Il brano in inglese che potete leggere qui racconta l'incredibile storia del "monumento sonoro" che nel 1936-7 il Reichsbund Deutscher Beamten commissionò a un gruppo di studiosi. L'idea era di realizzare un atlante sonoro di tutti i dialetti parlati nella Germania del terzo Reich per farne omaggio al Führer in occasione del suo 48esimo compleanno. Wichert osserva giustamente che il regalo non deve essere sembrato troppo azzeccato a un dittatore folle che predicava una forma di unificazione culturale del tutto patologica. Un monumento alla diversità linguistica doveva apparire a Hitler l'equivalente di un insulto, anche se il suo tedesco era tutt'altro che purissimo. In ogni caso il monumento fu realizzato grazie a un furgone appositamente attrezzato che andava in giro e registrava la parlata della gente nei più sperduti villaggi tedeschi. E' costituito da un'armadio in legno - disegnato dalla stessa mano che aveva progettato l'esterno del popolare VE3110, il "ricevitore del popolo" - con la mappa del Reich e delle sue regioni. Dentro l'armadio - un vero e proprio juke box etnolinguistico che incorporava un sistema di riproduzione - ci sono trecento dischi incisi con una tecnologia Telefunken che allora rappresenteva lo stato dell'arte.
Alcune di queste registrazioni, preziose perché i dialetti esistenti allora oggi sono quasi tutti scomparsi, sono disponibili su Internet grazie a un amico e collega di Wichert, il professor Wolfgang Näser dell'università di Marburg. La pagina dedicata al Lautdenkmal si trova qui, ma altre informazioni interessanti si trovano sul sito del Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas della stessa università.
'DAS LAUTDENKMAL REICHSDEUTSCHER MUNDARTEN' (Sound Monument of German Dialects)
In the years 1936/37 the Reichsbund deutscher Beamten (Reich Organization of German Officials) gave the order to produce a series of recordings that should represent the complete German dialects within the borders of the German Reich. In the end it turned out to be a series of 300 shellac discs (c.3 mins each), recorded with the most sophisticated equipment of that time by 'Telefunkenplatte GmbH' (formerly ULTRAPHON -1932)Special Division. A special cupboard was designed by Prof. Schneckenberg who had also developed the design of the VE301, the most popular radio set after 1933 (301 = 30 January 1933). The middle part contained a grammophone with speakers and space for the discs. The right and left side could be opened like wings. They showed, in woodwork, the map of Germany with the recording place of each disc.- The reason for that enormous undertaking was Hitler's 48th birthday (20.4.37). - From the information leaflet to the work: 'Never before has the technique of recording the human voice been put in the service of cultural and historic work in such a range. Nearly over eight months the recording van of Telefunkenplatte travelled from place to place in Germany to record speakers, away from all recording studios.Thus an effigy of German mental character in landscapes and education in a diversity as it has not been collected before has been created. The Telefunkenlatte has used all its technical means and could, with the help of Marburg University professors Nartin and Mitzka (of 'Deutscher Sprachatlas'- German Language Atlas), and Vogel and Dr Debus (Berlin) overcome all difficulties of field recording.' - All in all the idea turned out to be a tragic-comic example of a wrong combination of science and politics. Nazi policy was to unify and simplify the German language (as developed in the plans of Rust, Minister for Education),and to get rid of everything that showed any individuality. - Besides, Hitler would not have been able to understand most of the dialects, of which many are extinct nowadays. - In his recorded dedication the initiator, Hermann Neff, says (among many other things): 'My Führer! I ask you to accept this work as a sign of love and dedication by the newly united German officials, the Lautdenkmal of German ways, German life, and folklore, German history, work and customs. Volksgenossen of all ages and different professions talk in their own tongue about important events of their being, about daily life, their piece of Heimat (the place where their live on), our People and Fatherland, about a new Germany. None of the speakers knew that his voice would sound for you, my Führer. Simple and plain, as you want your people to be,the Volksgenossen talk in their mother tongue on their homeland clod. After long times of inner alienation from themselves, the German man recollects- thanks to you and your Movement- the eternal roots of his strength. .. The Lautdenkmal will be a sounding commitment to all ways of a national-socialist world of emotions and thoughts. ..' - This euphuistic speech shows that it was not only a collection of German folklore related material but also a piece of devotion and ingratiation. - Of course, these spontaneous recordings do not contain any critical words on the NS régime. Although most recordings contain the chocolade sides of daily life , there are some voices that talk about the negative political sides before Hitler (such as 'black occupation soldiers', the Separatist Movements, inflation, etc.; some are about Hitler's seizure of power,or 'The Führer comes'). One must not forget that those who spoke into the microphones belonged to the simple 'working class' that had no car, a bath tub was luxury, no newspaper subscription; they got their political information in the pubs;they believed what they read on imminent menace by other countries, by the Jews. So they accepted the new military draft. ('My husband still looks good in his new uniform'.). They lacked any inside view into the industrial rise and armament, they see the new Autobahns but not what was behind it. They see that the worker, the farmer is celebrated in all fields of life. But they can't see why. ('That's what we have our Führer to thank for'.) They enjoy the new comradship in the HY and women's organizations, the sportive activities . . . - These recordings are not a reflection of Germany but they show how the Nazis had understood perfectly to bedazzle too many. - These lines are in parts based on the scientific research into the linguistic problems of the 'Lautdenkmal' by my long-time acquaintance, Professor Wolfgang Näser who teaches German Language and Literary Studies at Marburg University. He has put together a pile of excerpts from the 300 discs on his homepage www.staff.uni-marburg.de. They are linked with a map of their recording places.