Führer (often written Fuehrer or Fuhrer in English when umlauts are not used) is a proper noun meaning "leader" or "guide" in the German language. The IPA transcription of the standard German pronunciation is , but in English it is usually pronounced [ˈfjʊːɹə(ɹ)].
Führer was a title granted by German Chancellor Adolf Hitler to himself by law, as part of the process of Gleichschaltung, following the death of Reich President Paul von Hindenburg (president of the German Reich) August 2, 1934. The new position, fully named Führer und Reichskanzler ("Leader and Chancellor of the Reich"), formally made Hitler Germany's head of state as well as head of government. It is modelled after its Italian equivalent 'il Duce', used by Benito Mussolini. Other equivalents used during the period were 'el Caudillo' (Francisco Franco), "Poglavnik" (Ante Pavelic), "Capitanul" (Corneliu Codreanu), "Vozhd" (Konstantin Rodzaevsky), the "American Führer" (Fritz Kuhn), "the Chief" (William Dudley Pelley), 'El Jefe' (Jorge González von Marées), and 'Netaji' (Subhas Chandra Bose) (see also Adrien Arcand and Vidkun Quisling). Postwar equivalents include 'Commander' George Lincoln Rockwell.
Hitler cultivated the Führerprinzip, and Hitler was generally known as just der Führer ("the Leader"). This was a de-facto personality cult about his role as leader. One of Hitler's most-repeated political slogans was "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer" (translated as "One people, one country, one leader", or "One nation, one empire, one leader").
Führer has been used as a military title in Germany since at least the 18th century. Commanders of various military formations (such as Companies, Battalions, and Regiments) were typically referred by their formation title followed by the title Führer (for instance Kompanieführer). The title of Führer was also used as a paramilitary title and gained extensive usage under the Nazi Party. Almost every Nazi paramilitary organization, in particular the SS and SA used ranks incorporating the title of Führer.
Due to its excessive use in Nazi Germany, the term Führer, as well as the notion of politicians as leaders of men, have understandably gone out of fashion in modern Germany. The term Anführer, with a slightly more tangible field of meaning than Führer, is now mostly being used as a literal translation of "leader", while Führer itself is almost exclusively used in composites, e.g. Lok[omotiv]führer (engine driver), Zugführer (railway guard), Flugzeugführer (aircraft pilot), Bergführer (mountain guide), Führerschein (driver's licence), Spielführer (team captain), Fremdenführer (tourist guide), Führerstand (driver's cab) and so on.
One of the very few current uses of Führer is the correct translation for eg. a politician's official English description as great leader, which is regularly translated as großer Führer (using the indefinite article).
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46