formations
    • Abteilungsveterinär – battalion veterinarian
  • Abwehr – "defense"; as a shortening of Spionage Abwehr (spy 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 "anti-aircraft gun."
  • Abzeichen – insignia; badge of rank, appointment or distinction.
  • Adlerangriff – "Eagle Attack"; term for projected "decisive attack" by the Luftwaffe on RAF Fighter Command under the direction of Hermann Göring, instituted to gain control of the skies from the 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 the Battle of Britain.
  • Afrika Korps – the elite German mechanized force commanded by Erwin Rommel, known as the "Wüstenfuchs" (en: Desert Fox), which performed exemplary in Hitler's North African campaigns between 1941 and 1943. Allied efforts to defeat Rommel were high 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 "Äusserste Kraft!"
  • 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 ship!"
  • 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 members.
  • Alte Hasen – "Old hares"; slang for military veterans who survived front-line hardships.
  • Amerikabomber – 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 the Abwehr.
  • 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 Wehrwirtschaftsstab (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.
  • Armee-Nachrichten-Führer – army signals officer, served on the staff HQ of an army.
  • Armeeoberkommando – field army command.
  • Armee-Pionier-Führer – army engineer officer, served on the staff HQ of an army.
  • Armee-Sanitäts-Abteilung – 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 as Operation Barbarossa.
  • aufgelöst – "dissolved"; disbanded, written off the order of battle.
  • Aufklärung – reconnaissance.
  • Aufklärungs-Abteilung – reconnaissance unit or battalion, also used to designate certain battalion-sized units.
  • Aufklärungsgruppe (Aufkl.Gr., later AGr) – "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 on aircraft.
  • 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 V-E Day
  • 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 Nazi attack against the 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 mountain in 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 Akku.
    • 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 & physical parameters (materials, dihedral angles, etc.), of either German front line; 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 Luftwaffe.[1]
  • 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 – Artillery observer
  • 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, 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.
  • 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 Heer (Army), 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 etc.
  • 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 the campaign.


  • 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.
  • Deckung — Cover. "In Deckung!" means "Take cover!", and "In Deckung bleiben!" means "Stay under cover!" Compare Tarnung, meaning "concealment" or "camouflage".
  • 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 Libya on February 14, 1941 (which stayed as a distinct formation for the remainder of the 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 Panzer Army.
  • 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 size.
    • 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 a Generalleutnant.
  • 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 – "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 near.


  • Eagle's Nest – English name given to Hitler's mountain-top summerhouse at Berchtesgaden in the BavarianAlps, not far from the Berghof. In German, it is known as the Kehlsteinhaus. Hitler, however, visited the property only ten times and each visit was under 30 minutes.
  • EG z.b. V. – Einsatzgruppe zur besonderen Verwendung – SS Special Purpose Operational Group.
  • Ehrendolch – literally, "honor dagger", a presentationdagger awarded for individual recognition, especially by the SS.
  • Eichenlaubträger – holder of Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
  • Eid – oath. The current oath when joining the Bundeswehr is "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 [law] 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 (1917–1918).
  • 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 Einsatzkommandos.
  • 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 Union.
  • 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 Army (approximately 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 late-World War II attempt by Germany to produce a standardised series of tank designs.
  • Einsatzgruppen reports – Einsatzgruppen commanders' report delivered daily to the Reich Security Main Office (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 replacement groups.
  • 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 of 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 France.
  • Fahne (pl. Fahnen) – flag or banner.
  • Fahnenjunker – lowest officer candidate rank equivalent to Unteroffizier (Corporal)
  • Fahnenflucht – desertion
  • Fahnenschmied – farrier NCO
  • Fähnlein (Squad) – unit of the Deutsches Jungvolk within the Hitler Youth.
  • Fähnrich – officer candidate rank equivalent to Feldwebel (Sergeant). A Fähnrich is an NCO, though, and will have commensurable tasks.
  • Fähnrich zur See – naval officer candidate rank equivalent to Bootsmann (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 "Regional Commander").
  • FdV – Führer der Vorpostenboote
  • Feigling – coward.
  • Feind – enemy. "Feindlich-" is used as an adjective, such as "feindliche Truppen" (enemy troops) or "feindliche Stellung" (enemy position).
  • Feindfahrt – "enemy trip"; in U-boat terminology, a war cruise or combat patrol against the enemy.
  • Feindbild – "enemy image"; prejudiced 'bogeyman' image of the enemy.
  • Feld – field.
  • Feldersatzbatallion – field replacement battalion, usually one per infantry division.
  • Feldflasche – canteen.
  • Feldflieger 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 Wehrmacht.
  • 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 Bundeswehr.
  • 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 the Möbelwagen.
  • Flakvierling – anti-aircraft, open turret-style weapon system employing a quartet (vierling) of 20mm autocannon, employed on land, in self-propelled mounts and on ships.
  • Flammpanzer – flame-throwing tank.
  • Flammenwerfer – flame-thrower.
  • Flecktarn – spotted camouflage.
  • Fliegerabwehr-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 Luftstreitkräfte.
  • 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) – pulse-jet engine powered flying bomb carrying high-explosive warhead known to the Allies as the "buzz bomb".
  • Flugzeug – aircraft.
  • Flug(zeug)abwehrkanone – see FlaK.
  • Flugzeugträger – aircraft carrier.
  • Fluten – U-boat order; "Flood the tanks!"
  • Forschungsamt – intelligence service of the Luftwaffe.
  • Forstschutz – Forest Police (see Ordnungspolizei)
  • Frachter – freighter.
  • Franktireure – terrorists; (see Freischärler).
  • 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 commander
  • Freikorps – volunteer corps (see Freiwillige). The Freikorps was an early volunteer paramilitary organizations formed in the wake of the German defeat in the First World War making up the German army in lieu of the restrictions mandated by the Treaty of Versailles; they consisted primarily of demobilized soldiers, disillusioned young men, and fanatical conservative nationalists who blamed Social Democrats, Jews, and communists 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 being 'brothers-in-arms'.
  • 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.
  • Der Führer – "The Leader"; title used by Adolf Hitler: Mein Führer, Der Führer.
  • Führerbunker – (literally meaning "shelter [for the] leader" or "[the] Führer's shelter") was located about 8.2 metres beneath the garden of the old 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 wife 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 Führer.
  • Führersonderzug – a special train built for and used by the Führer.
  • 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 [die Funke, f., slang abbreviation for Funkgerät]; 2) spark [der Funke, m.]; the literal (pre-radio) meaning of the word.
  • Funker – radio operator (from funken [verb], 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-Regiment 10.
  • Futtermeister – quartermaster responsible for fodder
  • Freya radar – first operational radar with the Kriegsmarine.


  • 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 Nazi party 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 an NCO.
  • 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 Abwehr.
  • Geheimfernschreiber – (literally, "secret distance writer") cipher machine.
  • Gelbkreuz – mustard gas
  • Geleit – escort.
  • Geleitschutz – convoy.
  • Gemeindepolizei – local police.
  • Gemeinschaft – community.
  • Generalfeldmarschall – Field Marshal.
  • Generalkommando – the headquarters of an army corps.
  • Generalstab des Heeres (Gen. St.d. H.) – German Army General Staff.
  • 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 Staffeln,[2] such as Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1) –the famous "Flying Circus", led by Manfred von Richthofen ("The Red Baron"); also used for the Kagohl and Bogohlheavy bomber units, the last two mentioned unit types specifically tied to the Oberste Heeresleitung or "OHL";
    • 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, a French escadron, an Italian stormo, an IJAAShikōdan, an IJNACsentai, a 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 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 on most 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 Nazi Germany. Gestapo was derived as follows: Geheime Staatspolizei.
  • Gewehr – rifle, such as the Gewehr 43.
  • Gift – poison; giftig: poisonous, toxic.
  • Gleichschaltung – "coordination", coordination of everything into Nazi ideals.
  • Gliederung – table of organisation
  • Goldfasan (Golden pheasant) – derogatory slang term for high-ranking 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 at home.
  • Gotenstellung – Gothic Line German defense line in Italy, north of Florence.
  • 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 from mid-war onward as a morale-building honorific often indicative of low-grade formations.
  • Grenze – border.
  • Grenzschutz – border patrol.
  • Greuelerzählungen – atrocity stories.
  • Gröfaz [de] – German soldiers' derogatory acronym for Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten, a title initially publicized by Nazi propaganda to refer to Adolf Hitler during the early war years; literally, the "Greatest Field Commander of all Time".
  • Grundausbildung (abbr. Grundi)[3] – basic training
  • Gruppe (Luftwaffe) – a gruppe usually consisted of three Staffeln of nine to twelve aircraft. An equivalent would be a US or French group. In Commonwealth air forces the equivalent would be a wing.
  • Gruppe (Heer) – in the army a gruppe is the equivalent to a squad
  • 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 monastery of Monte Cassino.
  • GvD – Gefreiter vom Dienst – soldier who is the runner of CQ.


  • Hafen – harbour. "Flughafen" is airport.
  • Hafthohlladung – German magnetically-adhered, shaped charge anti-tank grenade munition, ironically the type of ordnance that if the Allies also possessed them, Zimmerit was meant to prevent the use of.
  • Hakenkreuz – (literally, "hooked cross") the swastika symbol used by the Nazi Party.
  • "Halbe Fahrt!" – naval command calling for half-speed. "Halbe Fahrt voraus" is "half-speed ahead" and "Halbe Fahrt zurück" is "half-speed reverse".
  • 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 Sd.Kfz. 251 medium-armoured halftrack.
  • "Hart..." – naval command calling for a sharp turn. "Hart Backbord" is "hard-a-port" and "Hart Steuerbord" is "hard-a-starboard".
  • Härteübung – hardiness training.
  • Haubitze – howitzer.
  • Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei (HA-SiPo) – Security Police headquarters.
  • Hauptbahnhof – main or 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 cavalry units.
  • 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 army.
  • 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 weapons systems for both the Wehrmacht Heer and the Luftwaffe, especially the heavy Tiger I and Tiger II tanks and the Henschel Hs 293 guided anti-ship missile.
  • "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 suicide mission.
  • 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" (Hitler scythe)
  • HJ-Fahrtenmesser (Hitler Youth knife) – common dagger specially designed for the Hitler Jugend.[4]
  • HJ-Spätlese – nickname for the Volkssturm.
  • Höckerhindernisse – anti-tank obstacles often referred to as "Dragon's Teeth".
  • Hoheitsabzeichen – national insignia e.g. on a tank or aircraft.
  • HohentwielFuG 200 UHF-band (500 MHz) maritime patrol airborne radar gear.
  • 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 Chancellor (wartime)
  • 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 fighterwing/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 – [1] light infantry; used alone or as part of a specialty such as Gebirgsjäger or Fallschirmjäger. [2] Fighter Airplane. The root Jagd- is also used in its literal meaning of "hunter" for weapon systems such Jagdtiger.
  • 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 German Navy
  • 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) – bomberwing (USAAF practice)/group (RAF practice)
  • 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 or (literally) 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 (see Konzentrationslager).
  • 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 Colonel (Oberst)Edgar Petersen late in the war.
  • Kesselschlacht – lit. "cauldron battle" encirclement often shortened to Kessel e.g. "Kessel von Stalingrad"
  • 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 Military Policeman (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 bombers.
  • 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 trash can
  • Kolonne – column, also supply units (e.g. leichte Infanterie-Kolonne)
  • Kommandanten-Schießlehrgang – U-boat Commander's Torpedo Course.
  • 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 colonel-in-chief)
    • 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 or commander. Typically commanded a destroyer.
  • 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 short-fuselaged Messerschmitt Me 163Komet rocket fighter.
  • Krankenstation – sick bay of a ship.
  • Krankenträger – stretcher bearer
  • Kraut – for sauerkraut; slang term used by Americans to refer to Germans.
  • 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 disorder.
  • Kriegsstärkenachweisungen (KStN) – the German equivalent of the American table of organization and equipment (TO&E) or the British war establishment.
  • Kriegstagebuch – war diary.
  • Kriminalpolizei (Kripo) – "Criminal Police" – in Nazi Germany, it became the national Criminal (investigative) Police Department for the entire Reich in July 1936. It was merged, along with the Gestapo, into the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo). Later, in 1939, it was folded into the RSHA.
  • Krupp (Kp) – famous German steel producer, manufactured most of the tanks, howitzers and heavy mortars, as well as armour plates for battleships (most famously the Bismarck).
  • Krupp-Daimler (KD) – see Krupp.
  • Kübel – literally, "bucket" or "tub", short for Kübelwagen, open-topped military utility cars.
  • Kugel – "bullet" (also "ball").
  • Kugelfest – bullet-proof.
  • Kugelblitz – literally "ball lightning", fireball.
  • KwK – abbreviation for "Kampfwagenkanone", the turret-mounted main (cannon) armament of a main battle tank.


  • L/ – length of barrel in calibres (For example, an 8.8 cm L/71 gun would have a barrel of 71 x 8.8 cm = 624.8 cm long)
  • Ladeschütze – loader
  • Lager – camp.
  • Landekopf – beachhead.
  • Lafette – literally "gun mount", used for many differing artillery carriages and for manned and remotely controlled gun turret installations on German military vehicles, especially on aircraft.
  • Landratsamt – civil administration office.
  • Landsturm – historically, infantry of non-professional soldiers; a kind of militia.
  • Landser – historical term for a German infantryman; slang: "Schütze Arsch".
  • 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., Panzer-Lehr-Division).
  • 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 30.01(P) prototype tank hull design and the Planned VK 16.02 Reconnaissance Vehicle, and later used by the Federal German Republic for the Leopard 1 and Leopard 2Bundeswehr main battle tanks in service from the 1960s into the 21st century.
  • Leuchtpistole – flare pistol
  • Leuchtgeschoss/-granate – star shell
  • Leutnant – army rank, equivalent to second lieutenant
  • Leutnant zur See – naval rank, equivalent to lieutenant, junior grade
  • Lichtenstein – German airborne radar used for nightfighting, in early UHF-band BC and C-1 versions, and later VHF-band SN-2 and SN-3 versions.
  • 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 it.
  • "Los!" – "Go!" or "Away!" Also the U-boat command to fire a torpedo ("Fire!")
  • 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 Luftwaffe.
  • Luftschutz – air raid protection
  • Luftwaffe – "air force"; the German Air Force.
  • Luftwaffenhelfer – "Luftwaffe assistant"; see FlaK-Helfer.
  • Luftschutzpolizei – (Air Raid Protection Police) was the civil protection service in charge of air raid defence and rescue victims of bombings in connection with the Technische Nothilfe (Technical Emergency Service) and the Feuerschutzpolizei (professional fire departments). Created as the Security and Assistance Service (Sicherheits und Hilfsdienst) in 1935, it was renamed "Luftschutzpolizei" in April 1942, when transferred from the aegis of Ministry of Aviation to the Ordnungspolizei.
  • Luftstreitkräfte – originally (October 1916) the name for the Imperial German 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 MG42.
  • 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 MP40.
  • Maschine – "machine". Commonly used as airplane or engine.
  • Maskenball – German slang for fighting with NBC-protective gear, or at least with gas mask
  • Maultier – Sd.Kfz. 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 "mine self-protection".
  • 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, also known as the Einheitsfeldmütze.


  • Nachricht(en) – signals / news / communication, also intelligence.
  • Nachrichtendienst – intelligence
  • Nachrichtenoffizier – signals officer
  • Nachrichtentruppen – Signal Corps.
  • Nachschub – supply
  • Nachschubtruppen – supply troops.
  • Nacht und Nebel – "night and fog"; code for some prisoners that were to be disposed of, leaving no traces; bei Nacht und Nebel (idiom) – secretly and surprisingly, at dead of night.
  • Nachtjagdgeschwader (NJG) – night-fighterwing/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 detect American H2X radar gear.
  • Nebelwerfer (Nb. W) – "fog thrower"; rocket artillery, multi-barrel rocket launchers that could be used for smoke or high-explosive projectiles.
  • 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 1944.
  • Niederlage – defeat.
  • "Nicht Schiessen" – Don't shoot in German
  • 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 a Colonel.
  • Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Ob.d.H.) – Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
  • Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) – "High Command of the Army" and Army General Staff from 1936 to 1945.
  • Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine (OKM) – "High Command of the (War) Navy".
  • Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL) – "High Command of the Air Force".
  • 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 Nazi Germany.
  • 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 Poland.
  • Ostmark – lit. Eastern march, post-AnschlussAustria.
  • Ostpreußen – province of East Prussia.


  • Panjewagen – one-horse carriage.
  • Panzer – "armour"; German word is derived from Old Frenchpancier, meaning "armour for the belly". It can refer to a tank (see Panzerkampfwagen below) or to an armoured formation. (Panzer Division is literally "Tank Division"; the adjective for "armoured" is gepanzert.)
  • 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 radio gear.
  • 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 more of a grenade launcher.
  • 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.
  • Pauke Pauke – code word for fighter pilots when engaging enemy aircraft (lit. 'Kettledrums')
  • 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 Germany.
  • Reichsbahn – railway system.
  • Reichsführer-SS – Reich Leader of the SS, an office held by Heinrich Himmler.
  • Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) – "Reich Security Main Office or Reich Security Head Office"; created by Himmler in September 1939 to combine all German security and plainclothes police departments, including the Gestapo, 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 basic training
  • 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 one recipient.
  • 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 Nazi rank
  • 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 vehicle.
  • Rückzug – retreat.


  • S-mine – a common type of anti-personnel landmine.
  • SA – see Sturmabteilung.
  • Sachbearbeiter – clerk
  • die Sahnefront – (the cream front) occupied Denmark during World War II, a lot of food, minuscule fighting.[5]
  • Sanitäter ('Sani') – combat medic
  • Sanitätsoffizier – Medical officer
  • Sanitätsunteroffizier – Medical NCO
  • Sanka – acronym for Sanitätskraftfahrtzeug, a term for German field ambulances.
  • Saukopf – "pig's head", used to refer to the shape of a gun mantlet or mount, alternatively called Topfblende in German military documents.
  • 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 intelligence.
  • Scheisskommando – latrine detail as referred to by survivors of the Konzentrationslager.
  • 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 is referred to as the "Schlacht um Midway" while the 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 Ordnungspolizei.
  • 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 tri-force structure: 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 Waffen-SS.
  • Schürze – "skirting", armour skirting added to tanks to give additional protection.
  • Schussline – line of fire.
  • Schütze – lit. shooter; member of the infantry. From 1920 to 1945 also the lowest military rank. see also Scharfschütze.
  • Schützenpanzerwagen (SPW) – armoured half-track or self-propelled weapon.
  • Schutzhaft – "protective custody"; a euphemism for the power to imprison people without judicial proceedings, typically in concentration camps.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • Sd.Kfz. – 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 militia.
  • 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 Heydrich.
  • 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 Shirts".
  • 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 Dardanelles.
  • Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) – "special-purpose motor vehicle", usually abbreviated and referring to an Ordnance Inventory Number.
  • 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 Oberfeldwebel or 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 Schutzstaffel.
  • 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 highest 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 Luftstreitkräfte.
  • Stahlhelm – (1) literally "steel helmet"; (2) inter-war nationalist organization.
  • Stalag – acronym for Stammlager, German prisoner-of-war camp for ranks other than officers.
  • Stalinorgel – "Stalin's Organ"; nickname for the Katyusha rocket launcher.
  • Stammkennzeichen – four-letter radio identification code applied to factory-fresh Luftwaffe aircraft, also used for prototype identification, not used on non-day-fighter aircraft assigned to a particular Luftwaffe wing, where a Geschwaderkennung code would be used instead.
  • 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-[unit] – 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 87dive 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 IVassault 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 by the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Gestapo during the Night of the Long Knives rapidly decreased in numbers and influence.
  • Sturmbann [plural: Sturmbanne] – 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 PzKWPanzer VI "Tiger I" and "Tiger II" series of tanks, as well as the Jagdtigertank 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 these marches.
  • 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 era Luftwaffe.
  • Tornister – Back pack
  • Totenkopfverbände – "Death's Head units", employed as guards in Nazi concentration camps, many later became the members of units of the Waffen-SS, such as the SS Division Totenkopf.
  • 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 "Torpedo impact!"
  • Trommelfeuer - High frequency artillery fire (Barage) causing sound of shell-explosions to merge into a rumble.
  • 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 comparing to 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 after the 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 operate U-boats.
  • U-Lehrdivision (ULD) – U-boat Training Division (see Kommandanten-Schießlehrgang).
  • unabkömmlich (uk) – not available for military service
  • Uk (Schnellladekanone in Uboot-Lafette) – quick-firing gun with submarine mounting
  • Untermenschen – those peoples the Nazis derided as "subhuman" (see Entmenscht).
  • 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 with sword-knot."
  • Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee – junior NCO; lit. "underofficer without sword-knot."
  • 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 km.
  • V3 – long-range, smooth-bore multiple-chamber large-calibre gun 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 – "[Special] Disposal Troops"; SS combat units, became the Waffen-SS in 1940.
  • Vergeltungsmaßnahmen – reprisals; retaliatory punitive measures.
  • 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 era Luftwaffe. Originated by the Fokker Flugzeugbau in 1916, solely for its own experimental designs.
  • Versuchskonstruktion – prototype.
  • Verwendung – duty position
  • Veterinäroffizier – veterinarian officer
  • Vichy France – French regime set up in the city of Vichy under 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 aircraft designs.
  • Vizeadmiral – naval rank of vice admiral
  • 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 fishing-vessel design.


  • 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 meaning "armed".
  • 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 Totenkopfverbände.
  • Wagen – vehicle, car.
  • Wehrkraftzersetzung – undermining the fighting spirit of the troops.
  • Wehrkreis – German military district centered on an important city.
  • 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 control of 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.
  • 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 the Geneva Convention and/or militarized. The armed forces auxiliaries consisted in part of the Reichsarbeitsdienst, NSKK, Organisation Todt, and the Volkssturm.
  • 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 police.
  • 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 eastern regions.
  • Wespe – "wasp", a self-propelled 105mm howitzer on PzKpfw II chassis.
  • 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 first World War II Eastern Front military headquarters, one of several Führer 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 Rastenburg, East Prussia (N/K/A Kętrzyn, Poland).
  • Wotan – alternative name for the Y-Gerätradio navigation system.
  • Würzburg radar – German air defense radar that went into service in 1940; over 3,000 of all variants were built.



  • 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 be dropped.
  • 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 Kriegsmarine (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 in September 1939 came far too early to implement the plan.
  • 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 Luftwaffeheavy 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 mid-1944 Zimmerit became a standard characteristic on many German panzers.
  • 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[edit]

Main article: World War II German Army Ranks and Insignia

Approximate ranks relative to US ranks:

  • Reichsmarschall – "Marshal of the Empire", the highest rank in the German armed forces during World War II (specifically created for Hermann Göring to distinguish him from the other field marshals). Equivalent to 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 Bundeswehr
  • General der Infanterie, Kavallerie, etc. – General (before 1956 equivalent to US Lieutenant General)
  • Generalleutnant – Lieutenant-General (before 1956 equivalent to US Major General)
  • Generalmajor – Major-General (before 1956 equivalent to US Brigadier General)
  • Brigadegeneral – Brigadier General; not used prior to the Bundeswehr
  • Oberst – Colonel, literally "highest"
  • Oberstleutnant – Lieutenant Colonel
  • Major – Major
  • Hauptmann/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 commissioned.
  • Fahnenjunker – no perfect equivalent. Most junior officer cadet with sergeant (US) or corporal (UK) status.
  • Feldwebel/Wachtmeister/Bootsmann – staff sergeant (senior NCO)
  • Unterfeldwebel – sergeant; formerly called Sergeant prior to 1921 (not in use in the Bundeswehr[6])
  • 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 Bundeswehr.
  • Stabsgefreiter – (enlisted personnel)
  • Hauptgefreiter – (enlisted personnel); not used prior to the Bundeswehr.
  • Obergefreiter – Lance Corporal (enlisted personnel). Historically, and up until 1945, the rank of Obergefreiter was 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.[6]
  • 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 (enlisted personnel)

For additional comparisons, see Comparative military ranks of World War II.

List of military operations[edit]

The German term for "Operation" is Unternehmen, literally "undertaking".

  • Adlerangriffe (Eagle Attack) series of raids against Royal Air Force (RAF).
  • AdlertagEagle Day; day one of intense raiding against RAF 13 August 1940 known as Operation Eagle Attack (postponed from 10 August).
  • Anton – occupation of Vichy France, November 1942; later known as Atilla.
  • Atilla – occupation of Vichy France, November 1942 (previously, Anton).
  • Aufbau OstEastern 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.
  • BodenplatteBase Plate; air offensive against Allied airfields in north-western Europe, New Year's Day 1945.
  • EicheOak; mission to rescue Benito Mussolini by Fallschirmjäger led by Skorzeny.
  • EisenhammerIron 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 BlauCase Blue; summer offensive in Southern Russia.
  • Fall GelbCase Yellow; invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
  • Fall GrünCase Green; intended invasion of Czechoslovakia.
  • Fall RotCase Red; counterstrike against France in the event of an attack from the West.
  • Fall WeißCase White; invasion of Poland.
  • Felix – plan to capture Gibraltar in 1941. It never took place.
  • FischfangFish Trap; counterattack on the Allied beachhead at Anzio in February 1944.
  • GreifGriffin; dropping of English-speaking troops wearing American uniforms behind the Allied lines in the Ardennes, prior to the Battle of the Bulge.
  • HerbstnebelAutumn Mist; offensive in the Ardennes, December 1944. Better known as the Battle of the Ardennes.
  • Herkules – projected invasion of Malta by Fallschirmjäger and the navy. Never executed.
  • Kathrin – plan to help the Irish Republican Army to commit terrorism and disrupt British internal security.
  • MerkurMercury (the planet or the Roman god, not the metal); airborne invasion of Crete 1941.
  • NordlichtNorthern Lights; attack on Leningrad in 1942.
  • NordwindNorth Wind; counteroffensive in Alsace and Lorraine in January 1945.
  • PanzerfaustArmored Fist; the October 1944 mission to kidnap Miklós Horthy Jr, son of Hungarian Regent Admiral Miklós Horthy.
  • PaukenschlagDrumroll 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 US 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 SD chief Reinhard Heydrich.
  • SeelöweSea 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 Germans' Ardennes Offensive.
  • Strafgericht – "punishment" air attacks on Belgrade, April 1941.
  • TaifunTyphoon; push towards Moscow in September 1941.
  • Tannenbaum – "fir-tree"; projected invasion of Switzerland in 1940. Never carried out.
  • Tiger – advance through the Maginot Line on the French border in June 1940.
  • Wacht am Rhein – "Guard on the Rhine"; the December 1944 Ardennes offensive, known by Americans as the Battle of the Bulge.
  • WalküreValkyrie 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 to arrest SS and other Nazi officials and seize control of the German government.
  • WeserübungWeser Exercise (commonly, Water Exercise); invasion of Denmark and Norway, 9 April 1940
  • WintergewitterWinter Gale; unsuccessful attempt to relieve the 6th Army at Stalingrad in December 1942.
  • ZitadelleCitadel; attack on Soviet salient at Kursk, July 1943.

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Baubeschreibung des einmotorigen Jagdeinsitzers, Baumuster 162, mit TL-Triebwerk BMW 003 E-1 (in German)"(PDF). Heinkel Flugzeugwerke. 15 October 1944. Archived from the original(PDF) on 4 August 2016. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  2. ^In the contexts of German language military aviation, a Staffel is between an English flight (with a normal strength of four to six aircraft) and a squadron (normally at least 12 aircraft and, historically, sometimes more than 18).
  3. ^"Verteidigungsminister besucht "Grundi" in Roth". Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  4. ^"HJ.-DJ. Fahrtenmesser". Deutsches Historisches Museum. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  5. ^Poulsen, Henning (1 January 1991). "Die Deutschen Besatzungspolitik in Dänemark". In Bohn, Robert; Elvert, Jürgen; Rebas, Hain; Salewski, Michael (eds.). Neutralität und Totalitäre Aggression (in German). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 379. ISBN . Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  6. ^ ab"Galerie: Heer". Retrieved 2008-10-23.

General references[edit]

  • Andrew, Stephen; Thomas, Nigel; The German Army 1939-45: 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 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 slang chapter.)
  • 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 0-02-897502-2

Does "Jawohl" carry Nazi connotations?

"Jawohl" in General

Answering "Jawohl" in an everyday conversation with Otto Normalverbraucher would probably seem awkward, but not because of associations with Nazi Germany but because of its formal / militaristic connotations.

Jawohl, mein Kommandant!

"Jawohl, mein/Herr/Frau Kommandant" could be used in a joking way though there is no guarantee everyone would get the joke. It really depends on the person(s) you are talking to.

Jawohl, mein Führer!

Answering "Jawohl, mein Führer" would, with higher probability, be taken as irony or sarcasm by pretty much everyone because it is so obviously exaggerated. It works best in response to something you do not really want to do, as well as to a request which was made in a particularly harsh or otherwise unacceptable way. Which means there is probably a not exactly friendly atmosphere even before your remark.

If this situation is between you and a person you generally get along with, this response might actually losen things up. Then again it might backfire on you, but that would have nothing to do with the obvious Nazi connotation, but with you being flippant.

Jawohl, Herr Kaleun!

With regards to what you seem to be contemplating, how to use "Jawohl" so people get that it's used in exaggeration, as a friendly joke, you might try answering "Jawohl Herr Kaleun" (Kaleun = Kapitänleutnant, equivalent to e.g. a US Navy Lieutenant). This would be an obvious reference to the movie "Das Boot" and with high probability be received in a friendly way by most German people between, I guess, 25 and 50.

Though you should watch the movie or at least a suitable excerpt first, to get the intonation of that quote right. It's said in a rather sharp and snappy way, nearly shouted but not quite.

How To Really Screw Up

Oh and if you really wanted to get people mad, make references to the SA / SS, like in "Jawohl, Herr Obersturmbannführer". But never use that as a joke. Really. Never. Ever.

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German, military:

The only (correct) answer to any (reasonable) order given by a superior rank (or any other rank in a temporary position of authority), usually followed by a swiftexecution of said order.

Also more often than not followed by some form of swearing/bitching directed against the superior, when out of his/her hearing range (mostly done by conscripts in the first half of their 9-month military service or senior enlistees who consider the ordered task a nuisance and/or beneath them).


Uffz Schmidt: "Müller! Tun Sie dies und das! Bewegung!"

G Müller: "Jawohl, Herr Unteroffizier!"

(ein paar Sekunden später und einige Meter weiter)

G Müller: "...tun Sie dies und das! Fick dich doch du blödes Arschloch!"


Sgt. Schmidt: "Müller! Do this and that! Move your ass!"

Pvt. Müller: "Yes, Sergeant!"

(a few seconds later and several meters farther)

Pvt. Müller: " this and that! Go fuck yourself you stupid asshole!"

by OG a.D. March 16, 2009

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Talk:Glossary of German military terms


Right now there is a little cross-over with the Gl. of the Third Reich article. We can weed these out in time. Most terms come from my knowledge of German and stuff encountered in my reading. I have some references I'm also going to out in. I think this list will be really useful to people doing research or building models or even learning German! I see potential for a WWII American/Japanese/Italian/British Glossaries that might make a series. Dunno yet what the limits/potentials are. Dangers are of turning Wikipedia into a large Dictionary of glossaries; but I think there is a definite place for things like this if one doesn't get too carried away with it. A lot of these terms came from my model building: tank descriptions on boxes and part descriptions and terms on the instructions ("nicht kleben!") and such. ALL contributions welcome. List is far, far, far from complete. Don't see something that belongs here? Add it! Could use someone who is more expert in tank detachments/army organization, ranks and such.--DanielCD 02:11, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Can somebody check the spelling of Goldfasan? I've seen "pheasant" rendered "fasen". Also, check the translation of "kriegsgericht"; I'd render it "military court", not (precisely) "court martial" (tho I suspect that's the common usage). Trekphiler 07:53, 14 December 2005 (UTC)[]


I use to play Panzer Leader when I was a kid. I liked the game. But I am certainly no expert on German military terms. Could you add when to use Reichwehr and Wermahct? At what periods and times does one use this terms.WHEELER 23:10, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)

All three terms are in there, including Bundeswehr. Before 1935 it was Reichswehr (state or national defence), then the Nazis changed it to Wehrmacht (defense force/resistance power), and then in 1945 it was changed to Bundeswehr (people's defense) to clear away past Nazi association.--DanielCD 13:31, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Err, Bundesweher= "Federal Defense" (Bund = "federation, union") Solicitr (talk) 17:03, 28 November 2010 (UTC)[]

There were no German army between 1945 and 1955! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:50, 25 May 2009 (UTC)[]

Yea, what he said. --DanielCD (talk) 00:04, 28 November 2010 (UTC)[]

Hmm, some odd translations[edit]

Fahnenheid = literally: "Oath to the flag". Could still be an Euphemism for an oath to Hitler directly :-)

Bundeswehr = Federal defence.

Kim Bruning 18:37, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Peoples' is sort of Federal, can roughly be the same. But you are right, Federal certainly works better. :)) --DanielCD 20:20, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Ja, wouldn't "People's defense" be Volkswehr? I speak no German, though, so I'm just going off the cognates and other German words which have been appropriated by English-speakers. Ellsworth 17:49, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Well, words can have dual meanings/connotations, etc. No biggie.

To all: Please help to combine definitions where terms are really similar. I think SS has more than one entry; I'll look at it again later. But article size is really big now. Try to put appropriate entries in Glossary of the Third Reich. THANKS ! to all the contributers though; this is probably the best such glossary I've ever seen! --DanielCD 14:46, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Volkswehr is "people's defense"; & wasn't the "militia" at the end of the war called Volkswehr? Or was it Volkssturm? Trekphiler 07:32, 14 December 2005 (UTC)[]

"Völkisch" and other non-military terms?[edit]

The definition of "völkisch" has been changed, but I don't think either version is really a military term. There are others. This article is large; should we weed out the ones that aren't strictly military?

If you can find ones that might better go into Glossary of the Third Reich or elsewhere, please do. I agree that due to size constraints we should prune it some. I've done it in the past, but people keep adding more. Adding more is good, but anyone who wants to prune out the non-military stuff is welcome to do so. Also, anyone who wants to make another article for the WWII German operations names, that would be nice and would help with size. --DanielCD 17:32, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Greuelerzählungen does not mean "numerous atrocities". It means "horror stories" or "stories about atrocities". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:03, 15 December 2007 (UTC)[]

Fasan is the correct spelling of the German word for pheasant. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:15, 15 December 2007 (UTC)[]

There are still quite a lot of words in the list without any or only weak relation to military. I'll list them here for checking. I also included wrong translations.

Abschnitt — sector, district. Also civil! Abwehr — "defense" (same as in English, the word refers to sporting, boardgame or other defense as well as military defense. Ami — German slang for an American soldier. Amt — office, main office branch. "Arbeit macht frei" - the slogan never appeared in military contexts. The SS guards of the concentration camps were organized militarylike, but the slogan was restricted to the camp propaganda. Ausschreitungen — bloody atrocities. Wrong translation and non-military term. "Ausschreitungen" is represented in English either by "attack" or "riot" (when speaking of groups of attackers), though it can go as far as killing. The word invokes the idea of "stepping out of line", behaving very inappropriately. I've never heard it in a military context. BDM - The Bund Deutscher Mädel was, in fact, a Hitler Youth formation, but it has nothing to do with the military, not even the SS. Bürger - means citizen, but how is that a military term? Daimler-Benz (DB) - it is an engineering firm still in existence today. It did produce military technology, but that does not make it a military term imho. Dienstdolch - service daggers were in use rather in the Hitler Youth, the SA and the SS than in the military. Einwohner — resident, inhabitant. Eisenbahn — "iron road"; railroad. Correct translation, non-military term. Endlösung or Endziel — the "Final Solution"; correctly explained, but a political term, not a military one. Entmenscht — dehumanized (see above) Fahne - banner (see above) Feigling - also civil. Führer — "leader". Correct translation, but neither used only in reference to Hitler nor a military term (though "Führer" like in "Truppführer" is in use in military contexts) Gemeindepolizei — local police. Gemeinschaft — community. Nonmilitary terms. Even under Nazi rule, the local police was not integrated into the army. Gestapo - the Gestapo was not a military organization, but a secret police and means of terror. Gift - poison. Not a military term. Gleichschaltung - Not a military, though a specific nazi term. Not literally "coordination", there is no word in English for it. Goldfasan - Not a military, but a nazi term. Grenze — border. NMT. Greuelerzählungen - "atrocity tales". Nazi propaganda term for accounts of atrocities committed by Germans in WWII. Handelsmarine - NMT. Hannoversche Maschinenbau AG - See Daimler-Benz. Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei Heimat - NMTs Henschel - See Daimler-Benz. Hitler-Jugend (HJ) - Nazi term, not a military one. HJ-Fahrtenmesser - see above. Konzentrationslager (KZL) - see "Arbeit macht frei". Kriminalpolizei (Kripo) Krupp (Kp) Krupp-Daimler (KD) - NMT. Landratsamt — civil administration office. The translation says it. laufende Nummer - not restricted to military use. Maybach (M) - Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen Hannover (MNH) - all see Daimler-Benz Mißliebige — undesirables. - NMT. Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) — National Socialist German Worker's Party – Nazi Party. Nationalsozialistische Führungsoffiziere (NSFO) — National Socialist Leadership Officers. Nationalsozialistische Volksfürsorge (NSV) — National Socialist People's Welfare centers. - all correctly explained, but not military. Though there were very intimate relations of the military and the nazis even before 1933, and regular military was a big part of the nazi crimes in eastern europe, the NSDAP has in itself no military function or meaning. Norden — north. NSKK — the Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrerkorps, or National Socialist Motor Corps. Osten Ostjuden Ostpreußen Panjewagen - NMTs. Porsche (P) - Quist - see Daimler-Benz Regierung — government. Reich — realm, empire. Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) — compulsory labor service in Nazi Germany. Reichsbahn — railway system. Rotes Kreuz SA - NMTs (though SA is a nazi term for the party's paramilitary "stormtroopers"). Sanität - highly unusual word. schnell Schutzpolizei Schutzhaft Schutzhaftbefehl - NMTs Schweinereien - though "Schweinerei" was in use in the military, the word was not (and is not today) restricted to attacks on civilians. It can refer to anything regarded as very vile or dirty. SD Sicherheitsdienst (SD) Sicherheitspolizei - NMTs. The "Sicherheitspolizei" is not genuinely related to the NSDAP (though of course the nazis controlled it after 1933), it existed before nazi rule. Sipo (See above) Sippenverhaftung - more common: Sippenhaft. NMT. Sonderbehandlung - correctly explained, but NMT. Sonderreferat Sturmabteilung (SA) Süden — south Swastika Todesmärsche Untermenschen Urlaub verdächtige Elemente/Personen Vichy France völkisch ethnic Germans Volksgemeinschaft Wagen Westen Zeit - NMTs Zuges — platoon. ("Zug" is the word for "platoon", "Zuges" the genitive singular) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:00, 12 July 2009 (UTC)[]


2 problems. One, it isn't strictly "terrorist", tho I don't doubt the Germans felt like it, but guerrilla. Second, it isn't German, it's French, literally "free shooter". Trekphiler 07:34, 14 December 2005 (UTC)[]


I deleted this:

  • Wilhelm Gustloff -- A German hospital ship sunk by a Soviet submarine's torpedo attack on January 30, 1945. The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff is the single deadliest sinking in maritime history, killing between 6,000 and 10,000 people, most of whom were civilian refugees and wounded German soldiers.

While true, it's not a military term. Also, it has a smell of POV to me. Trekphiler 08:14, 14 December 2005 (UTC)[]

Taking the Fall[edit]

I question describing Fall as "operational codename". My understanding of the term suggests a planning document, as in "Plan Orange", as opposed to "Operation Neptune". Trekphiler 08:24, 14 December 2005 (UTC)[]


I deleted this:

"(The name was also the operational code name for a British convoy to Egypt in May 1941.)"

While true, it isn't a German term... Trekphiler 08:34, 14 December 2005 (UTC)[]

American Terminology within German terms[edit]

I am under the impression that this is merely German military slang. I am 100% certain that the Eagle's Nest is not known as that in German, it is the Kehlstein Haus.

There are other terms in the mix. Are these to stay or to be deleted?TchussBitc 13:07, 31 August 2006 (UTC)[]

It's a multipurpose glossary. There's nothing that says it's simply German language terms. If there is something like the Kehlstein Haus, that would likely make a great addition to the definition. Also, I don't see any problem with mentioning that the English terms are only known in English and don't originate from German. There may need to be some tightening of additions, but don't just start chopping. --DanielCD 15:19, 31 August 2006 (UTC)[]
I added Kehlstein Haus to the definition. --DanielCD 15:26, 31 August 2006 (UTC)[]


This isn't a candidate for Wiktionary since it isnt a simple definition and if you did move it you would also need to move everything in the entire Category:Glossaries. --DanielCD 14:30, 10 October 2006 (UTC)[]

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Watch your language[edit]

Speaking no German (but having read about the German military for yrs...), I have 2 questions: Abteilung (Abt.) doesn't mean "battalion", does it? That's battalion (yep, same as English), isn't it? Plural battalionen? And, isn't the plural for EinsatzkommandosEinsatzkommandoen? Trekphiler 03:48, 3 March 2007 (UTC)[]

Abteilung is more of a general word meaning (in a mil. sense) "unit", or possibly "section, department". As for Kommandos, the plural for that is actually Kommandos, with just the "s", so Einsatzkommandos would be right. --DanielCD 04:30, 3 March 2007 (UTC)[]
While Abteilung literally means "detachment" (away-part-ing), in the German military usage it became the standard term for battalion equivalents in nearly every branch except the infantry and cavalry. A Schwerer Panzerabteilung comprised three tank companies, commanded (usually) by a major- i.e. a battalion.--Solicitr (talk) 17:09, 28 November 2010 (UTC)[]


jawohl — simply the word "yes" with the emphatic "wohl", which one might translate as "Yes, indeed!" or "Absolutely yes!" Widely used in WWII, it became so strongly associated with the war, that it is not used in the modern German Army (the Heer).

Thats not right, you have to say "jawohl" and not only "ja". Perhaps they changed it after a "safe time distance" to the WWII . They reintroduced some other things too. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:02, 13 April 2007 (UTC).[]

Jawohl is simply emphatic. It is not only military. I think that impression only comes from non-German speakers watching WWII movies. It is also an adverb. "Das habe ich jawohl gemacht!" means somthing like "I did so do it!" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:11, 15 December 2007 (UTC)[]

For sure this word is in use ... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:46, 16 November 2008 (UTC)[]

The term "Jawohl" was still in use when I served my time in the Bundeswehr in the early 90s. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:36, 25 May 2009 (UTC)[]

Whoever said that the Bundeswehr does not use Jawohl - I wonder in which Bundeswehr he served. It is one of the first things to associate with military style for a German, so even from this point of view, it wouldn't simply have been possible to change that. Also, they didn't reintroduce things they were afraid to introduce in 1956 - rather the other way round (due to 68s movement pressure etc). It is true that if you are on colloquial terms with your NCOs and answer a Jawohl or the, actually, only correct form "Jawohl Herr e.g. Oberfeldwebel" , you might hear a "Ein Ja hätte mir genügt" ("A simple yes would have sufficed for me") but that's a question of particular style, and not present in boot camps. (However, the even more military-sounding "Jawoll" is not in use in the military, nor, I think, ever was.) The German sentence above should have been "Das habe ich ja wohl gemacht", with an emptyspace, and it has nothing to do with Jawohl. But, yes, it is correct German to say Jawohl instead of Ja, just as it would be correct English to say "Yes, Sir" (emphasis on the first syllable, not only on the second) to a person you call Sir.-- (talk) 00:16, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[]

Jawohl is not specifically a military term, and remains widely used in german language until today. It is an overexuberant variation of "yes", "yes indeed" seems to be an accurate translation. "Jawohl" is not an adverb. Speaking of "Das habe ich jawohl gemacht!" as an example of jawohl as an adverb: the correct sentence would be "Das habe ich ja wohl gemacht!" which is, from the linguistic point of view, something completely different. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:13, 3 August 2012 (UTC)[]

FuG & Ersatz[edit]

FuG (Funk-Gerät, radio or radar transceiver, many types) abreviation appears in quite a few texts. Perhaps it may be added here. Pavel Vozenilek 01:47, 14 October 2007 (UTC)[]

Also the word ersatz does appear in many WWII related texts. Pavel Vozenilek 23:12, 24 October 2007 (UTC)[]

Ersatz means replacement. Ersatzteil means replacement part - from Teil, part. Of course it appears all over the place. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:07, 15 December 2007 (UTC)[]

Also, Ersatz, for a strange reason (it does not have this meaning in the German language, besides this bureaucratism) means something like recruitment. Hence, these offices are known as Kreiswehrersatzämter. -- (talk) 00:19, 13 December 2011 (UTC)[]

Looking for German term[edit]

I thought there was a German term for a threat that included killing a German soldier who did not follow orders. The threat was that the soldier would be killed along with every living member of his family and his extended family. I have been looking for it but I cannot find it. If someone knows of this term please post it here. I'm doing research for a book and I'm not finding the German term I'm looking for.

AustinFictionWriter (talk) 18:13, 25 November 2007 (UTC)[]

I honestly cannot recall ever hearing such a term. Askari Mark(Talk) 02:51, 26 November 2007 (UTC)[]
It certainly happened, but I never heard a single term used to describe it, either. Rumiton (talk) 11:39, 18 February 2009 (UTC)[]

maybe you mean "Sippenhaft" (= clan custody, collective responsibility of relatives, clan liability). But this was not a threat against a common soldier. I remember that Hitler said that the figures of the 20 July plot and all of their relatives have to be killed. Fact is, the relatives were not killed, but they were questioned! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:47, 25 May 2009 (UTC)[]

Tommy cooker[edit]

According to M4 Sherman the German Tiger crews called the Sherman tanks for Tommy cookers, because they easily blew up. What's that in German? --Regards, Necessary Evil (talk) 17:45, 1 July 2008 (UTC)[]

The Chrysler petrol engines often caught fire without enemy help. The name was Tommy Kocher. Rumiton (talk) 11:38, 18 February 2009 (UTC)[]

Sorry- the malign influence of the movie Patton again, I fear. Petrol/gasoline engines were not the problem (all German tanks used them too)- the problem was poor ammunition stowage, a design defect eventually rectified by the use of glycerine-solution 'tubs.' In many cases "brewed-up" Shermans were found to have their fuel tanks intact and unburned.--Solicitr (talk) 17:13, 28 November 2010 (UTC)[]


I see this has been added with the translation Kampf Geschwader... I have also seen Kampf Gruppe (roughly battle wing) and this makes more sense. Also they flew a variety of aircraft, incl Heinkels. Comments? Rumiton (talk) 11:33, 18 February 2009 (UTC)[]

zbV in German usually means zur besondere verwendung (for special purposes) which in English roughly means "supernumerary" or extra to establishment. (talk) 20:57, 19 May 2009 (UTC)[]

To clarify: what belongs here and what doesn't?[edit]

I'm fairly confused. At least two thirds of the terms don't belong here, in my humble opinion anyway (I'm a native German speaker and have some decent military understanding). There are two types of words here that bother me: 1.) Terms which have nothing to do with the military (Eisenbahn, Gift, Grenze, tot, Zeit). If someone were to find one of these in a book or something, they could easily look them up in a dictionary. This page should be for stuff you don't find in a dictionary. 2.) Nazi Germany related vocabulary with no relation to the military whatsoever. Yeah yeah, here comes the German trying to clean up the past ... but actually Gestapo, BDM, "Arbeit macht Frei" ... these have nothing to do with the military. This whole page reads like a glossary of Nazi terms. One can undoubtedly argue that things like the BDM, Hitlerjugend oder the Gestapo were organised in a military-like fashion, but then again everything was organised in a military, or rather paramilitary-like fashion. In my opinion, the only Nazi era terms which should be in this list is vocabulary directly related to the Wehrmacht or one of its branches Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine or Waffen-SS (as de facto fourth branch). No Allgemeine-SS, no Nazi Party organisations (you could fill a list then times larger than this one), no Shoah vocabulary (I really don't want to start a discussion about the Wehrmacht's involvment, so please ...) Anyway, in terms of what I would consider a true glossary of military terms, check out this German wiktionary page on military terms. Obviously that's way too extensive, but there's some very important stuff there like "abseilen" or "Biwak" that any soldier learns on day one. So, before I start cleaning up and then someone comes along and says this is not what a glossary should look like or that it's not NPOV because KZ guards wore uniforms and uniforms are military and so this belongs here too ... well, what does belong here and what doesn't? -Gruendlich (talk) 21:58, 9 March 2009 (UTC)[]

This site has evolved and grown quickly. I think most of the terms now here are of interest, but I agree we have departed from a strictly military context. Perhaps the page should be renamed Glossary of German WW2-related terms? Rumiton (talk) 12:26, 28 October 2009 (UTC)[]


"...the most junior of the unteroffiziere mit portpee". What is a portpee? Rumiton (talk) 12:26, 28 October 2009 (UTC)[]

As you were, I worked it out. Should be Portepee, a swordknot. I'll make the change. Rumiton (talk) 13:01, 29 October 2009 (UTC)[]
A portepee was originally a certain item of the officers' uniform which was "granted" to the higher ones of the ncos, hence the distinction. For all practical matters, there are simply two classes of ncos and the higher one is called with, the lesser without portepee. Due to Auftragstaktik and the fact that the Reichswehr during the Weimar Republic could only have so and so many officers, ncos with portepee often stand in for where other armies use officers, though.--2001:A61:260D:6E01:3824:5023:620E:5FF5 (talk) 12:26, 9 March 2018 (UTC)[]

Waffen SS[edit]

Seeing this term translated as "Armed SS" has always troubled me a little, as the SS had been armed all along. I believe the understanding of the word Waffen here was more in line with the sense of Luftwaffe, which means "Air Weapon" or "Air Force." It referred to the SS as a weapon of war. Any native German speakers here with some military background? Rumiton (talk) 13:12, 15 May 2010 (UTC)[]

It's often difficult to map words in different languages one-on-one. The closest translation of Waffe is indeed "arm," which has both the connotation of arms, armed, army, and of "branch." Waffenfarbe roughly means "branch-color," the identifying hue for the various branches of service. The LW could well be termed the "Air Arm," cognate with the FAA. On the other hand, the Heer's "Waffen" branch was the Ordnance, much closer to the cognate "weapon."
"as the SS had been armed all along." Not really. The SS had been "armed" with pistols and truncheons, until the establishment of the Leibstandarte and then the other military-equipped units which were eventually amalgamated into the Waffen-SS.--Solicitr (talk) 17:20, 28 November 2010 (UTC)[]
OK, I can see that. In English the Air Force has been called the Air Arm (eg the Fleet Air Arm); similarly the RN the Naval Arm. This is the SS Arm (of the Services), a slightly different cognate. Does that sound acceptable? Rumiton (talk) 12:05, 29 November 2010 (UTC)[]
Well, no, that's not what I was trying to get across at all- especially since the Waffen-SS was absolutely, positively not a branch of the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht). I was simply pointing out that direct translations, even of cognates, doesn't always work (for example, we use "engineers" to translate both Ingenieure and Pioniere; "pioneers" in that sense is found archaically but is misleading today). Waffe is cognate with "weapon," but also means a "branch" with weapons, not unlike English "arm"; hence Luftwaffe, and for that matter the more comfortable "Armed-SS" as opposed to the more cognate "Weapon-SS."--Solicitr (talk) 19:17, 29 November 2010 (UTC)[]
As you know, the generally accepted English term used is "Armed-SS", even if it not the best translation or only one. Kierzek (talk) 20:26, 29 November 2010 (UTC)[]

Aus der Traum[edit]

Asking for help from native German speakers again. We have this phrase translated as "the dream is over." To me it reads a little more imperatively. I would think something like, "Stop dreaming!" or "Wake up!" Comments? Rumiton (talk) 03:14, 29 October 2013 (UTC)[]

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I think it is a Luftwaffe listening station scope_creep (talk) 13:55, 6 December 2017 (UTC)[]


Military yes german sir in

German words expats should know: Jawohl

In the spotlight today is the German word jawohl, a rather archaic, military term that’s made a comeback in ironic usage. But is “jawohl” just a tongue-in-cheek way of saying yes in German? Where does the word come from, what’s it got to do with the military, and is there really a Nazi connotation? We explain all… 

Jawohl: As simple as saying yes in German?

Look up the word “Jawohl” in the dictionary, and you’ll probably find a simple definition: it’s a way of saying yes in German. But language, famously, is always more complex than black and white definitions. Yes, jawohl is a way of saying yes in German, but it’s also a little word with a little bit of subtext. 

It’s easiest to illustrate this with an example. Imagine you’re a parent with a teenage child. You’re heading out for the day during the school holidays and you’ve given your offspring some chores to complete before you get home from work: you want them to stack the dishwasher, hang the washing out to dry, tidy their room, and take the dog for a walk around the block. 

Once you’ve finished reeling off this list of chores, your child stands up, salutes (perhaps even kicks their heels together) and cries: “Jawohl!” 

They’re saying, “Yessir!” 

In mockingly using this militaristic interjection, your teenager is indicating that they will do as you ask, while at the same time suggesting that the way you run your household is a little iron-fisted. Safe to say they’re being a bit cheeky. 

Jawohl meaning

Before we dive into the military aspect, let’s break it down. Jawohl consists of two words: ja, which as any German learner hopefully knows means “yes”, and wohl, which means “well” or “indeed”. In this context, wohl is used as a modal particle to add stress, so the word jawohl means something along the lines of “certainly” or “yes, definitely”. 

The word has its origins ja wol, a mid-high-German word that means ja, freilich - an old way of saying “of course”. 

Used in the military, but not exclusively by the Nazis

Jawohl was, and continues to be, used in a military context as an affirmative answer to an order from someone of a superior rank. 

For this reason, it is sometimes (erroneously) attributed Nazi connotations by non-native speakers. For instance, type “jawohl” into Google and one of the first suggested searches is “Jawohl, mein Führer”. 

An explanation for this could be the fact that a substantial proportion of films, TV series, plays and novels that feature the German military are set in the Third Reich. It’s therefore perfectly understandable that popular thinking has connected the word to the Nazis, despite the fact that jawohl has been in regular use in the military since at least the 1800s. 

It therefore does not carry a specifically Nazi connotation for native speakers. Those who have done military service in Germany know that the modern-day Bundeswehr still insists on its use! And while its use in daily conversation has declined over time, it is still used in a sarcastic way to poke fun.  

Jawohl or jawoll?

Over time, these two separate ways of using the word have led to different ways of spelling and pronouncing it. Pronounced in the harsher tones of the military, jawohl has a long “o” sound. However, in everyday speech we tend to cut corners and so, gradually, the ironic form of the word lost its long “o” and started sounding a lot more like “jawoll”, with a short “o”. 

Nowadays, while the military mostly sticks to the “proper” version, both “jawohl” and “jawoll” are used in jest. 

Much more than the German for yes

So, next time your partner asks you to take out the rubbish, you know exactly how to respond: “Jawohl, mein Schatz!”


Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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Baccara - Yes Sir, I Can Boogie (Starparade 02.06.1977) (VOD)

Translation of "Yes, sir, sir" in German






These examples may contain rude words based on your search.

These examples may contain colloquial words based on your search.


Other results

[Electronic Whirring] Yes, sir. Yes, sir, everything's fine so far.

Jaja, Sir, bis jetzt ist alles ruhig.

Yes, sir. Yes, sir, it will.

Ja, Sir, das stimmt.

Yes, sir. Yes, sir, will do.

Ja, Sir, wird gemacht.

Yes, Sir, absolutely, Sir.

Ja, Sir. Selbstverständlich, Sir.

Yes, sir. I understand, sir.

Ja, Sir, ich verstehe, Sir.

Yes, sir. No, sir, that's it.

Nein, das war's schon.

And because he was career military... he thought he had to keep it buttoned up. Shirts pressed, chin up, "Yes, sir. No, sir," nothing in between.

Dann wurde behauptet, dass ihr uns hier auf dem Mars abgeschrieben hättet, und uns nicht helfen würdet.

My fellow men... when we left our homeland, we all pledged to give our lives... in the service of Oyamada Sanmangoku Clan. Yes, sir! Yes, sir!

Als wir unsere Provinz verließen, sagtet ihr, daß ihr für unseren Oyamada-Klan euer Leben geben werdet.

Yes, sir, my pleasure, sir.

Sir, es ist mir ein Vergnügen.

I guess that's the downside... of having a "Yes, sir" "No, sir" military father, but I tried not to...

Das ist der Nachteil, wenn ein Vater beim Militär ist, aber so wollte ich nie sein.

It's yes, sir; no, sir; no excuse, sir."

Es ist ,Ja, Sir',Nein, Sir',Verzeihung, Sir'."

Yes, sir, no, sir, three bags full of sh...

"Ja, Sir, nein, Sir, drei Tüten voll..."

No results found for this meaning.

Results: 3046. Exact: 2. Elapsed time: 292 ms.

yes sir127

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Expression index:1-400, 401-800, 801-1200

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