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Dun Wang: Hitlers´s Oratory and Beethoven´s Pastoral

We rightly say of ourselves, we were born, and afterward we were born again, and many times.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (“Fate”)

Wolfgang Schivelbusch:

Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939 (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), 60-61.

Our post 1945 impression of Hitler’s speeches is deceptive. As a rule, what we know of his oratory consists of excerpts, aggressive, often hoarse passages in which his staccato-fortissimo dominates.

But these were only a part of his speeches, and often not the part that had the greatest effect on the audience. As rhetorician Ulrich Ulonska noted in 1990, Hitler’s speeches typically followed the tripartite structure of classical oratory - or, musically speaking, Beethoven’s Pastoral. Ulonska writes:

Hitler usually begins calmly with anecdotes and seemingly objective descriptions of facts. In particular, he invokes the values and desires of his audience, and in so doing portrays himself as one of them and appeals for their trust…. There are no wild affects in this phase of his speeches.

The second phase is dominated by defamations and insults. Hitler awakens untamed emotion…he creates an enormous amount of interpersonal tension by depicting the values and needs of his listeners as being under threat. He calls forth fear, worry, desperation, and the desire for salvation and a leader to show the way out of danger.

All of Hitler’s speeches conclude with a positive, constructive phase. There are fewer and fewer defamations. Hitler releases his listeners from the tension that he previously induced by offering them a vision of a better future attainable through the achievement of certain topically specific goals…. With emotional force and conviction, Hitler simultanelusly sets out the ethical basis for the better days to come and positions himself as an example of moral integrity. With that, he elevates himself to a position of symbolic rescuer, moral savior, and collective superego for everyone in attendance.

Original unter: Mai 2007.