Propaganda in Nazi Germany

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  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 10-05-13 22:02

Newspapers - Degree of Control

  • when the Nazis came to power there were 4,700 daily newspapers, of which the NASDAP controlled 3%
  • in 1944 82% of the remaining 997 papers were under the party's control
  • these newspapers had been taken over by the Nazis' own publishing house, the Eher Verlag
  • the RMVP held daily press conferences and even told editors where to place articles in the newspapers; the Nazi Press Agency provided half the content of newspapers
  • from 1933 all editors and journalists had to be accredited and answerable to Goebbels 
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Newspapers - messages


  • Nazi papers would broadcast pictures of meetings and rallies: e.g. May Day 1933, Nuremburg


  • the papers weer also used to hammer home the Nazi anti-Semitic ideas
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Newspapers - Case study

  • Cartoons portraying evil Jews were all regular entires
  • Der Sturmer and Volkischer Beobachter were examples of this
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Newspapers - Effectiveness

By 1933 the Nazis increased their circulation by 2.4 million copies per day, giving them a subtle degree of control over the German people's Weltanschauung (political outlook)

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Film - Degree of control

  • the government brought up shares in the four major film companies until and by 1942 they were completely state controlled and were unified under the UFI
  • filmgoing quadrupled between 1933&1942, and over 1000 films were produced during the Third Reich
  • only about 1/6 were overtly propagandist
  • instead, the NAzis relied on newsreels shown before the main feature, although many people deliberately arrived late in cinemas 
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Film - Messages

The regime was divided about what the nature of their film output should be


  • Hitler favoured rather blatant propaganda along the lines of the Eqige Jude and Triumph of the Will
  • Goebbels considered such measures too unsophisticated and insteead encouraged the prodction of escapist comedies


  • After 1942 Goebbels was called upon to rally the morale of the German people: his 1944 film 'Kolberg' portrayed national resistance against Napoleon. It was considered so crucial that 100,000 soldiers were diverted from the front to take part! 
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Film - Case study

  • Der Eqige Jude (The Eternal Jew) depicts the Jews of Poland as corrupt, filth, lazy, ugly and perverse: they are an alien people which have taken over the world through their control of banking and commerce, yet which still live like animals
  • the narrator explains the Jews' rat like behabiour, while showing footage of rats squirming from sewers and leaping at the camera. the film's most shocking scene is the slaighter of a cow, shown in bloody detail, by a grinning Rabbi
  • Hitler insisted it was reworked 12 times, each time to make it more awful!
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film - effectiveness

Ewige Jude was a box office disaster (many people fainted), although Jud Suss was more subtle (supervised by Goebbels) and therefore more of a success.

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Posters - Degree of control

  • the production of posters was controlled by the Office for Active Propaganda
  • four copies of all political material, including posters, had to be submitted in advance to the Office
  • unapproved materials were then confiscated 
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Posters - Messages


  • loyalty to the Reich ("the Reich will never be destroyed if you are united and loyal")
  • the Winter aid charity ("No one shall go hungry! No one shall go cold!")
  • Hitler Myth ("Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer")


  • anti-semitism 
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Posters - Case study

Saar Referendum

  • under the Treaty of Versailles, the Saar was placed under French administration
  • this poster encouraged Germans to be aware of the upcoming referendum: The text translates "1935 - Saar Referendum! We in the Saar are loyal - We stand for honor and the Fatherland. Are you thinking of us?"  
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posters - Effectiveness

The simplicity of the medium made it flexible enough to promote all aspects of the Nazis Weltanschauun. It was used to:

Propaganda truth

  • posters used and repeated images that served as an untroubling confirmation of the 'way things are'...


  • Nazi propaganda posters were successful in the sense that they offered a visual alternative to reality 
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Radio (most effective) - Degree of Control

  • Gobbels described radio as "the spiritual weapon of the totalitarian state"
  • Radio was state controlled from 1925 by the Reich Radio company; in 1934 Gobbels dismissed 13% of their staff on political and racial grounds
  • all news broadcasts became the sole responsibility of the Nazi Office of Propaganda
  • Radio wardens were appointed to report on people's reactions to specific broadcasts which were broadcast in public places
  • provisions were made for the production of cheap radios called the Volksempfanger (people's receiver)
  • this only picked up low frequencies so they could not tune in to foreign broadcasts
  • between 1932-39 the amountt of Germans with radios rose from 25-70%  
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Radio (most effective) - Messages

  • Goebbels delivered speeches on Hitler's birthday and on New Year's Eve
  • Hitler made over 50 broadcasts in 1933 alone
  • Designed to rally patriotism. Each key member of the party had their own "signature tune" before they started to speak!!!!!!!!!
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Radio (most effective) - Case study

  • February 18th 1943: "Nation, Rise Up, and Let the Storm Break Loose"
  • Speech by Goebbels following the bitter defeat at Stalingrad and civilian shortages
  • Designed to rally support for "Total War"
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Radio (most effective) - Effectiveness

  • a particularly powerful weapon
  • difficult to access how far people actually listened to these speeches
  • in 1933 there is evidence that people were not listening to Hitler's speeches, although after that he gave them more appeal by recording them 'live' at rallies rather than in studios
  • but individual speeches like the one to the left were assessable: the final words of Goebbels were lost in the stormy applause 
  • Albert Speer, a member of the immediate audience, described the effects of the speech in the following way: "I have never seen an audience so effectively roused to fanaticism". 
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Art - Degree of Control


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Art - Messages

  • unlike communists, who stress role of the machine and industry, the Nazis stressed an agrarian (and Aryan) golden age of 'Blood and soil'
  • Hitler saw art as idealizing and mythologizing the state on the one hand and the German Volk, the people, on the other; this could only be accomplished through the most straightforward means
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Art - Case study

"Degenerate Art" exhibition ridiculed modern art, created by non Aryans

e.g. Mark Chagall - whose life was deeply rooted in Jewish tradition and religion

Adolf Ziegler is a prominent Nazi artist who sold his soul to the regime 

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Art - Effectiveness

  • during the Nazi's time in power they curtailed and controlled art work successfully
  • however, in the long term when the NAzis fell from power many of the artists such as Chagall flourished and became widely praised
  • many of the artists included in the Entartete Kunst exhibition are now considered masters of the twentieth century
  • even the few expressionist artists, most notably Emil Nolde, who were early party members were prevented from practicing because their abstractions subverted the needs of the state
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Literature - Degree of Control

1933: public book burnings at the universities of Berlin and Nuremburg. This is followed by a raid on public and private libraries to eraditcate what Gobbels described as "overstated Jewish intellectualism"

Heirich Heine, 1820: "this is just the beginning. Wherever books are burned, people are burned too"

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Literature - Case study

  • 20,000 books of poets and philosophers, writers and scholars destroyed
  • promted by the leadership of the German Students' Association in an attempt to outflank the rival National Socialist German Student Federation (NSDStB)
  • local authorities and police had voluntarily assisted in clearing out the books to be burned from public libraries
  • University faculties and senates had hardly raised a protest of note at the 'Action'
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Literature - Effectiveness

  • not even effective in the short term. Merely makes the regime seem ludicrously reactionary
  • many liberal intellectuals left Germany
  • large number became involved in an action initiated by the Academy of the Arts and Sciences in Exile
  • headed by Thomas Mann and Sigmund Freud 
  • these intellectuals who had been driven out of German not only enriched the cultural landscape of the countries which took them in, (the United States in particular), but also has a significant influence on the way Europe developed following the war.
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Rallies - Messages


  • rallies were an annual occurrence starting in 1927 in Nuremberg, then moving to Zeppelin Field in 1933
  • designed to impress the rest of the world with Germany's military might and the party's solid support of Hitler


  • Hitler toured the country, parading through the streets in an open top car
  • parades were held for all sorts of reasons: Nazis official's birthdays, the arrival of Hitler in a town, the anniversary of the SS, or just to rally more support
  • many towns renamed their main street after Hitler or an official paraded down it: Adolf-Hitler-Strabe
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Rallies - Case study


  • by 1938, attendance was nearly 1,000,000. Each rally lasted a week or more, and brought together every leading Nazi
  • the parade would leave zeppelin Field and go through the streets of Nuremberg
  • thousands of people would line the streets to get a closer look at Hiler
  • young people would always be placed at the front of the crows to highlight the fresh appeal of the regime
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Architecture - Degree of Control

  • Hitler was persoanlly fascinated in Architecture and therefore gave great emphasis to it
  • He rejected the 'decadent' modernism of the likes of Gropius in favour of the neo-classicism favoured by Troost
  • Hitler's own personal architect was Albert Speer, who had as his ideal model the Greek temple, the Renaissance palace, the Baroque castle and the Classicist building of the Empire era
  • however, whilst offocial Nazi policy required a monumental solution to official buildings, local housing was to be in the style of the area: for example, thatch in Saxony, wide spreading eaves in Bavaria 
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Architecture - Messages

  • Neo-Classicism had the task of giving expression to the existing forms of government, of legitimising them and of contributing to their consolidation
  • Hitler's Germany required the purge of foreign elements and architecture linked to establish governmental function, expressive of the great German national cultural traditions or the regionalist 'blood and soil' ethic of the German people
  • it was also intended to dwarf the Volk, who in every aspect of their lives were to be subordinate to the state 
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Architecture - Case study


  • Speer undertook the project for Reconstruction for Berlin (1939-43)
  • it was designed to become the ultimate architectual realization of National Socialist ideolgy, and it had a giant avenue from South to North, which was the highlight of the new city
  • Hitler became increasingly obsessed with this project; as the war progressed it became his main means of escapism
  • Hitler's plans for rebuilding Berlin as a fortress of concrete and stone, including a domed party stadium twenty times the size of St. Peters and able to hold party rallys of more than 100,000 people, is the epitome of totalitarian design in the service of power
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Architecture - Effectiveness

Much of this architecture would probably have evoked exactly the right emotion from the people: pride and nationalist feeling.

However, in actual fact very little completely beyong the Zeppelin Field in Nuremburg (1936) and the Olympia Stadium in Berlin

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