Propaganda, the coordinated attempt to influence public opinion through the use of media, was skillfully used by the Nazi Party in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler's leadership of Germany (1933'1945). Nazi propaganda provided a crucial instrument for acquiring and maintaining power, and for the implementation of their policies, including the pursuit of total war and the extermination of millions of people in the Holocaust.
The pervasive use of propaganda by the Nazis is largely responsible for the word "propaganda" itself acquiring its present negative connotations.
 In opposition (1919-33)
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler devoted two chapters of his 1925/26 work Mein Kampf, itself a propaganda tool, to the study and practice of propaganda. He claimed to have learnt the value of propaganda as a World War I infantryman exposed to very effective British and ineffectual German propaganda. The argument that Germany lost the war largely because of British propaganda efforts, expounded at length in Mein Kampf, reflected then-common German nationalist claims. Although untrue ' German propaganda during World War I was mostly more advanced than that of the British ' it became the official truth of Nazi Germany thanks to its reception by Hitler.
Mein Kampf contains the blueprint of later Nazi propaganda efforts. Assessing his audience, Hitler writes in chapter IV:
As to the methods to be employed, he explains:
Hitler put these ideas into practice with the reestablishment of the Völkischer Beobachter, a daily newspaper published by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) from February 1925 on, whose circulation reached 26,175 in 1929. It was joined in 1926 by Joseph Goebbels's Der Angriff, another unabashedly and crudely propagandistic paper.
During most of the Nazis' time in opposition, their means of propaganda remained limited. With little access to mass media, the party continued to rely heavily on Hitler and a few others speaking at public meetings until 1929. In April 1930, Hitler appointed Goebbels head of party propaganda. Goebbels, a former journalist and Nazi party officer in Berlin, soon proved his skills. Among his first successes was the organization of riotous demonstrations that succeeded in having the American anti-war film All Quiet on the Western Front banned in Germany.
 In power (1933-39)
Before World War II, Nazi propaganda strategy stressed several themes. Their goals were to create external enemies (countries that allegedly inflicted the Treaty of Versailles on Germany) and internal enemies (Jews). Hitler and Nazi propagandists played on the anti-Semitism and resentment present in Germany. The Jews were blamed for things such as robbing the German people of their hard work while themselves avoiding physical labour. Hitler blamed Jews for 'two great wounds upon humanity: Circumcision of the Body and Conscience of the Soul.' Der Stürmer, a Nazi propaganda newspaper, told Germans that Jews kidnapped small children before Passover because 'Jews need the blood of a Christian child, maybe, to mix in with their Matzah.' Posters, films, cartoons, and fliers were seen throughout Germany which attacked the Jewish community, such as the film The Eternal Jew.
Reaching out to ethnic Germans in other countries such as Czechoslovakia, France, Poland, the Soviet Union and the Baltic states was another aim of Nazi party propaganda. In Mein Kampf, Hitler makes a direct remark to those outside of Germany. He states that pain and misery is forced upon ethnic Germans outside of Germany, and that they dream of common fatherland. He finished by stating they needed to fight for one's nationality. Throughout Mein Kampf, he pushed Germans worldwide to make the struggle for political power and independence their main focus.
Nazi propaganda efforts then focused on creating external enemies. Propagandists strengthened the negative attitude of Germany towards the Treaty of Versailles by territorial claims and ethnocentrism. When the Treaty was signed in 1919 non-propagandists newspapers headlines across the nation spoke German's feelings, such as 'UNACCEPTABLE' which appeared on the front page of the Frankfurter Zeitung in 1919. The Berliner Tageblatt, also in 1919, predicted 'Should we accept the conditions, a military furore for revenge will sound in Germany within a few years, a militant nationalism will engulf all.' Hitler, knowing his nation's disgust with the Treaty, used it as leverage to influence his audience. He would repeatedly refer back to the terms of the Treaty as a direct attack on Germany and its people. In one speech delivered on January 30, 1937 he directly states that he is withdrawing the German signature from the document to protest the outrageous proportions of the terms. He claims the Treaty makes Germany out to be inferior and 'less' of a country than others only because blame for the war is placed on it. The success of Nazi propagandists and Hitler won the Nazi party control of Germany and eventually led to World War II.
For months prior to the beginning of World War II in 1939, German newspapers and leaders had carried out a national and international propaganda campaign accusing Polish authorities of organizing or tolerating violent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans living in Poland. On 22 August, Adolf Hitler told his generals:
The main part of this propaganda campaign was the false flag project, Operation Himmler, which was designed to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany, which was subsequently used to justify the invasion of Poland.
 At war (1939-45)
Until the conclusion of the Battle of Stalingrad on February 4, 1943, German propaganda emphasized the prowess of German arms and the humanity German soldiers had shown to the peoples of occupied territories. Pilots of the Allied bombing fleets were depicted as cowardly murderers, and Americans in particular as gangsters in the style of Al Capone. At the same time, German propaganda sought to alienate Americans and British from each other, and both these Western nations from the Soviets. One of the primary sources for propaganda was the Wehrmachtbericht, a daily radio broadcast that described the military situation on all fronts.
After Stalingrad, the main theme changed to Germany as the sole defender of what they called "Western European culture" against the "Bolshevist hordes". The introduction of the V-1 and V-2 "vengeance weapons" was emphasized to convince Britons of the hopelessness of defeating Germany.
On June 23, 1944, the Nazis permitted the Red Cross to visit concentration camp Theresienstadt to dispel rumors about the Final Solution, which was intended to kill every Jew. In reality, Theresienstadt was a transit camp for Jews en route to extermination camps, but in a sophisticated propaganda effort, fake shops and cafés were erected to imply that the Jews lived in relative comfort. The guests enjoyed the performance of a children's opera, Brundibar, written by inmate Hans Kr�¡sa. The hoax was so successful for the Nazis that they went on to make a propaganda film (Theresienstadt) at Theresienstadt. Shooting of the film began on February 26, 1944. Directed by Kurt Gerron, it was meant to show how well the Jews lived under the "benevolent" protection of the Third Reich. After the shooting, most of the cast, and even the filmmaker himself, were deported to the concentration camp of Auschwitz where they were killed.
Goebbels committed suicide on May 1, 1945, shortly after Hitler had killed himself. Hans Fritzsche, who had been head of the Radio Chamber, was tried and acquitted by the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal.
The Völkischer Beobachter ("People's Observer") was the official daily newspaper of the NSDAP since February 1925. It disseminated Nazi ideology in the form of brief hyperboles directed against the weakness of parliamentarism, the evils of Jewry and Bolshevism, the national humiliation of the Versailles Treaty and other such topics. It was joined in 1926 by Der Angriff ("The Attack"), a weekly and later daily paper founded by Joseph Goebbels. It was mainly dedicated to attacks against political opponents and Jews ' one of its most striking features were vehemently anti-semitic cartoons by Hans Schweitzer ' but also engaged in the glorification of Nazi heroes such as Horst Wessel.
Other Nazi publications included Das Reich, a more moderate and highbrow publication aimed at intellectuals and foreigners; Der Stürmer, the most virulently anti-semitic of all; and Das Schwarze Korps, an SS publication. After Hitler's rise to power in 1933, all of the regular press came under complete Nazi editorial control through the policy of Gleichschaltung, and short-lived propaganda newspapers were also established in the conquered territories during World War II.
Poster art was a mainstay of the Nazi propaganda effort, aimed both at Germany itself and occupied territories.
Main articles: Nazism and cinema and List of German films 1933-1945
The Nazis produced many films to promote their views. Themes included the virtues of the Nordic or Aryan type, German military and industrial strength, and the evils of the Nazi enemies. On March 13, 1933, The Third Reich established a Ministry of Propaganda, appointing Joseph Goebbels as its Minister. On September 22, 1933, a Department of Film was incorporated into the Chamber of Culture. The department controlled the licensing of every film prior to its production. Sometimes, the government would select the actors for a film, financing the production partially or totally, and would grant tax breaks to the producers.
Under Goebbels and Hitler, the German film industry became entirely nationalised. The National Socialist Propaganda Directorate, which Goebbels oversaw, had at its disposal nearly all film agencies in Germany by 1936. Occasionally, certain directors such as Wolfgang Liebeneiner were able to bypass Goebbels by providing him with a different version of the film than would be released. Such films include those directed by Helmut Käutner: Romanze in Moll (Romance in a Minor Key, 1943), Große Freiheit Nr. 7 (The Great Freedom, No. 7, 1944), and Unter den Brücken (Under the Bridges, 1945).
Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will, 1934) by film-maker Leni Riefenstahl chronicles the Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. It features footage of uniformed party members (though relatively few German soldiers), who are marching and drilling to classical melodies. The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Nazi leaders at the Congress, including speeches by Adolf Hitler.
Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew or The Wandering Jew, 1940) was directed by Fritz Hippler at the insistence of Goebbels, though the writing is credited to Eberhard Taubert. The movie is done in the style of a documentary, the central thesis being the immutable racial personality traits that characterize the Jew as a wandering cultural parasite. Throughout the film, these traits are contrasted to the Nazi state ideal: while Aryan men find satisfaction in physical labour and the creation of value, Jews only find pleasure in money and a hedonist lifestyle.
The Nazis and sympathizers published many books. Most of the beliefs that would become associated with the Nazis, such as German nationalism, eugenics and anti-Semitism had been in circulation since the 19th century, and the Nazis seized on this body of existing work in their own publications.
The most notable is Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf detailing his beliefs. The book outlines major ideas that would later culminate in World War II. It is heavily influenced by Gustave Le Bon's 1895 The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, which theorized propaganda as a way to control the seemingly irrational behaviour of crowds. Particularly prominent is the violent anti-Semitism of Hitler and his associates, drawing, among other sources, on the fabricated "Protocols of the Elders of Zion". For example, Hitler claimed that the international language Esperanto was part of a Jewish plot and makes arguments toward the old German nationalist ideas of "Drang nach Osten" and the necessity to gain Lebensraum ("living space") eastwards (especially in Russia).
Other books such as Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (Ethnology of German People) by Hans F. K. Günther and Rasse und Seele (Race and Soul) by Dr. Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss attempt to identify and classify the differences between the German, Nordic or Aryan type and other supposedly inferior peoples. These books were used as texts in German schools during the Nazi era.
The Nazi-controlled government in German-occupied France produced the Vica comic book series during World War II as a propaganda tool against the Allied forces. The Vica series, authored by Vincent Krassousky, represented Nazi influence and perspective in French society, and included such titles as Vica contre le service secret anglais, and Vica défie l'Oncle Sam.
Main article: Signal (magazine)
Signal was a propaganda magazine published by the Wehrmacht during World War II. It was distributed throughout occupied Europe and neutral countries. "Signal" was published from April 1940 to March 1945, and had the highest sales of any magazine published in Europe during the period 1940 to 1945'circulation peaked at two and one half million in 1943. At various times, it was published in at least twenty languages. There was an English edition distributed in the British Channel Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark'these islands were occupied by the Wehrmacht during World War II.
The promoter of the magazine was the chief of the Wehrmacht propaganda office, Colonel Hasso von Wedel. Its annual budget was 10 million Reichmarks, roughly $2.5 million at the pre-war exchange rate.
The image that Signal hoped to create was that of Nazi Germany and its New Order as the great benefactor of European peoples and of Western civilization in general. Germany and its allies were depicted as the humane liberators of the occupied nations. Some articles displayed color photographs of dramatic battle scenes. The magazine contained little anti-Semitic propaganda, and the Jews were hardly mentioned. 
The radio was an important tool in Nazi propaganda and it has been argued that it was the Nazis who pioneered the use of what was still a relatively new technology as a tool of genocide. Certainly the Nazis recognised the importance of radio in disseminating their message and to that end Goebbels approved a scheme whereby the production and distribution of millions of cheap radio sets was subsidised by the government. By the start of the Second World War over 70% of German households had one of these radios, which were deliberately limited in range in order to prevent them picking up foreign broadcasts. These so-called Volksempfänger featured little beyond propaganda and speeches. Radio broadcasts were also played over loudspeakers in public places and workplaces, where listeners were frequently observed by radio wardens.
As well as domestic broadcasts, the Nazi regime also used radio to deliver its message to both occupied territories and enemy states. One of the main targets was the United Kingdom to where William Joyce broadcast regularly, gaining the nickname 'Lord Haw-Haw' in the process. Joyce first appeared on German radio on 6 September 1939 reading the news in English but soon became noted for his often mischievous propaganda broadcasts. Joyce was executed in 1946 for treason. Although the most notorious, and most regularly heard, of the UK propagandists, Joyce was not the only broadcaster, with others such as Norman Baillie-Stewart, Jersey-born teacher Pearl Vardon, British Union of Fascists members Leonard Banning and Susan Hilton, Barry Payne Jones of the Link and Alexander Fraser Grant, whose show was aimed specifically at Scotland, also broadcasting through the 'New British Broadcasting Service'.
Broadcasts were also made to the United States, notably through Robert Henry Best and 'Axis Sally' Mildred Gillars. Best, a freelance journalist based in Vienna, was initially arrested following the German declaration of war on the US but before long he became a feature on propaganda radio, attacking the influence of the Jews in the US and the leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He would later be sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. Gilders, a teacher in Germany, mostly broadcast on similar themes as well as peppering her speech with allegations of infidelity against the wives of servicemen. Her most notorious broadcast was the 'Vision of Invasion' radio play, broadcast immediately prior to D-Day, from the perspective of an American mother who dreamed that her soldier son died violently in Normandy.
France also received broadcasts from Radio-Stuttgart, where Paul Ferdonnet, an anti-Semitic journalist, was the main voice during the Phoney War. Following the occupation Radio Paris and Radio Vichy became the main organs of propaganda, with leading far right figures such as Jacques Doriot, Philippe Henriot and Jean Hérold-Paquis regularly speaking in support of the Nazis. Others who broadcast included Gerald Hewitt, a British citizen who lived most of his life in Paris and had been associated with Action Française. The use of domestic broadcasters intended to galvanise support for occupation was also used in Belgium, where Ward Hermans regularly spoke in support of the Nazis from his base in Bremen, and the Italian Social Republic, to where Giovanni Preziosi broadcast a vehemently anti-Semitic show from his base in Munich. Pro-Nazi broadcasts were even heard in North Africa, where Mohammad Amin al-Husayni helped to insure the spread of Nazi ideas in the Arabic language.
Heroic death was often portrayed in Nazi propaganda as glorious. It was glorified in such films as Flüchtlinge, Hans Westmar,. Wunschkonzert, though chiefly about the homefront, features one character who dies playing the organ in a church in order to guide his comrades, though he knows the enemy forces will also find him.
Even the film Morgenrot, predating the Nazi seizure of power and containing such un-Nazi matters as a woman refusing to rejoice because of the sufferings on the other side, praised such deaths and found favor among Nazi officials for it.
Many propaganda films developed the importance of the Führerprinzip or leader principle. Flüchtlinge depicted Volga German refugees were saved from persecution by a leader who demands their unquestioning obedience. Der Herrscher altered its source material to depict its hero, Clausen, as the unwavering leader of his munitions firm, who, faced with his children's machinations, disowns them and bestows the firm on the state, confident that a worker will arise capable of continuing his work and, as a true leader, needing no instruction.
The Volksgemeinschaft or people's community received a great deal of propaganda support.
The Volksgemeinschaft was also depicted in films on the home-front during World War II, with the war uniting all levels of society, as in the two most popular films of the Nazi era, Die grosse Liebe and Wunschkonzert. The Request Concert radio show, on which the latter film was based, achieved great popularity by broadcasting music claimed to be requested by men in the armed forces.
Propaganda depicted Communism as an enemy both within Germany and without. Films such as Hans Westmar and Hitler Youth Quex depicted the deaths of their heroes as martyrs killed by Communism; in both films, the movement appears as an overall threat, with some ruthless villains as leaders, but with some misguided Communists who could be inspired by the heroes -- as, indeed, potential Nazis. Literature, too, depicted heroic German workers who were taken in by international Marxism, but whose Aryan nature revolted on learning more of it.
Before, and after, the Molotov'Ribbentrop Pact, in film, Russian Communists were depicted as ruthless murderers. In Flüchtlinge, only a heroic German leader saves Volga Germans from Bolshevik persecution on the Sino-Russian border in Manchuria. Friesennot depicts a village of Volga Germans being ruthlessly persecuted in the Soviet Union.
In 1942, a "Soviet Paradise" exhibit was opened to depict the Soviet Union as having been found a place of filth and poverty.
Der Stürmer always made anti-Semitic material a mainstay, throughout its run before and during Nazi power.
Wartime posters frequently described the Jews as responsible for the war, and being behind the Allies.
The alleged documentary The Eternal Jew purported to show the wretched lives and destruction wrought by Jews, who were lower than vermain, and the historical drama Jud Süß depicted a Jew as gaining power over the Duke by lending him money and using the power to oppress his subjects and enable himself to rape a pure German woman, by having her husband arrested and tortured.
This element could also appear in other films. The villains of Hans Westmar were not only Communists but Jews as well.
In 1939, prior to the invasion of Poland, a major anti-Polish compaign was launched, asserting such claims as forced labor of ethnic Germans, persecution of them, Polish disorder, Poles provoking border incidents, and aggressive intentions from its government. Propaganda, such the film Heimkehr, depicted Polish ethnic Germans as deeply persecuted -- often with recognizable Nazi tactics. -- and the invasion as necessary to protect them.
Goebbels produced photographs and other evidence for allegations that ethnic Germans had been massacred by Poles.
 Britain: For and Against
Initially, the aim of Nazi foreign policy was to create an Anglo-German alliance, so before 1938, the Nazi propaganda tended to glorify British institutions, and above all, the British Empire. Typical of the Nazi admiration for the British Empire were an lengthy series of articles in various German newspapers throughout the mid-1930s praising various aspects of British imperial history, with the clear implication that there were positive parallels to be drawn between British empire-building in the past and German empire-building in the future. The esteem, which the British Empire was held, can be gauged by the fact that the lavish adoration heaped upon Britain's empire was not matched by similar coverage of other empires both past and present. An example of this sort of coverage was a long article in the Berliner Illustriete Zeitung newspaper in 1936 extolling the British for "brutally" resolving the Fashoda crisis of 1898 in their favor with no regard for diplomatic niceties. Another example of Nazi anglophilia included a series of widely promoted biographies and historical novels commemorating various prominent "Aryan" figures from British history such as Cromwell, Marlborough, Nelson, Rhodes, Wellington, and Raleigh. A particular theme of praise was offered for British 'ruthlessness' in building and defending their empire, which was held as an empire for the Germans to follow . Above all, the British were admired as an 'Aryan' people who had with typical 'ruthlessness' subjected millions of brown- and black skinned people to their rule, and British rule in India was held up as a model for how the Germans would rule Russia, through as the historian Gerwin Strobl pointed out that this parallel between German rule in Russia and British rule in India was only made possible by the Nazis' ignorance of how the British actually ruled India. Perhaps more importantly for gauging the Nazi regime's pro-British feelings in its early years was the prominence given to Englandkunde (British studies) within German schools and the lavish praise offered to British youth organizations as an model within the Hitler Youth.
Up to November 1938, the English were depicted as an Aryan people, but afterward, they were denounced as "the Jew among the Aryan peoples" and as plutocrats, fighting for money. This was sometimes modified with the suggestion that it was the ruling class alone that was the problem. The change of emphasis was due to Hitler's changed view of Britain from a potential ally to an enemy that would have be destroyed. One of the major themes of the anti-British propaganda campaign launched in late 1938 were alleged British human rights abuses in India and above all in dealing with the Arab uprising in the Palestine Mandate which were used to illustrate the "hypocrisy" of British criticism of Germany's treatment of its Jewish minority. Another major theme was the difference between British "plutocracy" and National Socialist Germany. German newspapers and newsreels often pictured photos and footage of British unemployed and slums together with unfavorable commentary about the differences in living standards of the working class of National Socialist Germany vs that of the working class living under British "plutocracy". Germany was represented as an ideal collectivist Volksgemeinschaft (People's Community) which put the economic 'common interest before the individual interest', which was contrasted with the supposed savage laissez faire capitalism and individualist society of Britain where it was alleged that the rich had it all while the poor were left to stave. So successful were the anti-capitalist attacks on Britain that reports to Social Democratic émigré Sopade from within Germany reported that the Nazis had made major gains with those German workers who had voted SPD and KPD during the Weimar Republic. In German propaganda, the British declaration of war on Germany in 1939 was represented as an act by the British 'plutocracy' to put an end to German National Socialism, which maintained a generous modern welfare state that cared for the most poorest Germans least British workers started to demand the same sort of welfare state for themselves.
Another major theme of anti-British propaganda was the 'irrational' anti-German prejudices said to be held by the British establishment and the claim that Britain was an 'old" declining country ruled over by a gerontocracy of extremely elderly men full of envy and hatred of the dynamism of 'young" rising countries like Germany. As part of the 'young' nation message, major emphasis was given to the youth and the large families of the Nazi leaders, which was contrasted unfavourably with the age and small families of the British leaders, with the not so subtle implication that Germans were much more sexually virile than the British. Finally, attacks were made attacks were made on Britain for the "hypocrisy" for maintaining world-wide empire while seeking to block the Germans from acquiring an empire of their own. In keeping with the attacks on the British empire, the Treaty of Versailles was depicted as a monstrous unjust peace treaty designed by the British to cripple Germany and allow British hegemony in Europe. In keeping with this theme, German propaganda stressed that Britain had to maintain her hegemony over the centuries had manipulated the other European states into war, and Germany, the 'guardian of Europe' was now standing up for all the nations of Europe in putting an end to British 'causing trouble on the continent".
Early anti-British films showed some moderation in tone. In such films as Der Fuchs von Glenarvon and My life for Ireland, they are depicted as brutal oppressors of the Irish. However, later films such as Ohm Krüger and Carl Peters, after Hitler had given up on making a separate peace with Britain, the propaganda was much cruder.
During the euthanasia program, the film Ich klage an was created to depict a woman being mercifully killed by her husband to escape her fatal illness, and his trial afterwards to stage pro-euthanasia arguments. It culiminates in the husband's declaration that he is accusing them of cruelty for trying to prevent such deaths.
This situation presented the matter in the most favorable light, far from the solitary, involuntary deaths of those killed by the program under a very broad definition of "incurably ill."
Nazi propaganda is a relatively recent topic of close study. Historians of all persuasions, including Eastern Bloc writers, agree about its remarkable effectiveness. Their assessment of its significance, however ' whether it shaped or merely directed and exploited public opinion ' is influenced by their approach to wider questions raised by the study of Nazi Germany, such as the question whether the Nazi state was a fully totalitarian dictatorship, as argued by Hannah Arendt, or whether it also depended on a certain societal consensus.
In addition to media archives, an important primary source for the study of the Nazi propaganda effort are the reports on civilian morale and public opinion that the Sicherheitsdienst and later the RMVP compiled from 1939 on. Another are the Deutschland-Berichte, reports gathered by underground agents of the Sopade that particularly dealt with German popular opinion.
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