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.
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."
"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.
Amerika Bomber - A spring 1942 aviation contract competition for a Luftwaffe trans-oceanic range strategic bomber, only resulting in a few completed prototype aircraft from two firms, and many advanced designs that mostly remained on paper.
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, or "captured" Allied aircraft, in World War I.
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.
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.
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.
Daimler-Benz (DB) — A producer of military vehicles, and engines to power both German aircraft and surface vehicles.
Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK) — German troops sent to North Africa under the command of Erwin Rommel to prevent the loss of Libya to the British by the Italians. The term is properly used to refer to Rommel's original force of two divisions that landed in 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 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 — General officer commanding a division
Dienstdolch — service dagger (uniform dagger).
Donnerbalken — "thunderbox"; 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, only visited the property 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.
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.
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, Communists and others during the German invasion into the Soviet Union.
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.
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 Luftstreitkräfte military flying unit in World War I, first formed in 1914 with six two-seater observation aircraft per unit.
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
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.
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.
Futtermeister — Quartermaster responsible for fodder
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.
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.
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 — literally "squadron", in World War II Luftwaffe usage, the same as a USAAF aviation wing of World War II. Equivalent to the French escadre or Italian squadriglia. In English, the translation varies. In naval usage, it has the same meaning as an English squadron. In German Luftstreitkräfte and Luftwaffe usage:
World War I Luftstreitkräfte : A unit of four fighter Staffeln, as in JG I, the famous "Flying Circus", initially led by Manfred von Richthofen. Also used for so-named "Kagohl" and "Bogohl" bomber units of a similar size, under direct command of the German Empire's Oberste Heeresleitung Army command office in World War I.
World War II Luftwaffe: 1 Geschwader was divided in 3 or more Gruppen of 3 (or rarely 4) Staffeln each. (Staffel of 9-12 aeroplanes). It was a unit equivalent to a British Commonwealth air force group, a US wing or a Soviet air division.
Bundeswehr Luftwaffe: 1 Geschwader is divided in a Technical Gruppe (de:Technische Gruppe), a Flying Gruppe (de: Fliegende Gruppe) and 2-3 Squadrons (de:Staffeln). It is a unit equivalent to a British Commonwealth air force wing or a US group.
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.
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.
Gröfaz — 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) — basic training
Gruppe (Gr) — In the army it is the equivalent to a squad, a Luftwaffegruppe was equivalent to a US/French group or a British Commonwealth wing.
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 — 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) — "Reich Main Security 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.
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.
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".
Schutzstaffel (SS) – "Protection Squadron", a major Nazi organization that grew from a small paramilitary unit that served as Hitler's personal body guard into militarily what was in practical terms the fourth branch of the Wehrmacht. It was not legally a part of the military (and therefore wore the national emblem on the left sleeve instead of over the right breast pocket). "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.
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".
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.
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"; 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.
Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) — "special-purpose motor vehicle", usually abbreviated and referring to an Ordnance Inventory Number.
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.
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.
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).
Sturmabteilung (SA) — "storm battalion," stormtroopers, 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.
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.
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!"
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.
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 "Deutsche U-boot" or "Amerikanische U-boot".
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 supergun nicknamed the Hochdruckpumpe (high-pressure pump), designed to fire shells carrying up to a 10 kg (22 lb) high-explosive warhead at a range of 93 km. It was never very successful as most installations were destroyed by bombing before they could be used.
Verband — formation (from a battalion to a brigade).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Gemeiner – Private (enlisted personnel). Historically, and up until 1918, the rank of Gemeiner was ordinarily used for an enlisted soldier of Private rank.
Eisenhammer - Iron Hammer, planned strategic bombing raid on Soviet electric power generation water turbines, potentially knocking out three-quarters of all western Soviet electrical generation capacity, never carried out
Fall Blau - Case Blue; summer offensive in Southern Russia.
Nordlicht — Northern Lights; attack on Leningrad in 1942.
Nordwind — North Wind; counteroffensive in Alsace and Lorraine in January 1945.
Panzerfaust — Armored Fist; the October 1944 mission to kidnap Miklós Horthy Jr, son of Hungarian Regent Admiral Miklós Horthy.
Paukenschlag — Drumroll or Drumbeat; offensive against Allied shipping in US and Caribbean waters in the first half of 1942.
Pastorius — U-boat operation involving U-202 and U-548 setting 8 agents ashore in the USA in June 1942.
Reinhard — covername for the entire process of building extermination camps, deportation of Jews first to ghettos, then to the concentration camps for extermination and incineration. Named for SD chief Reinhard Heydrich.
Seelöwe — Sea Lion; projected amphibious assault on Great Britain in 1940/41. It never took place.
Steinbock - the German Luftwaffe bomber offensive against England from late January through the end of May 1944
Stösser — parachute drop on evening of 16 December 1944; purpose was to seize a crossroads for Kampfgruppe Peiper during the Germans' Ardennes Offensive.
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.
Walküre — Valkyrie Officially a Reserve Army contingency plan to restore law and order in the event a disruption caused by the Allied bombing of German cities caused a breakdown in law and order, or a rising by the millions of forced laborers German factories. Was, in fact, a major part of the failed July 20 Plot to arrest SS and other Nazi officials and seize control of the German government.
Weserübung — Weser Exercise (commonly, Water Exercise); invasion of Denmark and Norway, 9 April 1940
Wintergewitter — Winter Gale; unsuccessful attempt to relieve the 6th Army at Stalingrad in December 1942.
Zitadelle — Citadel; attack on Soviet salient at Kursk, July 1943.