Friday, September 16, 2011 | By: Angela Brown

Hitler's Thrust - The Power of Words

As a writer, I am not terribly surprised, though fairly saddened, when I think of the power that lies within a sentence, a fragment, a word.  Though he was a man loathed by countless, there are countless more who revere Adolf Hitler to this day.

You can add me to the loath column with a small caveat - he knew how to use words. He convinced normal, everyday citizens that it's okay to sterilize - or better yet - euthanize mentally deficient or mentally ill individuals (other living, breathing human beings) for the good of the master race.
Gas chambers
Then went on to order the experimentation and mass execution of men, women and children in his pursuit to create or genetically enhance the "subpar" humans into being part of the master race.
One of the less gut-wrenching pics of Auschwitz Concentration Camp
During research, I found the officers who carried out these orders did so believing in Hitler's words or by detaching themselves from responsibility since they were just "following orders".  And what kind of persuasive quotes are credited to him.  Click here for a  list, but here are a few:

“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”

“What luck for rulers that men do not think.”

“It is not truth that matters, but victory.”

“Words build bridges into unexplored regions.”

“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” 

Don't those just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

I mention this because, as a writer, I want to be aware of my words.  I know I have the freedom to "do what I want" and that's great.  Yet I also don't want to write things that are empty or filled with poison.  Maybe that's why I favor fiction.  Telling stories is okay, what you're supposed to do.  That lie isn't a lie, per se - says the woman trying to make a career of Fibbin for a Livin - but a tale, a fun adventure of the imagination shared with those around.

Ending this was a bit of a twist, let's take a look at something showing the beautiful power of words.  Sorry for being such a cry-baby, but this brought tears to my eyes.  Thank you Susan Kaye Quinn for pointing me to this.  You sooo rock!

What are your thoughts when it comes to the power of words?


Francesca Zappia said...

One of my history teachers said he read Mein Kampf once, and somewhere in the middle of the book he began having anti-Semitic feelings. They went away when he wasn't reading/finished the book, of course, but that's the power of Hitler's words, even today.

As awful as Hitler was, he knew what words to use. And I think yours is a perfect example of the power of words. It exists. It makes things happen. And we shouldn't ignore it.

Angela Brown said...

You know Chessie, I've often contemplated reading that book, just to get to see if it would help me gain some understanding. Then I'm sickened by the thought of how he twisted half-truths into whole truths and somehow, some way, throngs of people hung upon his every word.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I think ideas are what hold the true power, and words are how they are delivered. Either your words are an injection straight into the brain stem, or they're a leaf that flutters by and is forgotten. What Hitler proves is that evil can be smart and effective. It's up to the good guys to be smarter, more effective, and not be afraid to speak the words that make evil scurry and hide in the dark place it belongs.

p.s. I think there's more truth in fiction than in RL. :)

p.p.s Great post!

Angela Brown said...

Very good points Susan. Thank you so much.

I'll admit that sometimes I'm stuck wondering if life is a reflection of art or if art is a reflection of life...or maybe they're both copycats with nothing better to do than mimic each other. LOL!!!

Maria Zannini said...

Words are indeed powerful creatures, but they aren't the sole domain of the writer.

Even a child saying, I love you, can change your whole perspective.

PS I've seen that video before and it never fails to move me. Thanks for posting it.

Angela Brown said...

So true, Maria, and Susan was a dear to share the video with me.

LD Masterson said...

I've seen that video as well and was moved by it. We should be very aware of the power of words, and those who know how to use them. Especially as we approach election time.

Angela Brown said...

Speaking of election time, two of the quotes up there seem fitting:

“What luck for rulers that men do not think.”


“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've always believed in the power of the media to control the masses with words.
Looking forward to your picks for the Worst Movies Ever blogfest on Monday!

Angela Brown said...

Control - one of the many benefits of wielding power, kinda scary.

Michael E. Walston said...

Very timely, with elections coming up.

The morally bankrupt have fallen back on these tactics because they've worked.

It's sad, but if you'd presented me with those quotes without telling me their source and asked me to guess who said those things, my first guess would not have been Hitler.

I won't say who it would have been, lest I offend anyone, but we've all seen him on TV. Recently. Despite the fact that he's no longer in "public service" (I use the term loosely).

And he has at least one book out now.

Sad and scary.

Angela Brown said...

Well, I appreciate you're consideration. I see you are versed in the power of words.

And I have to say, when I first found the quotes, they made me feel so powerless wondering at the way he'd been proven true.

Nadja Notariani said...

Both my sister and I have read "Inside The Mind Of Adolph Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report". It was very informative, so you could learn about the man without having to read his book. It's sad to think that Hitler - and so many like him - would want to destroy people, people like me - or like you - for what? Because we don't have the genetic material/features that he deemed 'the best'? I still am amazed that he could persuade so many - enthrall so many - delude so many. But he did. And he did it with the power of words...
On a lighter note - your video was lovely. Hope you're having a great weekend, Angela! ~ Nadja

Angela Brown said...

Thanks for that recommendation, Nadja. Reading something that has some distance in it could be a good way to become more aware of what made someone like Hitler tick. And I'm glad you enjoyed the video. I was so thrilled with Susan brought it to my attention.

Cate Masters said...

In the right hands, words are the most powerful weapon of all. That's why politicians hire expert speechwriters. Hitler knew how to deliver his words with punch and passion, to incite beyond reason. Definitely a scary ability.

Angela Brown said...

That's very true Cate. Extremely scary.

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