Review

Nazi-Deutsch Nazi German Lexicon

Robert Michael and Karin Doerr. Nazi Deutsch/Nazi German: An English Lexicon of the Language of the Third Reich. Newport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Margrit  Rosenberg Stenge

Having spent my youth in Norway, from 1939 - 1951, I have visited this country many times during the intervening years.

One such visit occurred in 1996. Meeting with old friends one evening, I was given a book depicting my host's experiences in the Holocaust. I took the book back home to Montreal, not really wanting to read it, mainly because I had not read a Norwegian book in years. However, once I started reading this book, I was totally captivated by it. The style was simple and the content very moving. And by sheer coincidence this book became the start of a new hobby for me, albeit one of a somewhat strange nature.

At the age of 67 I decided to try my hand at translating. It took some effort to get used to reading Norwegian again, but since the sentences in this book were short and the book extremely well written by one of Norway's foremost actors and writers, Knut M. Hanssen, it was not too difficult. The effort was well worth it. My old friend's grandchildren live in Israel, and this was the first time they could read something about their grandfather's experiences in the Holocaust.

Since that time I have translated several Holocaust memoirs of Norwegian Jews and, was ultimately made aware that a Norwegian non-Jewish writer, Kristian Ottosen, has written many books about the Holocaust, among them one about the history of the Norwegian Jews, called "On Such a Night". With Mr. Ottosen's permission I set out to translate this rather challenging book. Mr. Ottosen is a writer who pays a great deal of attention to detail, and he uses many German expressions. He himself spent several years in various concentration camps in Germany and thus had ample opportunity to learn the Nazi-German expressions. I, however, was often at a loss with regard to their translation into English.

Since I speak German, I translated these expressions as best I could. Often I e-mailed friends and relatives overseas to ask for their help, but these expressions could not be found in any present day English-German dictionaries. It was, therefore, with a great deal of interest and amazement that I listened to Dr. Karin Doerr's speech at a Holocaust breakfast this spring. What she spoke of was exactly the kind of dictionary I needed! A short time later I had acquired this incredible Lexicon.

I am now using the Lexicon almost daily. Often, even when I am not really looking for a word or an expression I leaf through the book at random and stop at different words and their explanations. This book is not just a Lexicon, but actually contains the history of the Holocaust. I am not an academic, but I can certainly appreciate the incredible amount of work and devotion invested in compiling a Lexicon of this nature. This Lexicon will serve researchers of the Holocaust for generations to come.

I mentioned the existence of the Lexicon to Mr. Ottosen and my admiration for the outstanding work done by its researchers. He too requested a volume, and I was actually able to hand him a copy personally on my recent visit to Norway.