6. Languages of National Socialism. Sources, Perspectives, Methods


This volume draws on contributions from historians and philosophers to analyze the languages of National Socialism from an interdisciplinary perspective. In addition to the languages of official propaganda, it considers the languages of everyday life and of academia, from science to philosophy. In addition to the rigorous study of a variety of sources from the past, the volume also offers an insight into contemporary communication.

Tullia Catalan is Professor of Contemporay History at the University of Trieste. Her research interests include: Racism in Europe (Anti-Semitism, Anti- Slavism) ;the European Jewish philantropical associations; the Jewish emigration through the port of Trieste.

Riccardo Martinelli is Professor of History of philosophy at the University of Trieste. His research interests include phenomenology and philosophy of music as well as the study of the relationship between philosophy and anthropology with a focus on the German area.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 10
  • Publication
    Speckdänischer Positivism. Svend Ranulf on Ethos and Propaganda
    Corvino, Pier Francesco
    In this contribution we deal with the sociological positivism of Danish philosopher and sociologist Svend Ranulf (1894-1953). Next to his major writings, this paper considers some of Ranulf’s minor works, in order to shed light on some controversial aspects of his thought. This paper focuses, in particular, on the meaning of the notions of ethos and propaganda in Ranulf’s epistemology, in order to re-evaluate his late studies on democracy and political communication, with special attention given to the early post-war continental debate on propaganda.
      137  127
  • Publication
    More Than Words: Klemperer’s Lingua Tertii Imperii as a Network of “Dangerous” Speech Practices
    Lo Faro, Irene
    This chapter deals with Victor Klemperer’s observations on the dangerous nature of the Nazis’ usage of German, which constitutes what he called Lingua Tertii Imperii (the Language of the Third Reich). Our aim is to place these observations within the general theoretical framework of dangerous speech studies, integrated with a practice-based conception of language. After highlighting the crucial role played by Klemperer’s work in the understanding of Nazi propaganda, we consider the contextual and content-related factors contributing to violence escalation identified in dangerous speech studies and examine whether (and if so, to what extent) they were also present in Nazi speech. We then argue that its dangerousness depended on how the network of speech practices it constituted led Germans to frame the social fabric they were part of in a distinctive way which mirrored oppressive Nazi ideology. Finally, we discuss two examples of how words used during the Nazi period could activate distinctive speech practices with “poisonous” effects.
      22  93
  • Publication
    The Economic Persecution of Jews in the Press of Nazi-Occupied Europe. Le Matin de Paris and Il Piccolo di Trieste: Two Editorial Policies Compared (1940-1945)
    Felluga, Paolo
    This paper examines, with comparative perspective, the strategies that the press of Nazi-occupied Europe used to deal with anti-Jewish persecution. The analysis focuses on the articles devoted to the spoilation of Jewish property edited by Il Piccolo di Trieste and Le Matin de Paris, two newspapers published under the close control of the German occupier respectively in the major cities of the Adriatisches Küstenland (1943-1945) and Occupied France (1940-1944). In particular, the surprising differences of such analysis will be questioned. In fact, on the one hand, the publications of Il Piccolo were completely silent about the economic persecution of the Jews in Trieste, although it was particularly violent; while on the other hand Le Matin used the economic redistribution of Jewish seized property as a propagandistic tool to show the benefits of the anti-Jewish policies. The reasons for this fundamental difference will be researched with the methodology of comparative history, questioning both the different socio-political context of the two cities and the politics of the occupier, which were very different in the two areas of occupation.
      17  79
  • Publication
    Wir lehnen ab, was fremd ist”. Eugen Fischer and the Language of German Anthropology (1909-1945)
    Nineteenth-century German anthropology was long inspired by the humanistic values of Rudolf Virchow (although its practices were not entirely ethical by today’s standards). Even before 1914, however, there was a clear shift in the language and practice of the discipline. In 1909, Eugen Fischer went to Namibia to study human heredity. He concluded that any mixing with local “inferior” races was invariably detrimental to the whites. In a 1927 monograph, Fischer generalized these findings in collaboration with German eugenicists who sought to establish “racial hygiene”. Hitler read the book and appreciated it. As head of the Institute of Anthropology, Fischer praised the new regime in 1933 and was appointed rectorof the University of Berlin. Since then, he has repeatedly lent “scientific” support to the racist theories and practices of his time. To avoid biological degeneration, he argued, Germans should rigorously reject the “foreign”. Among other aliens (e.g., the mentally retarded, etc.), Jews should be segregated and expelled for the sake of racial purity. No wonder Fischer collaborated with the Nazi eugenics programs and the drafting of the Nuremberg Laws.
      26  120
  • Publication
    Navigating through Discourses of Belonging: Letters of Complaint and Request during National Socialism
    Scholl, Stefan
    National Socialism, one could argue, was all about belonging: belonging to the ‘Volk’ or the ‘Volksgemeinschaft’, belonging to the ‘Aryan’ or ‘Non-Aryan race’, belonging to the National Socialist ‘movement’, and so on. These categories of belonging worked both inclusionary and exclusionary and they were constituted, proclaimed and enacted to a great part through language. What is more, they had to be performed through communicative acts. For the normative side of National Socialist propaganda and legislation, this seems rather obvious and one-directional. On the side of the general population, however, this entailed a mixture of communicative need to position oneself vis-à-vis National Socialism (mostly in affirmative ways), but also the urge to do so willingly. When we look at the language use of ‘ordinary people’ in different communicative situations and texts during National Socialism, we have to focus on these dimensions of discursive collusion, co-constitutionand appropriation. People during National Socialism, such is our hypothesis, navigated through discourses of belonging and by that made them real and effective. Besides diaries, war letters and autobiographical writings, one way to grasp this phenomenon is to analyse petitions, i.e., letters of complaint and request sent in large numbers by ‘ordinary people’ to public authorities of the party and the state. As I will show by some examples, letter-writers tried to inscribe themselves within (what they took for) National Socialist discourses of belonging in order to legitimate their claims. By doing so, they co-constituted and co-created the discursive realm of National Socialism.
      8  96