The Language of Ideology: Lingual Manipulation of Readers in German Literature of the Third Reich

Steven Michael Press


In recognizing more than just hyperbole in their critical studies of National Socialist language, post-war philologists Viktor Klemperer (1946) and Eugen Seidel (1961) credit persuasive words and syntax with the expansion of Hitler's ideology among the German people. This popular explanation is being revisited by contemporary philologists, however, as new historical argument holds the functioning of the Third Reich to be anything but monolithic. An emerging scholarly consensus on the presence of more chaos than coherence in Nazi discourse suggests a new imperative for research. After reviewing the foundational works of Mein Kampf (1925) and Myth of the Twentieth Century (1930), the author confirms Klemperer and Seidel’s claim for linguistic manipulation in the rise of the National Socialist Party. Most importantly, this article provides a detailed explanation of how party leaders employed rhetorical language to promote fascist ideology without an underlying basis of logical argumentation.



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