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

By Robert Michael; Karin Doerr | Go to book overview

orders of the Nazi regime, to buy into their underlying supremacist and racial doctrines, and eventually to subscribe to the actual execution of these policies by fighting an absurd European war and carrying out unparalleled genocide. 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 manipulative use by the National Socialists. Stereotypical images and phrases can be traced back to that time, and Martin Luther’s violent antisemitism left its mark on later generations of Germans, both in intellectual and theological circles as well as the general population. The propaganda machinery of National Socialism could build on this hateful and discriminatory language. But the Nazis under the linguistic shrewdness of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels also developed an incredible awareness of how to turn the German language into a most dangerous tool of propaganda. They and their helpers developed a manipulative and aggressive language based on a vocabulary of emotionalism, radicalization, deception, defamation, 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 proclamations, 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 control 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). One of the earliest investigations was Victor Klemperer’s invaluable LT I (Lingua Tertii Imperii): Notizbuch eines Philologen from 1947, in which this Holocaust survivor and professor of Romance languages describes and analyzes the vocabulary, bureaucratic jargon, metaphors, phrases, and euphemisms of the distorted language of the Third Reich. As well, his voluminous diaries for the years 1933 to 1945 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. Quite appropriately, he characterized his linguistic analysis of Nazi-Deutsch by the anti-proverb: “In lingua veritas.” The shameful and criminal truth of the Nazis can be seen in their only-too-effective misuse of the German language.

The scholarship on Nazi-Deutsch has hitherto, understandably so, been carried out by German scholars. There have been a few exceptions, with the first English list of Nazi vocabulary assembled by Heinz Paechter and appearing before

-xvi-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Notes xiv
  • Foreword xv
  • Preface xix
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • The Tradition of Anti-Jewish Language 1
  • Nazi-Deutsch: An Ideological Language of Exclusion, Domination, and Annihilation 27
  • Lexicon 47
  • A 49
  • B 86
  • C 112
  • D 115
  • E 135
  • F 156
  • G 175
  • H 200
  • I 216
  • J 221
  • K 233
  • L 254
  • M 269
  • N 283
  • O 299
  • P 309
  • Q 321
  • R 322
  • S 356
  • T 394
  • U 403
  • V 411
  • W 430
  • X 448
  • Z 449
  • Appendix 459
  • Select Bibliography 477
  • About the Authors 481
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