Is Trump’s German book translation really full of Nazi lingo?

‘The German edition of Trump’s book has kept lots of his terms in English, because if you translate them, they are +literally+ Nazi phrases’

Thus claimed the British writer and journalist Johann Hari in a tweet he sent out into the world earlier this week. If Hari says so, you’d better believe it, several hundreds of people must have thought: they retweetet his message without further ado. After all, Hari is a trained sociologist and politicologist who wrote for, among others, the BBC, New Statesman and The Independent.

hari1.JPGBut is it true? After all, the guy isn’t German. What does he know?

There was only one thing I could do: actually buy the book, and read it, in German. Or at least: browse it, in search of untranslated English words and expressions. Would the German translator really have struggled in order to avoid all kinds of laden expressions from the past?

A weird sensation to read Trump in German, I’ll tell you that. Almost automatically, you start hearing Trump’s sentences in screamy, creaky loudspeaker mono.

Just try it: ‘Niemand kann wie ich ein Mauer bauen’ (nobody can build a wall like me), ‘Unser Land, unser Volk und unsere Gesetze müssen die höchste Priorität haben‘ (our country, our people and our families must come first), ‘Wir müssen unsere Südgrense sichern’ (we must secure our south border).

But: no untranslated English there.

At least no words or expressions that would add up to one of those old, dreaded Nazi classics from Europe’s troubled past. To be absolutely sure, I searched the e-book looking for twenty-odd well-known Nazi oneliners. ‘Arbeit macht frei’. ‘Jedem das Seine’. ‘Heim ins Reich’. ‘Wir sind die Zukunft’, stuff like that.

But again: no Nazi soundbites there.

Possibly Hari only referred to the book title. Indeed, it’s part English: ‘Great Again: Wie ich Amerika retten werde.’ And indeed, ‘great again’ are two words Adolf Hitler used a couple of times in speeches, when he talked about making Germany… well, great again.

But then again, the two words never made it into the official propaganda the Nazi’s used so often. ‘Great again’ never became a campaign slogan, or even a poster text or a sign at a concentration camp’s gate. Besides, as the US factcheck site already pointed out, political leaders promising to make their country ‘great again’ isn’t hardly anything special.

And then there’s this. the publisher really wanted to avoid every painful association with Germany’s Nazi past, the least they could have done was give the hardcover edition of Trump’s book another title.

‘Mein Manifest’, the current book cover reads, along a harshly looking portrait of ‘the Don’.

Wait… what title of an infamous Nazi book does that remind me of?


(This is a rough translation of a piece I wrote for De Volkskrant newspaper)

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