Nazi Germany's Effects on the Modern German Language

Faculty Sponsor

Katrin Fuchs


Arts and Sciences


Department of Foreign Languages

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


The way languages change is an interesting concept. Languages are strongly affected by the passage of time, which is present in the difference between how different generations speak, time is not the only thing that changes languages. Culture is also a significant factor. As politics shift and new discoveries like the printing press are made, the connotation of words and even their meanings shift as well. This essay focuses specifically on the German language during the Nazi era and how language was used by the Nazis in propaganda to control the population. An example of this idea is the German word for ‘camp’, which is Lager. Before World War II, Lager simply referred to a camp with tents and a campfire, but during World War II and the rise of concentration, work, and death camps in Germany, Lager came to have a negative connotation associated with it. This is only one example of how the Nazis used carefully-chosen language in propaganda to seize and maintain power throughout the Nazi era.

Through the analysis of specific words that the Nazis used and of the people’s reaction to the words then and now, I will determine exactly how the German language changed before and during World War II. I will come to the conclusion that Nazi-German and the language used in propaganda changed the German language because the use of certain words in propaganda changed the connotation and context of those words, and those changes still exist today.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

My name is Ariana Moore, and I am currently a senior at Valparaiso University. My interest in Germany during the Nazi era stems from an interest in German history in general, and I found it particularly intriguing that one small part of history could change the way people use language could affect the connotation of words seventy years later. After college, I hope to be in Germany again as an English teaching assistant through Fulbright.

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