Nazi propaganda

Nazi propaganda
Dr. Joseph Goebbels, head of Germany's Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. His masterful use of propaganda for Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP made him a prototype of the modern spin doctor in public conscience.

Propaganda, the coordinated attempt to influence public opinion through the use of media, was skillfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler's leadership of Germany (1933–1945). National Socialist 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.[1]



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.[2] He claimed to have learnt the value of propaganda as a World War I infantryman exposed to very effective British and ineffectual German propaganda.[3] 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.[4]

Mein Kampf contains the blueprint of later Nazi propaganda efforts. Assessing his audience, Hitler writes in chapter VI:

"Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. (...) All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed. (...) The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (...) The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood."[5]

As to the methods to be employed, he explains:

"Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (...) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (...) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula."

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.[6] 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.[7]

In power (1933–39)

A 1937 anti-Bolshevik Nazi propaganda poster. The translated caption: "Bolshevism without a mask - large anti-Bolshevik exhibition of the NSDAP Gauleitung Berlin from November 6, 1937 to December 19, 1937 in the Reichstag building".

Before World War II, Nazi propaganda strategy, officially promulgated by the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 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. 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 1940 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.[8] 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.”[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] On 22 August, Adolf Hitler told his generals:

"I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn't matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth."[12][13]

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.[12][13][14]

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. Nazi victories let themselves easily to propaganda broadcasts and were at this point difficult to mishandle.[15] Satires on the defeated, accounts of attacks, and praise for the fallen all were useful for Nazis.[16] Still, failures were not easily handled even at this stage; when the Ark Royal proved to have survived an attack that German propaganda had hyped, considerable embarrassment resulted.[17]

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.

Problems in propaganda arose easily in this stage; expectations of success were raised too high and too quickly, which required explanation if they were not fulfilled, and blunted the effects of success, and the hushing of blunders and failures caused mistrust.[18] The increasing hardship of the war for the German people also called forth more propaganda that the war had been forced on the German people by the refusal of foreign powers to accept their strength and independence.[19] Goebbels called for propaganda to toughen up the German people and not make victory look easy.[20]

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 Krása. 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.[citation needed]

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 December 1920. 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.[21] 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 antisemitic cartoons by Hans Schweitzer – but also engaged in the glorification of Nazi heroes such as Horst Wessel.[6] The Illustrierter Beobachter was their weekly illustrated paper.[22]

Other Nazi publications included

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.

Newspapers in occupied countries

In Ukraine, after Nazis cracked down on the papers, most papers printed only articles from German agencies, producing the odd effect of more anti-American and anti-British articles than anti-Communist ones.[25] They also printed articles about antecedents of German rule over Ukraine, such as Catherine the Great and the Goths.[25]


Fragment of 1932 Hitler speech, distributed in printed form.

The Nazi party relied heavily on speakers to make its propaganda presentations, most heavily before they came to power, but also afterwards. Hitler, in Mein Kampf, recounted that he had realized that it was not written matter but the spoken word that brought about changes, as people would not read things that disagreed, but would linger to hear a speaker.[26] Furthermore, speakers, having their audiences before them, could see their reactions and adjust accordingly, to persuade.[27] His own oratory was a major factor in his rise, and he despised those who came to read pre-written speeches.[28]

Such speakers were particularly important when it was not wanted that the information put across not reach foreigners, who could access the mass media.[29] Schools were instituted to substitute for the political conflict that had formed the old speakers.[30] In 1939, Walter Tiessler, speaking of his own experience as an early speaker, urged that they continue.[31]

Sturmabteilung speakers were used, though their reliance on instinct sometimes offended well-educated audiences, but their blunt and folksy manner often had their own appeal.[32]

The ministry would provide such speakers with information, such as how to spin the problems on the eastern front,[33] or how to discuss the cuts in food rations.[34] The party propaganda headquarters, sent the Redner-Schnellinformation [Speakers’ Express Information] out with guidelines for immediate campaigns, such as anti-Semitic campaigns and what information to present.[29]

Specific groups were targeted with such speakers. Speakers, for instance, were created specifically for Hitler Youth.[35] These would, among other things, lecture Hitler Youth and the BDM on the need to produce more children.[36]


Poster art was a mainstay of the Nazi propaganda effort, aimed both at Germany itself and occupied territories. It had several advantages. The visual effect, being striking, would reach the viewer easily.[37] Posters were also, unlike other forms of propaganda, difficult to avoid.[38]

Imagery frequently drew on heroic realism.[39] Nazi youth and the SS were depicted monumentally, with lighting posed to produce grandeur.[39]

Hans Schweitzer, under the pen name "Mjölnir" produced many Nazi posters.[40]

Posters were also used in schools, depicting, for instance, an institution for the feeble-minded on one hand and houses on the other, to inform the students that the annual cost of this institution would build 17 homes for healthy families.[41]


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. Awards for "valuable" films would decrease taxes, thus encouraging self-censorship among movie makers.[42]

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).

Schools were also provided with motion pictures projectors because film was regarded as particularly appropriate for propagandizing children.[43] Films specifically created for schools were termed "military education."[43]

Newsreels were explicitly intended to not be the truth, but to portray such of the truth as was in the interest of Germany to spread.[44]

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.[45] 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 pre-existing and popular genre of Schollen-roman, or novel of the soil, also known as blood and soil novels,[46] was given a boost by the acceptability of its themes to the Nazis and developed a mysticism of unity.[47]

The immensely popular "Red Indian" stories by Karl May were permitted despite the heroic treatment of the hero Winnetou and "colored" races; instead, the argument was made that the stories demonstrated the fall of the Red Indians was caused by a lack of racial consciousness, to encourage it in the Germans.[48] Other fictional works were also adapted; Heidi was stripped of its Christian elements, and Robinson Crusoe's relationship to Friday was made a master-slave one.[49]

Text books

"Geopolitical atlases" emphasized Nazi schemes, demonstrating the "encirclement" of Germany, depicting how the prolific Slav nations would cause the German people to be overrun, and (in contrast) showing the relative population density of Germany was much higher than that of the Eastern regions (where they would seek Lebensraum).[50] Geography text books stated how crowded Germany had become.[51] Other charts would show the cost of disabled children as opposed to healthy ones, or show how two-child families threatened the birthrate.[52] Math books discussed military applications and used military word problems, physics and chemistry concentrated on military applications, and grammar classes were devoted to propaganda sentences.[53] Other textbooks dealt with the history of the Nazi Party.[54] Elementary school reading text included large amounts of propaganda.[55]

Map showing the racial composition of Europe were banned from the classroom after many efforts that did not define the territory widely enough for party officials.[56]

Even fairy tales were put to use, with Cinderella being presented as a tale of how the prince's racial instincts lead him to reject the stepmother's alien blood for the racially pure maiden.[57] Nordic sagas were likewise presented as the illustration of Führerprinzip, which was developed with such heroes as Frederick the Great and Bismark.[58]

Literature was to be chosen within the "German spirit" rather than a fixed list of forbidden and required, which made the teachers all the more cautious[59] although Jewish authors were impossible for classrooms.[60] While only William Shakespeare's MacBeth and The Merchant of Venice were actually recommended, none of the plays were actually forbidden, even Hamlet, denounced for "flabbiness of soul."[61]

Biology texts, however, were put the most use in presenting eugenic principles and racial theories; this included explanations of the Nuremberg Laws, which were claimed to allow the German and Jewish peoples to co-exist without the danger of mixing.[62] Science was to be presented as the most natural area for introducing the "Jewish Question", once teachers took care to point out that in nature, animals associated with those of their own species.[63]

Teachers' guidelines on racial instruction presented both the handicapped and Jews as dangers.[64] Despite their many photographs glamorizing the "Nordic" type, the texts also claimed that visual inspection was insufficient, and genealogical analysis was required to determine their types, and report any hereditary problems.[65]

Books for occupied countries

In occupied France, the German Institute encouraged translation of German works, although chiefly German nationalists, not ardent Nazis, and produced a massive increase in the sale of translated works.[66] The only books from English to be sold were English classics, and books with Jewish authors or Jewish subject matter (such as biographies) were banned, except for some scientific works.[67] Control of the paper supply allowed Germans the easy ability to pressure publishers about books.[67]


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.[68]


In and after 1939, the Zeitschriften-Dienst was sent to magazines to provide guidelines on what to write for appropriate topics.[69]

Nazi publications also carried various forms of propaganda.

Neues Volk, the monthly publication of the Office of Racial Policy, carried racial propaganda.[70] While chiefly aimed at fomenting ethnic pride through ideal Aryan types, it also included articles aimed at Jews and "defectives."[71]

The NS-Frauen-Warte, aimed at women, included such topics as the role of women in the Nazi state.[72] Despite its propaganda elements, it was predominately a woman's magazine.[73] It defended anti-intellectualism,[74] urged women to have children, even in wartime,[75][76] put forth what the Nazis had done for women,[77] discusses bridal schools,[78] urged women to greater efforts in total war.[79]

Der Pimpf was aimed at boys and contained both adventure and propaganda.[80]

Das deutsche Mädel, in contrast, recommended for girls hiking, tending the wounded, and preparing for care for children.[81] It lay far more emphasis than NS-Frauen-Warte on the strong and active German woman.[73]


Signal was a propaganda magazine published by the Wehrmacht during World War II.[82] 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.[83][84] [85]


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.[86]

Internal broadcasts

Certainly the Nazis recognised the importance of radio in disseminating their message and to that end Goebbels approved a scheme whereby millions of cheap radio sets (the Volksempfänger) were subsidised by the government. Goebbels claimed the radio was the "eighth great power",[87] and he, along with the Nazi party, recognized the power of the radio in the propaganda machine of Nazi Germany. In that "Radio as the Eighth Great Power" speech, Goebbels proclaimed:

It would not have been possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio....It is no exaggeration to say that the German revolution, at least in the form it took, would have been impossible without the airplane and the radio. ...[Radio] reached the entire nation, regardless of class, standing, or religion. That was primarily the result of the tight centralization, the strong reporting, and the up-to-date nature of the German radio.

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 loyal citizens from considering other viewpoints in foreign broadcasts.[86] Radio broadcasts were also played over loudspeakers in public places and workplaces.[86]

In private homes, however, people could easily turn off the radio when bored and did so once the novelty of hearing the voice from a box wore off; this caused the Nazis to introduce many non-propaganda elements, such as music, advice and tips, serials and other entertainment.[88] This was accelerated in the war to prevent people from tuning in enemy propaganda broadcasts; though Goebbels claimed in his Das Reich article that it was to make the radio a good companion to the people, he admitted the truth in his diary.[89]

External broadcasts

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.[90] 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'.[91]

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.[92] 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.[93]

France also received broadcasts from Radio-Stuttgart, where Paul Ferdonnet, an anti-Semitic journalist, was the main voice during the Phoney War.[94] 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.[95] 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,[96] and the Italian Social Republic, to where Giovanni Preziosi broadcast a vehemently anti-Semitic show from his base in Munich.[97] 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.[98]

Fine art

Arno Breker's sculptures of the Nordic man made him Hitler's favorite sculptor.[99]

By Nazi standards, fine art was not propaganda. Its purpose was to create ideals, for eternity.[100] This produced a call for heroic and romantic art, which reflected the ideal rather than the realistic.[101] Explicitly political paintings were very rare.[102] Still more rare were anti-Semitic paintings, because the art was supposed to be on a higher plane.[103] Nevertheless, selected themes, common in propaganda, were the most common topics of art.

Sculpture was used as an expression of Nazi racial theories.[104] The most common image was of the nude male, expressing the ideal of the Aryan race.[105] Nudes were required to be physically perfect.[106] At the Paris Exposition of 1937, Josef Thorak's Comradeship stood outside the German pavilion, depicting two enormous nude males, clasping hands and standing defiantly side by side, in a pose of defense and racial camaraderie.[107]

Landscape painting featured mostly heavily in the Greater German Art exhibition,[102] in accordance with themes of blood and soil.[108] Peasants were also popular images, reflecting a simple life in harmony with nature,[109] frequently with large families.[110] With the advent of war, war art came to be a significant though still not predominating proportion.[111]

The continuing of the German Art Exhibition throughout the war was put forth as a manifestation of German's culture.[112]


Nazi propaganda promoted Nazi ideology by demonizing the enemies of the Nazi Party, especially Jews and communists, but also capitalists and intellectuals. It promoted the values asserted by the Nazis, including heroic death, Führerprinzip (leader principle), Volksgemeinschaft (people's community), Blut und Boden (blood and soil) and pride in the German race. Propaganda was also used to maintain the cult of personality around Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, and to promote campaigns for eugenics and the annexation of German-speaking areas. After the outbreak of World War II, Nazi propaganda vilified Germany's enemies, notably the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States, and exhorted the population to partake in total war.


Nazi propaganda is a relatively recent topic of close study.[113] Historians of all persuasions, including Eastern Bloc writers, agree about its remarkable effectiveness.[113] 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.[114]

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.[115]

See also


  • Welch, David (1993). The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda. Routledge. ISBN 0-203-93014-2. 


  1. ^ Welch, 6.
  2. ^ These are chapter VI, "War Propaganda", and chapter XI, "Propaganda and Organization".
  3. ^ Welch, 10; see Mein Kampf, ch. VI.
  4. ^ Welch, 11.
  5. ^ Mein Kampf citations are from the Project Gutenberg-hosted 1939 English translation by James Murphy.
  6. ^ a b Welch, 13.
  7. ^ Welch, 14.
  8. ^ Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999
  9. ^ Abel, Theodore. Why Hitler Came Into Power. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1986.
  10. ^ German Propaganda Archive, "Hitler Speech" 2004. Calvin College. 25 Oct. 2007
  11. ^ German newspaper editor outlining the claims of Polish atrocities against minorities
  12. ^ a b James J. Wirtz, Roy Godson, Strategic Denial and Deception: The Twenty-First Century Challenge, Transaction Publishers, 2002, ISBN 0765808986, Google Print, p.100
  13. ^ a b Bradley Lightbody, The Second World War: Ambitions to Nemesis, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0415224055, Google Print, p.39
  14. ^ Roger Manvell, Heinrich Fraenkel, Heinrich Himmler: The SS, Gestapo, His Life and Career, Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2007, ISBN 1602391785, Google Print, p.76
  15. ^ Michael Balfour, Propaganda in War 1939-1945: Organisation, Policies and Publics in Britain and Germany, p120 ISBN 0-7100-0193-2
  16. ^ "The Heroic Year: Front and Homeland Report the War"
  17. ^ Michael Balfour, Propaganda in War 1939-1945: Organisation, Policies and Publics in Britain and Germany, p158-9 ISBN 0-7100-0193-2
  18. ^ Michael Balfour, Propaganda in War 1939-1945: Organisation, Policies and Publics in Britain and Germany, p121 ISBN 0-7100-0193-2
  19. ^ Michael Balfour, Propaganda in War 1939-1945: Organisation, Policies and Publics in Britain and Germany, p149-50 ISBN 0-7100-0193-2
  20. ^ Michael Balfour, Propaganda in War 1939-1945: Organisation, Policies and Publics in Britain and Germany, p234 ISBN 0-7100-0193-2
  21. ^ Welch, 12.
  22. ^ "Illustrierter Beobachter"
  23. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 228 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  24. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 241-2 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  25. ^ a b Karel C. Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule p192 ISBN 0-674-01313-1
  26. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 17 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  27. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 17-8 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  28. ^ Piers Brendon, The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s, p35 ISBN 0-375-40881-9
  29. ^ a b "Twilight of the Jews"
  30. ^ "Reich Speaker School"
  31. ^ "Speakers Form the People's Soul"
  32. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 89 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  33. ^ "No Frostbite on the Eastern Front"
  34. ^ "Dealing with Cuts in Food Rations"
  35. ^ "Hitler Youth Speakers"
  36. ^ George Lachmann Mosse, Nazi culture: intellectual, cultural and social life in the Third Reich p 277 ISBN 9780299193041
  37. ^ Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II, p22 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York
  38. ^ Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II, p24 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York
  39. ^ a b eye magazine, "Designing heroes"
  40. ^ "Nazi Posters: 1933-1945"
  41. ^ "Nazi Racial School Charts"
  42. ^ Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p9 ISBN 0-9627613-1-1
  43. ^ a b Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II, p21 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York
  44. ^ Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II, p32 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York
  45. ^ George Lachmann Mosse, Nazi culture: intellectual, cultural and social life in the Third Reich p 1 ISBN 9780299193041
  46. ^ Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p 351, ISBN 03-076435-1
  47. ^ Pierre Aycoberry The Nazi Question, p8 Pantheon Books New York 1981
  48. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p. 79 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  49. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 143 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  50. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p. 76 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  51. ^ "Excerpts from a Nazi Geography Book (1943)"
  52. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 142 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  53. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p. 77 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  54. ^ "The Battle for Germany (1938)"
  55. ^ "Excerpts from a Nazi Reading Primer (1941)"
  56. ^ Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, p573 ISBN 0-393-02030-4
  57. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p. 77-8 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  58. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p. 78 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  59. ^ Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45 p194 1995 University of Chicago Press Chicago
  60. ^ Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45 p192 1995 University of Chicago Press Chicago
  61. ^ Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45 p193 1995 University of Chicago Press Chicago
  62. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p. 85 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  63. ^ "The Jewish Question in Education"
  64. ^ "Nazi Racial Teaching Guidelines"
  65. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p. 86 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  66. ^ Richard Wolin, The Seduction of Unreason p 125, ISBN 0-691-11464-1
  67. ^ a b "Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 7: FIFTY-FIRST DAY Tuesday, 5 February 1946"
  68. ^ Vica Nazi Propaganda Comics, Duke University Libraries Digital Collections.
  69. ^ "Zeitschriften-Dienst"
  70. ^ "Neues Volk"
  71. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 119 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  72. ^ "Frauen Warte"
  73. ^ a b Leila J. Rupp, Mobilizing Women for War, p 45, ISBN 05109-7
  74. ^ "The Spirit of Race"
  75. ^ "Ready to Die Ready to Live"
  76. ^ "Life Must Win"
  77. ^ "Mothers’ Day 1940"
  78. ^ "The Reich School for Brides"
  79. ^ "Strength from Love and Faith"
  80. ^ "Der Pimpf"
  81. ^ "Das deutsche Mädel"
  82. ^ "Signal: A Nazi Propaganda Magazine"
  83. ^ Meyer, S.L. Signal:Hitler’s Wartime Picture Magazine London:1976 Bison Publishing Co. Introduction, Pages 1-2
  84. ^ Photographs of the interior of Albert Speer's Reich Chancellery from Signal magazine:
  85. ^ Signal Magazine 1940-1945
  86. ^ a b c Radio Propaganda and Genocide
  87. ^ Goebbels on Radio
  88. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p 94 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  89. ^ "The Good Companion"
  90. ^ Mary Kenny, Germany Calling, Dublin, 2003, p. 175
  91. ^ Sean Murphy, Letting the Side Down: British Traitors of the Second World War, Stroud, 2006, pp. 50-102
  92. ^ The Press: Worst Best
  93. ^ John Carver Edwards, Berlin Calling: American Broadcasters in Service to the Third Reich, New York, 1991
  94. ^ Philippe Randa, Dictionnaire commenté de la Collaboration française, 1997
  95. ^ Murphy, Letting the Side Down, pp. 85-87
  96. ^ David Littlejohn, The Patriotic Traitors, London: Heinemann, 1972, p. 155
  97. ^ Ray Moseley, Mussolini: The Last 600 days of Il Duce, 2004, p. 118
  98. ^ Hate Radio
  99. ^ Caroline Fetscher, "Why Mention Arno Breker Today?", The Atlantic Times, August, 2006.
  100. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich p 138 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  101. ^ Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, p355-6 ISBN 0-393-02030-4
  102. ^ a b Frederic Spotts, Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, p 176 ISBN 1-58567-345-5
  103. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 172 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  104. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich p 177 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  105. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich p 178 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  106. ^ Susan Sontag, Fascinating Fascism
  107. ^ Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, p260 ISBN 0-393-02030-4
  108. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 66 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  109. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich p 132 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  110. ^ Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II, p25 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York
  111. ^ "Nazi War Art"
  112. ^ "Immortal German Culture"
  113. ^ a b Welch, 4
  114. ^ Welch, 3–5.
  115. ^ Welch, 7

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