Catalogue


The Hitler salute : on the meaning of a gesture /
Tilman Allert ; translated by Jefferson Chase.
edition
1st U.S. ed.
imprint
New York, N.Y. : Henry Holt and Company, 2008.
description
115 p.
ISBN
080508178X, 9780805081787
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
uniform title
imprint
New York, N.Y. : Henry Holt and Company, 2008.
isbn
080508178X
9780805081787
contents note
Shaping the beginning -- The greeting as initial gift -- German greetings -- An oath by any other name -- The rise of the sphere of mistrust -- Devaluing the present -- The long shadow of a fatal gesture.
general note
Translation of: Der deutsche Gruss.
catalogue key
6408025
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Introduction In 1937 Samuel Beckett took an extended trip to Germany. As he was walking through the streets of Regensburg, Bavaria, on March 3, a sign above the portal of the Dominican church caught his attention. He noted in his travel diary: "Walk away past Dominikanerkirche, that I don't look at, except to see on northern door notice Gruss Gott crossed out+replaced by Heil Hitler!!!" This observation, part of the "flotsam" of names and dates with which Beckett filled his journal, became one of the many "straws" he collected so as to retain the chaotic and incoherent aspects of his experiences in the hope that he might one day understand them. Hostile to unifying theories of any sorthe found historical determinism particularly repellentBeckett simply marked the importance of his observation through his use of punctuation. What he saw in Regensburg was added to the impressions he had taken away from interactions with Germans in Hamburg, Berlin, and elsewhere in his travels, where he had already noted the ubiquity of the Hitler salute. "Even bathroom attendants greet you with 'Heil Hitler.'" But this note, ending in three exclamation points, differs from the others with their neutral, phlegmatic tone. The three exclamation points mark the alienating and confounding nature of what caught the traveler's eye that day in Regensburgthe replacement of the word "God" with the name of the Fuhrer. Ending in this way, Beckett's observation reads like a note to himself, a reminder to reflect on what he had seen. But Beckett never returned to the topic. In April 1937, a month after his visit to Regensburg, he left Germany to take up permanent residence in France, and the astonishment he expressed at the incomprehensible subversion of language that was the Hitler greeting disappeared into the confused memories of a young man in search of an aesthetic identity and literary voice of his own. Interestingly, a few years later, Beckett would make his name through works that express the breakdown of human relationstheir central themeas a breakdown of language. The present book returns to those three exclamation points with which Beckett registered his intuitive horror at the rupture of meaning he sensed in the Nazi greeting. That, then, is the subject of this inquiry: how Germans greeted one another and what happened when their traditional ways of greetings were replaced by the Hitler salute. Copyright 2005 by Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main Translation copyright 2008 by Metropolitan Books All rights reserved.
First Chapter

Introduction

In 1937 Samuel Beckett took an extended trip to Germany. As he was walking through the streets of Regensburg, Bavaria, on March 3, a sign above the portal of the Dominican church caught his attention. He noted in his travel diary: “Walk away past Dominikanerkirche, that I don’t look at, except to see on northern door notice Grüss Gott crossed out+replaced by Heil Hitler!!!”

This observation, part of the “flotsam” of names and dates with which Beckett filled his journal, became one of the many “straws” he collected so as to retain the chaotic and incoherent aspects of his experiences in the hope that he might one day understand them. Hostile to unifying theories of any sort—he found historical determinism particularly repellent—Beckett simply marked the importance of his observation through his use of punctuation. What he saw in Regensburg was added to the impressions he had taken away from interactions with Germans in Hamburg, Berlin, and elsewhere in his travels, where he had already noted the ubiquity of the Hitler salute. “Even bathroom attendants greet you with ‘Heil Hitler.’” But this note, ending in three exclamation points, differs from the others with their neutral, phlegmatic tone. The three exclamation points mark the alienating and confounding nature of what caught the traveler’s eye that day in Regensburg—the replacement of the word “God” with the name of the Führer. Ending in this way, Beckett’s observation reads like a note to himself, a reminder to reflect on what he had seen.

But Beckett never returned to the topic. In April 1937, a month after his visit to Regensburg, he left Germany to take up permanent residence in France, and the astonishment he expressed at the incomprehensible subversion of language that was the Hitler greeting disappeared into the confused memories of a young man in search of an aesthetic identity and literary voice of his own. Interestingly, a few years later, Beckett would make his name through works that express the breakdown of human relations—their central theme—as a breakdown of language. The present book returns to those three exclamation points with which Beckett registered his intuitive horror at the rupture of meaning he sensed in the Nazi greeting. That, then, is the subject of this inquiry: how Germans greeted one another and what happened when their traditional ways of greetings were replaced by the Hitler salute.


Copyright © 2005 by Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main
Translation copyright © 2008 by Metropolitan Books
All rights reserved.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2008-02-11:
In this brief, insightful book, German sociologist Allert writes penetratingly about the gesture familiar around the world. Working like a preservationist on a minute canvas, he shows readers the cascade of meanings that rush through everyday greetings in general. But Allert's keen eye is trained on Germany, and he provides a wonderful depiction of regional, class and gender-specific greetings, from the kissed hand to the low, scraping bow. All of these were supplanted by the Hitler salute. Hitler was the suprahuman being in whom Germans invested their hopes, which they reaffirmed every time they raised their arms and shouted the Fuhrer's name. As the salute penetrated every sphere of social life, it made Nazism omnipresent and Germans a unified community. It also affirmed authority for the ruler as well as over the ruled. Allert draws fruitfully on memoirs and letters. Readers encounter Germans who joyfully raised their arms to the Fuhrer and also those who went to any length to avoid the gesture and sometimes paid dearly for their opposition to the Nazis. Allert's book shows how much can be gained from a close study of the daily rituals we barely think about yet are packed with meaning. (Apr. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Stirring... Allert'sThe Hitler Salute, a joyously sharp account of a massively evil slice of human history, doesn't treat the Nazis' obligatory two-word, one-arm greeting as a product of evil, but as its enabler. He argues, movingly, that the salute wounded Germans' sociability, connectedness, and personal sovereignty, warping the holy human order." The New York Observer "The natural counterpart to the oft-used, darkly ironic quip 'there's no business like Shoah business' is that nothing sells quite like the Nazis. Tilman Allert's slim, understated book, however, has no part in that cottage industry.... With its analytic punch and range of fresh insights,The Hitler Saluteoffers a novel contribution to what frequently appears to be an old, tiredand, alas, tiresomediscussion of the Third Reich." Bookforum "Tilman Allert encourages us to look at the microcosmic world of greetings to see how social mores decay... The Hitler salute was not only a stark indication of the extent to which ideology intruded into the most pedestrian routines of everyday life but, according to Allert, also served to 'silence a nation's moral scruples.'" The Chronicle of Higher Education "Insightful... Allert's book shows how much can be gained from a close study of the daily rituals we barely think about yet are packed with meaning." Publishers Weekly (starred review) "A compact, lucid study of the Third Reich's preferred greeting... Straightforward in its analysis yet profound in its conclusions, this uncommon selection sheds elusive light on the question of how Nazi ideology managed to penetrate even the most ordinary social interactions." Booklist
"Stirring... Allert's The Hitler Salute , a joyously sharp account of a massively evil slice of human history, doesn't treat the Nazis' obligatory two-word, one-arm greeting as a product of evil, but as its enabler. He argues, movingly, that the salute wounded Germans' sociability, connectedness, and personal sovereignty, warping the holy human order." The New York Observer "The natural counterpart to the oft-used, darkly ironic quip 'there's no business like Shoah business' is that nothing sells quite like the Nazis. Tilman Allert's slim, understated book, however, has no part in that cottage industry.... With its analytic punch and range of fresh insights, The Hitler Salute offers a novel contribution to what frequently appears to be an old, tiredand, alas, tiresomediscussion of the Third Reich." Bookforum "Tilman Allert encourages us to look at the microcosmic world of greetings to see how social mores decay... The Hitler salute was not only a stark indication of the extent to which ideology intruded into the most pedestrian routines of everyday life but, according to Allert, also served to 'silence a nation's moral scruples.'" The Chronicle of Higher Education "Insightful... Allert's book shows how much can be gained from a close study of the daily rituals we barely think about yet are packed with meaning." Publishers Weekly (starred review) "A compact, lucid study of the Third Reich's preferred greeting... Straightforward in its analysis yet profound in its conclusions, this uncommon selection sheds elusive light on the question of how Nazi ideology managed to penetrate even the most ordinary social interactions." Booklist
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, February 2008
Booklist, April 2008
Boston Globe, June 2008
School Library Journal, July 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
A strikingly original investigation of the origins and dissemination of the world's most infamous greeting Sometimes the smallest detail reveals the most about a culture. InHeil Hitler: The History of a Gesture, sociologist Tilman Allert uses the Nazi transformation of the most mundane human interactionthe greetingto show how National Socialism brought about the submission and conformity of a whole society. Made compulsory in 1933, the Hitler salute developed into a daily reflex in a matter of mere months, and quickly became the norm in schools, at work, among friends, and even at home. Adults denounced neighbors who refused to raise their arms, and children were given tiny Hitler dolls with movable right arms so they could practice the pernicious salute. The constantly reiterated declaration of loyalty at once controlled public transactions and fractured personal relationships. And always, the greeting sacralized Hitler, investing him and his regime with a divine aura. The first examination of a phenomenon whose significance has long been underestimated,Heil Hitleroffers new insight into how the Third Reich's rituals of consent paved the way for the wholesale erosion of social morality.
Main Description
A strikingly original investigation of the origins and dissemination of the world's most infamous greeting Sometimes the smallest detail reveals the most about a culture. In Heil Hitler: The History of a Gesture , sociologist Tilman Allert uses the Nazi transformation of the most mundane human interaction - the greeting - to show how National Socialism brought about the submission and conformity of a whole society. Made compulsory in 1933, the Hitler salute developed into a daily reflex in a matter of mere months, and quickly became the norm in schools, at work, among friends, and even at home. Adults denounced neighbors who refused to raise their arms, and children were given tiny Hitler dolls with movable right arms so they could practice the pernicious salute. The constantly reiterated declaration of loyalty at once controlled public transactions and fractured personal relationships. And always, the greeting sacralized Hitler, investing him and his regime with a divine aura. The first examination of a phenomenon whose significance has long been underestimated, Heil Hitler offers new insight into how the Third Reich's rituals of consent paved the way for the wholesale erosion of social morality.
Main Description
A strikingly original investigation of the origins and dissemination of the world's most infamous greeting Sometimes the smallest detail reveals the most about a culture. In Heil Hitler: The History of a Gesture , sociologist Tilman Allert uses the Nazi transformation of the most mundane human interaction ‚--the greeting ‚--to show how National Socialism brought about the submission and conformity of a whole society. Made compulsory in 1933, the Hitler salute developed into a daily reflex in a matter of mere months, and quickly became the norm in schools, at work, among friends, and even at home. Adults denounced neighbors who refused to raise their arms, and children were given tiny Hitler dolls with movable right arms so they could practice the pernicious salute. The constantly reiterated declaration of loyalty at once controlled public transactions and fractured personal relationships. And always, the greeting sacralized Hitler, investing him and his regime with a divine aura. The first examination of a phenomenon whose significance has long been underestimated, Heil Hitler offers new insight into how the Third Reich's rituals of consent paved the way for the wholesale erosion of social morality.
Main Description
A strikingly original investigation of the origins and dissemination of the world's most infamous greeting Sometimes the smallest detail reveals the most about a culture. In Heil Hitler: The History of a Gesture , sociologist Tilman Allert uses the Nazi transformation of the most mundane human interaction--the greeting--to show how National Socialism brought about the submission and conformity of a whole society. Made compulsory in 1933, the Hitler salute developed into a daily reflex in a matter of mere months, and quickly became the norm in schools, at work, among friends, and even at home. Adults denounced neighbors who refused to raise their arms, and children were given tiny Hitler dolls with movable right arms so they could practice the pernicious salute. The constantly reiterated declaration of loyalty at once controlled public transactions and fractured personal relationships. And always, the greeting sacralized Hitler, investing him and his regime with a divine aura. The first examination of a phenomenon whose significance has long been underestimated, Heil Hitler offers new insight into how the Third Reich's rituals of consent paved the way for the wholesale erosion of social morality.
Main Description
A strikingly original investigation of the origins and dissemination of the world's most infamous greeting Sometimes the smallest detail reveals the most about a culture. In Heil Hitler: The History of a Gesture , sociologist Tilman Allert uses the Nazi transformation of the most mundane human interaction'”the greeting'”to show how National Socialism brought about the submission and conformity of a whole society. Made compulsory in 1933, the Hitler salute developed into a daily reflex in a matter of mere months, and quickly became the norm in schools, at work, among friends, and even at home. Adults denounced neighbors who refused to raise their arms, and children were given tiny Hitler dolls with movable right arms so they could practice the pernicious salute. The constantly reiterated declaration of loyalty at once controlled public transactions and fractured personal relationships. And always, the greeting sacralized Hitler, investing him and his regime with a divine aura. The first examination of a phenomenon whose significance has long been underestimated, Heil Hitler offers new insight into how the Third Reich's rituals of consent paved the way for the wholesale erosion of social morality. Tilman Allert is a professor of sociology and social psychology at the University of Frankfurt. This is the first of his books to appear in English. In The Hitler Salute , sociologist Tilman Allert uses the Nazi transformation of one of the most mundane human interactions'”the greeting'”to show how National Socialism brought about the submission and conformity of a whole society. Made compulsory in Germany in 1933, the Hitler salute developed into a daily reflex in a matter of mere months, and quickly became the norm in schools, at work, among friends, and even at home. Adults denounced neighbors who refused to raise their arms, and children were given tiny Hitler dolls with movable right arms so they could practice the pernicious salute. The constantly reiterated declaration of loyalty at once controlled public transactions and fractured personal relationships. And always, the greeting sacralized Hitler, investing him and his regime with a divine aura. The Hitler Salute is the first examination of a phenomenon whose significance has long been underestimated. Allert offers new insight into how the Third Reich's rituals of consent paved the way for the wholesale erosion of social morality. "Allert's The Hitler Salute , a joyously sharp account of a massively evil slice of human history, doesn't treat the Nazis' obligatory two-word, one-arm greeting as a product of evil, but as its enabler. He argues, movingly, that the salute wounded Germans' sociability, connectedness, and personal sovereignty, warping the holy human order."'” The New York Observer "Fans of Stanley Kubrick''s movie Dr. Strangelove will remember vividly the deranged Nazi scientist, played by Peter Sellers, struggling in vain to restrain his right arm at moments of excitement, as it involuntarily shoots upward in the Hitler salute. As the arm straightens out and reaches an angle of 45 degrees, it reminds us in a single image not just that some military scientists in postwar America had started their careers in Nazi Germany, but also that giving the Hitler salute had become second nature to the people who supported Hitler and his regime. That gesture is the topic of The Hitler Salute , by the German sociologist Tilman Allert, expertly translated into thoroughly readable English by Jefferson Chase. Mr. Allert reminds us that rendering the gesture'”accompanied by the words ''Heil Hitler!'' and, if you were a storm trooper wearing a serviceable pair of jackboots, a sharp clicking together of the heels'”quickly became compulsory under the Nazis. By the summer of 1933, the Nazis'' first year in power, all civil servants were required to use it in person, when encountering each other, or on paper, where the words ''Heil Hitler!'' replaced the conventional ''sincer
Table of Contents
Introduction: An Entry from a Journalp. 1
Shaping the Beginningp. 3
The Greeting as Initial Giftp. 14
German Greetingsp. 24
An Oath by Any Other Namep. 30
The Rise of the Sphere of Mistrustp. 54
Devaluing the Presentp. 70
The Long Shadow of a Fatal Gesturep. 93
Notesp. 101
Acknowledgmentsp. 107
Illustration Creditsp. 109
Indexp. 111
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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