I am translating subtitles from an English documentary. In this documentary they use only the term "Axis" or "Axis powers" to refer to the troops advancing from Germany to the East.

According to Wikipedia the Axis (in German "Achsenmächte") meant Germans, Italians, Japanese.

I found that the Axis troops (1942, Eastern Front) consisted of:

Die rund drei Millionen Soldaten des deutschen Ostheeres verteilten sich auf 150 Divisionen, darunter 20 Panzerdivisionen. Die Verbündeten stellten weitere 690.000 Soldaten. Diese Truppen waren in drei Heeresgruppen mit zusammen zehn Armee-Oberkommandos und vier Panzergruppen gegliedert.

However, having seen hundreds of German documentaries about the World War 2, I cannot remember that "Achsenmächte" was used throughout any of those documentaries. My memory says "deutsche Truppen" or "Wehrmacht".

What is the correct German way to refer to those armies at 1942 that advanced to the East?

Are documentaries, for the sake of simplicity, just using "German troops"?

Using for instance "Deutsche Armee" would, to my knowledge, not included the others.

Note: Also "Deutsche Truppen und Verbündete" seems to include even more countries.


3 Answers 3


The correct way is to use "Achse" and "Achsenmächte"! There is no reason to deviate from the direct translation, when you write subtitles.

Even if you may be right that "Achse" and "Achsenmächte" are not as common in German as in English, these are frequently used expressions.

However, note that the list of allies in the invasion of the Soviet Union was not identical with the list of Axis members. (Finland!)

  • 1
    Achsenmächte is an established term and common in school and documentaries.
    – IQV
    Feb 18, 2019 at 10:14
  • "note that the list of allies in the invasion of the Soviet Union was not identical with the list of Axis members" --- Wow, brilliant point!
    – Avatar
    Feb 18, 2019 at 11:15
  • I ended up using "die Deutschen" and added a clarification in the video description! Here is the result: youtube.com/watch?v=m56KUHwfszI
    – Avatar
    Feb 20, 2019 at 9:38

The term Achsenmächte (axis powers) doesn’t implie that there have never been other axis troops in another context (national axis troops or another war).

To differ any other axis troop from the so called axis powers of World War 2 you could use:

  • the axis of the german troops

  • the troops of the german axis

  • the german axis troups

  • the axis troops of the german


I think in your case, it might be fitting to simply say

Deutsche Truppen und ihre Verbündeten


Wehrmachts- und Unterstützungstruppen


Wehrmachts- und Achsenmachtruppen

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