In the Nazi genocide of European Jews, words preceded, accompanied, and made mass murder possible. Using a multilayered approach to connect official language to everyday life, historian Thomas Pegelow Kaplan analyzes the role of language in genocide. This study seeks to comprehend how the perpetrators constructed difference, race, and their perceived enemies; how Nazi agencies communicated to the public through the nation's press; and how Germans of Jewish ancestry received, contested, and struggled for survival and self against remarkable odds. The Language of Nazi Genocide covers the historical periods of the late Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime, and early postwar Germany. However, by addressing the architecture of conceptual separation between groups and the means by which social aggression is disseminated, this study offers a model for comparative studies of linguistic violence, hate speech, and genocide in the modern world.
Thomas Pegelow Kaplan is currently Assistant Professor of Modern European History at Davidson College. He has also taught at Grinnell College and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he received his PhD. He was awarded a Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance Fellowship by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and a Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. His articles have appeared in Central European History, Contemporary European History and Zeitgeschichte.
Introduction; 1. 'We are all Germans; why then ask for religion ...': cultural identity, language, and Weimar pluralism, 1928-32; 2. Towards the 'racial and social boundaries between Germans and Jews are to be strictly drawn ...': dictatorship building and the process of Nazifying language, 1933; 3. Towards the eradication of the 'impossible, untenable category of 'German Jews'': enforcing and contesting racial difference, 1935-8; 4. 'The Jewess' attempted to 'state a case on her decent': linguistic violence as part of genocide, 1941-5; 5. 'We are not bad Jews, because we believe we are good and true Germans ...': another beginning and persisting difference, 1945-8; Conclusion; Appendix.