Last EH on Page. First EH on Page. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0———X alk.
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Last EH on Page. First EH on Page. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0———X alk. German language—Dictionaries—English. German language—Government. National socialism—Terminology—Dictionaries. German language—Political aspects. Propaganda, German. Title: Nazi-German. Doerr, Karin, —. M48 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available.
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, by any process or technique, without the express written consent of the publisher. First published in Printed in the United States of America. Foreword by Paul Rose. Foreword by Leslie Morris. Foreword by Wolfgang Mieder. Select Bibliography. To the six million dead Jews and to all the victims of Nazism. To those good people in Germany and elsewhere in the world who cared and who helped those on the run from murder.
To all those betrayed and injured by German words during the Shoah. Paul Rose. The present book by Robert Michael and Karin Doerr, a historian and a Germanist respectively, is an invaluable key that will enable the reader who has no German to gain access to the inner thought patterns and sensibilities of German antisemitic and Nazi mentalities alike.
Though there is an enormous public interest in Nazism and the Holocaust, specialists in these fields often are all too aware of the difficulty of conveying the mood, the feel, the logic, which lay beneath the surface of the Third Reich. The problem is that these harmless English words do not convey the powerful emotional resonance—almost religious in its intensity—that the original terms carry in German culture. In the eyes of its inventors, one of the triumphs of this new-speak of Nazi- Deutsch was to transform the traditional language of German antisemitism into something much more modern and suited to the twentieth century.
Through this book a non-German speaker may begin to glimpse and even to experience the emotional rapture that possessed so many Germans exposed to the. Nazi magic, an enchantment that was fortunately elusive to most of those living outside Germany. As will be seen, that same newspeak was an indispensable acces- sory to the persecution and murder of the European Jews. Scattered through Nazi- Deutsch are to be found the numerous components, some old, some new, that impregnated and animated the new murderous Nazi antisemitism—those med- ical, religious, biological, economic, racial, cultural, and political components all have left their tedious impact on Nazi-Deutsch.
Above all, there is the con- stant fluctuation in German antisemitic language between the metaphorical and the physical meaning of words that in English are concrete.
The judges at Nurem- berg saw through this sophistry and ridiculed it. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency of late to seek to revive this absurd Nuremberg defense not only by such Holocaust deniers as David Irving, but even by serious historians inclined to think that sometimes the historical interpretations that go most against common sense must be the most brilliant.
Many of the terms used in Nazi-Deutsch embody a certain kind of German humor, a certain sarcastic irony that can be a little misleading to someone not ac- quainted with German culture. One has to beware of taking some of the deroga- tory terms used for the Nazi elite and Nazi ideas to be somehow proof of a healthy mood of resistance, or of a certain liberal or at least anti-Nazi attitude. More often than not, the prime attitude involved is simply a corrosive cynicism.
My own favorite of these terms is the slightly obscene Reichsgletscherspalte Reich-glacier- crevasse eponym for the redoubtably glacial Leni Riefenstahl. Caution is, there- fore, in order: a derogatory or scornful label does not mean that the user eschewed opportunistic collaboration with Nazi circles. In Germany, all too often, resent- ment of power went hand in hand with a craven servility.
If Nazi-Deutsch glaringly exposes the uniqueness of Nazism and indeed of Ger- man culture, we are still left with some major unresolved, if hotly debated, prob- lems concerning German and Nazi antisemitisms. Was antisemitism all along embedded in German culture? What is the relationship of traditional German an- tisemitism to other antisemitisms? How did Nazi antisemitism grow out of exist- ing German antisemitic traditions? Did the older German antisemitic traditions lead, through Nazism, to the Holocaust?
Scholars who are skeptical about tracing unbroken connec-. The result is that serious efforts to understand antisemitism and the Holocaust are frequently frustrated. Leslie Morris. A lexicon of Nazi-Deutsch violates the very principles of secrecy and obfuscation.
Yet the language of genocide is not transparent, but rather opaque: it is language that is denaturalized, stylized, calling attention to itself as language at the same time that it seeks to obscure and sanitize the reality to which it refers. This lexicon of Nazi-Deutsch is thus not only an invaluable resource for understanding the lin- guistic dimensions to the historical phenomenon of the Holocaust for scholars of German history, culture, and the Holocaust, but it is also a remarkable object in it- self, as it is a compilation not only of terms and phrases that shed light on the ma- chinery of destruction of the Third Reich but also of the very obfuscation that lay.
It is virtually impossible, in an era in which critical inquiry about the Holocaust and the Third Reich has been marked by meta-reflections about language, violence, memory, testimony, and trauma, to examine language, let alone the language of genocide, as a transparent window into historical or personal experience.
By pro- claiming and unmasking the language of death, the language of the perpetrators, the listing of these words in the form of the lexicon is both an act of remembrance and of defiance. Unlike other lost or dead languages ancient languages, Esperanto, even hieroglyphs , Nazi-Deutsch was never even recognized as language qua language but rather as an instrumentalization of the machinery of death.
And it is precisely this instrumentalization that strikes the reader of this lex- icon of words used not by those for whom the genocide was intended, but rather those who enacted it. Yet if the dictionary contains such examples of Nazismus , it does not identify those terms, thus burying a significant historical layer of numerous words within the German language. The lexicon compiled by Robert Michael and Karin Doerr can be seen, then, as doing precisely what the dictionary fails, or refuses, to do.
It serves as the echo of voices speaking in a historical period. It not only bears witness to the Shoah, but also, through its documented pages and careful translation, recalls the voices that planned, executed, and enacted the genocide. As such, this lexicon adds a new twist to the conception of language and historical trauma. In his study of LTI, Klemperer, who lived through the Third Reich as a German Jew, takes on the guise not only of philologist but also of anthropologist both inside and outside the culture he is studying.
Klemperer maintains that the force of National Social- ism was conveyed to the masses not by the speeches of Hitler and Goebbels and their diatribes against the Jews, but rather through linguistic expressions, partic- ular words, and the sentence structures that the Nazi power structure repeated millions of times and that became incorporated into the psyche of the Volk me- chanically and unconsciously.
The violence of this one word represents, for Klemperer, the force of language as it is tied to personal experience, for, as he explains, had it not been for the personal connection to the young man, he would have quickly forgotten the word. But the breach of trust that the speaking of this one word Strafexpedition brought is as- sociated in his mind with the loss of a friendship. Klemperer paid close attention to the language as it evolved during the Third Reich, noting that words have the potential to be a small can of arsenic—they can be swallowed without being no- ticed, they seem to not have any effect, and yet after a period of time, the effect of the poison becomes apparent.
Does a lexicon of Nazi-Deutsch bury the poison of this language in a mass grave, as Klemperer admonishes, or does it keep it alive? This is, I believe, perhaps the most important question that the publication of this lexicon in English raises.
It must be stated again that the usefulness of the lex- icon for historical research of the Nazi era cannot be disputed. But perhaps a more far-reaching effect of this lexicon is that it will take its place among other texts— documents, testimonies, photographs, narratives, poems, memorials—and enjoin its readers to contemplate the vicissitudes of language, history, and memory to which archival and documentary study of the Holocaust can point.
Wolfgang Mieder. The literature on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is vast and continues to grow as scholars probe ever deeper into this dark period of modern history. Every study rep- resents an addition to the composite picture of this totalitarian state with its poli- cies of mass destruction. By now, much is known about the rise to power of the National Socialists, Adolf Hitler and his criminal inner circle, the path to World War II, the antisemitic propaganda, and the horrific event of the Holocaust.
The annihi- lation of millions of people has also been documented in shocking detail; and much insight has been gained into the role of the perpetrators of these crimes against hu- manity, the inhumane nonaction against these murderous deeds by the so-called bystanders, and the suffering and merciless killings of innocent victims.
In addition to scholarly investigations, there are also invaluable eyewitness accounts in the form of simple personal narratives, of which some have been published as major autobi- ographies of survivors that have touched the minds and hearts of readers wanting to understand what happened during these modern dark ages.
And yet, one element that surely was of considerable importance in bringing Nazi Germany and the Holocaust about is absent in most of these valuable ac- counts.
This missing link is the use and misuse of the Germany language during this incomprehensible period in Germany history. It must not be forgotten that the chauvinistic escalation toward total war, the absurd racial theories, the antisemitic propaganda, and the meticulously organized and executed destruction of Euro- pean Jews and other groups of victims could not have succeeded without the com- municative power of language.
There can and must be no doubt that the devilish and propagandistic misuse and perversion of the German language played a sig- nificant role in changing Germany from a democratic and decent nation to one of terror, persecution, and death. In order for the war and mass killings to occur, peo- ple needed to be linguistically manipulated to communicate the ill-conceived.
The German language with its long tradition of antisemitic vocabulary and phrases is surely not free of guilt in leading Germany along the path to destruction. The fact that antisemitism had an especially noticeable history in Germany since the Middle Ages made the German language even more susceptible to its ma- nipulative use by the National Socialists.
The propaganda machinery of National Socialism could build on this hateful and discriminatory language. But the Nazis under the lin- guistic shrewdness of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels also developed an incred- ible awareness of how to turn the German language into a most dangerous tool of propaganda. They and their helpers developed a manipulative and aggressive lan- guage based on a vocabulary of emotionalism, radicalization, deception, defama- tion, and brutalization.
It must be kept in mind that Germans were not born as National Socialists but rather they were turned into this mind-set and worldview by a steady barrage of Nazi words and slogans in a never-ending flow of proclama- tions, speeches, radio announcements, films, and so forth.
The entire mass media was controlled by the Nazis; and newspapers, magazines, and books all adhered to this language of powerful deception and defamation. By this propagandistic con- trol of language, the Nazis were able to shape not only the communicative process but also the psychological and sociopolitical thinking of most Germans. There have, of course, by now been numerous studies of this so-called Nazi- Deutsch Nazi German.
As well, his voluminous diaries for the years to have appeared in both German and English translation. These pages are replete with linguistic comments on how National Socialism changed the cultured German language into an aggressive, hateful, radical, brutal, deceptive, and repetitive tool to be used for mass control and mass killings. There was indeed much linguistic preparation for the war and the final solution with all their inhumane destruction and murder.
Klemperer, the literary historian and philologist, was well aware of this when he decided right at the beginning of the Nazi regime to analyze the language of this movement and its leaders. It became obvious to him that language inescapably reveals the thoughts and plans of its users.
The scholarship on Nazi-Deutsch has hitherto, understandably so, been car- ried out by German scholars. There have been a few exceptions, with the first En- glish list of Nazi vocabulary assembled by Heinz Paechter and appearing before.
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