The Propaganda Connection

The way Hitler, Goebbels, and the Nazis used Propaganda was to simplify the message and play on people’s emotions (video).  They played on the dissatisfaction of the status quo and the ways they would use keywords and phrases endlessly.  Even the color Red played into stirring people’s emotions.  Also notice that Goebbels portrayed the Jews as a threat to Germany. Adolf Hitler believed the spoken word more than the written word was more important and it allowed direct contact with your audience and you could play on the hopes, fears and frustrations and get media feedback on what worked and didn’t work.

Goebbels was in charge of everything from newspapers, radio and newsreels. and controlled the Nazi Propaganda machine. Goebbels said…

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

In Berlin, Goebbels was able to give full expression to his genius for propaganda, as editor of the Berlin Nazi newspaper Der Angriff (The Attack) and as the author of a steady stream of Nazi posters and handbills. “He rose within a few months to be the city’s most feared agitator.” His propaganda techniques were totally cynical: “That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result,” he wrote. “It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.

The Great Depression led to a new resurgence of “left” sentiment in some sections of the Nazi Party, led by Gregor Strasser’s brother Otto, who argued that the party ought to be competing with the Communists for the loyalties of the unemployed and the industrial workers by promising to expropriate the capitalists. Hitler, whose dislike of working class militancy reflected his social origins in the small-town lower middle class, was thoroughly opposed to this line. He recognized that the growth in Nazi support at the 1930 elections had mainly come from the middle class and from farmers, and he was now busy building bridges to the upper middle classes and to German business.

1942 Life Magazine Image

Goebbels was also able to indulge his heretofore latent taste for violence, if only vicariously through the actions of the street fighters under his command. History, he said, “is made in the street,” and he was determined to challenge the dominant parties of the left – the Social Democrats and Communists – in the streets of Berlin. Working with the local S.A. (stormtrooper) leaders, he deliberately provoked beer-hall battles and street brawls, frequently involving firearms. “Beware, you dogs,” he wrote to his former “friends of the left”: “When the Devil is loose in me you will not curb him again.” When the inevitable deaths occurred, he exploited them for the maximum effect.

Goebbels’ was cool, sarcastic and often humorous: he was a master of biting invective and insinuation, although he could whip himself into a rhetorical frenzy if the occasion demanded. Unlike Hitler, however, he retained a cynical detachment from his own rhetoric. He openly acknowledged that he was exploiting the lowest instincts of the German people – racism, xenophobia, class envy and insecurity. He could, he said, play the popular will like a piano, leading the masses wherever he wanted them to go. “He drove his listeners into ecstasy, making them stand up, sing songs, raise their arms, repeat oaths – and he did it, not through the passionate inspiration of the moment.