Führer is the best way to spell the title borne by the German dictator and leader of the Nazi Party Adolf Hitler (1889-1945). This is the native German spelling of this German word. As leader of the Nazi Party, he was der ('the') Führer from 1931; in 1934, his title as Head of State and supreme authority in Germany, was Führer und Reichskanzler ('Leader and Chancellor of the Reich'). (Hitler, following Goebbels, used Führer as a direct translation of the Italian Duce which had been adopted by the Italian fascist Prime Minister Benito Mussolini (1883-1945). Both titles mean 'Leader', in their respective languages.)
In current English, the word Führer is used principally in its historical sense, to refer to Hitler. It is also used figuratively to mean other evil and tyrannical rulers, and pejoratively about such people as gang leaders. In popular political discourse, it has become a mere insult, without precise meaning. Academic writers should avoid this usage.
The Führer-prinzip (or Führer-principle) was a the doctrine in Nazi Germany that "the fuehrer [sic] had the right to command and the people the duty to obey him" (Theimer, W. & Campbell, P. (1950) The Encyclopedia of World Politics, 176/2, cited OED). This gave absolute power to the dictatorship.
- The '-u-' with an umlaut ('-ü-'), which gives a characteristic pronunciation in German of IPA: /ˈfyː ʁə/, is usually realized in English as 'FYOUR-er' /ˈfjʊə (or ɔː) rə/. The spelling was sometimes anglicized (in the days when umlauts were nor easily used by printers) as Fuehrer; now, those without umlauts usually write fuhrer in English. (To access vowels with umlauts in Microsoft Word, use Insert - Symbol - Symbols.)