How Native German Speakers Read "Ausrotten"
While looking at the meaning of the word "ausrotten" (or "Ausrottung"), it is useful to see how Germans use the word themselves.
In particular, since it is English-speaking Holocaust-deniers who invent mistranslations for the word, we may learn something about their level of scholarship by seeing what their German-speaking colleagues have to say.
Let's try two examples.
First, let's turn to Günter Deckert, a German Holocaust-denier (and former chairman of Germany's extremist right-wing NPD party). On the denial website of the Adelaide Institute, after some truly abysmal attempts by non-German-speakers to explain away "ausrotten," he writes this comment in German:
Deckert correctly notes that there is no way to quibble about the translation of "ausrotten"; it simply means "to annihilate."
(He goes on to argue that perhaps Hitler was talking about the annihilation of the Jews "abstractly." In the case of the Himmler speech at Poznan, it is clear that he was not. And we are also unconvinced by the old argument that "if the Nazis had wanted to kill the Jews, none would be left alive" -- really? zero? This requires a faith in Nazi superhumanity which most people are unwilling to extend.)
Second, let's turn to Wilhelm Stäglich, author of one of the central Holocaust-denial German-language books, from 1979, Der Auschwitz Mythos: Legende oder Wirklichkeit? ("The Auschwitz Myth: Legend or Reality?")
In Chapter 2, Stäglich rehabilitates Adolf Hitler by explaining that he was really a pacifist. When Hitler swore in 1939 that a war would bring about "the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe" -- this is how Stäglich proves Hitler loves peace -- Hitler used the word "Vernichtung" to mean "annihilation."
This is a simple translation: "Vernichtung" indeed means "annihilation."
In discussing Hitler's threat, Stäglich interchangeably uses the word "Ausrottung" as a synonym for "Vernichtung" -- because that is how the Nazis, at the time, also spoke.
And in the English translation of this work, other Holocaust-deniers correctly translate "Ausrottung" as it should be translated. The word means killing, and their translation reflects this:
Note that initially, the translator offers the slightly less damning "eradication" as a meaning for "Ausrottung." By the second usage, however, it is clear that Stäglich is using "ausrotten" to refer to the complete killing of the Jews, and "ausrotten" is used as a synonym for "vernichten," "annihilate."
(He goes on to suggest that Hitler's meaning in his 1939 speech was taken out of context, but then someone who thinks Hitler was a pacifist will believe anything. The point here is how Stäglich uses the word "ausrotten," not whether he thinks an Ausrottung actually was threatened or took place.)
This is one of the most-read books of Holocaust-denial, published in German on one of its largest websites. The translation is copyrighted by one of the oldest Holocaust-denial organizations, the Institute for Historical Review, and is published on one of the largest denial websites, CODOH.
English-speakers, take note: This is how deniers use the word "ausrotten" when they think you're not looking.
Last modified: March 16, 2004