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Richard I. Cohen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190912628

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190912628.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 October 2021

An Urban Semiotics of War

An Urban Semiotics of War

Signs and Sounds in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam

(p.56) An Urban Semiotics of War
Place in Modern Jewish Culture and Society

Saskia Coenen Snyder

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the changing urban topography of Amsterdam under Nazi occupation during World War II, focusing on how the Dutch city’s once recognizable sights and sounds, familiar movements, and rhythms were disrupted by the so-called semiotics of war: signs and symbols of an external military force. It shows how the Nazis altered Amsterdam’s urban texture in which local residents lived, worked, and moved, and how the Nazification of the city’s grammar and semiotic communication reconfigured well-established social practices and reappropriated Dutch space. It argues that the construction of a visual and aural semiotics of war helped define relations between occupier and occupied, between Nazi sympathizers and antagonists, and also between Jews and non-Jews. While Nazi territorial expansion depended on military might and physical dominance, the chapter also explains how ideological coercion found expression in the colonization of the urban landscape and soundscape.

Keywords:   Urban topography, Amsterdam, Nazi occupations, semiotics of war, Nazis, Nazification, Jews, World War II, ideological coercion, soundscape

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