NY: Continuum Books, 2000
(14) Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all. If someone replaces the words ‘heroic’ and ‘virtuous’ with ‘fanatical’ for long enough, he will come to believe that a fanatic really is a virtuous hero, and that no one can be a hero without fanaticism.
(21) One of their banners contends that ‘You are nothing, your people is everything.’ Which means that you are never alone with yourself, never alone with your nearest and dearest, you are always being watched by your own people.
The sole purpose of the LTI [Lingua Tertii Imperii] is to strip everyone of their individuality, to paralyse them as personalities, to make them into unthinking and docile cattle in a herd driven and hounded in a particular direction, to turn them into atoms in a huge rolling block of stone. The LTI is the language of mass fanaticism. When it addresses the individual - and not just his will but also his intellect - where it educates, it teaches means of breeding fanaticism and techniques of mass suggestion.
(24) But clichés do indeed soon take hold of us. ‘Language which writes and thinks for you….’
(26) On our university noticeboard there is a lengthy announcement (it is supposed to have been put up on all German university noticeboards: ‘When a Jew writes German he lies’; in future he is to be forced to label books he publishes in German ‘as translations from Hebrew’.
(28) But do they really feel so sure of themselves? There is also a good deal of hysteria in the government’s words and deeds. The hysteria of language should one day be studied as a phenomenon in itself.
…Surely there is direct fear and indirect fear in equal measure. What I mean by this is that this artificial generation of suspense, copied from American cinema and thrillers, is obviously just as much a premeditated means of propaganda as the direct creation of fear, but that, on the other hand, only those who are themselves afraid turn to this kind of propaganda.
And what is the purpose of the endlessly repeated articles - endles repetition indeed appears to be one of the principal stylistic features of their language - about the victorious battle over unemployment in East Prussia.
(29) At the moment he [Hitler] appears to be omnipotent, perhaps he is; but this recording testifies to almost blind rage. But do you go on talking in that way about enduring for a thousand years and about annihilated enemies if you are so sure of this endurance and this annihilation? I left the cinema with what almost amounted to a glimmer of hope.
(40-41) Every speech delivered by the Führer is historical [historisch], even if he says the same thing a hundred times over, every meeting the Führer has with the Duce is historical, even if it doesn’t make the slightest difference to the existing state of things; the victory of a German racing car is historical, as is the official opening of a new motorway, and every single road, and every single section of every single road, is officially inaugurated; every harvest festival is historical, every Party Rally, every feast day of any kind; and since the Third Reich seems to know nothing but feast days - you could say that it suffered, indeed was mortally ill, from a lack of the everyday, just as the human body can be mortally ill from a lack of salt - it views every single day of its life as historical.
(46) In both cases [Italian and German Fascism] the aim is to bring the leader into direct contact with the people themselves, all the people and not just their representatives.
… politics is after all the art of leading a polis, a city.
(47) Populist (volkstümlich) means more concrete: the more emotional a speech is, the less it addresses itself to the intellect, the more populist it will be. And it will cross the boundary separating populism from demagogy and mass seduction as soon as it moves from ceasing to challenge the intellect to deliberately shutting it off and stupefying it.
(49) Hitler on the other hand, regardless of whether he was playing up the unctuousness or the sarcasm - the two tones between which he always liked to alternate - Hitler always spoke or rather screamed, convulsively.
… Even when triumphant he was insecure and would shout down opponents and opposing ideas.
(50) I also believe that he really did strive to see himself as a new German savior, that within him there was a never-ending conflict between excessive megalomania and delusions of persecution, whereby the two illnesses aggravated each other, and I believe that it was this disease which infected the body of a German nation already weakened and spiritually shattered by the First World War.
NB: USA after a decade and a half of continuous war, increasing inequality, and a disintegrating middle class
(52) Fanatique and fanatisme are words which the French enlightenment uses as terms of the utmost censure. There are two reasons for this. Originally - the root of the word is fanum, the shrine, the temple - a fanatic was someone in a state of religious rapture racked by ecstatic convulsions. Because the Enlightenment thinkers oppose anything which leads to the dulling or suppression of thinking, and because, as enemies of the Church, they attack religious mania with particular ferocity, the fanatic is the natural adversary of their rationalism. For them the personification of the fanatique is Ravaillac who murdered good King Henri IV out of a religious fanaticism of this kind.
NB: Napoleon’s invention of “ideologue” and “ideology”
(55) ‘Language which writes and thinks for you…’ Poison which you drink unawares and which has its effect - this can’t be said often enough.
(63) Long before the Nazi SS even existed, its symbol was to be seen painted in red on electricity substations, and below it the waning ‘Danger - High Voltage!’ In this case the jagged S was obviously a stylized representation of a flash of lightning.
(65) The reason being that the entire thrust of the LTI was towards visualization, and if this process of visualizing could be achieved with recourse to Germanic traidtions, by means of a runic sign, then so much the better.
… Renan’s position: the question mark - the most important of all punctuation marks.
(68) Because the LTI loathes neutrality, because it always has to have an adversary and always has to drag this adversary down.
(72) In the Physics Department the name Einstein had to be hushed up and the ‘Hertz’ unit of frequency could not be referred by its Jewish name.
…. Initially my food ration-cards bore a single J, later the word ‘Jew’ was printed diagonally across the card and in the end every tiny section bore the full word ‘Jew’, around sixty times on one and the same card.
(73) When Laguardia, the hated mayor of New York, is referred to, it is always as ‘the Jew Laguardia’ or at least ‘the half-Jew Laguardia’.
(79) In general Nazi posters all looked alike. One was invariably confronted with the same breed of brutal and doggedly erect warrior, with a flag or a rifle or a sword, in SA, SS or military uniform, or alternatively naked; they always displayed physical strength and fanatical Will; muscles, toughness and a complete absence of introspection were the characteristicis of these advertisements for sport and war and obedience to the Will of the Fuhrer.
(93) Because they have a system as well, after all, and are proud of the fact that absolutely every expression and situation in life is caught up in this network: that is why ‘totality [Totalität]’ is one of the foundations on which the LTI is built.
(94) … writers for whom an organization is a way of doing away with the organic, of taking out the soul and making a machine.
…Later they took our [the Jews’] pets away from us, cats, dogs, even canaries, and killed them, not just in isolated cases and out of individual malice, but officially and systematically; this is one of those acts of cruelty which will not be mentioned at any Nuremberg Trial and for which, if it was up to me, I would erect a towering gallows, even if it cost me eternal salvation.
(95) …The reason being once again, as I wrote at the beginning of my notebook, that language writes and thinks for us.
(99) ‘“Duty as a German’ is not something you would have said in the past.’ I interjected, ‘what has being German or non-German got to do with highly personal or universal human questions? Or do you want to talk politics with us?’
(113) They [the SS] were also branded with a cattle stamp like animals.
(118) Coventry was an English ‘armoury store’, nothing more, and populated exclusively by the military, because on principle we only attacked what in every report were referred to as 'military targets’, for we also only engaged in ‘retaliation’, had certainly not started anything, in contrast to the English who had started the air raids, and who, as ‘pirates of the air’, mainly directed them at churches and hospitals.
NB: Mrs Miniver and Coventry from both sides
(126) What distinguishes National Socialism from other forms of fascism is a concept of race reduced solely to anti-Semitism and also fired exclusively by it. It is from here that it distils all its poison. Absolutely all of it, even in the case of foreign political enemies whom it cannot dismiss as Semites. It therefore turns Bolshevism into Jewish Bolshevism, the French are beniggered and bejewed, the English can even be traced back to that biblical line of Jews considered lost, and so on.
NB: Romany people then and today as scapegoats, along with mentally and physically challenged….
(141) There were no clothing or ration coupons for Jews, they were not allowed to buy anything new and were only given second-hand things by special clothing and household stores. Initially it was relatively easy to get something from the clothing store; later a petition was necessary which was passed from the appointed ‘legal advisor’ of the district, and the Jewish division of the Gestapo, to the police headquarters.
… It is telling how often during the twelve years the word ‘blindlings [blindly]’ appeared in oaths of allegiance, and in telegrams and resolutions paying homage or expressing support. Blindlings is one of the linguistic pillars of the LTI. It denotes the ideal manifestation of the Nazi spirit with regard to its leader and respective subordinate leaders, and it is used almost as often as ‘fanatisch’.
(141-142) National Socialism certainly does not want to encroach upon the individual personality, on the contrary, it seeks to reinforce it, but that does not preclude it (as far as it is concerned!) from mechanizing this personality at the same time: everyone should be an automaton in the hand of his superior and leader, and at the same time he should also be the one who presses the button to activate the automatons under his own control. This construction disguises universal enslavement and depersonalization, and explains the excessive number of LTI expressions lifted from the realm of technology, the mass of mechanizing words.
(153) Shortly before this, in Spring 1944, Goebbels writes: ‘The peoples of Europe ought to thank us on bended knees’ for fighting to protect them, perhaps they don’t even deserve it!' (I only noted down the beginning of this sentence verbatim.)
(155) Today I ask myself again the same question I have asked myself and all kinds of people hundreds of times; which was the worst day for the Jews during those twelve years of hell?
I always without exception, received the same answer from myself and others; 19 Semptember 1941. From that day on it was compulsory to wear the Jewish star, the six-pointed Star of David, the yellow piece of cloth which today still stands for plague and quarantine…
(162) Race, as a scientific and pseudo-scientific concept, only appeared in the middle of the eighteenth century.
(163) The Jew is the most important person in Hitler’s state: he is the best-known Turk’s head of folk history [der volkstümlichste Türkenkopf] and the popular scapegoat, the most plausible adversary, the most obvious common denominator, the most likely brackets around the most diverse factors.
(164) The golden rule is always: don’t let your listeners engage in critical thought, deal with everything simplistically!
(165) A lie (this it has in common with a joke) is all the more effective, the more truth it contains.
(182) The gradual drifting apart of the Germans and the German Jews had begun in Germany immediately after the First World War, Zionism had gained a foothold in the Reich. All kinds of emphatically Jewish publishers and books clubs were founded, publishing exclusively Jewish history and philosophy books, along with literary works by Jewisn authors on Jewish and German-Jewish themes.
(184) The simplistic herding together of people into the singular: the German Jew who set his hopes on something; the simplistic reduction of humanity: the German people - these crop up again and again….
(186) The language of the victor… you don’t speak it with impunity, you breathe it in and live according to it.
(189) ‘He definitely got the idea from Herzl of seeing the Jews as a people, as a political entity, and of categorizing them as “global Jewry [Weltjudentum]”’.
NB: Hitler and Zionism, beware of who you take as an enemy for you become like them
(193) Later, using a number of key words and quotations, I set down clearly the similarities and dissimilarities between Herzl and Hitler. There were, thank God, also dissimilarities between them.
(196) Of all the things on which Herzl bases his idea of a unified people, there is only one which truly fits the Jews: their common opponent and persecutor; seen from this point of view the Jews of all nations certainly unite into ‘global Jewry’ in their opposition to Hitler - the man himself, his persecution complex and the precipitous cunning of his mania gave a concrete form to that which previously had only existed as an idea, and he converted more supporters to Zionism and the Jewish state than Herzl himself. And Herzl once again - from whom could Hitler have gleaned more crucial and practical ideas for his own purposes?
… The problem is that Hitler and Herzl feed to a very large extent on the same heritage.
(200) ‘A confusion of quantity and quality, an Americanism of the crudest kind’, I noted at the time, and the fact that the newspaper people of the Third Reich were quick to learn from the Americans was demonstrated by the increasing use of headlines in ever thicker type, and the increasing omission of the article preceding the noun that was being highlighted…
(201) But did the Americans and the Nazis really go in for the same kind of intermperance when it came to numbers and figures? I already had my doubts at the time. Wasn’t there a bit of humour in the thirty feet of intestines, couldn’t one always sense a certain straightforward naivety in the exaggerated figures of American adverts? Wasn’t it as if the advertiser was saying to himself each time: you and I, dear reader, dervie the same pleasure from exaggeration, we both know how it’s meant - so I’m not really lying at all, you subtract what matters and my eulogy isn’t deceitful, it simply makes a greater impression and is more fun if it’s expressed as a superlative?
… It may well be that the LTI learned from American customs when it came to the use of figures, but it differs from them hugely and twice over: not only through exorbitant use of the superlative, but also through its deliberate maliciousness, because it is invariably and unscrupulously intent on deception and benumbing.
(202) The bulletins of the Third Reich, on the other hand, start off in a superlative mode from the very outset and then, the worse the situation, the more they overdo it, until everything becomes literally measureless, twisting the fundamental quality of military language, its disciplined exactitude, into its very opposite, into fantasy and fairy-tale.
… The extraordinary thing was the shameless transparency of the lies revealed by the figures; one of the fundamentals of Nazi doctrine is the conviction that the masses are unthinking and that their minds can be completely dulled.
(203) Tout se tient as the French say, everything hangs together. The expression ‘hundretporzentig [100 percent]’ comes directly from America and goes back to the title of a novel by Upton Sinclair which was widely read in German translation; throughout the twelve years it was on everybody’s lips and I often heard the adjunct ‘Steer clear of that chap, he’s a 140-per-center!’
… ‘Total’ is also a number of maximum value, and, in its concrete reality, as pregnant with meaning as the Romantic excesses of ‘zahllos’ [countless] and ‘unvorstellbar’ [unimaginable].
… Ewig [eternal, everlasting], the religious elimination of duration, is often used - the eternal guard.
(204) The numerical superlative can also be arrived at from another angle: ‘unique’ is just as much a superlative as a thousand.
(205) When I Nazified the elephant joke earlier, I had a sentence ringing in my ear which Generalissimo Grauschitsch used at the time to spice up military commands; the best soldiers in the world are supplied with the best weapons in the world produced by the best workers in the world.
… (Once again the shameless reliance on the forgetfulness of the masses: how often the same enemy, already pronounced dead, is destroyed once more!)
...The word ‘historisch’ [historic] is just as laden with superlative weight and just as common as ‘Welt’ [world] and ‘Raum’ [room].
(206) Listing [aufzählen] and belittling [Verächtlichmachen]. There can’t be a single speech of the Führer that doesn’t long-windedly list Germany’s successes and sarcastically insult the enemy. The stylistic means employed in a rough-and-ready manner by Hitler, are polished by Goebbels into refined rhetoric.
… Isn’t the curse of the superlative all too apparent here?
This curse clings to it of necessity in every language. Because wherever you are, constant exaggeration is always bound to lead to ever greater exaggeration, with the result that a dulling of the senses, skepticism and finally disbelief are inevitable.
(207-208) … and I also know that a part of every intellectual’s soul belongs to the people, that all my awareness of being lied to, and my critical attentiveness, are of no avail when it comes to it: at some point the printed lie will get the better of me when it attacks from all sides and is queried by fewer and fewer around me and finally by no one at all.
(208) … the curse of the superlative is not always self-destructive, but all too often destroys the intellect which defies it; and Goebbels had much more talent than I gave him credit for, and the ineffective inanity was neither as inane nor as ineffective.
(209) ‘… The Lord will not deny victory to his courageous soldiers!’
This appeal marks nothing less than the decisive caesura not only in the history of the Second World War, but also in the history of the LTI, and, as a linguistic caesura, it is a twin-headed arrow which rammed into the swollen fabric of that everyday bluster which had been heightened to match the style of Barnum.
It is crawling with triumphal superlatives - but a present tense has become a future tense.
(210) Movement is the essence of Nazism to such an extent that it unhesitatingly refers to itself as ‘the movement’, and to its birthplace, Munich, as the ‘capital of the movement’. Moreover, it leaves the word unadorned, despite usually searching for mellifluous, exaggerated terms for everything that it deems important.
Its entire vocabulary is dominated by the will to movement and to action.
(221) The whole emotional mendacity of Nazism, the whole mortal sin of deliberately twisting things founded on reason into the realm of the emotions, and deliberate distortion for the sake of sentimental mystification: all of this comes back to me when I remember this hall [in the factory where he was forced to work], just as on festive occasions, after our departure, the factory’s Aryan workforce must have crowded together there.
(222) To justify the well-organized arson attacks to which the synagogues fell victim at the time, it was necessary to resort to more robust and far-reaching wods, a mere healthy sense of something was not enough. The result was the phase of the kochender Volksseele [the raging soul of the people]. Of course this expression was not coined for permanent use, whilst the words spontan [spontaneous] and Instinct [instinct], which had just taken off at the time, became a permanent feature of the LTI, with instinct in particular playing a leading role to the last.
(225) The word used over and over again to express aversion is ‘Asphalt’.
Asphalt is the man-made surface which separates the city-dweller from the natural soil. It was first used metaphorically in Germany (around 1890) in the poetry of Naturalism.
NB: Asphalt versus soil
(227) When, however, at the very last minute - ‘the final hour’ is not the right phase for it any more - the decision is made to go over quite openly to gang warfare, a name is chosen for this activity which evokes the terror associated with the gothic horror story: on the official radio station the warriors refer to themselves as ‘werewolves’. This amounted to yet another link with tradition, with the oldest of them all in fact, with mythology. And thus, at the very end, an extraordinarily reactionary outlooks was exposed yet again through language, the notion of falling back entirely on the primitive, most predatory beginnings of mankind, which thus revealed Nazism in its true colours.
… Finally, the word utilized most powerfully and most commonly by the Nazis for emotional effect is ‘Erlebnis [experience]’. Normal usage draws a clear distinction: we live [leben] every hour of our lives from birth to death, but only the most exceptional moments, those in which our passions are aroused, those in which we sense the workings of fate, can be deemed real experiences. The LTI deliberately draws everything into the realm of experience. ‘Young people experience Wilhelm Tell’ announces a headline which, out of many similar examples, has stayed with me. The true purpose behind this use of the word was exposed by a remark made to the press by the provincial head of the Reich’s Literary Chamber in Saxony apropos a week-long book festivel in October 1935: Mein Kampf, he claimed, is the bible of National Socialism and the New Germany, one must ‘experience [durchleben]’ it from beginning to end...
(228) Emotion was not itself the be-all and end-all, it was only a means to an end, a step in a particular directon. Emotion had to suppress the intellect and itself surrender to a state of numbing dullness without any freedom of will or feeling: how else would one have got hold of the necessary crowd of executioners and torturers?
What does a perfect group of followers do? It doesn’t think, and it doesn’t feel any more - it follows.
(229) …but the Nazis had always exaggerated anything and everything militaristic...
(236) A foreign word impresses all the more the less it is understood; in not being comprehended, it confuses and stupefies and, in addition, drowns out thought.
(238) Rather, the real achievement - and here Goebbels is the undisputed master - lies in the unscrupulous mixture of heterogeneous stylistic elements; no, mixture isn’t quite the right word - it lies in the most abruptly antithetical leaps from a learned tone to a proletarian one, from sobriety to the tone of the preacher, from icy rationalism to the sentimentality of a manfully repressed tear, from Fontane’s simplicity, and Berlin gruffness, to the pathos of the evangelist and prophet. It is like an epidermal stimulation under the impact of alternating cold and hot showers, and just as physically effective; the listener’s emotions (and Goebbels’s audience always comprises listeners, even if it only reads the Doctor’s essays in the newspaper) never come to rest, they are constantly attracted and rebuffed, attracted and rebuffed, and there is no time for critical reasoning to catch its breath.
(246) Be that as it may, something of the Nazi insensitivity about, or indeed positive affection for, the abrupt juxtaposition of mechanistic and affective expressions can also be found in Stieve; he writes of the NSDAP: ‘It fell upon the Party to be the powerful motor at the heart of Germany, the motor of spiritual improvement, the motor of active devotion, the motor of constant awakening in the spirit of the newly created Reich.'
(253) Even if someone is praying for a Wende to Hitler’s disadvantage - Wende is a very popular made-up word amongst Hitlerites.
NB: Energiewende, the name for Germany’s transition to renewables and away from carbon emissions since the 1980s. A name picked by Greens.
(257) The notion of the war ‘forced’ on the Führer is pre-eminent amongst the stereotypical expressions of the LTI.
NB: Look what you made me do. It’s always the victim’s own fault.