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From: jamie@voyager.net (Jamie McCarthy)
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: "Umfallen" and deliberate mistranslation
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 14:10:23 -0500
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I took my German classes in college, six or seven years ago, before I
even knew that Holocaust-denial existed.  I remember a moment in what
must have been German II.  We were working on one of those conversations
that were invented just to give second-term students something to work
on, and that never would have taken place in real life:

   A:  Hello, my good friend.  How is your auto?
   
   B:  The weather is beautiful today.
   
   A:  Yes, the weather is quite beautiful today, is it not?

That sort of thing.  They're the same in any language class.

This particular conversation involved schoolchildren asking their
grandmother about what her life was like.  This moment sticks in my
memory because it was the first time reference was made to the war in my
German classes.  We were translating the grandmother's lines, and
whoever was reading came to one that looked like this:

   Grossmutter:  Im Krieg ist mein Mann gefallen.

A simple sentence grammatically, and simple vocabulary.  The reader read
it, then, puzzled, tried:  "My husband...fell in the war?"

A short silence, then the professor explained the obvious: "died."
"My husband died in the war."  Correction noted, we went on.  We were
corrected on this-and-that every day, of course, but that one correction
has stuck in my head, perhaps because this was my first awareness that
"the war," in German, is a noun without need of an adjective.


Fast-forward to 1996.  I've just pulled up CODOH's presentation of
Carlos Porter's translation of Heinrich Himmler's famous Posen speech.

http://www.codoh.com/incon/inconhh.html

Mr. Porter apparently translated all three hours of the speech, which he
says runs to 24,000 words.  I'll trust him on that.

But how can I trust someone who adds translator's notes like this?

   "Umfallen" (p. 23), translated at Nuremberg as "die", means
   "to fall down"....

Intruiged by this, I went looking for the section where "umfallen"
supposedly meant "to fall down."  I found it, coincidentally, in the
same section which I digitized and put up on the net in RealAudio:

   What happens to the Russians, the Czechs, is totally indifferent
   to me. Whatever is available to us in good blood of our type, we
   will take for ourselves, that is, we will steal their children and
   bring them up with us, if necessary.  Whether other races live well
   or die of hunger is only of interest to me insofar as we need them
   as slaves for our culture; otherwise that doesn't interest me.
   Whether 10,000 Russian women fall down  from exhaustion
   in building a tank ditch is of interest to me only insofar as the
   tank ditches are finished for Germany.

"Fall down"!  "Umfallen" is translated here as "fall down" instead of
"die."  And not casually either -- Porter obviously intends that the
_meaning_ has nothing to do with dying, but only with collapsing from
exhaustion.  Presumably the Russian females would be wakened with the
scent of flowers and gently ushered to a shady pup tent, there to sip
mint schnapps and spend a few hours recovering from the ordeal.

This despite Himmler's endorsement, in the previous three sentences, of
(1) total indifference to Russians' fates;  (2) mass kidnapping;  and
(3) death by starvation, and slavery.

The contempt of context is breathtaking.

Himmler goes on to explain, in the next sentences, what he was talking
about:

   We will never be hard and heartless when it is not necessary; that
   is clear. We Germans, the only ones in the world with a decent
   attitude towards animals, will also adopt a decent attitude with
   regards to these human animals; but it is a sin against our own
   blood to worry about them and give them ideals, so that our sons
   and grandchildren will have a harder time with them. When somebody
   comes to me and says, "I can't build tank ditches with children
                          ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
   ?> or women. That's inhumane, they'll die doing it." Then I must say:
   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
   "You are a murderer of your own blood, since, if the tank ditches
   are not built, then German soldiers will die, and they are the
   sons of German mothers. That is our blood."

Taking this too into account, one might think that maybe, just maybe,
Himmler's previous use of "umfallen" did indeed refer to children and
women dying, rather than merely falling down.

Also, notice the "?>" inserted where Himmler makes reference to digging
tank ditches with children and women.  What does Porter mean by this? 
He explains in his introduction:

   I have marked illogical remarks or uncertain terminology with a
   ?> ; for example, it seems strange to speak of "hard times"
   beginning in Germany in 1936-7 (p. 93). I know that the Moscow
   subway was built with forced labour, including that of women, but
   I question the utility of "child labour" in digging anti-tank
   ditches (p. 24).

This necessity for "revisionists" to question any Nazi references to
cruelty, even when they're well-documented and undeniable, is
astounding.  If one didn't know better, one might even think they were
Nazi apologists.  However, DvdThomas, webmaster of CODOH, has assured
us otherwise.

I invite Carlos Porter, and anyone else who cares, to listen to
Himmler's own words as he speaks of killing women and children:

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi?people/h/himmler.heinrich/posen/oct-04-43/himmler-ditches.ra

"Illogical"?  No more illogical than many of the other tenets of Nazism.
No more illogical than suggesting that Russian and Czech children be
kidnapped and raised as German children.

"Uncertain"?  It's certain as a rock, Mr. Porter.  Listen for yourself.

What is illogical and uncertain is the translation of words like
"umfallen" as "fall down."  When my classmates and I did this in
German II, it was an error.  But when Carlos Porter, who presumably is
fluent, takes the time to explain why "umfallen" does not mean "kill" --
that is nothing less than a lie, and a fine example of
Holocaust-deniers' dishonesty.

Posted;  emailed to Richard Widmann, who praises Porter's work in his
introduction to the web page.  (I might mention to Mr. Widmann that his
citing of Robert Wolfe's opinion, juxtaposed with the statement about
revisionist interpretations being correct, is disingenous in the
extreme.  Mr. Wolfe prefers "extirpate" because he believes that this
term is more linguistically correct;  he believes that Himmler was
clearly referring to killing, and strongly opposes "revisionist
interpretations" which deny that.)
-- 
 Jamie McCarthy          http://www.absence.prismatix.com/jamie/
 jamie@voyager.net        Co-Webmaster of http://www.nizkor.org/




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From: dvdthomas@aol.com
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Re: "Umfallen" and deliberate mistranslation
Date: 15 Nov 1996 05:44:10 GMT
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Jamie McCarthy writes (a lot about a little):

>But how can I trust someone who adds translator's notes like this?
>
>   "Umfallen" (p. 23), translated at Nuremberg as "die", means
>   "to fall down"....
>
>Intruiged by this, I went looking for the section where "umfallen"
>supposedly meant "to fall down."

>Whether 10,000 Russian women fall down  from exhaustion
>   in building a tank ditch is of interest to me only insofar as the
>   tank ditches are finished for Germany.
>
>"Fall down"!  "Umfallen" is translated here as "fall down" instead of
>"die."  And not casually either -- Porter obviously intends that the
>_meaning_ has nothing to do with dying, but only with collapsing from
>exhaustion.  Presumably the Russian females would be wakened with the
>scent of flowers and gently ushered to a shady pup tent, there to sip
>mint schnapps and spend a few hours recovering from the ordeal.

I noted this particular portion when uploading the piece.  It caught my
attention going by quickly, something not quite right about it (to be
perfectly honest, if I may be so bold as to use that description, I took
the word "die" to be the German "the" and it made no sense at all for a
few seconds).  Stopped and read it again, decided that this probably needs
to be discussed, don't think I'd say it that way.  Though it has little to
do with the rest of the text, it still should be reworded I thought. 
Since we have a policy of not editing without the author's permission, I
had a choice.  Wait until he could be contacted by snail mail in Europe,
omit a sentence with brackets and a note that it would be reinserted soon,
or go ahead and post it.  

Did the latter after this quick thought process---The context makes it
perfectly obvious that the speaker doesn't give a flying f--k what happens
to the Russian women.  Further, this particular statement about the tank
ditches is a famous one, quoted often, and usually with the word "die"
used in it.  Third, Porter's note that "umfallen" means "to fall down" is
literally correct, and to fall down from exhaustion on the Eastern Front
was tantamount to death for anyone who did so, there being no flowers, no
need of a shady pup tent at 50 below zero, damned little schnapps for
anyone, and myriad stories about German prisoners experiencing exactly
this fate--falling down totally worn out and being left there to die, or
thrown to the side for the same fate (not to mention whips and genital
eating dogs to help complete their demise).

Now, I think you could look at this and call the translation a number of
valid or semi-valid things--literal to a fault, or open to
misinterpretation (mostly by those looking for such an opportunity), or
even a mistake though, again, Porter's comments on the two words are
absolutely correct.  It was translated as "die" at Nuremberg, and it does
literally mean "fall down" in German.  "Umfallen" is not the German word
for "die."  The correct translation of the example given:

>Grossmutter:  Im Krieg ist mein Mann gefallen.

Is this:

Grandmother:  My husband fell in the war.

The context and meaning are the same in both.  The word "fell" is used in
a dramatic, poetic sense (there's probably a term for it, I don't recall).
 In other words, life is a journey at the end of which we all fall down. 
My husband fell in the war tells a listener in a somber way that he died.

So, Porter is guilty of noting the literal translation of a word, makes no
comments about context, leaving that to the reader, and it produces a
passage that probably should be reworded, but really is no big deal since
one's verbal skills would have to be pretty deficient to miss the
speaker's meaning.

But one person takes the umfallen comment to be directed to the context,
and this imaginary nuance is trumpeted as a lie.

Give me a break.

And I trust that the previous sentence will not be taken by any conscious
person to mean that I wish to have a reader break one of my bones (and
only one, for that matter).  I do not, and that's no lie.
_________________________________________________________

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man,
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began;
That the Dog returns to his Vomit, and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the fire;
And after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

--Kipling

David Thomas
CODOH (http://www.codoh.com/)




Path: news.voyager.net!clmx31.dial.voyager.net!user
From: jamie@voyager.net (Jamie McCarthy)
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Re: "Umfallen" and deliberate mistranslation
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 15:40:09 -0500
Organization: Voyager Information Networks, Inc.
Lines: 59
Message-ID: 
References:  <19961115054600.AAA13942@ladder01.news.aol.com>
NNTP-Posting-Host: vixa.voyager.net

It's been pointed out to me by two fluent German speakers that "fallen"
isn't the same as "umfallen."  To be exact, "fallen" can have the
meaning of "die" if the phrasing is right (similar to the English idiom
"fall in battle").  "Umfallen," on the other hand, would not do this.
The meaning of the phrase in question is indeed something very close or
identical to "collapse from exhaustion."

Which means that Porter's translation of "fall down from exhaustion" is
acceptable.  I agree with DThomas that there is "something not quite
right about it," but this is due to Porter's placing emphasis on the
fact that the word was translated incorrectly at Nuremberg.  Later
context makes it quite clear that the 10,000 Russian women were indeed
dying, so the phrase "collapse from exhaustion" being translated "die
from exhaustion" is entirely inconsequential.

In article <19961115054600.AAA13942@ladder01.news.aol.com>,
dvdthomas@aol.com wrote:

> Jamie McCarthy writes (a lot about a little):

I see.

[456 words deleted]

> So, Porter is guilty of noting the literal translation of a word, makes no
> comments about context, leaving that to the reader, and it produces a
> passage that probably should be reworded, but really is no big deal since
> one's verbal skills would have to be pretty deficient to miss the
> speaker's meaning.

I'm sure some of the readers of the CODOH presentation will come away
with the impression that Nuremberg convicted its defendants based on
faulty translations, which is entirely inaccurate.

> But one person takes the umfallen comment to be directed to the context,
> and this imaginary nuance is trumpeted as a lie.
> 
> Give me a break.

I apologize to Carlos Porter for my mistaken belief that he had
deliberately mistranslated this word of Himmler's speech.

I maintain that mentioning this error at Nuremberg in anything larger
than a 9-point italic footnote is giving it more importance than it
deserves.

There are of course other problems with Porter's translation, for
example his totally false statement:

   "Ein Volk auszurotten" (p. 66) can be translated "exterminate or
   kill a people or race", or, alternatively, "get rid of a rabble,
   crowd, mob", etc..

...but I'll just let this thread die right here.

Posted;  not emailed by request.
-- 
 Jamie McCarthy          http://www.absence.prismatix.com/jamie/
 jamie@voyager.net        Co-Webmaster of http://www.nizkor.org/

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