Edinburgh German Yearbook 8

Edinburgh German Yearbook 8: New Literary and Linguistic Perspectives on the German Language, National Socialism, and the Shoah

Peter Davies
Andrea Hammel
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdm01
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  • Book Info
    Edinburgh German Yearbook 8
    Book Description:

    There is seemingly no escaping the association of the language of Goethe with the language of Hitler: the two leaden clichés seem to be inseparable, suggesting a Sonderweg between enlightened sophistication and subtle beauty on the one hand and linguistic barbarism on the other. Victor Klemperer suggested that the Lingua Tertii Imperii was a perversion of German that needed to be purged from the language, but does the notion of "Nazi language" as an identifiably separate entity really hold water, or does it only reflect a desire to construct a clear demarcation line between "Germans" and "Nazis"? What new linguistic, literary, or historical perspectives are available on the functioning of language during and after the Third Reich? Must German always be the "language of the perpetrators," entailing a constant state of heightened self-awareness or vigilance against contamination, or is neutral, objective speech about National Socialism possible in German? This collection provides new perspectives on the relationship - or the perceived relationship - between the German language in all its manifestations and the causes, nature, and legacy of National Socialism and the Shoah. Contributors: Ian Biddle and Beate Müller, Mary Cosgrove, Peter Davies, Sylvia Degen, Andrea Hammel, Geraldine Horan, Teresa Ludden, Dora Osborne, Marko Pajevic, James Parsons, Simone Schroth, Arvi Sepp, Simon Ward, Jenny Watson. Peter Davies is Professor of Modern German Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Andrea Hammel is Senior Lecturer in German at Aberystwyth University.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-464-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Linguistics, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: The German Language, National Socialism, and the Shoah
    (pp. 1-6)
    Peter Davies and Andrea Hammel

    There is seemingly no escaping the association of the language of Goethe with the language of Hitler. Whatever one may feel about the rather leaden cliché that juxtaposes Buchenwald and Weimar, the disciplines of cultural history, literary criticism, discourse analysis, “Sprachkritik,” and memory studies have all, in their various ways, contributed to a rich field of concepts (“Tätersprache,” “SprachedesNationalsozialismus” vs. “SpracheimNationalsozialismus,”¹ “unheimliche Heimat,”² and many others) that both describe and embody the ambivalent, uneasy status of the German language and its traditions after the Shoah.

    “Sprachkritiker” such as Victor Klemperer suggested that theLingua Tertii Imperii...

  4. German Language and National Socialism Today: Still a German “Sonderweg”?
    (pp. 7-24)
    Marko Pajević

    German is often considered to be less a language, and more an assault, maybe particularly so in the United Kingdom. John Cleese gave evidence of this attitude in an interview with theFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungon 26 May 2006 by saying that many English people, including him, think that German is a language that is barked, after having been conditioned by movies about English people escaping from German concentration camps.¹ Most European countries formed this impression of German as a barked, rather than spoken language, if not already from Wilhelmine Germany, at the latest during the Second World War, and...

  5. Clear Wording or “Historical” Euphemisms? Conceptual Controversies Surrounding the Naming of National Socialist Memorial Sites in Germany
    (pp. 25-42)
    Sylvia Degen

    This article addresses questions about the words used in Germany today to negotiate the National Socialist past. The principal focus of this discussion will be the memorial sites and places of remembrance that have been re-designed and re-named in many places, especially since Reunification, and in particular the youth concentration camp for girls and young women at Uckermark, which was transformed into an extermination site later in the war. Because language and language use play a central role in the interpretation of history, intense debates have been held regarding these re-designing and naming processes. This article will focus on the...

  6. The Language of the Perpetrators

    • “Lieber, guter Onkel Hitler”: A Linguistic Analysis of the Letter as a National Socialist Text-Type and a Re-evaluation of the “Sprache im/des Nationalsozialismus” Debate
      (pp. 45-58)
      Geraldine Horan

      Given the large number of texts produced by National Socialists during the period 1933–45 and before, why begin this analysis with the opening greeting from a letter sent to Hitler by a young teenager: “Lieber, guter Onkel Hitler”? The intention here is to shift the focus from thelanguage ofandinNational Socialism todiscoursein National Socialism, with a particular emphasis on language use in context as a shared, communicative phenomenon. In this article I will argue that in analyzing National Socialist discourse as part of communicative practice, the letter should be considered as constituting a significant text-type,...

    • “German was heard so often in our Dutch home”: German Nazi Refugees in the Netherlands and Their Ambivalent Relationship with Their Mother Tongue
      (pp. 59-72)
      Simone Schroth

      In his autobiographical reportUntergetaucht unter Freunden, German-born refugee Claus Victor Bock describes how he survived the German occupation by hiding in Amsterdam as a member of the Dutch-German community of artists Castrum Peregrini. In order to capture the atmosphere in the group, he states that nobody belonging to this circle gave it a second thought when two Dutchmen presented a third with a volume of German poetry, thereby demonstrating a positive relationship with the language of those endangering their existence, focusing on its aesthetic values.¹ While the situation in the Castrum was certainly a special, if not unique one,...

    • “Whose text is it anyway?” Influences on a Refugee Memoir
      (pp. 73-88)
      Andrea Hammel

      From the 1930s onwards German-speaking refugee writers who fled from National Socialist Central Europe to the UK had to make a stark choice regarding the language of their literary production: some continued to write in German, and if they were well-known or lucky, their works were translated into English (Anna Gmeyner, Stefan Zweig) as publication opportunities in German were very limited. Others tried to switch to English as soon as possible (Robert Neumann, Hilde Spiel). A small group of writers continued to write in German and ceased to publish until after the war (Max Herrmann-Neiße, Martina Wied).¹ But all of...

    • Stigma and Performance: Victor Klemperer’s Language-Critical Reflections on Anti-Semitic Hate Speech
      (pp. 89-104)
      Arvi Sepp

      As of 1942, the German-Jewish professor of Romance languages Victor Klemperer undertook a thoroughgoing analysis of Nazi language in his diaries. In his journal, he provides concrete and painstakingly precise notes of his reflections on fascist institutions, his gradual exclusion from society as a Jew, the circumstances of ordinary people under National Socialism, including laws, working conditions, and the media. The following essay will offer a new way of approaching Klemperer’s critique of language by drawing on Erving Goffman’s examination of the consequences of exclusion and discrimination from the perspective of his theory of stigma, as formulated in his study...

  7. Literary Language

    • Reinventing Invented Tradition: Vergangenheitsbewältigung and the Literature of Melancholy
      (pp. 107-124)
      Mary Cosgrove

      Since the publication in 1964 of Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky, and Fritz Saxl’s landmark iconological study of melancholy from antiquity to the early modern period,Saturn and Melancholy, interdisciplinary scholarship on literary melancholy in the field of German Studies has thrived.¹ Despite the many studies on literary melancholy since the 1960s, however, melancholy, understood as a set of traditions in Western writing and culture from antiquity to the present, has yet to be identified as a feature of German literature that deals with the legacy of National Socialism and the Holocaust. This oversight arises, to some degree, from the scholarly...

    • “Even the word ‘und’ has to be re-invented somehow”: Quoting the Language of the Perpetrators in Texts by Anne Duden
      (pp. 125-142)
      Teresa Ludden

      This statement by Anne Duden suggests not only the need to be constantly aware of the connections with the language of the National Socialist past but the self-imposed task of re-writingGermanitself, an endeavor that Duden recognizes as not really possible, and one that places her writing at times on the boundary of incomprehensibility. For Duden, existence isSchreibexistenz,² only possible in language, in her German mother tongue, so the ethical questions surrounding how to inhabit the German language in the post-Holocaust world are fundamental to her oeuvre. This essay analyzes the different techniques and approaches she used in...

    • “Reden ist Silber, Schweigen ist Gold”: German as a Site of Fascist Nostalgia and Romanian as the Language of Dictatorship in the Work of Herta Müller
      (pp. 143-158)
      Jenny Watson

      Throughout her oeuvre Herta Müller has returned to the question of language: its insufficiency, its power, its potential to surprise, its personal significance to her, and how as an author she makes use of it. She has also often discussed language in historical context, examining the use of language in the Ceauşescu regime and the abuse of language as a means of manipulation by political leaders more generally. Through her fiction and non-fiction writing a picture develops of Müller as someone who is deeply suspicious of language but at the same time uses it to great effect, and for whom...

    • The Power of Language and Silence: Reinhard Jirgl’s Die Stille
      (pp. 159-174)
      Dora Osborne

      Reinhard Jirgl (1953–) is an emphatically German author. He insists that German is “die Sprache in der ich denke, spreche und schreibe,”¹ and the award of several prestigious prizes (including the Büchner Prize in 2010) has confirmed his place in the German literary tradition. Yet Jirgl uses the German language in consistently and characteristically iconoclastic ways to challenge the authority of historical, political, and institutional discourse. Precisely because his work went against the ideological prescriptions of the East German state, it remained unpublished in the GDR, where Jirgl lived and worked. Since unification he has become a prolific author,...

  8. Words and Music

    • “Disrupted Language, Disrupted Culture”: Hanns Eisler’s Hollywooder Liederbuch (1942-43)
      (pp. 177-198)
      James Parsons

      From among the many German-speaking émigrés in 1940s Los Angeles it is difficult to imagine two with seemingly more different views on the time-honored Lied than Hanns Eisler and Thomas Mann.¹ What perhaps is most surprising is that Mann or Eisler gave the German art song any thought, for by the twentieth century’s fifth decade the favored mode of musical expression of Hugo Wolf, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and, above all, Franz Schubert—nineteenth-century composers all—found its critical fortunes waning. The author ofDer Tod in VenedigandDer Zauberbergsimultaneously lauded the genre while holding it responsible for...

    • “and all of a sudden, in the middle of it, they began singing . . .”: Languages and Commemoration in Arnold Schoenberg’s Cantata A Survivor from Warsaw (Op. 46)
      (pp. 199-216)
      Ian Biddle and Beate Müller

      Arnold Schoenberg’sA Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46, is a twelve-tone cantata for male narrator, male chorus, and orchestra, written in August 1947. The narrator recounts, inSprechgesang, how, one day during an early morning reveille in an unnamed camp, the Nazi guards started viciously beating the Jews, killing many of them. Those surviving are ordered to repeat the roll call, and suddenly start singing the Jewish prayerShema Yisroel. One of the most striking elements of the cantata is the fact that its libretto uses three languages: English, German, and Hebrew. The narrator tells his tale in English, citing...

  9. Translation

    • Understanding a Perpetrator in Translation: Presenting Rudolf Höß, Commandant of Auschwitz, to Readers of English
      (pp. 219-234)
      Peter Davies

      The memoir of Rudolf Höß, commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp from May 1940 to November 1943, occupies a strange place on bookshop shelves in the German and English-speaking worlds.¹ It is rare for a major Nazi perpetrator to be present in this way, namely as author of a memoir sold under his own name and purporting to offer insight into his actions and motivation on his own terms: Albert Speer is another, but his memoir was an attempt at self-exculpation published while he was still alive, rather than being a text by an executed criminal. Although there has been...

    • Translating Testimony: Jakob Littner’s Typescript and the Versions of Wolfgang Koeppen and Kurt Nathan Grübler
      (pp. 235-250)
      Simon Ward

      In this article, I will take up the question of how the Shoah inflected understandings of the German language through an examination of one particular and quite peculiar case study: how the unpublished typescript of Jakob Littner’s testimony about life in a Jewish ghetto, “Mein Weg durch die Nacht,” has been transformed into two distinct versions, firstly a fictionalized reworking by the German author, Wolfgang Koeppen, that for over forty years circulated as an authentic document under the name of Littner, and then, latterly, translated into English by a relative of Littner’s, Kurt Nathan Grübler. That latter translation both relies...

  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 251-251)