Monday, June 15, 2015

Jansson and the Luther Bible

Update, 16.06.2015

In his latest "Memo" blog, Jansson claims that
In the Luther Bible translation of Genesis 17.14, it is commanded that the uncircumcised be ausgerottet, with the meaning that they be removed from the people, or exiled.

The Luther bible passage that Jansson refers to is the following:
Und wo ein Knäblein nicht wird beschnitten an der Vorhaut seines Fleisches, des Seele soll ausgerottet werden aus seinem Volk, darum daß es meinen Bund unterlassen hat.

While Jansson claims that the term ausgerottet means expulsion or exile in the above-quoted context, the Frühneuhochdeutsches Wörterbuch lists the above-quoted version of Genesis 17.14 as one example of the use of ausrotten in the sense of "jn. (Einzelpersonen oder Gruppen) töten, physisch vernichten, ausrotten", i.e. "to kill, physically destroy, exterminate someone (individual persons or groups)".

Needless to say, the understanding of the Frühneuhochdeutsches Wörterbuch carries more weight than Jansson’s self-serving interpretation.

As to the other sources adduced by Jansson for a supposed non-homicidal meaning of ausrotten or Ausrottung when describing something done or to be done to a group of people, I’d have to check the sources to determine whether Jansson’s reading thereof is or not as far-fetched as his understanding of Luther’s words in his translation of Genesis 17.14.

That aside, one must question the relevance of Jansson’s linguistic exercise when determining in what sense, literal or figurative, a Nazi bigwig used the terms ausrotten, ausgerottet or Ausrottung (or, for that matter, the terms ausmerzen, ausgemerzt or Ausmerzung) in a given context on a particular occasion.

Even if either of these terms could also be used, even literally, in a sense not implying homicide, this wouldn’t change the fact that, say, the context in which Rosenberg used the term "biologische Ausmerzung" on the occasion discussed here, considering a previous statement of Rosenberg’s, implies that he was using this term in a sense of mass murder.

Or that, as shown here, the terms ausgerottet, Ausrottung and auszurotten, used by, respectively, Fegelein, Frank and Himmler in the examples quoted here, had a clearly homicidal meaning.

Update, 16.06.2015

With the usual ingredients of self-praise and denigration of his opponents, which suggest a deeply rooted inferiority complex, Jansson has written A little more on Ausrottung, addressing the present blog as well as blogs written by Jonathan Harrison.

Regarding Luther’s bible translation of Genesis 17.14, Jansson professes to know more about the German language than the Frühneuhochdeutsches Wörterbuch, and reinforces his argument with, guess what, English translations of Genesis 17.14 whereby «what the Luther bible renders as “ausgerottet aus seinem Volk” is generally rendered as “cut of from his people”».

Unless the English translations were based on Luther’s German translation of the bible, that’s hardly a relevant argument, as it is quite possible that Luther had a more radical understanding of terms he translated into German than English translators had of terms they translated into English, or that Luther used more radical terminology, regardless of what the translated terms actually meant, in order to bring across the commands of God more forcefully.

Next Jansson tries Luther’s translation of Leviticus 20, with an English translation as backup, and argues that
Here, the punishment of being put to death is contrasted with the punishment of being cut off [ausgerottet] from your people. Adultery with another man’s wife gets you (and her) put to death, while sex with a menstruating woman and “uncovering her nakedness” only gets you (and her) cut off from your people.
The problem with this argument is that before sex with a menstruating woman (20.18) comes sex with one’s own sister (20.17), which Luther understood as subject to punishment by "ausgerottet werden vor den Leuten ihres Volks", literally "being exterminated before the people of their tribe", on account of having committed "Blutschande", i.e. incest.

Is Luther supposed to have understood that God considered incest a lesser sin than adultery, sex with one’s father’s wife, sex with one’s daughter in law or sex with animals, all punishable by death? That’s rather hard to believe, so a reasonable interpretation would be that he considered this sin to be punishable by death as well, with the detail that that the killing was to happen "before the people of their tribe", i.e. in public.

Equally far-fetched is Jansson’s understanding of Leviticus 20.2 and 20.3:
Giving your children to Molech gets you death, but if the people should fail to kill you God will cut you off from the people.
So God orders that people who give their children to Moloch be killed (by stoning), and then says that if they are not killed he will merely "cut them off" from their people for the most grievous of offenses, "daß er dem Moloch eines seiner Kinder gegeben und mein Heiligtum verunreinigt und meinen heiligen Namen entheiligt hat", i.e. for giving Moloch one of their children and soiling God’s sanctity and desecrating God’s holy name?

Such undue mercy from a murderously punishing God makes no sense whatsoever, so the likeliest interpretation of "ausrotten" in this context, as it would have been understood by a radical theologian  like Luther, is that it means extermination in the sense of physical killing, done by God through those he ordered to stone the offender to death or, failing that, by God’s own means.

Following a pointless distinction between being "ausgerottet" "aus" (from), "von" (by) and "vor" (before, in front of) their people, neither of which helps Jansson’s understanding, Jansson claims that his understanding (which, as we have seen, is not that of the Frühneuhochdeutsches Wörterbuch) is "quite common in the literature".

Great, then let’s see that literature.

If it includes a linguistic source more authoritative than the Frühneuhochdeutsches Wörterbuch, I’ll rest my case as concerns Genesis 17.14 and Leviticus 20.2, 20.3 and 20.17.

Skipping two further supposed pre-Nazi examples of ausrotten being used "in a broader sense" – which, just like Luther, are of little if any relevance to Nazi uses of the term in connection with what they meant to do, were doing or had done to Jews – , I move right to Jansson’s bizarre argument that his beloved Führer didn’t mean ausrotten in a homicidal sense when stating on 30 January 1942 that one of the possible outcomes of the war was the European peoples being ausgerottet, or when stating on various occasions that the war was a choice between the Ausrottung of the Jews or the "Aryans".

Actually the understanding of ausrotten as meaning physical extermination, or at least massive killing, is the one that best fits these occasions. Wipe the Jews off the earth, or they will wipe us off the earth. Kill them before they kill us, or kill them as they are killing us. The speech of 30 January 1942, transcribed here, is particularly clear in this respect:
Wir sind uns im klaren, daß dieser Krieg ja nur damit enden könnte, daß entweder die germanischen Völker ausgerottet werden, oder daß das Judentum aus Europa verschwindet. Ich habe am 1. September 1939 im Deutschen Reichstag es schon ausgesprochen - und ich hüte mich vor voreiligen Prophezeiungen -, daß dieser Krieg nicht so ausgehen wird, wie die Juden sich es vorstellen, nämlich daß die europäischen arischen Völker ausgerottet werden, sondern daß das Ergebnis dieses Krieges die Vernichtung des Judentums ist. Zum erstenmal werden nicht andere allein verbluten, sondern zum erstenmal wird diesesmal das echt altjüdische Gesetz angewendet: Aug' um Aug', Zahn um Zahn!
My translation, emphasis added:
We are clear that this war can only end with either the Germanic peoples being ausgerottet or Jewry disappearing from Europe. I already declared this before the German Reichstag on 1 September 1939 – and I take care not to make premature prophecies – that this war will not end like the Jews imagine, namely with the European Aryan peoples being ausgerottet, but that the result of this war will be the destruction of Jewry. For the first time not others alone will bleed to death, but for the first time the genuine ancient Jewish law will be applied: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!
So being ausgerottet was synonymous with bleeding to death, with the dying of all or a substantial part of a people, with the bloodbath of a world war supposedly instigated by the Jews for the purpose of causing the Germanic peoples to be ausgerottet, to bleed to death. Except that this time Jewry would bleed alongside the peoples it had supposedly thrown into a war so as to cause them to bleed to death. It would be punished with the same evils it had supposedly inflicted on others. Those evils being death and suffering on an enormous scale, death and suffering on an enormous scale was to be visited on Jewry in retribution.

One may argue – as Rosenberg, quoted by Jansson, lamely did in his defense at Nuremberg – that Hitler was not threatening to kill every last Jew on earth as he also did not expect the Germanic peoples to be completely wiped out in the war or following defeat.  But this wouldn't change the fact that Hitler obviously meant the term ausgerottet in a sense of extreme physical violence, of massive killing.

So it looks like Jansson shot himself in the foot by invoking Hitler’s speech on 30 January 1942.

That’s all for now, as I have better things to do this evening than responding to Jansson.

To finish this update, I would just like to point out that, unless I missed something, Jansson completely ignored the last three paragraphs of this blog before the update.


Jeff said...

I have conferred with several native German speakers (like you) and they without exception agree that this term has only one meaning.

Jansson's whimpering on this issue damages his credibility irreversibly in my opinion.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Is there any credibility left to be damaged?

I don't think so, but I also don't think Jansson cares. Just like MGK, he has realized that he's playing for an audience of fellow "Revisionist" true believers only.

Jonathan Harrison said...

1) The context of Hitler 30/1/42 can be constructed from my discussion here:

2) Thierack an Bormann, 13.10.1942; ND NG-558: 'die Justiz nur in kleinen (sic!) Umfange dazu beitragen kann, Angehoerige dieses Volkstums auszurotten...Es hat auch keinen Sinn, solche Personen Jahre hindurch in deutschen Gefaegnissen und Zuchthaeusern zu konservieren...Dagegen glaube ich, dass durch die Auslieferung solcher Personen an die Polizei, die sodann frei von gesetzlichen Straftatbestaenden ihre Massnahmen treffen kann, wesentlich bessere Ergebnisse erzielt werden.'

Meanwhile, Vernichtung is a big theme in labour policy, as we see in this phrase: