LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii

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LTI – Lingua Tertii Imperii: Notizbuch eines Philologen (1947) is a book by Victor Klemperer, Professor of Literature at the Dresden University of Technology. The title, half in Latin and half in German, translates to "The Language of the Third Reich: A Philologist's Notebook"; the book is published in English translation as The Language of the Third Reich.


Lingua Tertii Imperii studies the way that Nazi propaganda altered the German language to inculcate people with National-Socialist ideas. The book was written under the form of personal notes which Klemperer wrote in his diary, especially from the rise of the Nazi regime in 1933, and even more after 1935, when Klemperer, stripped of his academic title because he was Jewish (under the Nuremberg Laws), had to work in a factory. His diary became a notebook in which he noted and commented on the German used by Nazi officials, ordinary citizens, and even fellow Jews. Klemperer wrote the book, based on his notes, in 1945-1946.[1]

LTI demonstrates changes in the German language in most of the population. On the reverse, the text also emphasizes the idea that resistance to oppression begins by questioning the constant use of buzzwords. Both the book and its author unexpectedly survived the war. LTI was first published in 1947 in Germany.

It underlines odd constructions of words intended to give a "scientific" or neutral aspect to otherwise heavily engaged discourses, as well as significant every-day behaviour.


Klemperer notes that much of the Nazi language involved appropriating old words and adapting their meaning, rather than making new ones.[2] Among the examples he recorded of propagandistic language use were the following.

Recurrent words[edit]

  • Artfremd ("Alien to the species")
  • Ewig ("Eternal") der ewige Jude (the eternal Jew); das ewige Deutschland (the eternal Germany)
  • Fanatical / Fanaticism (used in a particularly Orwellian way: strongly positively connotated for the "good" side, and strongly negatively connotated for the "bad" side)
  • Instinct
  • Spontaneous

Euphemisms (Schleierwörter)[edit]

  • Evakuierung ("evacuation"): deportation
  • Holen ("pick up"): arrest
  • Konzertlager ("concert camp"): concentration camp
  • Krise ("crisis"): defeat
  • Sonderbehandlung ("special treatment"): murder
  • Verschärfte Vernehmung ("Intensified interrogation"): torture[3]

Recurrent expressions and motives[edit]

  • the war "imposed" onto a peace-loving Führer (France and the United Kingdom did declare war on Germany, but only after the invasion of Poland.)
  • the "incommensurable hate" of the Jews—note the Orwellian ambiguity: the Jews have an "incommensurable hate" of the Third Reich (aggressive or conspiratorial), but the German people have an "incommensurable hate" of the Jews (spontaneous and legitimate).


  • Groß- ("grand")
  • Volk(s)- ("Volk = people, Volks = of or for the people (prefix)"). Volksgemeinschaft designated the racially pure community of nations. Volkswagen is an example of a term which has outlived the Third Reich.
  • Welt- ("world", as in Weltanschauung, "intuition/view of the world"): this was quite a rare, specific and cultured term before the Third Reich, but became an everyday word. It came to designate the instinctive understanding of complex geo-political problems by the Nazis, which allowed them to openly begin invasions, twist facts or violate human rights, in the name of a higher ideal and in accordance to their theory of the world.


  • arisieren ("to aryanise", see Aryanization)
  • aufnorden ("to nordicise up", make more Nordic).
  • entjuden ("to de-Jew"). Conversely, after the war, a strong trend of Entnazifizierung ("denazification") took place.
  • Untermenschentum ("sub-humanity", see Untermensch)

In film[edit]

  • Language Does Not Lie (La langue ne ment pas), a 2003 documentary film based on Klemperer's book, directed by Stan Neumann

See also[edit]


External links[edit]