1934, from Führer und Reichskanzler, title assumed by Hitler in 1934 as head of the German state, from German Führer "leader," from führen "to lead," from Middle High German vüeren "to lead, drive," from Old High German fuoren "to set in motion, lead," causative of faran "to go, travel," from Proto-Germanic *faran- "to go," from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over." According to OED, Hitler's title was modeled on Mussolini's Duce.
A majority can never replace the individual. ... Just as a hundred fools do not make one wise man, a heroic decision is not likely to come from a hundred cowards. [Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf," 1933]
updated on October 13, 2017