- Published: November 9, 2022
- Updated: November 9, 2022
- University / College: University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
- Language: English
- Downloads: 2
The Nazis used propaganda to a great extent in Germany. It was impossible to escape and millions of ordinary Germans came across Propaganda every day. Not all the propaganda in Nazi Germany was successful but I believe that overall propaganda was massively successful in gaining Hitler and the Nazis support and influencing Germans with Nazi ideas and attitudes. By dominating all aspects of society many Germans were well informed about the policies of the Nazis and the success of the propaganda used made Hitler extremely popular amongst Germans. However despite my opinion not all Nazi propaganda was successful. For example the exhibit of “ Degenerate Art” attracted two million visitors, whilst the exhibition of “ Great German Art” only attracted 600, 000 visitors.
The Degenerate Art exhibition reflected the disruption of established values under the Weimar Republic. The work included unsettling subjects, unnatural colours, and distorted forms. The exhibition of “ Great German Art” aimed to glorify Nazis and German people, but also to indoctrinate ordinary Germans on how they should and should not live their lives.
It is obvious from the two exhibitions that Germans did not support this view. A successful use of propaganda was film. Goebbels used film to deliver subliminal messages and reinforce prejudices.
It was also used to make Germans feel more relaxed about their own lives, so that they could escape from the pressure of everyday life. Goebbels addresses a careful divide between propaganda and entertainment. This is what made cinema such a successful medium.
Goebbels films varied from comedies, adventure to political films, which were based upon the mocking of Jews, communists and praising the Aryan race and Hitler. Films such as Leni Riefenstahl’s ‘ Triumph of the Will’ succeeded in portraying how powerful Hitler and the German people were, however to Goebbels it was too political. This did not matter as the film greatly promoted Nazi policies. In 1933, the number of American films shown in German cinemas was 64.
This number dropped to 5 in 1940. Also between 1933 and 1945 there were well over a thousand films made during the Third Reich. From these figures it is clear that film was a continual success. However propaganda wasn’t always effective when it was trying to prove that the master race was superior. During the Berlin Olympics in 1936, the Nazis wanted to show the world how well organized, modern and superior the Aryan race was but they failed. Jesse Owens, a black athlete, won many medals at the event and became very popular with the German crowd. Although Germany as a nation won the most medals it was a huge disappointment for Nazis as a whole because Nazis wanted the crowds full attention on the Aryan athletes however the real star was Jesse Owens.
One of the most powerful propaganda instruments was radio. Radio allowed Hitler to speak directly to people in their own homes. Goebbels formed the Reich Radio Company, which allowed him to control all local radio stations. Millions of very cheap radios called ‘ The Peoples Receiver’ were made. These were very successful as by 1939, over 70% of German households owned a radio. By 1941, there were 15 million radio sets in private ownership. The radios could not pick up foreign stations, which was crucial for Hitler, as he didn’t want Germans to hear what other nations were saying about the Nazi policies and the treatment of Jews.
One of the Nazis greatest successes during their years in power was the way they managed to portray Hitler’s popularity. During the Reichstag elections in 1933, less then half of the electorate voted for Hitler and the Nazi Party. By the end of 1934, Goebbels had created Hitler as a ‘ symbol of the nation’ and a ‘ peoples chancellor’. Through the use of Nazi Propaganda the ‘ Hitler Myth’ was established.
Hitler was portrayed as hardworking, a political genius, peaceful and ruthless in fighting. Of course the reality was very different from these propaganda images. In reality Hitler was lazy. Hitler spent his days eating, taking walks and watching films. When it came to written documents, and discussions on policy Hitler rarely got involved. When he faced problems Hitler would delay making a decision for months.
Propaganda was also used in education. Hitler knew that indoctrinating adults would be very hard, however indoctrinating young children would be much easier. After all they were the next generation and were supposedly meant to carry on Hitler’s regime. The National Socialist Teachers League was created in 1927, where all teachers were expected to join. Teachers were expected to be the mouthpieces of the Nazi regime, promoting Nazi policies at all times in their lessons. Political indoctrination appeared in every single lesson. Biology lessons involved stressing on the Aryan race and the survival of the fittest. Physical Education included military drills to emphasis on the healthy Germans idea.
Another way children were also indoctrinated by was the Hitler Youth. Hitler wanted to turn the young into loyal Nazis, so he made all other youth organizations apart from those of the Church, under Nazi control or banned them completely. Membership was made compulsory in 1939.
Children were encouraged to join the Hitler Youth through recruiting posters. Hitler offered many opportunities for children, especially boys. Boys participated in a series of military drills and physical activities to prepare them for the soldier roles.
They also sang various Nazi songs and had to read political pamphlets. Girls were encouraged to join the BDM. Hygiene, healthy eating, dancing and gymnastics were emphasised to prepare them for the role of future child bearers. Both boys and girls enjoyed their experiences at Hitler Youth because most of them were participating in activities that they had either never tried or weren’t allowed by their parents. Clearly the Hitler Youth was very successful because in 1939, it had almost 9, 000, 000 members.
However by the late 1930’s numbers declined because of the large amount of military training. Also some children were afraid of the harsh punishments. It was no longer thrilling to be there, if anything it had become a chore. Goebbels and Hitler used their propaganda skills to convey to the German people that there were rising living standards.
Through speeches and radio broadcasts Hitler would express the ‘ battle for work’. This meant he was telling German people that unemployment was no longer a problem. He convinced this idea, through a variety of ways. One being the advertisement of the ‘ peoples car’. The Autobahns were a great propaganda success in terms of getting the publics attention. However only members of the German elite could afford them not ordinary Germans, therefore it was partly a failure. To an extent living standards did rise but this depended on how much people earned. Consumers could only afford to buy enough to feed their families.
The consumption of higher value foods such as eggs and fruit declined while the consumption of cheaper foods like potatoes increased. Nazis were aware of these problems and in order to maybe hide them, they used propaganda to advertise the “ Strength Through Joy’ organization. This gave the working class a chance to go on cruises and holidays in Germany.
Of course, Germans didn’t know that the real reason for this campaign was actually so that the Nazis could keep an eye on them. It was another way of indoctrinating the German people and also to prevent them from having any free time to themselves. In one way ‘ Strength Through Joy’ was a very successful propaganda campaign because by 1936 35 million people belonged to it.
There were many activities on the cruises including swimming pools, gyms and theatres. However the negatives were that tickets were very expensive to buy. Only ten percent of the people on the cruises were working class, the rest were from middle classes.
There were several reporting’s of fights and drunkenness on board. Despite all the ways of propaganda that I have mentioned so far, I believe that the strongest form of propaganda that the Nazis used was Terror. The Gestapo, even though it only had 20, 000 officers, was hugely effective amongst the German people.
Their job wasn’t only to spy on people, but also to encourage people to attend party rallies and spread the swastika flag. The Gestapo was very successful in creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion amongst the public. People believed that the Gestapo was watching their every move. Therefore Germans quickly adjusted to behave accordingly. Overall I think Nazi propaganda was very effective, in particular I think that the indoctrination of children had a huge impact.
Children were more vunerable than adults because their minds weren’t fully developed therefore it was easy for Nazis to indoctrinate them. At such a young age children were taught about who was superior (Nazis) and who was inferior (Jews and communists). They were also taught about the Aryan race through biology lessons. Children were even allowed to report any foul speaking about the Nazis or Hitler to the Gestapo, whether it was their teachers, friends, and even their own relatives. Parades such as the one in Berlin 1933, where students were encouraged to burn any text books by Jews, represented complete indoctrination. There were also many failures in propaganda such as the Berlin Olympics, where instead of showing the rest of the world how superior the Aryan race was, the opposite happened as Jesse Owens received the most attention. Another failure was newspapers. Although Goebbels managed to control most newspapers, it resulted in the papers becoming boring and not attracted as many people.
Compared to having 4700 papers in 1933, this number quickly declined to 1000 in 1944. There are as many failures as successes but in my opinion propaganda was mostly all effective otherwise Nazi’s would never of received as much support as they did.
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