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

  • Steven Michael Press College of Arts & Science


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.

Author Biography

Steven Michael Press, College of Arts & Science
Steven M. Press is a third-year student majoring in German Literature and English & History in the College of Arts & Science. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, he is the recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Freshman Essay Award for Writing and is consistently featured on the Dean's List. During the past summer, Press received a competitive grant from the Vanderbilt University Summer Research Program to work with Professor Sara Eigen on various late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century research projects. After spending the current semester abroad at the Universität Regensburg in Germany and the final year of his undergraduate career in Nashville, he hopes to begin his graduate studies in German literature.
How to Cite
PRESS, Steven Michael. The Language of Ideology: Lingual Manipulation of Readers in German Literature of the Third Reich. Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal, [S.l.], v. 1, may 2005. ISSN 1555-788X. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 aug. 2019. doi:
Humanities and Social Sciences