Is there a fighting language

"Mein Kampf": Language as a tool and weapon

A total of 12.4 million copies of "Mein Kampf" were printed, and Adolf Hitler's propaganda font is still the best-selling German-language author's book to this day. After 1945, the book slipped under the counter from the German-speaking public, and an edition with comprehensive scientific commentary has only been available since 2016. It immediately made it onto the "Spiegel" bestseller list. The continuing interest in "Mein Kampf" should come as no surprise. The book, written in the 1920s, is one of the central writings of National Socialism, in which Hitler articulates his world views and programmatic goals and brings them together into an inhuman racist ideology.

Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, extermination fantasies and the demand for the conquest of "new living space for the German people" determine the argumentation of the propaganda as well as the later acts of the National Socialist terror regime. The visual artist Hannes Priesch takes the inhuman and totalitarian language that reached a mass audience through "Mein Kampf" as the starting point for his Exhibition project "1000 year old library", which can be seen from today, Wednesday, at the Departmental Library of Sociology and Political Science at the University of Vienna.

Reflection and awareness

Priesch, who already made texts the subject of artistic discussion in earlier works, duplicated text passages from "Mein Kampf" by hand screen printing and uses them to create book objects that are now presented in the form of an installation. "It's a set of eleven books that are identical in content, but whose covers have been designed differently," says Priesch. Among other things, he is concerned with depicting the narrowness of content that the dictatorship brought with it: While the freedom of information and the range of opinions were restricted more and more, the same content suddenly came to the fore in public space - at most the packaging differed himself still.

The aim of the exhibition is also to make the taboo, myth-laden subject "Mein Kampf" accessible to a new investigation and reflection and to raise awareness of the language of totalitarian tendencies and inhuman political strategies in the present. Visitors to the exhibition can pick up the objects, leaf through them and read them. There is also a selected scientific reference in the departmental library.

The exhibition, which will be shown until February 2019, will be accompanied by a series of events on the subject of language and politics. On the opening evening, contributions by political scientists, a reading and a conversation with Priesch are on the program, on two further evenings there are lectures by journalist Ingrid Brodnig on fighting terms and hate on the Internet and by linguist Ruth Wodak under the title "Politics with fear and / or hope "planned. (David Rennert, November 14, 2018)