Nazi Shmatzi

Nazi Shmatzi

Have you noticed that I never use the term “Nazi” in Thieves of Paris? I had been very careful where I used Nazi and where I used German in the first draft, since not all Germans were Nazis—and not all Nazis were German.

Then a reader told me the term “Nazi” had not been in use in France until after World War II. She had fled Paris with her parents and sister when the Germans occupied the city. But I still checked out her claim.

I had always thought that “Nazi” was a shortening of “National Sozialist,” the name of Hitler’s political party. In German, the first two syllables of national are pronounced “Nazi.”

The term had a derogatory connotation when it was first used by enemies of Hitler. In Bavaria, “nazi” is a shortened version of “Ignatius.” An ignorant peasant was called “Nazi.”

Finally, I decided it was important to distinguish between people in the SS who had committed to Hitler more than to Germany, on the one hand, and people of German citizenship who were more committed to the country.

So you may see the term “Nazi’ on the cover of the book or in promotional material, but you will see it only occasionally in the narrative of Thieves of Paris.

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