Music, the “Third Reich”, and “The 8 Stages of Genocide”
In recent years, a hugely significant body of research has investigated various ways in which music was used to promote National Socialist (NS) ideology, to justify the systematic exclusion and persecution of people viewed as “undesirable” or enemies of the state, to prepare and promote war, and ultimately, to commit genocide – a term first coined in this context. Musicologists and historians alike have looked in detail at the role of musical institutions at local, national and international level, at music in the mass media, music in schools and youth organisations, musical aspects of National Socialist events and celebrations, and at music in concentration camps and in the ghettos.
The purpose of this essay is to explore some of the implications of this literature for genocide studies, and conversely to look at how insights from genocide studies could inform our interpretation of musical activities and practices under National Socialism. To do this, we shall employ what Gregory Stanton presented in 1996 as the conceptual framework of how genocides are prepared, organised, and committed. Titled “The 8 Stages of Genocide”, and originally written as a briefing paper for the US State Department, Stanton’s model posits that a number of distinct but overlapping stages can be identified in most genocides which, therefore, may be used to develop an early warning model enabling timely action and intervention.1 Stanton elaborated his model with particular reference to the Holocaust and to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In this article, we...
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