Nazi-Deutsch/Nazi-German: An English Lexicon of the Language of the Third Reich

Nazi-Deutsch/Nazi-German: An English Lexicon of the Language of the Third Reich

Nazi-Deutsch/Nazi-German: An English Lexicon of the Language of the Third Reich

Nazi-Deutsch/Nazi-German: An English Lexicon of the Language of the Third Reich

Synopsis

Created and used as an instrument of coercion and indoctrination, the Nazi language, Nazi-Deutsch, reveals how the Nazis ruled Germany and German-occupied Europe, fought World War II, and committed mass murder and genocide, employing language to encode and euphemize these actions. Written by two scholars specializing in socio-linguistic and historical issues of the Nazi period, this book provides a unique, extensive, meticulously researched dictionary of the language of the Third Reich. It is an important reference work for English- and German-speaking scholars, students, and teachers of the interwar years, the Nazi era, World War II, and the Holocaust.

Excerpt

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. When a non-German-speaking audience sees Leni Riefenstahl’s notorious 1934 Nuremberg Party Rally film Triumph of the Will, the English subtitles of Hitler’s speeches generally leaves them quite mystified as to why the original German audiences should have found the rhetoric so overwhelming; much of what Hitler says is almost unexceptionable—“patriotism,” “rebirth,” “mobilization,” “order,” “dignity,” “national community,” and so forth. 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. It is this emotionality that completely flooded the German listeners’ critical defenses and appealed directly to their whole soul and being—a mood of ecstatic joy reinforced by the sense of excitement and dynamism that was conjured up by the host of new modern jargon words that Nazi-Deutsch invented. When it came to words connected to Jews, of course, the emotional resonance was of very long-standing in German language and culture, and even today German words such as “Jude” (Jew) bear an intensity of revulsion and reaction that is present in no other European language. 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

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