The use of propaganda was used to provoke nationalist sentiments and anti-foreign worldviews among the German population. It also contributed to the establishment of political rhetoric and, essentially, the creation of an entire language based around Nazi prerogatives.


“Propaganda is an inalienable and vital function of the modern state” – Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, 1934

The Challenge to Studying Nazi Propaganda:

Welch states that one of the challenges of examining propaganda from the lens of a historian is in distinguishing facts from the propaganda itself.[1] This is especially problematic when examining the works of propaganda overseen by Joseph Goebbels.

Further complicating the history of Nazi propaganda is the former Propaganda Ministry building, which once stood in Berlin but which was destroyed in 1944 by the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force bombing. Without much of the materials which would plausibly have been present in this building, historians are left with mere fragments of the entire German propaganda collection.[2]

Still in existence are crucial documents by the Security Service of the SS (in German, the Sicherheitsdienst). These detailed reports “provide a fascinating impression of popular attitudes and the effects of propaganda”, but do not expose the intentions or ambitions of the ministry responsible for creating said propaganda.[3]


Some of the most overtly racist and anti-Semitic opinions of Hitler and his followers were conveyed to the German people through propaganda. These posters often depicted stereotypical exaggerations of Jewish facial features and twisted them into portraits of corruption and evil meant to draw on whatever preexisting fear and hatred rested within their viewers. The following images convey such sentiments:

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Photo Credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/59/d1/9b/59d19b2a506c6fcf2e5222041bcf28f0.jpg

hst2

Photo Credit: https://chelsrenstem.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/hst2.png

However, propaganda served many purposes. The Nazi Party primarily used propaganda as a “means of mobilising, manipulating, controlling, directing, and (re-) educating the [German] population”.[4] According to these stated concerns and according to the following evidence, it was clearly not only used as a tool for creating and supporting anti-Semitic views but also for the promotion of German family values. For example, the following poster emphasizes the importance of children’s education:

8-Children-What-Do-You-Know-of-the-Fuhrer

Photo Credit: http://www.master-of-education.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/8-Children-What-Do-You-Know-of-the-Fuhrer.jpg

The next poster has a similar message, but is targeted at a slightly older audience. It depicts a young, strong Aryan male holding the Nazi flag and states that “The German Student Fights for the Führer and the People”:

4-The-German-Student-Fights-for-the-Fuhrer-and-the-People.jpg

Photo Credit: http://www.master-of-education.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/4-The-German-Student-Fights-for-the-Fuhrer-and-the-People.jpg

Finally, the last poster appeals to the family by stating that by joining NSDAP, a good German is supporting his community. The protective eagle of Germany surrounding and protecting the serene Aryan family suggests safety and happiness within the Nazi regime:

The-Nazi-party-secures-the-national-community

Photo Credit: http://www.newthinktank.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/The-Nazi-party-secures-the-national-community.jpg

 


[1] David Welch, Nazi Propaganda (RLE Nazi Germany & Holocaust) : The Power and the Limitations (London: Routledge, 2015), 30.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 180.

 

Photo Credit: Original Photo by Taylor Bengert. Taken at Auschwitz.

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