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LICENCE hate attack kill

what is the link between this ...

‘Radio hutu power’ In Rwanda, a radio station taken over by Hutu extremists in the early 1990s became a major instrument for fanning the flames of hatred against Tutsis

AUDIO CLIP From the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’

... and this?

UKRAINE, summer 1941

The ‘Continuum of violence’

The ‘Continuum of violence’ MASS VIOLENCE



transgression prejudice ‘heterophobia’ denial of stereotype intimacy

fear denigration hatred


The longest, most powerful and enduring prejudice... Apart from acquiring new elements and dimensions throughout the centuries, it is remarkable how seemingly disparate, contradictory ideas seemed to fuse with each other rather than replacing each other... Idea of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy

Hitler comes to power with blatantly anti-Semitic agenda

Social-economic anti-Semitism Religion anti-Judaism Biological (racial) anti-Semitism

First World War and post-1918 crisis

Step-by-step Jews are delegitimised (1933-39)

Social/cultural attitudes (stereotypes) From pogroms to mass murder 1917 revolution

1st millennium CE

2nd millennium CE

19th century

20th century





‘Giftpilz’: Nazi comic book containing a gallery of antijewish stereotypes

‘The Eternal Jew’: Nazi pseudodocumentary from 1941, showing life in the Polish ghettos

Medieval antisemitism: accusations of ritual murder and ‘blood libel’ proved surprisingly enduring stereotypes

The Jewish world-wide ‘conspiracy’ - a 1938 Nazi propaganda drawing

‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’: the most commercially and socially successful forgery of all times; published in 1905 in Russia, it outlined an alleged Jewish plan to take over the world


From: Melita Maschmann, Account Rendered: A Dossier of My Former Self (London: Abelard-Schuman, 1964), 40-41; quoted in Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners (1997)

Those Jews were and remained something mysteriously menacing and anonymous. They were not the sum of all Jewish individuals . . . They were an evil power, something with the attributes of a spook. One could not see it, but it was there, an active force for evil. As children we had been told fairy stories which sought to make us believe in witches and wizards. Now we were too grown up to take this witchcraft seriously, but we still went on believing in the "wicked Jews." They had never appeared to us in bodily form, but it was our daily experience that adults believed in them. After all, we could not check to see if the earth was round rather than flat—or, to be more precise, it was not a proposition we thought it necessary to check. The grownups "knew" it and one took over this knowledge without mistrust. They also "knew" that the Jews were wicked. The wickedness was directed against the prosperity, unity and prestige of the German nation, which we had learned to love from an early age. The anti-semitism of my parents was a part of their outlook which was taken for granted. . . . For as long as we could remember, the adults had lived in this contradictory way with complete unconcern. One was friendly with individual Jews whom one liked, just as one was friendly as a Protestant with individual Catholics. But while it occurred to nobody to be ideologically hostile to the Catholics, one was, utterly, to the Jews. In all this no one seemed to worry about the fact that they had no clear idea of who "the Jews" were. They included the baptized and the orthodox, yiddish [sic] speaking second hand dealers and professors of German literature, Communist agents and First World War officers decorated with high orders, enthusiasts for Zionism and chauvinistic German nationalists. ... I had learned from my parents' example that one could have anti-semitic opinions without this interfering in one's personal relations with individual Jews. There may appear to be a vestige of tolerance in this attitude, but it is really just this confusion which I blame for the fact that I later contrived to dedicate body and soul to an inhuman political system, without this giving me doubts about my own individual decency. In preaching that all the misery of the nations was due to the Jews or that the Jewish spirit was seditious and Jewish blood was corrupting, I was not compelled to think of you or old Herr Lewy or Rosel Cohen: I thought only of the bogeyman, "the Jew." And when I heard that the Jews were being driven from their professions and homes and imprisoned in ghettos, the points switched automatically in my mind to steer me round the thought that such a fate could also overtake you or old Lewy. It was only the Jew who was being persecuted and "made harmless."1


Typically known as the first genocide of the 20th century, the extermination of the Hereros of Namibia shows how denigration of ‘the other’ makes mass violence much easier and ‘justifiable’. For Hannah Arendt, the most celebrated scholar of ‘totalitarianism’, it was the experience of mass violence in the colonial field, fuelled by ideas of ‘racial superiority’ and ‘inferiority’ that conditioned the European mind in the 19th and 20th century; this was then imported into Europe during the first half of the 20th century.

Hitler Speaks (1923)

‘NUREMBERG LAWS’ (1935) After a relatively quiet years for the Jews (1934), the Nazi regime introduced a radical piece of legislation changing the ‘citizenship’ status of Jews within Germany. The way to determine whether a person was a ‘Jew’ or not depended on a ‘racial’ definition’

Explanation as to whether a marriage is allowed or forbidden on the basis of the new ‘racial’ legislation of 1935

Hitler Speaks (1939)

The 30 January 1939 speech that Hitler gave to the ‘parliament’ is generally considered as the first (veiled) warning about the planned extermination of Jews in Germany and Europe.

‘ICH KLAGE AN’ (1940)

A Nazi-produced film about a terminally ill woman and the possibility of giving her a ‘mercy death’. The film was shown in order to test public opinion’s reaction to the taboo issue of ‘euthanasia’. Can you guess what the response was at the time?

‘Der Ewige Jude’ (1941) A pseudo-documentary produced by the Nazi regime in 1940-41, showing the life of Jews in the Polish ghettos, enforcing all stereotypes about them, and nurturing hatred amongst the population.

HIMMLER SPEECH, POZNAN In October 1943 Himmler gave a ‘secret’ speech to SS and party members, in which he addressed the ‘Final Solution’ to the ‘Jewish question’. A recording of this speech has survived...

LICENCE to HATE The stronger the ‘authority’ it comes from, the more efficient in overcoming taboos, doubts etc Not positive freedom but a special dispensation or derogation of ‘normal’ norms vis-a-vis a particular group Beliefs, values, stereotypes and prejudices, words and common expressions, can become the first ‘licence to hate’ - language does matter and so does tradition!

SUMMARY The idea of a ‘continuum of violence’ - but not a deterministic progression from ‘fear of the other’ to prejudice to violence ‘Licence to hate’ as an important stepping stone to ‘licence to kill’ Violence is administered more easily towards targets who have been systematically denigrated, discredited, and attributed with demonic qualities. BUT: violence erupts ‘there and then’, hence ‘licence’ as a catalyst for actual violence (L05-L06, Week 3)