Sub humanising language

Great monologue from Stephen Fry about the use of language by one group of humans to dehumanise another before doing inhumane things to them:

Talking about the times when one group of people has attempted to wipe out another

“each one of these genocidal moments, …is proceeded by language being used again and again and again to dehumanise the person that had to be killed, in the political eyes of their enemies. In other words it began in the 1930’s (it began a little earlier than that) the Jews were rats, were vermin…were ape men…subhuman, …anything but a human being…then it becomes possible to do to them things that we would call completely unhuman, inhuman, lacking humanity. Though,. Oddly enough, we are the only species who does it….the moment we begin to use special language for special people, or special terms of insult for special group of people, then we can see very clearly, and history demonstrates in time and time again, that’s when ordinary  people are able to kill.”


He mentions a book called “those were the days” which is a compilation of letters home from the guards at the concentration camps where millions of Jews were “processed”. He hi-lights the chilling everyday chatty style of the letters from people currently engaged in the most horrific and cruel acts.

Those Were the Days: Holocaust Through the Eyes of the Perpetrators and Bystanders”  is available on amazon but at over £80…Ah, found it under a different title “the good old days” for just over a fiver….




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