Burke assignment

The context of Burke’s essay: Seventy-seven years ago, the Nazis expelled 17,000 Polish Jews from Germany, and Poland wouldn’t accept them. A Jewish teenager whose parents were trapped in this no-man’s land killed a German diplomat, which appeared to lead to the violence of Nov 9, 1938, known now as “The Night of Broken Glass.” In reality, though, the pogroms were carefully orchestrated by Nazis. Take a peek at that first.

Then, in groups of 3-4, respond to the following questions about Burke’s “Rhetoric of Hitler’s Battle.”

1. This piece appears in The Southern Review in 1939, before the official beginning of World War II and just after the full version of Mein Kampf was translated in full into English. Most Americans had simply declared Hitler evil and dismissed Mein Kampf. Why does Burke say we must read it and read it carefully?

2. Burke notes that every movement must have it’s Rome–Hitler’s was Munich–and then he describes Hitler’s most basic unifying move: crafting the symbol of a common enemy as scapegoat. How does that process work and what is involved in it?

3. Why does Burke say Mein Kampf cannot be simply dismissed as “irrational” even if it is actually quite nuts?

4. On page 198, Burke quotes Hitler: “I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator: By warding off Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”  What is the enthymeme at work in that quote? Sketch it out: major premise, minor premise, conclusion.

5. On page 202-204, Burke identifies 4 important features of Hitler’s unification device (that is, ways to bring his audience into identification with him and each other). What are they, and how do they work?

6. Name some of the formal topics Hitler uses to make his case.