German soldier language and customs

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German soldier language and customs

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German mannerisms and cultural traits and military etiquette

Creative Energy - On a large scale, the Germans have always been great builders and inventors. On a
smaller scale, individual Germans are some of the hardest working people on the planet. GIs who
occupied German positions were amazed to find some bunkers with screen doors, carpets and

Thoroughness - The Germans have a saying: "Wenn schon, denn schon", meaning 'if it's worth doing,
it's worth over-doing'. They are masters of organization and give great attention to detail.

Orderliness - The Germans have 2 more sayings: "Ordnung muss sein", meaning 'there must be
order' and "Alles in Ordnung", meaning 'everything has a place, and everything is in it's place'. They are
neat and everything must go by the rules. Punctuality is another by-product; woe to the person who is
late for a meeting. 5 to 15 minutes early for meetings and formations is expected.

Sincerity - Germans pride themselves in their honor; they generally do what they say they will do.

Firmness - More tangible terms might be 'persistence' or 'single-mindedness'.

Loyalty - Loyalty to his organization, family, country and comrades is one of the things that makes the
German a very good citizen and soldier.

Songs - Germans like group singing and have songs on just about every subject under the sun.
German soldiers sang not just march songs but hiking and folk songs about nature, comrades,
country, food, alcohol and women. To Americans this kind of and amount of singing seems overly
sentimental or corny. In the German army of WW 2 a lack of singing indicated poor morale.

Health and nature - Germans are great fans of health and nature. They walk every day, take care on
what and how much they eat. They surround themselves with flowers and trees are almost holy.
Germans take health vacations for fresh air and sunshine.

Table manners - Germans hold their forks upside down in the left hand, and knife in the right hand. A
piece of bread is held in the left hand and break off pieces with the right hand. Both hands must remain
above the table at all times.

Politeness and social rules - German society was and is very formal in speech and interaction.
Germans place great importance on introductions, greetings and standing when a woman enters the
room. Upon leaving and entering a room you shake everyone's hand. This handshake is the
one-pump, not limp, not too strong handshake. German soldiers would include a very slight bow. Hat's
off to ladies out of doors (you never wear a hat indoors, except if you are carrying a weapon). In
greetings and introductions you always include the person's title(s) - examples: Herr Doktor Braun,
Herr Reichsminister Speer, Herr Leutnant Doktor Klein, SS Untersturmfuehrer Schmidt, Frau Keller,
Fraeulein Professor Albrecht.

Military discipline - The German army was at the top of the ladder in the social order and it was deemed
the highest honor to be a soldier. Respect for leaders was shown at all times; leaders took care of their
men and made sure they were well trained. Standing at attention and saluting when an officer comes
near is expected. Regular military salutes were used mostly, but the straight-arm Nazi salute was used
sometimes, along with the ''halt" style salute which was a comrade greeting (Kameradgruss). Never
stand around with your hands in your pockets and look lazy. Stand up proudly and in a military manner.
Speak clearly and simply to an officer or sergeant, not using hand gestures. In class you sit up straight
with hands folded on the table. Waffen SS rooms and personal items were not locked up because
comrades were to be trusted and stealing was a very bad offense.

Professionalism - German soldiers take great pride in everything they do, and do it thoroughly, with
enthusiasm. Every soldier was trained to take over the next highest rank and use their initiative when
needed. The goal or objective was given to the leader, and the leader devised his own plan to make it
happen - with the least amount of casualties. No leader was expected to try to take an objective that
could not reasonably be taken with the resources at hand. The German army did not expect to stupidly
lose men and equipment when so much time and effort was given to create it. Leaders were expected
to speak up when they had questions or concerns about their men or mission. German soldiers were
trained to be highly proficient in every part of their jobs, so each tool and job came naturally and could
be done confidently.

Differences from Americans - German soldiers hold their rifles cupped in one hand when running, not
in both hands like GIs. The wedding ring is on the right hand.

German commands and language


Angetreten fall in at attention
Antreten fall in not at attention
Aufschliessen antreten fall in not at attention and
dress right
Richt euch dress right (already in formation)
Stillgestanden! (or Stand!) stand to attention!
Abzaehlen count off
Augen rechts Augen links eyes right eyes left
Augen vor eyes front
Achtung I want your attention
Links um Rechts um left face right face
Kehrt um about face (counter-clockwise)
Ruehrt euch at ease (in formation)
Stehen Sie befehl at ease (when not in formation)
Das Gewehr ueber left shoulder arms
Gewehr ab order arms
Praesentiert das Gewehr present arms
Das Gewehr umhaengen sling arms
Gewehr abnehem unsling arms
Setzt die Gewehr zusammen stack arms
Gewehr in die Hand take arms from the stack
Seitengewehr planzt auf fix bayonets
Seitengewehr an ort un-fix bayonets
Weitermachen as you were/carry on
Melde gehorsam I wish to report

Moving in formation

Vorwaerts marsch forward march
Rechtsschwengt marsch column right march
Linksschwengt marsch column left march
Halbrechtsschwengt marsch column half right march
Halblinksschwengt marsch column half left march
In Reihe marsch in combat column march
Im halber Schritt marsch half step march
Eins, zwo, drei, vier one, two (military 2), three, four
Im Laufschritt marsch, marsch double time march (trot kind of
Ohne Tritt marsch route step march (out of step)
Gruppe halt squad halt
Wegtreten fall out of formation (about face,
take 3 paces)

Battle commands

Laden und sichern load and put weapon on safe (lock)
Feuer (or Schiessen) fire (or shoot)
Feuer frei fire at will
Feinde enemy
Tiefflieger (or flieger) combat plane
Kampflinie make a battle line
Kampfkreis make a battle circle
Gerade aus go straight ahead
Gehen links gehen rechts go left go right
Langsam go slow
Stille be silent
Sei ruhig be quiet
Warten Sie wait
Bleiben Sie stay
Hinlegen lay down/get down
Deckung take cover
Auseinanderziehen spread out
Eingraben dig in
Aufstehen get up/stand up
Laufen Sie run
Sofort immediately
Schnell hurry
Los go
Jetzt now
Zurueck move back
Angriff attack
Gegenangriff counterattack
Einsteigen get into vehicle
Aufsteigen get out of vehicle
Vorsicht be careful
Gefahr danger
Zu befehl as you have ordered
Jawohl yes, affirmative
Ja yes
Nein no
Vielleicht perhaps
Moeglich maybe
Ich weiss nicht I don't know
Alles in Ordnung everything is in order
Alles bereite everything is ready
Alles fertig everything is finished
Beobachten Sie observe
Aufklaeren Sie do a recon
Scharfschuetzer sniper
Haende hoch hands up
Pass auf watch out
Halt, wer da? stop, who goes there?
nord sued ost west north south east west
Herein kommen come in
Raus get out
Zusammen together
frueh early
spaet late
spaeter later
Gefangner prisoner
Kapitulieren surrender
tot dead
verwundet wounded
werde sterben dying
Information information
Frontlinie (or Front) front line
Hinterland rear areas

Man-made things on the battlefield

MG Nester machine gun nest
Bunker bunker/pillbox
Stadt city
Burg (or Dorf) village/town
Fenster window
Tuer door
Wand wall
Barracke (or Kaserne) barracks
Strasse road
Bruecke bridge
Bau Bauen building buildings
Flughafen airport
Bauern farm/barn
Schule school
Kirche church
Haus house
Lazarette hospital
Postamt post office
Bahnhof train station
Festung fortress
Schloss castle
Lager military camp
Eisenbahn railroad tracks

Natural terrain

Wald forest
Baum Baeume tree trees
Berg hill/mountain
Fluss river
Wasserfaell waterfall
Meer ocean
See sea or lake
Kueste sea coast


Stahlhelm steel helmet
Feldmuetze field cap
Augenglas (or Dienstbrille) regular eye glasses
Rock (or Feldbluse) tunic
Hemd shirt
Feldhosen field pants
Hosentraeger suspenders
Unterhosen underpants
Feldflasche canteen
Tarn camouflage
Tarnjacke camouflage smock
Mantel overcoat
Handschuhe gloves
Kopfschuetzer head protector/toque
Socken socks
Gemaschen gaiters
Marschstiefel jackboots
Stiefel boots

For more uniforms click on the button 'How to fill out a Soldbuch'


Auto car
Wagen vehicle or truck
Panzer (or Panzerkampfwagen) tank
Jagdpanzer tank destroyer
Sturmgeschutz assault gun
Kubelwagen jeep
Schwimmwagen amphibious jeep
Kradschutz motorcycle
Schuetzenpanzerwagen half track
Kettenkrad half track motorcycle
Goulaschkannone (slang) cook wagon
Zug (or Bahn) train
Flugzeug airplane
Schif ship
Boot boat


Erkennungsmarken ID disk
Koppel belt
Koppelschloss belt buckle
Brotbeutel bread bag
Zeltbahn poncho/shelter quarter tent
Zeltstock tent stakes
Spaten straight shovel
Spatentraeger (or Spatentasche) straight shovel carrier
Schanzzeug folding shovel
Schanzzeugtraeger (or folding shovel carrier
Patronentaschen ammunition pouches
Seitengewehrtasche bayonet carrier
Landkarte map
Meldekartentasche leather map case
Marschkompass march compass
Doppelfernrohr binoculars
Radio radio
Licht light (illumination)
leicht light (weight)
schwer heavy (weight)
Fahne flag
Glas glass
Tasse cup
Trinkbecker) canteen cup
Gabel fork
Messer eating knife
Laufel spoon
Teller plate
Schuhfett shoe polish
Tornister back pack
Kochgeschirr mess tin
Gasmaske gas mask
Tragbruchse fuer Gasmaske gas mask canister
Maskenbrille eye glasses for gas mask
Bleistiff pencil
Feder pen
Papier paper
Koppeltraggestell Y-straps
Tragriemen leather straps
Decke blanket
Gefechtsgepack assault pack
Feldtaschen lampe flashlight
Kocher individual stove
Nahenzeug sewing kit
Fettdose lard/butter dish
Rasier razor
Rasierklingen razor blades

For more equipment click on the button 'How to fill out a Soldbuch'


Patronen ammunition
Benzine gasoline/fuel
Oel oil
Wasser water
Bier beer
Wein wine
Kaffee coffee
Tee tea
Essen food
Fruehstuck breakfast
Mittagessen lunch
Abendessen dinner
Wurst sausage
Kaese cheese
Fleisch meat
Gemuese vegetables
Ei Eier egg eggs
Kartoffeln potatoes
Zwiebel onions
Brot bread
Zigaretten cigarettes
Suppe soup
Schokolade chocolate
Fische fish
Leder leather
Geld money
Seife soap
Bad bath


Gruppe squad
Zug platoon
Kompanie company
Battalion battalion
Abteilung detachment
Regiment regiment
Division division
Korps corps
Armee army (group of corps)
Armeegruppe army group
Heer army (entire army)
Wehrmacht armed forces (army, navy, air
Luftwaffe air force
Kriegsmarine navy
Hauptquartier headquarters
Infanterie infantry
Fallschirmjaeger paratroops
Panzer armor
Artillerie artillery
Panzerjaeger anti-tank
Flak anti-aircraft
Pioneere engineers
Lehrtruppen trainers
Ersatztruppen replacements
Einheit unit


Gewehr rifle
Sturmgewehr assault rifle
Karbiner carbine
Seitengewehr bayonet
Waffen weapon
Morser mortar
Machinengewehr machine gun
Machinenpistole machine pistol/sub machine gun
Pistole pistol
Flammenwerfer flame thrower
Hand Granaten hand grenade
Bomben bombs
Minen mines
Kannonen cannon
Panzerjaeger Kannonen anti-tank gun
Panzerfaust anti-tank rocket
Panzerschreck bazooka
Offenrohr (slang) bazooka (stove pipe - slang)


Wetter weather
Tag day
Nacht night
Minuten minutes
Stunde hour
kalt cold
kuhl cool
heiss hot
warm warm
Wolken clouds
Sonne sun
Sonnenschein sunshine
Winde wind
Regnet rain
Schnee snow
Nebel smoke or fog

Countries and places

Russland Russia
Moskva Moscow
Frankreich France
Nederland Holland
Belgien Belgium
Engelland Great Britain
Italien Italy
Polen Poland
Daenmark Denmark
Rhein Rhine river
Ungarn Hungary
Griekenland Greece
Afrika Africa
Ostmark (or Oesterreich) Austria
Amerika America
Wien Vienna
Donau Danube river
Ostpreussen East Prussia
Schwarzwald Black Forest
Boemerwald Bohemian Forest
Bayern Bavaria


Fuehrer leader
Kommandur commander
Offizier officer
Soldat soldier
Kamerad comrade
Freund friend
Artzt doctor
Doktor professor
Krankenschwester nurse
Sani medic
Polizei police
Feldgendarme military police
Der Spiess company first sergeant (the
Schuetze rifleman
Grenadier motorized rifleman
Flieger pilot
Schneider tailor
Frau wife or married woman
Frauelein un-married woman
Maedel (or Maedchen) young woman
Junge young man
Volk folk
Leute people
Mann man/husband
Maenner men
Jawohl Johann yes man
alte Hase veteran (old hare)
Arschloch asshole
dumme Scheiss dumb shit
Luftgangster parachute gangster (American
Amis (slang) Americans
Ivan (slang) Russians
Musikanten musicians
Burgermeister mayor


Guten Tag Good day/hello
Was ist los? What's happening/how are you?
Bist du krank? Are you sick?
Hast du Hunger? Are you hungry?
Hast du Durst? Are you thirsty?
Singst mir ein Lied Sing me a song
naturlich naturally
immer always
nie never
etwas some
Ich habe keine Zeit I have no time
Wie Uhr ist es? What time (hour) is it?
Hast du Feuer? Do you have a light (match)?
Bist du boese? Are you tired?
Bist du muede? Are you angry?
Was denkst du? What do you think?
Wo gehtst du? Where are you going?
Spielst du Karten? Do you plan cards?
Liest du die Zeitung? Are you reading the newspaper?
Was machst du? What are you doing?
Was willst du? What do you want?
Moechst du ein Trink? Do you want a drink?
Mir ist kalt I am cold
Es ist heiss It is hot
Es regnet It is raining
Es schneit It is snowing
Es brennt It is on fire/burning
Schlafst du gut sleep well
Guten Appetite good appetite
Das schmeckt gut? Does it taste good?
Wenn kommst du nach zuruck? When are you coming back?
Willst du ins Kino gehen? Do you want to go to the film
Hoeren Sie die Musik? Do you hear the music?
Wollen Sie tanzen? Do you want to dance?
Welches Lied willst du hoeren? Which song do you want to hear?
Fahren Sie da Drive there
Jetzt, gehts, los Now it's getting started
Der Krieg ist vorbei The war is over
Auf wiedersehen Good bye/See you again
Bis spaeter See you later
Bis bald See you soon
Gruess Gott Go with God/Greet God
Meine Ehre heisst Treue My honor is loyalty (SS motto)
Ein Reich, ein Volk, ein Fuehrer One empire, one people, one
Deutschland ueber Alles Put Germany above everything in
your life (not Germany conquers everything)
Alles fuer Deutschland Do everything for Germany
Es lebe Deutschland Long live Germany
Gott mit uns God is with us (German army
Froehliche Gebuertstag Happy birthday
Froehliche Weihnacht Merry Christmas
Glueckliches neues Jahr Happy New Year


weiss white
schwarz black
rot red
blau blue
braun brown
gruen green
rose pink
gelb yellow
silber silver
geld gold

Numbers, time, day, month, year

null zero

eins, zwei, drei, vier, fuenf, sechts, sieben, acht, neun, zehn


elf, zwoelf, dreizehn, vierzehn, fuenfzehn, sechtszehn, siebzehn, achtszehn,
neunzehn, zwanzig

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

dreissig, vierzig, fuenfzig, sechzig, siebzig, achtzig, neunzig, hundert

30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100

tausend, million, milliard

thousand, million, billion

1.300 RM 1,300 Reichsmarks
1,3 KM 1.3 kilometers
ein und dreisig 31 (1 and 30)
siebenhundert 700
drei hundert Stunde 300 hours (3 a.m.)
vierzehn hundert dreisig Stunde 1430 hours (2:30 p.m.)
Morgen morning or tomorrow
Mittag noon
Nacht (or Abend) night/evening
Nachmittag afternoon
Heute today
Heute Abend tonight
Gestern yesterday

Sonntag, Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Januar, Februar, Maerz, April, Mai, Juni, Juli, August, September, Oktober,
November, Dezember

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October,
November, December

Jahr Year
9.1.99 9 January 1999

Fruehlung, Sommer, Herbst, Winter spring, summer, fall, winter
Fasching Mardi Gras
Asche Mittwoch Ash Wednesday
Ostertag Easter
Maitag May Day (May 1 - Labor day)
Oktoberfest Octoberfest (late Sep-early Oct)
Weihnacht Christmas
Neues Jahr New Year

Remember that the German '7' has a horizontal line through the
middle Remember that the German '1' looks like our '7'
Remember that all German nouns start with a capital letter

Remember German pronunciation:

A sounds like our short O as in BOTHER
AI sounds like our long I as in FINE
AU sounds like OW as in HOW
AY sounds like our long I as in FINE
CH sound is at the back of the throat like you are clearing your
throat or going to spit (not like our SH or K sounds)
D at the end of a word sounds like our T
E sounds like our long A as in GRAIN
EE sounds like our long A as in GRAIN
EI sounds like our long I as in FINE
EU sounds like OY as in BOY
EY sounds like our long I as in FINE
G sounds like the G as in GREEN (never like the G as in GEORGE)
I sounds like our long E as in GREEN
IE sounds like our long E as in GREEN
J sounds like our Y as in YES
O sounds like our long O as in VOTE
OH sounds like our long O as in VOTE
OI sounds like OY as in BOY
OO sounds like our long O as in VOTE
U sounds like our long U as in USE (never like our short U as in
S sounds like our Z when followed by a vowel
S sounds like our S at the end of a word
SP sounds like our SHP put together when at the beginning of a
word and
sounds like our SP when NOT at the beginning of a word
ST sounds like our SHT put together when at the beginning of a
word and
sounds like our ST when NOT at the beginning of a word
SPR sounds like our SHPR put together when at the beginning of