THE LANGUAGE OF GENOCIDE
“Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews…I will have gallows built in rows…until the last Jew in Munich has been Exterminated.” From Hitler’s account in 1922, it is extremely clear what his plans for the Jews were. (Kiernan 437) Hitler’s words cut deep into the history of humanity, and became reality only twenty years later while he was finally in power during WWII. Genocide is defined as” the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group” (Dictionary.com) It has occurred over history as far back in time as ancient Spartan and roman empires. Probably even further back if we had accounts of the time. It is one of the highest causes of human death, ever. “Deaths from genocide and political mass murder were only exceeded by deaths from pandemic diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS yellow fever, and influenza,” (Stanton) Genocide in general is a terrible and horrible thing that happens again and again over time. The Holocaust is the largest scale Genocide to ever be recorded in human history. Over 11 million innocent people were murdered by Hitler and the Nazis. Gypsies, Jews, disabled people, homosexuals, Catholics, and many more fell victim to Hitler’s “cleansing” (Kiernan 433) This is an unfathomable number of people who’s lives were stolen so quickly, yet this terror happened in fount of the entire world, and it wasn’t stopped soon enough. Germans in the 1940’s lived their lives unknowingly praising their murderous leader. There had to be clues. Things people should have seen.
The language used in Nazi speeches and writings, even decades before Hitler came into power have to have had some specific words, phrases, clues, that foreshadow this terrible Genocide. Connections between these speeches and the genocide must be prevalent. Examining the early writings and speeches of Hitler and other Nazi powerhouses, it is clear that there is a direct relation between the increase of genocidal language in these writings and speeches, to the growth of Nazi power, and the intensity of events, leading up to, and through, the years of the Holocaust. Examining the timelines of Hitler’s speeches and writings, starting with the publication of Mein Kampf in 1925, to his speech in Dazing in 1939 at the begging of the war, up though his address to 10,000 cadets in 1943 in the middle of WWII, it is clear that as the level of genocidal language increases, so does the death toll and severity of anti-Semitic events under German rule.
Hitler writes the first volume of his book Mein Kampf while he was imprisoned in Bavaria after his failed attempt to seize power in Munich in 1923. The text is very controversial in it’s translations but even years before he came into power, Hitler expressed his anti-Semitic views very clearly. On page 221, Hitler makes his goals clear,
“Therefore, the complete extinction of a new doctrine can be carried out only by way of an eradication, which is thorough and so constantly increasing that by this all the really valuable blood is withdrawn from the nation or the State involved….now can take place a so-called ‘inner’ purification…As with all growth, here, too, the early period of childhood offers the best possibility for such extinction, for with the growing years the force of resistance increases, till finally with approaching age it again gives way to the weakness of youth, though in a different form and for other reasons” (Hitler; pg 221)
This is pure racism and hatred. He speaks of eliminating populations of people like it is no big deal. Saying that it is best to exterminate them as children before their resistance increases, that is sick and wrong. Pure genocidal language. Before even rising to power Hitler was writing down his visions for a pure world. Although not yet speaking publicly with this kind of hatred, his writings are the first step, and foreshadow the events that are soon to come within the next two decades. In 1925 Hitler was released from prison and immediately began rebuilding the Nazi party and pursuing a growing position in politics, to ultimately bring his vision he describes in Mein Kompf to reality. You can conclude from the intense genocidal language found in Mein Kompf, and the rising of Hitler and the Nazi’s to power in the years following, that as the book and it’s hateful language published inside of it, launched what was soon to become the terrors of the Holocaust.
I located a historical translation of Adolf Hitler’s speech through the Dewy system in the basement of the library. It is a tiny, 22 inch book bound with cardboard and typed out with a type-writer. The 16 pages it contains are old and yellowed and the library card in the back has stamps in the back that date back to 1945. It is an amazing documentation of Hitler’s speech in 1939 to the people of the former free-state of Danzig regarding the Polish invasion and Germany’s take over of Danzig once again. He gives the Speech on Dazing soil on a Tuesday, September 19th 1939. After examining this long speech I found evidence that both supports my thesis and gives a good historical background on the topic. The library has Hitler himself as the author of this speech, although not the translator (Who is not named), he is the one who spoke the words. Hitler explains his intentions to the people and makes everything seem a lot less intense then it is.Hitler’s social standing as the leader of Russia compares greatly to those he is addressing, and talking about in his speech. He is one of the ring master’s behind this invasion that is creating WWII as he is making this speech, and he makes it sound like no big deal.
Hitler sets up his speech by first victimizing Germany and Danzig as a result of WWI “The fate which this town and this beautiful country have experienced has been the fate of the whole of Germany. The World War, the most senseless struggle of all time, numbered this country and this town among it’s victims” (Hitler; Danzig pg1 ) He is trying to appeal to the people with emotions and make it seem like he is their savior by taking action.He then starts to deviate, and speak of hate for the polish people and their “foreign nationalities” Continuing to examine the speech, this source helps support my thesis greatly. I located the genocidal language within the speech. For example, Hitler goes on to say that without Germany’s help in the past 50 years, Poland’s standards and culture have fallen, and if he does not save them then under polish rule the “Undesirable Culture will take over and reduce once more to barbarism,” Hitler is refuring to the Jewish population, calling them Barbaric, and that them growing within Poland without him there to stop it, the Jews would over-run Poland and it would become barbaric like them. That was the first case of hateful and racist comments that I located in this speech aimed at the Jewish people. He then goes on to say, “…Poland herself was a state composed of various nationalities; that vary thing was created which had been regarded as a primary fault in the old Australian State,” (pg3) “Fault” would be the hateful word he used here, implying that the “various nationalities” are what is wrong with Poland. There are more accounts of genocidal language within just this speech. This speech was given in 1939. In 1939 the polish Ghettos were also established, and people with Jewish blood were forced to start wearing the star of David. I can correlate the the genocidal language within this speech,to the anti-Jew and genocidal steps Hitler is taking behind the scenes of the intensifying war.
The hatred and the mudurs of the holocaust on,y intensified since then, in 1943 Hitler gave a speech to 10,000 cadets in the city of Berlin on “Hero’s Day” in Germany. Hero’s Day is the German equivalent to Veterans Day in America. Hitler’s speech was broadcasted over the radios so the entire nation could listen in. I located a recording of this speech and in examining it found even more accounts of genocidal language and an anti-Semitic t view point. Hitler was supposed to commend soldiers and bring hope to people in the midst of war, however he found a way to speak of hate, and anti-Seminism behind the Hero’s Day message. Hitler repeatedly talks of Bolshevism within this speech. Bolshevism is a Jewish-world conspiracy theory that thinks that the people behind the Bolshevik political party in Russia are all Jews, and that if nothing is done, they will control the world. Hitler starts off talking about the consequences of losing the first World War and what will happen if Germany does not win this time. He states, “…The confrontation that has taken place in Europe since the first World War is slowing beginning to look like a struggle which can only be compared to the greatest Historical events of the past. Eternal Jewry forced on us, a pitiless and merciless war…If we fail then this continent will be transformed into a single field of ruins.” (Sub Hitler Speech, 3:18) He is stating that after the first war “Jewry” was forced upon them. Jewry historically means a Jewish part of town. He is stating that if they fail to win this war then that will happen again, and under the Jews then the entire continent will destroy itself and become ruin. Hitler speaks more boldly of his hatred of the Jewish race publicly then he ever had before. “…The German national Socialist State, which perused this goal from the beginning, will tirelessly work for the realization of a program that will ultimately lead to a complete elimination of class differences, and the creation of a true, racially pure, socialist community…our fallen will live on as the hero’s and pioneers of a better age,” (Sub Hitler Speech, 9:11-9:30) Hitler is stating his goal is to have a classless, and racially pure Germany. This is hinting at the extermination and “purification” happening in concentration camps in 1943 as this speech is being given. Hitler used the word “Eliminate” three times scattered throughout this speech, as well as the word, “Bolshevism” a solid five times. In the middle of his ten minuet address to the troops, Hitler clearly states, “After all, the driving force behind all of this remains the eternal hatred of that cursed race…” (Sub Hitler Speech, 5:50) I don’t know how much more clear the genocidal language could get then with that line. He is calling the Jews a “cursed race” which is a word rooted in hatred. Straight racism is the only thing behind these words. Racism is on of the leading causes of genocide according to Kirnan. Hitler is essentially saying that the hate he has for the Jews, is his motivation and driving force behind the war efforts. The clear impact and increase in genocidal language from his previous speeches to this one has a direct correlation with the increase of violence and genocidal action going on under Hitler’s leadership. In the months after this speech, Hitler orders a liquidation of all ghettos in Poland and the Soviet Union. The concentration, and extermination camps reach their peeks of death rates. The correlation between genocidal language and genocidal action is clear within this example and really highlights the increase in hateful language from his previous speeches, lining up with the increase of Nazi and genocidal action that same year.
A Timeline of the Holocaust (1933 – 1945).” A Timeline of the Holocaust (1933 – 1945). Accessed November 17, 2014
Dictionary.com (n.d.). Genocide. Retrieved September 22, 2014
Hitler, A. (1925). Mein Kompf (Vol. 1)
Hitler, Adolf. Speech by the Fuhrer & Reich Chancellor on the Langer Markt in Danzing, 1939. Danzing, 1939
Kiernan, B. (2007). Blood and soil: A world history of genocide and extermination from Sparta to Darfur. New Haven: Yale University Press
Stanton, G. (2012, December 18). Why do people commit genocide and what can we do to prevent it? by Gregory H Stanton. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
SUB HITLER´S SPEECH ON 21 MAR 1943 Heldengedenkfeier. Video. Uploader:IntJewryWonWW2 October 26, 2009
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