How Did Nazi Germany Use Propaganda
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German Propaganda (1941)
The end of the First World War marked the beginning of a period of political and economic instability in Germany. As a result of this instability, many small, extremist political groups appeared. Image shows a copy of the Editorship Law. On 3 October , shortly after its defeat, France introduced its first antisemitic law under occupation - the Statut de Juifs. Section: How did the Nazis rise to power? What was the Holocaust? Life before the Holocaust Antisemitism How did the Nazis rise to power?
Life in Nazi-controlled Europe What were the ghettos and camps? How and why did the Holocaust happen? It was hoped that people in Allied countries would be persuaded that Jews should be blamed for the war. The Nazis also wished to ensure that German people were aware of the extreme measures being carried out against the Jews on their behalf, in order to incriminate them and thus guarantee their continued loyalty through fear by Nazi-conjectured scenarios of supposed post-war "Jewish" reprisals. Germans were fed the knowledge that too many atrocities had been committed, especially against the Jews, to allow for an understanding to be reached with the Allies. Problems in propaganda arose easily in this stage; expectations of success were raised too high and too quickly, which required explanation if they were not fulfilled, and blunted the effects of success, and the hushing of blunders and failures caused mistrust.
The Nazis and sympathizers published many propaganda books. Most of the beliefs that would become associated with the Nazis, such as German nationalism, eugenics and antisemitism had been in circulation since the 19th century, and the Nazis seized on this body of existing work in their own publications. The most notable is Adolf Hitler 's Mein Kampf detailing his beliefs.
It is heavily influenced by Gustave Le Bon 's The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind , which theorized propaganda as a way to control the seemingly irrational behavior of crowds. Particularly prominent is the violent antisemitism of Hitler and his associates, drawing, among other sources, on the fabricated " Protocols of the Elders of Zion " , which implied that Jews secretly conspired to rule the world. This book was a key source of propaganda for the Nazis and helped fuel their common hatred against the Jews during World War II. These books were used as texts in German schools during the Nazi era. The pre-existing and popular genre of Schollen-roman , or novel of the soil, also known as blood and soil novels,  was given a boost by the acceptability of its themes to the Nazis and developed a mysticism of unity.
The immensely popular "Red Indian" stories by Karl May were permitted despite the heroic treatment of the hero Winnetou and "colored" races; instead, the argument was made that the stories demonstrated the fall of the Red Indians was caused by a lack of racial consciousness, to encourage it in the Germans. Children's books also made their appearance. In , Julius Streicher published Der Giftpilz The Poisonous Mushroom , a storybook that equated the Jewish people to poisonous mushrooms and aimed to educate children about the Jews. The book was an example of antisemitic propaganda and stated that "The following tales tell the truth about the Jewish poison mushroom. They show the many shapes the Jew assumes. They show the depravity and baseness of the Jewish race.
They show the Jew for what he really is: The Devil in human form. Maps showing the racial composition of Europe were banned from the classroom after many efforts that did not define the territory widely enough for party officials. Fairy tales were put to use, with Cinderella being presented as a tale of how the prince's racial instincts lead him to reject the stepmother's alien blood present in her daughters for the racially pure maiden. Literature was to be chosen within the "German spirit" rather than a fixed list of forbidden and required, which made the teachers all the more cautious  although Jewish authors were impossible for classrooms.
Biology texts, however, were put to the most use in presenting eugenic principles and racial theories; this included explanations of the Nuremberg Laws , which were claimed to allow the German and Jewish peoples to co-exist without the danger of mixing. Teachers' guidelines on racial instruction presented both the handicapped and Jews as dangers. In occupied France, the German Institute encouraged the translation of German works although chiefly German nationalists, not ardent Nazis, produced a massive increase in the sale of translated works. The Nazis produced many films to promote their views, using the party's Department of Film for organizing film propaganda.
The department controlled the licensing of every film prior to its production. Sometimes the government selected the actors for a film, financed the production partially or totally, and granted tax breaks to the producers. Awards for "valuable" films would decrease taxes, thus encouraging self-censorship among movie makers. Under Goebbels and Hitler, the German film industry became entirely nationalized.
The National Socialist Propaganda Directorate, which Goebbels oversaw, had at its disposal nearly all film agencies in Germany by Occasionally, certain directors such as Wolfgang Liebeneiner were able to bypass Goebbels by providing him with a different version of the film than would be released. Schools were also provided with motion picture projectors because the film was regarded as particularly appropriate for propagandizing children. Triumph of the Will features footage of uniformed party members though relatively few German soldiers , who are marching and drilling to militaristic tunes.
The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Nazi leaders at the Congress, including Adolf Hitler. Frank Capra used scenes from the film, which he described partially as "the ominous prelude of Hitler's holocaust of hate", in many parts of the United States government's Why We Fight anti-Axis seven-film series, to demonstrate what the personnel of the American military would be facing in World War II, and why the Axis had to be defeated. The movie is done in the style of a documentary, the central thesis being the immutable racial personality traits that characterize the Jew as a wandering cultural parasite. Throughout the film, these traits are contrasted to the Nazi state ideal: while Aryan men find satisfaction in physical labour and the creation of value, Jews only find pleasure in money and a hedonist lifestyle.
The movie is resolved with Hitler giving a speech hinting at the coming "Final Solution", his plan to exterminate millions of Jews. The main medium was Die Deutsche Wochenschau , a newsreel series produced for cinemas, from Newsreels were explicitly intended to portray German interests as successful. By Nazi standards, fine art was not propaganda. Its purpose was to create ideals, for eternity. Sculpture was used as an expression of Nazi racial theories. Landscape painting featured mostly heavily in the Greater German Art exhibition,  in accordance with themes of blood and soil. The continuing of the German Art Exhibition throughout the war was put forth as a manifestation of German's culture.
In and after , the Zeitschriften-Dienst was sent to magazines to provide guidelines on what to write for appropriate topics. Neues Volk was a monthly publication of the Office of Racial Policy , which answered questions about acceptable race relations. Der Pimpf was aimed at boys, and contained both adventure and propaganda. Signal was a propaganda magazine published by the Wehrmacht during World War II  and distributed throughout occupied Europe and neutral countries. Published from April to March , "Signal" had the highest sales of any magazine published in Europe during the period—circulation peaked at 2.
At various times, it was published in at least twenty languages. The promoter of the magazine was the chief of the Wehrmacht propaganda office, Colonel Hasso von Wedel. The image that Signal transmitted was that of Nazi Germany and its New Order as the great benefactor of European peoples and of Western civilization in general. The danger of a Soviet invasion of Europe was strongly pointed out. The quality of the magazine itself was quite high, featuring complete reviews from the front lines rich in information and photos, even displaying a double center-page full-color picture.
In fact, many of the most famous Second World War photos that are to be seen today come from Signal. The magazine contained little to no antisemitic propaganda, as the contents were mainly military. It disseminated Nazi ideology in the form of brief hyperboles directed against the weakness of parliamentarism , the evils of Jewry and Bolshevism, the national humiliation of the Versailles Treaty and other such topics. It was mainly dedicated to attacks against political opponents and Jews — one of its most striking features were vehemently antisemitic cartoons by Hans Schweitzer — but also engaged in the glorification of Nazi heroes such as Horst Wessel.
After Hitler's rise to power in , all of the regular press came under complete Nazi editorial control through the policy of Gleichschaltung , and short-lived propaganda newspapers were also established in the conquered territories during World War II. Alfred Rosenberg was a key member of the Nazi party who gained control of their newspaper which was openly praised by Hitler. However, Hitler was dissatisfied by Rosenberg's work and slandered Rosenberg behind his back, discrediting his work. In Ukraine, after Nazis cracked down on the papers, most papers printed only articles from German agencies, producing the odd effect of more anti-American and anti-British articles than anti-Communist ones. The Nazis used photographers to document events and promote ideology.
Photographers included Heinrich Hoffmann and Hugo Jaeger. Hoffmann worked in his father's photographic shop and as a photographer in Munich from After Hitler took over the party in , he named Hoffmann as his official photographer, a post he held for over a quarter-century. A photograph taken by Hoffmann in Munich's Odeonsplatz on 2 August shows a young Hitler among the crowds cheering the outbreak of World War I and was used in Nazi propaganda.
Hitler and Hoffmann became close friends—in fact, when Hitler became the ruler of Germany, Hoffmann was the only man authorized to take official photographs of him. Hoffmann's photographs were published as postage stamps, postcards, posters, and picture books. Following Hoffmann's suggestion, both he and Hitler received royalties from all uses of Hitler's image even on postage stamps , which made Hoffmann a millionaire. In he was elected to the Reichstag and in Hitler appointed him a 'Professor'. Nine photographs taken by Hoffman reveal how Hitler rehearsed poses and his hand gestures. He asked Hoffmann to take pictures so that he could see how he looked while speaking. Egon Hanfstaengl , son of Hitler's one-time foreign press officer Ernst "Putzi" Hanfstaengl , said in a documentary, Fatal Attraction of Hitler : "He had that ability which is needed to make people stop thinking critically and just emote.
Poster art was a mainstay of the Nazi propaganda effort, aimed both at Germany itself and occupied territories. It had several advantages. The visual effect, being striking, would reach the viewer easily. Imagery frequently drew on heroic realism. The first edition was distributed on 16 March Every week an estimated , posters were administered to the public from to The posters set out to educate and unify the German people before and especially during World War II. The posters were placed in train cars, buses, platforms, ticket windows — anywhere there was dense traffic flow. Very few individuals, at the time, owned a car, most biked, walked, or used public transportation daily.
Exposure to the Word of the Week posters was high in German cities. The messages and Nazi ideologies "stared out at the mass public for a week at a time in tens of thousands of places German pedestrians were likely to pass in the course of a day". Jeffery Herf , author of The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust , described the poster campaign as a "combination of a newspaper editorial, political leaflet, political poster, and tabloid journalism". The text was big so that several people could read it at the same time and from a distance of a few feet. During the time period when antisemitic articles decreased in publications, the antisemitic rhetoric was ramped up in The Word of the Week posters.
Images often showed a Jewish figure positioned behind, or above, symbols of economic and political influence. Posters were also used in schools, depicting, for instance, an institution for the feeble-minded on one hand and houses on the other, to inform the students that the annual cost of this institution would build 17 homes for healthy families. Before Hitler came to power, he rarely used radio to connect with the public, and when he did so non-party newspapers were allowed to publish his speeches. Hitler's speeches became widely broadcast all over Germany, especially on the radio, itself introduced by the Ministry of Propaganda. They were shown in weekly newsreels and reprinted in large editions in books and pamphlets all across Germany.
These were called the People's Receivers, and were sold for 76 marks, while cheaper versions were sold for 35 marks. Nazi propaganda also used radio as an important tool to promote genocide. In private homes, however, people could easily turn off the radio when bored and did so once the novelty of hearing the voice from a box wore off; this caused the Nazis to introduce many non-propaganda elements, such as music, advice and tips, serials and other entertainment. As well as domestic broadcasts, the Nazi regime used radio to deliver its message to both occupied territories and enemy states.
Joyce first appeared on German radio on 6 September reading the news in English but soon became noted for his often mischievous propaganda broadcasts. Best, a freelance journalist based in Vienna , was initially arrested following the German declaration of war on the US but before long he became a feature on propaganda radio, attacking the influence of the Jews in the US and the leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt ,  who succeeded Winston Churchill in Nazi propaganda as "World-Enemy Number One". Gillars, a teacher in Germany, mostly broadcast on similar themes as well as peppering her speech with allegations of infidelity against the wives of servicemen.
Her most notorious broadcast was the 'Vision of Invasion' radio play, broadcast immediately prior to D-Day , from the perspective of an American mother who dreamed that her soldier son died violently in Normandy. France also received broadcasts from Radio-Stuttgart, where Paul Ferdonnet , an antisemitic journalist, was the main voice during the Phoney War. Domestic broadcasters were also used to galvanise support for occupation in Belgium , where Ward Hermans regularly spoke in support of the Nazis from his base in Bremen ,  and the Italian Social Republic , to where Giovanni Preziosi broadcast a vehemently antisemitic show from his base in Munich.
They recast Nazi racist ideology to target Jews alone, not all Semites. Downplaying Mussolini's operations in Africa, they touted the anti-colonialism of the Axis powers. The Nazi party relied heavily on speakers to make its propaganda presentations, most heavily before they came to power, but also afterwards. Hitler, in Mein Kampf , recounted that he had realized that it was not written matter but the spoken word that brought about changes, as people would not read things that they disagreed with, but would linger to hear a speaker. Such speakers were particularly important when the information put across was not desired to reach foreigners, who could access the mass media.
Sturmabteilung speakers were used, though their reliance on instinct sometimes offended well-educated audiences, but their blunt and folksy manner often had its own appeal. The ministry would provide such speakers with information, such as how to spin the problems on the eastern front,  or how to discuss the cuts in food rations. Specific groups were targeted with such speakers. Speakers, for instance, were created specifically for Hitler Youth. Speakers often addressed political or military rallies, which were well-orchestrated events with banners and marching bands. Nazi propaganda is a relatively recent topic of close study. In addition to media archives, an important primary source for the study of the Nazi propaganda effort are the reports on civilian morale and public opinion that the Sicherheitsdienst and later the RMVP compiled from on.
Another are the Deutschland-Berichte , reports gathered by underground agents of the Sopade that particularly dealt with German popular opinion. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Use of media to support Nazi policies in Germany. Racial ideology. Final Solution. Nazism outside of Germany. Related topics. See also: Hitler's prophecy. Main articles: Nazism and cinema and List of German films Main article: Nazi art. See also: Degenerate art. Main article: Signal magazine. This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. October June The Quarterly Journal of Economics. CiteSeerX ISSN S2CID Merkl German Unification in the European Context. Penn State Press. ISBN Mein Kampf.
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