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Reich is a German term. It means realm or Empire[1] as well as State.


The term was especially used for:

The official German name of the plutocratic-liberal Weimar Republic was the Deutsches Reich (German Reich). In this context it clearly refers to a State and not an empire. This name continued during National Socialist Germany between 1933-1943. During the 1943-1945 period it was changed to Großdeutsches Reich (Greater German Reich).

After 1945 when the communist German Democratic Republic (DDR) was established, they continued using Deutsches Reich in many contexts, notably the railways: Deutsches Reichsbahn (DR).

Others include Reichsadler (German Eagle), Reichsautobahn (State arterial motor road), Reichskanzlei (State Chancery), Reichskanzler (State Chancellor), Reichspost (German State Post Office).[3]

The term Reich is said to derive from the Proto-Indo-European reg- "move in a straight line," hence, "direct in a straight line, rule, guide". It is related to words such as "regal", "right", "rex", and "realm".[4]

See also


  1. Langenscheidt's Universal German-English Dictionary, New Edition, Munich & Berlin, 1976, p.472.
  3. Oxford German Dictionary by M.L. Barker and H. Homeyer, Clarendon press, Oxford, U.K., 1989, p.270, ISBN 0-19-864166-4
  4. See these words in "Online Etymology Dictionary"