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The short twentieth century was an age of total wars and aggressive ideological struggles. It was also an age of growing linguistic awareness in the political sphere. Communist, fascist, and Liberal regimes fought each other with violence as well as words, and verbal warfare became increasingly sophisticated. The regimes were supported by propaganda experts and took advantage of new mass media which facilitated the interplay of words, images, and sounds. Leaders and their propagandists used language to persuade followers, terrorize opponents, and annihilate enemies. Knowing how to adapt one's own use of language to changing political situations was of vital importance for everyone. In the Age of Extremes words could wield political power, but at another moment even a whisper could endanger one's life. This volume explores the ways in which language served to create, uphold, subvert, or deflect political power in the Age of Extremes. The book is unusual in encouraging its readers to compare totalitarian and democratic regimes under this aspect. Moving beyond propaganda studies the book opens up a variety of perspectives. While some authors take a look from above and show how those in power succeeded, or failed, in policing the boundaries of what could be said, others investigate the strategies of those who attacked the rules of the powerful by promoting alternative concepts and counter-discourses. Finally, there are also essays on the experiences of those who simply tried to stay alive by presenting themselves in a flexible manner or preserving their own private languages in diaries, poems, or secret conversations.
Willibald Steinmetz is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Political History at University of Bielefeld.
Table of Contents
Part I. Introduction
1. New Perspectives on the Study of Language and Power in the Short Twentieth Century, Willibald Steinmetz
2. Politics as Linguistic Performance: Function and 'Magic' of Communicative Practices, Angelika Linke
Part II. The Rise of the Dictators and the Semantics of Leadership
3. Fascistese: The Religious Dimensions of Political Language in Fascist Italy, Emilio Gentile
4. Visualizing Political Language in the Stalin Cult: The Georgian Art Exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery, Judith Devlin
Part III. Mind your Words! Policing Linguistic Boundaries (1920s-40s)
5. Revolutionary Selves: The Russian Intelligentsia from Old to New, Igal Halfin
6. Faced with Death: Gestapo Interrogations and Clemency Pleas in High Treason Trials by the National Socialist Volksgerichtshof, Isabel Richter
7. Policing Tonal Boundaries: Constructing the Nazi/German Enemy on the Wartime BBC, Sian Nicholas
8. Keep Quiet . . . But Tell!! Political Language and the 'Alert Citizen' in Second World War America, Olaf Stieglitz
9. Telling the Truth: Counter-Discourses in Diaries under Totalitarian Regimes (Nazi Germany and Early GDR), Heidrun Kamper
Part IV. The Growth of Linguistic Awareness in the Cold War Era
10. The Unknown and the Familiar Enemy: The Semantics of Anti-Communism in the USA and Germany, 1945-75, Thomas Mergel
11. Semantic Strategies of Inclusion and Exclusion in the German Democratic Republic (1949-89), Ralph Jessen
12. War over Words: The Search for a Public Language in West Germany, Martin H. Geyer
13. The Return of Language: Radicalism and the British Historians 1960-90, Gareth Stedman Jones
14. Suppression of the Nazi Past, Coded Languages, and Discourse of Silence: Applying the Discourse-Historical Approach to Post-War Anti-Semitism in Austria, Ruth Wodak