Is there a name for “old German handwriting” besides just calling it old? I’m referring to the German script written pre-world war II, it was the Nazis who scrapped it in the late 30s. My understanding is most Germans today wouldn’t be able to read it.

Also if there is, would most people know it by that name, or just by “old German”?

This would be an example of the old script:

old German script

  • What, you mean it's not called "That Dratted German Handwriting"?
    – JPmiaou
    Oct 11, 2021 at 17:11

3 Answers 3


This is a handwriting, that has this names (english translations in brackets):

  • Kurrentschrift (kurrent writing)
  • Deutsche Kurrentschrift (German kurrent writing)
  • Alte Deutsche Schrift (old German writing)

In English you also find the name German cursive.

The word Kurrent comes from latin currere (to run). The German words for Handwriting are Handschrift (hand writing) and Laufschrift (run writing). Later because the pen is constantly running across the paper while writing a word, without the need to lift it between the letters. So kurrent is also a kind of »Kursiv-Schrift« (»italics« in english) (latin »cursus« = the course, the run)

Kurrentschrift was used everywhere where German was spoken between the 16th century and the mid of 20th century (Switzerland only until the end of 19th century). It was not the nazis who "scraped" it. The example of Switzerland shows, that it was outdated before the nazis came up. It would also have been extincted in the 20th century without the nazis, maybe due to the nazis it happened some decades earlier.

And yes, it is true, that nowadays it is hard to find people who can read it fluently.

Read more about it at Wikipedia:

  • 6
    Well, actually the Nazis did abolish Kurrent along with blackletter fonts in 1941 with the so-called Normalschrifterlass – after championing them until then. Afterwards, those scripts never got hold again. Given the huge cultural impact of Nazi Germany and the consequent Allied occupation, it’s quite impossible to tell what would happened without them. Switzerland does not compare that well as it is a multilingual country. By the same argument, we would not use the ß today; but we do.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jun 25, 2015 at 6:39

In German, this type of handwriting is normally called Sütterlin, although technically that only refers to a specific late simplified variant (due to Ludwig Sütterlin) that was last taught in schools. Another common way of referring to this, which is properly applicable to the older forms as well, is [alte] deutsche Schreibschrift. And finally there is the proper technical term deutsche Kurrentschrift, which is rarely used by the general public and probably not understood by everyone.

PS: Apparently I wasn't clear enough. "Deutsche Kurrentschrift" is the proper term and is used among experts. But it is practically unused among the general public to the point that many Germans don't know what it means and would guess that it refers to something else they haven't heard of. "Deutsche Schreibschrift" is also heard occasionally, but is ambiguous. "Alte deutsche Schreibschrift" is slightly less ambiguous but is used even less frequently due to its length. (It is still ambiguous because other forms of handwriting were popular in Germany even earlier.) "Sütterlin[schrift]" properly refers only to the latest variant, but most people don't know this and are not able to distinguish different forms of Kurrentschrift anyway.

By the way, there are two forms of Sütterlinschrift, only one of which is a Kurrentschrift. This makes it even more wrong to refer to all forms of Kurrentschrift as Sütterlin, but in linguistics and lexicography, ultimately the users of a language are always right.

  • 2
    No, it is not Sütterlin. It is Kurrent. Please compare: Sütterlin has round and upright letters: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Sütterlin-Ausgangsschrift.jpg But the letters of Kurrent are angular and inclined, just as in the OP's picture: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Deutsche_Kurrentschrift.svg Jun 25, 2015 at 6:44
  • 2
    @HubertSchölnast technically you are right. But much like most people incorrectly say Fraktur when encountering a gothic typeface, most people will also incorrectly call Kurrentschrift Sütterlin.
    – Jan
    Jun 25, 2015 at 9:06
  • @Jan And what is the difference between Gothic, Fraktur, and Kurrent ? Jul 15, 2015 at 20:10
  • @GeorgesElencwajg imho, that would almost make a good question of its own. If we stick to generic terms, then Fraktur is the generic German term for typed broken-type scripts, Sütterlin or in some areas Kurrent will be a generic term for broken-type handwriting and gothic is the generic English term for typed broken-type scripts.
    – Jan
    Jul 15, 2015 at 20:13

I'd say that this is Deutsche Kurrentschrift.

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