Impact of war on Nazi propaganda

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Grace Goodwin
Impact of war on Nazi propaganda
The war started on the 1st September 1939 and escalated when Britain and France
declared war on Germany. Over the next 2 years, the Germans had a number of
victories and occupied vast parts of Europe and by the summer of 1940, only Britain
was still at war with Germany. Hitler failed to defeat Britain in 1940 so turned his
attention to the East and ordered troops to invade the Soviet Union. After initial
success in the invasion, the red army attacked and halted German advance. This was
the same month that the USA entered the war. During 1942, German troops in the
USSR advanced but the attacked was stopped at Stalingrad. In a struggle that lasted 3
months, German forces were defeated which marked a turning point in the war. After
Stalingrad, German forces were on the defensive and the war became a struggle for
survival. At this point the Nazi regime adopted a `Total war' strategy to stave off
This change to a `Total war' strategy radicalized the regime and placed new burdens
on the population. Therefore, it had an impact on Nazi propaganda.
During the 1930's, an aim of propaganda was to instill a `military spirit' into the
German people. The majority of Germans supported the nationalist aims of Nazi
foreign policy to overturn the Treaty of Versailles but the effort to create enthusiasm
to war was not so successful. There were no cheering crowds that welcomed the
outbreak of war in September 1939, unlike the support for ww1 in 1914. The easy
victory over Poland and the entry of German troops into Warsaw was greeted with
much flag-waving and rejoicing, but most of this was in response to directions from
local Nazi officers.
In the early years of the war, the Nazis wanted to maintain public morale and mobilize
the energy of the people into the war effort. With a series of victories at the start, this
task was made easier. Hitler showed that he did not take the commitment of the
people for granted by making sure the war did not impact on their lives heavily. This
was no squeeze on food and manufactured goods. The emphasis of propaganda was
that Germany was fighting a defensive war that it had not chosen but could not avoid.
Gobbels said to party officials " Make clear that we are engaged in a fateful struggle
of the German people which was imposed upon us by the English plutocracy.
Germany is fighting for its freedom, honour and for its future."
The invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 did not bring immediate change in the tone of
propaganda. The success of the German army led to a mood of confidence that the war
would soon be over.
However, by December 1941, the war became long and costly as the Red Army halted
German advance and Goebbels ordered a more sober and realistic tone to Nazi
propaganda. Heavy air raids and cuts in food rations also damaged morale. The defeat
at Stalingrad had a much more profound effect as it was a disaster for Nazi
propaganda. The Nazis had confidently predicted victory in the early stages but now
the propagandists had the near impossible task of explain why they were being
defeated. The historian Kershaw said of the defeat "Stalingrad was the greatest

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Deep shock, dismay and depression was recorded
In these circumstances, Goebbels realized that he needed to prepare the people for
struggle, which would preserve the German Reich. Goebbels used propaganda to
justify the sacrifices, which were demanded of the people, and to enlist their support
of `Total War'. Nazi propaganda now focused on a number of themes:
Anti-Bolshevism- Goebbels said in 1943 "The fight against Bolshevism must
dominate all propaganda instruments as the great and all pervading
propaganda theme.…read more


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