Hitler didn’t physically induce a genocide by himself. Instead, he spoke the words that made his nightmare a reality. His rhetoric led to World War II and the destruction of millions of families. The power of word is nothing to be overlooked. In the writing center or at war, our words have the ability to manifest our reality. Hitler shows his mastering of rhetoric in the two speeches he delivered in July 13, 1934 and September 1, 1939. While some people may call it magic, Jennifer Liu acknowledges that Hitler’s rhetoric is rooted in demagoguery. Liu’s peer reviewed article Breaking Down Hitler’s Magic: An Analysis of Adolf Hitler’s “Unifying” Rhetoric in 1034 and 1939 attempts to analyze the three rhetorical strategies Hitler used as a unifying device during World War II.
Upon observation, Liu recognizes that the three strategies Hitler used were: pair terms, common knowledge markers, and ingroup and outgroup identification. Paired terms contrast ideas and images to create apparent dichotomies. Common knowledge markers stress the points of interest between the speaker and the audience. Ingroup and outgroup identification stresses the possibility of unification by recognizing all parties involved. Hitler effectively used these strategies in first speech as an explanation for a political purge and his last as an introduction to his invasion plan for Poland; both of which were addressed to a “tired and worn public,” (Liu 9).
In Hitler’s fist speech in 1934, he had the tall task of convincing his audience that “the existence of a problem he characterized as being imminent reality and needing to be urgently solved,” (Liu 12). His speech was meant to justify abhorrent actions to the public and was met with unparalleled enthusiasm. He spoke in paired terms, “pitting the opposition’s vision of what he calls a Communist paradise against his goals for the National, Socialist State.” (Liu 14). He focused on contrasting the evils that Germany was facing from the ideas of the Germany that they should be striving for. He proclaimed the evil to be “germ carriers” and their laws as “amoral”, while saying him and his counterparts were “healthy volk” who needed to enforce “natural laws”. Hitler made this distinction in order to allow himself to offer a solution to a problem he created. Using paired terms Hitler was able to point out two drastically different groups. It was almost as easy as finding a common enemy to bring us together. Without providing a legitimate argument, Hitler was able to justify his reasoning through comparing and contrasting.
In Hitler’s last speech in 1939, he was up to the task of introducing another war to an already war-torn Germany. He used common knowledge markers to ground his asinine plan in something everyone could understand. He tried to convey normality by drawing from knowledge that is commonly known. By mentioning realities and stretching the truth to appear as if Germany had an enemy, Hitler carefully worded his sentences to have empirical evidence supporting it. He mentioned his negotiations as commonly understood and never elaborated on it so as to treat the audience as his equals who don’t need to be reminded. He used absolutes like “all” and “most” to establish credibility and prime the audience to be his enablers. Hitler “recruited his audience through interpellation by positioning them to support his decision to invade Poland despite the audience being opposed to what his decision actually meant,” (Liu 12).
Ingroup and outgroup associations were the cherries on top of Hitler’s demonic rhetorical presence. Both speeches acted to find a common enemy so that Germany could follow Hitler’s lead, and he effortlessly did that through group association. It’s understood that if you say something enough it eventually becomes true, so Hitler did just that. By repeatedly naming the German people as the “Volk”, and Poland as “other”, Hitler easily made an enemy of Poland. “The efficiency of a leader consists primarily in preventing the division of the attention of a people and always concentrating it on a single enemy,” (Liu 16). He managed to bring an entire country together with the vindication to tear other countries apart.
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Liu, J. (2020). Breaking Down Hitler’s Magic: An Analysis of Adolf Hitler’s “Unifying” Rhetoric in 1934 and 1939. Breaking Down Hitler’s Magic: An Analysis of Adolf Hitler’s “Unifying” Rhetoric in 1934 and 1939, 01. https://youngscholarsinwriting.org/index.php/ysiw/article/view/297
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