The word Führer in the sense of "guide" remains common in German, and it is used in numerous compound words such as Oppositionsführer (Leader of the Opposition). However, because of its strong association with Hitler, the isolated word usually comes with stigma and negative connotations when used with the meaning of "leader", especially in political contexts. The word Führer has cognates in the Scandinavian languages, spelled fører in Danish and Norwegian and förare in Swedish, which have the same meaning and use as the German word, but without necessarily having political connotations.
Führer was the unique title granted by Adolf Hitler to himself, in his function as Vorsitzender (chairman) of the Nazi Party. It was at the time common to refer to party leaders as Führer, with an addition to indicate the leader of which party was meant. Hitler's adoption of the title was partly inspired by its earlier use by the Austrian Georg von Schönerer, a major exponent of pan-Germanism and German nationalism in Austria, whose followers also commonly referred to him as the Führer without qualification, and who also used the Heil Hitler salute, known as the "German greeting". Hitler's choice for this political epithet was unprecedented in Germany. Like much of the early symbolism of Nazi Germany, it was modeled after Benito Mussolini's Italian Fascism. Mussolini's chosen epithet il Duce ("the Leader"), from the Latin Dux, was widely used, though, unlike Hitler, he never made it his official title. The Italian word Duce (unlike the German word Führer) is no longer used as a generic term for a leader, but almost always refers to Mussolini himself.
Hitler saw himself as the sole source of power in Germany, similar to the Roman emperors and German medieval leaders. After the death of Paul Hindenburg in 1934, the Badonviller Marsch as well as the personal standard of Adolf Hitler were used to evoke the presence of Hitler as leader and personification of the German state.
One day before the death of Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler and his cabinet decreed a law that merged the office of the president with that of Chancellor. Hitler therefore assumed the President's powers without assuming the office itself – ostensibly out of respect for Hindenburg's achievements as a heroic figure in World War I. Though this law was in breach of the Enabling Act, which specifically precluded any laws concerning the Presidential office, it was approved by a referendum on 19 August.