USE OF GERMAN VERB "AUSROTTEN" IN FILM "KOLBERG"
A very interesting use of the verb "ausrotten" appears in the German film KOLBERG, filming of which began in 1942. The action takes place during the Napoleonic wars. The film tells the true story of a small village which resisted Napoleon's armies when all the larger fortresses had surrendered.
In the film, the mayor of Kolberg, Joachim Nettelbeck, played by Heinrich George (tortured to death in Buchenwald by the Communists after the war) is discussing surrender with members of the town council.
The mayor asks,
"Was wurde aus einem Volk werden, das sagen wurde, komm Napoleon, du bist so viel mächtiger und stärker als uns, komm und hersch über uns?"
Nettelbeck then pounds his fist on the table and shouts, "Es wurde sich selbst ausrotten, und es wurde nichts besseres verdient haben, als ausgerottet zu werden!"
Translation: "What would happen to a people that said, come, 'Napoleon, you are so much more powerful and stronger than we are, come and rule over us'? It would destroy itself, and it would deserve nothing better than to be destroyed!"
I don't think this means that any nation of people craven enough to surrender to Napoleon without fighting would build gas chambers for itself and commit suicide to the point of becoming extinct; I take it to mean that the verb "ausrotten" can be used more or less figuratively, even with regards to people.
Carlos W. Porter
Nov 13, 2000
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