- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Continuum; unknown edition (July 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0826491308
- ISBN-13: 978-0826491305
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #465,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Language of the Third Reich: LTI: Lingua Tertii Imperii unknown Edition
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“Klemperer's The Language of the Third Reich (or LTI: Lingua Tertii Imperii) is important but difficult to categorize. Originally published in German in 1957 and translated into English in 2000, LTI derives from notes the Jewish philologist and literature professor took before and during WW II, in which he signals and dissects Nazi language. This book is an honest narrative of hope and oppression, touching in places and well written, in an accessible translation. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.” ―M. Aaij, Auburn Montgomery, CHOICE
About the Author
Victor Klemperer, a front-line veteran of the First World War, became Professor of French Literature at Dresden University. He was taken from his university in 1935 because he was Jewish, and only survived because of his marriage to an Aryan.
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Also see texts by Lombroso, Max Nordau, Bainville, Gobineau, inter alia. Dr. Klemperer is good man. Glad he kept writing. I so wish this heinous period in human history never ever happened. So many innocent beautiful souls lost, too much and too many.
He documents the incursion of usages such as "fanatical" to describe everything praiseworthy. He notes how the names of mythic Teutonic heroes or Wagnerian characters became popular as given names, while Biblical names such as "Christian" were discouraged or banned altogether from use by "Aryan" members of the population. Jewish people, on the other hand, were required to append Old Testament names to themselves to further identify and segregate them.
Language was inflated. Nothing was allowed to be ordinary. Everything was pronounced as if from the podium of a State Occasion, and was directed, not to individuals, but to the masses. The smallest act became "historical" or indicative of a "blood" struggle. The use of superlatives abounded.
Besides such gross changes in language, Klemperer explores many subtle changes - the kind that seep into use below the level of awareness and work to insidiously alter one's outlook. You didn't any longer ask if so-and-so was ill. You asked if he was on the sick-list, because illness had to certified. It was a status that could only be bestowed by a higher authority. You didn't say you earned some money. You said you took home a package of pay. Again, the good was bestowed by a higher authority and did not come as a result of your singular, individual efforts.
These are just a few examples of the telling observations you'll find in these pages. Although Klemperer gets a little philosophically abstract here and there, and even makes some contradictory observations regarding usage - overall this book provides the kind of insight into the everyday lives of people in the Third Reich that you find in few other places.
It is strongest in documenting specific changes in languages usage. However, like almost every other work examining the horrors of the Regime, it fails to answer the overarching questions of "Why? - "How?" The reader is left to grapple with that overwhelming puzzle. The transformation and appropriation of the German citizenry becomes especially puzzling when viewed in light of certain other dictatorships that we've become familiar with since then - regimes that, despite heavy inflictions of a dictator's exhortations, have not led members of the general population to speak or think in such overloaded tanker terms.
What causes one people to be so virulently infected with the fervor of grandiose abstractions, while other groups of people come away from similar exhortations simply with regret and an ironic shrug?? That remains the unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable question. Even as brilliant an observer as Klemperer doesn't quite pull all the individual instances of transformation together to answer that ultimate "How?"
As a well known professor of philology, Klemperer goes into great detail as to the change of the German language during the 12 year reign of the Third Reich. Along with the daily writings of Klemperer's diaries, Victor also engaged in his thesis of the language change which occurred in Germany from 1933 to 1945.
Many things that were said during the aforementioned time period had double meanings. To a Jew in Nazi Germany, the word privilege had an ominous meaning. In fact many rather innocent words, phrases and idioms meant rather different things to different people in Nazi Germany.
Victor Klemperer had the time and also the temerity to note these changes in the German language. As an oppressed Jew who actually survived the Nazi regime, he indeed noted the change of meanings in language and also the change of meanings in the very essence of German being and culture.
Klemperer is a latter day descendant of a mythical fly on the wall. To note he was a rather highly educated fly. Herr Klemperer really did see the black side of a totalitarian government. What is amazing is that Klemperer did indeed survive. To add to this rather amazing fact, the person who survived, was indeed intelligent enough to write about the happenings and form a rather succinct opinion of what transpired.
This book in a gem. I'm going to read it again, in order to benefit from all of Klemperer's thesis. I'm sure I'll learn more of this rather gruesome time period. If you have an historian's inclination, please do read this rather magnificent work.