Control of the Media

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Modern Examples of Propaganda

Questions to ponder:

-What influence do these have on the audience?

-Who might have control over the propaganda?

-Why do the those controlling the propaganda want the audience to feel a certain way?

-Are they trying to change the audiences opinions or strengthen them?

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Why did the Nazis control vast resources?

To form a propaganda machine.

They wanted to:

-keep the population content

-win support for particular policies

Ultimate goal: Indoctrinate the people with their Weltanshauung (view of the world), seeking to turn them into committed members of the Volksgemeinschaft (a radically unified and hierarchically organized body in which the interests of individuals would be strictly subordinate to those of the nation)

Why was propaganda useful?

Propaganda allowed for the Nazis to gain support for their ideas in order to give them power and later helped organize Hitler’s mass meetings.

In 1934, Goebbels said: “Propaganda was our sharpest weapon in conquering the state, and remains our sharpest weapon in maintaining and building the state”.

To what extent was propaganda successful in Nazi Germany?

This question does not have a simple answer as success is judged by people's attitudes, but the evidence about their attitudes from this time period must be judged very carefully. Also, it must be kept in mind that people's attitudes could be shaped by many different factors , such as the period, region, occupation, age, even mood at the time. Furthermore, it is hard to distinguish how much people's favourable or hostile views were a product of Nazi propaganda or how much they are attributed to other factors such as other Nazi policies, fear of repression, etc.

It has been argued that Nazi propaganda explained the growth of the Nazis under the Weimar Republic, while others say that its most important role was in strengthening the regime.

One historian, Welch, concludes that propaganda was more successful with reinforcing than in countering existing attitudes, and that it was a relative failure in the broader role of indoctrinating Germans with the Nazi Weltanschauung or 'world view'.

"In general Nazi propaganda ... was most successful where it could play upon the traditional prejudices and values of German middle-class society, upon issues such as nationalism, anti-socialism, family values ... But where the regime opposed traditional loyalties, it was far less successful, most obviously in the case of churches, as also amongst the German working class" (Welch, Hitler and Nazism, 1993, p.59).

Paul Josef Goebbels (1879-1945): master of propaganda

Early Life

-born: Rhineland to poor Catholic manual worker parents

-he had a crippled leg from polio, which some believe made him feel embittered

-most educated of the Nazi leaders

-was planning on becoming a doctor of philology (science of language)

Life in the the NSDAP

-1922: joined the NSDAP

-he was originally attracted to Gregor Strasser's radical wing

-he demanded that the 'bourgeois Hitler' be expelled from the party

-1926: sided with Hitler and broke with Strasser

-gained influence and became Gauleiter in Berlin

1927: founded the Der Angriff paper

1928: became propaganda chief

1930: elected to the Reichstag

-March 1933: joined the Cabinet as head of the RMVP

-wanted to create 'one single public opinion'

-stressed the importance of radio and films

-Mission: to sell Hitler to the German public and organizing the Führer cult

-He played a major role in the Nazis gaining public support before 1933 by being a powerful public speaker as well as for organizing propaganda.

-Advisor to HItler and strongly anti-semetic and issued the order for Kristallnacht, the night of anti-Jewish attacks in November 1938

Personal Life

-He had an affair with a Czech actress Lida Baarova and Hitler disapproved.

-Colleagues called him the 'little-mouse doctor' behind his back.

-He had a bitter rivalry with Goering and Ribbentrop.

*His personal life was in stark contrast to his propaganda message:

-he ranted against decadence (decrease in moral standards) and stressed the importance of family, however he visited nightclubs often and he had mistresses

-he stressed the simple life of the People's Community but owned several homes

Goebbels and Total War

-1943: after the defeat at Stalingrad, he played a major role in organizing Germany's domestic war effort

-he toured bombed cities, raised morale and organized relief

-February 1943: he made a speech proclaiming 'total war'

-he was made General Plenipotentiary (with full powers) for the Mobilization of Total War to organize all manpower for the final effort to starve off the disaster of the Soviet advance

-1944: helped foil the post-bomb-plot coup

The End for Goebbels

-May 1945: convinced Hitler to make his dramatic suicide

-Goebbels poisoned his children, shot his wife and commented:

"We shall go down in history as the greatest statesmen of all time, or as the greatest criminals" and he then ended his own life

Propaganda Control


-Nazi government was in possession of the Reich Broadcasting Corporation

-Goebbels then gained complete control of broadcasting and shaped it in his own way

-Large audience for the voices on the radio due to the mass production and subsidized 'people's receiver'.

-Communal loudspeakers were in every public area that spread the sound of the radio

-Key speeches of Hitler's were broadcasted over the radio

-It was very dangerous for Germans to listen to foreign radio stations

"In the Thirties, a German listener could still turn his dial to a score of foreign radio stations without, as happened later when the war began, risking having his head chopped off" (Shirer).

"Goebbels had always seen in radio the chief instrument of propaganda in modern society" (Shirer).

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"The whole of Germany hears the Führer with the Volksempfänger."

While in other countries radios would be sold on their design, price and sound quality, the rather basic Volksempfänger was used as a propaganda tool. (Aylett)


-Daily meeting at the Propaganda Ministry where Dr. Goebbels told the editors of newspapers what news to print and suppress, and also how to write the news and headline it.

To be an editor in the Third Reich one must be:

  • politically and racially "clean"
  • possess German citizenship
  • be of Aryan decent
  • not be married to a Jew

-The Reich Press Law of October 4, 1933 declared the characteristics of an editor and also ordered editors to keep anything out of the newspaper that:

  • is misleading to the public
  • mixes self aims with community aims
  • weakens the strength of German Reich, her people, the defense of Germany, and its culture and economics
  • is offensive to the honor and dignity of Germany

As a result of the new laws, many newspapers were forced out of business, along with the people that worked there that did not fall under the specific guidelines.

-Vossiche Zeitung

  • leading newspaper of Germany
  • went out of business after 230 years of continuous publication because it was liberal and owned by the House of Ullstein, a Jewish firm
  • April 1, 1934 it was shut down

-Berliner Tageblatt

  • world-renowned liberal newspaper
  • lasted until 1937
  • its owner, a Jew, was forced to surrender his interest in the paper in 1933

-Frankfurter Zeitung

  • third great liberal newspaper
  • after getting rid of its Jewish proprietor and editors, it continued to publish
  • British man became editor

-All of the newspapers in Germany were being told what to publish and how to write everything, inevitably leaving "a deadly conformity" (Shirer) to overcome the nation's press. The people grew bored with the newspapers and the circulation declined.

This helped financially because:

  • as certain newspapers were less circulated and therefore less profitable, they would go out of business leaving less competition for the Reich papers
  • Max Amann, Reich Leader for the Press and president of the Press Chamber, had the legal right to suppress any publication and buy it as well, so the less profitable the newspaper was the less he had to pay for it

-Eher Verlag

  • publishing firm
  • headed by Max Amann
  • contained all of the different publications that were suppressed or bought by the Press Chamber
  • became a huge publishing empire, "the most lucrative in the world" (Shirer)
  • purpose= to eliminate all the press in opposition to the party

Control of the Media


  • Hitler hired Heinrich Hoffman to be an "official photographer"
  • All photographs in Nazi propaganda were staged

  • Reich Film Chamber regulated all films seen by Germans
  • Films classified into categories: "Politically and artistically valuable", "culturally valuable", "a film of the nation", and "valuable for youth"
  • Only about 1/6 of German films were for propaganda purposes
  • Promote Nazi beliefs/idealize Germany

  • Monopoly over newspapers aided the success of posters
  • Idealized Nazi Germany
  • Promoted Aryans and demoralized Jews as well as other groups deemed "unfit"

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"Long Live Germany"


Hite, John, and Chris Hinton. Weimar & Nazi Germany. London: John Murray, 2000. Print.

Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990. Print.

Aylett, Glenn. Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. Web. December 2, 2012.

"Amazing Propaganda Posters"

"Nazi Flag".