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Propaganda propaganda that would convince Germans to agree with

Propaganda is also known as the art of
persuasion. Hitler successfully used propaganda to become the absolute dictator
of Germany.  As Hitler once said,
“Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people… Propaganda works on
the general public from standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the
victory of this idea”1. In order to pave his way to power, Hitler
used propaganda to broadcast the principles of National Socialism, along with
anti-Semitism.

The first part of creating propaganda
that would convince Germans to agree with Nazi Germany was to construct a simple and agreeable message. This message
would tell people what they wanted to hear, even if it wasn’t the truth. Next,
another very significant component of Nazi propaganda was repetition. They
realized that their messages were more likely to become a reality if they were
repeated enough so that people would talk about it. Joseph Goebbels explains
this by saying, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people
will eventually come to believe it.”2 Finally, the absolute most important
part of propaganda was the ability to create a
subconscious action to move people to take action. The purpose of the Nazi
propaganda was to encourage people to join the Nazis and agree with their
ideas.

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The
Nazis did not invent the method of using propaganda to influence people’s
opinions in war. Propaganda has been used throughout history to persuade large quantities
of people. For example, in World War 1, both sides of the war used propaganda
to persuade men to enlist in the army by selling the idea of how great and
glorious the war would be. But propaganda goes even further back, way before
World War 1. In ancient civilizations, propaganda was used to mold religious
and political opinions. Instead of using the radio and television like today,
the ancient Greeks used theatre, games, handwritten books, and religious
festivals as chances to propagandize their beliefs.

One of
Adolf Hitler’s first acts after he was elected chancellor in 1933 was to create
the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. By doing this, Hitler demonstrated his belief that controlling information was just as
important as controlling the military and economy. He was aware of the effect
that good propaganda would have on the public’s views and opinions.

Hitler
put Dr. Joseph Goebbels in charge of propaganda as the “Minister of
Enlightenment”.  He had very strong
anti-Semitic views and was one of Hitler’s close associates. His two main obligations
were to guarantee that no one in Germany could read or see anything that was damaging
to the Nazi Party in any way and to broadcast the views of the Nazis in the
most convincing way he possibly could. His control of propaganda extended over
all media of the time—newspapers, radio, movies, literature, music and art. Goebbels
studied how advertisement companies in the United States worked. 3
He was known to keep his messages short and simple so that there could be no
misinterpretation of it’s meaning. He would punctuate his sentences with
capital letters to stress certain words or parts. For example, “What we demand
is NEW, CLEAR-CUT and RADICAL, therefore in the long run REVOLUTIONARY. The
upheaval we want is to be achieved first of all IN THE SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE. We
know no IFS OR BUTS, we know only EITHER…OR.”4                                                                                                                     Another
example of Hitler’s use of propaganda is the movie, Triumph of the Will. It is
a movie directed and co-written by Leni Riefenstahl. Hitler commissioned Leni
personally to document the 8th Nazi Party Congress that happened in 1934. Hitler
had his mind set on having Leni as the director for this movie. She agreed, but
she had only one condition, which was that no one could interfere or even watch
the film before it was finished. To be able to capture a multitude of images,
Leni used 30 operational cameras to film the movie. Those scenes were later
edited with German music, which was strategically used to play with the
emotions of the German people by making them feel patriotic and nationalistic.

Triumph of the Will is the movie that is the most associated with Nazis. It has
been recognized as more of a masterpiece of propaganda than a cinematic
masterpiece. 5 It is different than other films of the time
because of Leni Riefenstahl’s use of physical gaps and division between leader
and followers. It shows events such as mass assemblies, parades, speeches –
that are happening as if the camera was not even recording. Nazis dedicated
plenty of time between the film’s release in 1935 and the war to encourage the
idea that Triumph of the Will was a huge advancement in filmmaking. This was a deliberate
message to promote Nazi art as superior, and to even suggest that the Nazi
mechanism could produce better art than artists that weren’t a part of the Nazi
party. Triumph of the Will turned out to be one of the best-known examples of
propaganda in all of history.

The
Nuremberg Rallies were an additional key factor of Nazi propaganda. They were
annual rallies hosted by the Nazis in southern Germany. The Nuremberg rallies
began in 1927 and were held annually until 1938. The largest rallies began in
1933, when Hitler became the chancellor of Germany. An architect named Albert
Speer was hired to design the rallies in order to promote Nazi beliefs. Speer
accomplished this by using large swastikas, huge banners, and searchlights. The
events were planned carefully to be able to accommodate enormous crowds and to guarantee
that Nazi policies were being promoted. Each day fixated on different speeches,
all encouraging Nazi ideas.

The
Nuremberg Rallies always succeeded in sponsoring Nazi beliefs and it was at the
1935 Rally that the Nuremberg Laws were passed against the Jews. The Nuremberg
laws were new rules, which recognized many of the racial theories dominant in
Nazi ideology. The Nuremberg Laws did not define a “Jew” as someone with
particular religious beliefs. Instead, anyone who had three or four Jewish
grandparents was defined as a Jew, no matter if that person identified
themselves as a Jew or belonged to the Jewish religion. Even people who were
Christian but had Jewish grandparents were defined as Jews.  Propaganda
also helped lay the foundation for the announcement of major anti-Jewish
statutes at Nuremberg on September 15, 1935. The decrees followed a wave of
anti-Jewish violence committed by impatient Nazi Party radicals.

Censorship
was large throughout Nazi Germany. It ensured that the population of Germany would
only see what the Nazis wanted them to see, hear, or read. In other words, the
Nazis were able to control what the population of Germany would be exposed to
through censorship. Nazi student organizations, professors, and librarians came
together and made a list of books they thought should not be read by Germans. On
May 10, 1933, Nazis attacked libraries and bookstores throughout Germany. They
marched by torchlight in parades at night, sang, and burnt the books in huge
bonfires. On that night over 25,000 books were burned.  The purpose of this was to “purify” German
language and literature. Jewish writers, including scientist Albert Einstein
and Sigmund Freud, wrote some of the books that were burned. However, the
majority of the books were by non-Jewish writers. The Nazis also destroyed
Helen Keller’s books. She had overcome her deafness and blindness to write. Her
response was, “Tyranny cannot defeat the power of ideas”5. She also
published an open letter to German students where she wrote, “you may burn my
books and the books of the best minds in Europe, but the ideas those books
contain have passed through millions of channels and will go on.”6. Hundreds
of thousands of people living in the United States at the time protested the book
burnings taking place in Germany in public rallies all around the United States
because they were clearly a violation of freedom of speech.

In conclusion,
the Nazis used propaganda effectively to assemble the German population to
support its wars of conquest until the very end of the regime. Nazi propaganda
was absolutely essential to motivating those who implemented the mass murder of
the Jews and other victims of the Nazi regime. It also served to secure the
agreement of millions of others—as bystanders—to
racially targeted persecution and mass murder.

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