The language of the Nazi concentration camps: issues in rhetoric, politics and ethics

Michael Dorland

The language of the Nazi concentration camps has not been a significant preoccupation of rhetoricians to this point. And yet the issues raised by concentrationary language are rich ones for the analysis of “fatal” symbolic exchange. This paper, through the work of Primo Levi, Hannah Arendt, George Steiner, Raul Hilberg and other critics analyses some of the complex communicational dilemmas resulting from the linguistic hierarchy of the concentrationary universe, notably the linguistic isolation of Italian, “the Jew” as a linguistic construct, and more generally the “post-communication” character of the Shoah.