Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Adolph Hitler and Words

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Adolph Hitler and Words

Article excerpt

If there has to be a comparison between Napoleon and Hitler, let it be this: Napoleon knew as well as Hitler knows the tremendous importance of words. Of course, Napoleon feared and respected the printed word and called the press the sixth world power. Hitler emphazises the power of the spoken word. He loves and fears it. Words exercise a certain spell upon him, they send him down to his gloomiest moods and fears, or they throw him into the other extreme of paranoic delight. Dr. Kurt Krueger, Hitler's Munich doctor, tells in his psychoanalytic report that his patient Hitler gave him the following answer when first asked about his physical condition: 'I guess I've nothing more or less than the old French sickness.' Dr. Krueger did not like that label of the disease and replied: 'You mean syphilis?' Hitler soon explained: 'Forgive my having taken you so far afield. Doctor. The truth is, I just don't like the word syphilis.' (1)

This story may just be a story, and, indeed, I have definite doubts about parts of Dr. Krueger's reports. The mere fact that they are prefaced by Otto Strasser should be reason enough to make the reader skeptical. But Hitler's whole life and behavior proves his domination by words and his desire to dominate others through them. Since he has a distinct two-valued orientation, his words are 'black' or 'white.' It is not too extravagant, I hope, to remember that black was also the first color that impressed him as a child. He told his doctor that he could never forget the blackness of his mother's clothes, any more than he could forget the light blond hair of a little girl (who seems to be an imaginary figure born out of his mother-complex).

This black-white pattern has been characteristic of Hitler's entire behavior. There are 'good ones'--Aryans--and the 'Jews,' there is Munich and Versailles, Nazism and Communism; the white side always reads National Socialism; the dark side, always the Jewish 'race.' There is an impenetrable wall between these two colors, and the slightest contact of a white unit with a dark one is a crime, sin, high treason (for which the dark must be punished).

This two-valued orientation is mirrored in Hitler's vocabulary. A 'bad' word, like syphilis, will immediately conjure up other images like 'street walkers' on account of poverty through Versailles, for, of course, all street walkers are 'Jewesses,' 'because they have no shame.' 'Jewish' will nearly always be the last link, pronounced or not, in his litany of dark words.

On several occasions I have listened for hours to Adolf Hitler. His black-white pattern is certainly one of the most successful and powerful weapons 1 could detect in his personality. It is dangerous because it is such an easy device, so convenient. It does not require thinking: the pattern does the thinking for you. It is contagious, and people will reach for it as new gospel. Consequently in most cases it was impossible to reason with Hitler's followers, because they only knew two colors.

The 'white' words, as I said, elevate the Fuhrer into ecstasy. …

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