How were the Nazi ideologies circulated across the Third Reich? How did a whole population come to support the party? A key tool used by the Nazi Party was propaganda and it was used to it’s full potential.
Joseph Goebbels – Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
Goebbels was a prominent and important figure in the Nazi party, especially as the orchestrator of the propaganda that spread across the Third Reich. Hitler chose the right man for his vision – Goebbels fully supported the Nazi’s views on racial purity and despised the Jews. Under his authority, the masses were ‘educated’ about the Nazi doctrine. Goebbels oversaw the creation of some of the most powerful and influential pieces of propaganda, so successful in their efforts, that they managed to gain the unquestioning support of hundreds of thousands of citizens across the Third Reich.
The ‘Master Race’
‘The German student fights for the Fuhrer and the people.’
The idea that the Nazi’s wanted to created a ‘master’ race is relatively well known. They promoted selective breeding in ways that are both repulsive and compelling. Hitler argued that in order for Germany to became a great power again after it’s crushing defeat in 1918, the ‘true’ German race had to rise again; in other words, if Germany were to become fully aryan again, then it would become the leader of the world. Aryan was defined by blonde hair, blue eyes and strength, as well as complete loyalty to the Fuhrer. ‘Pure’ German blood was encouraged – good Germans should not breed with undesirable blood, ie. Jewish, communist or slavic.
It wasn’t just physical looks that the Nazi’s promoted however, but physical strength. Whilst students were key to creating a educated population, the Nazi’s believed that the most honourable state to be in was fighting for the Fuhrer and their country. The student in this propaganda piece wears a brown shirt, just as Hitler’s ‘Brown Shirts’ did. To become educated was be to applauded but above all, a good, loyal German would put down his books and fight for his country.
The student here holds the Nazi flag proudly. After the shameful defeat during the First World War, the Nazi’s wanted to create a sense of pride in the population – pride in being German. The creation of a great and powerful State would help to do this but first, they needed the public to be proud enough of their German nationality to fight for it.
Fuhrer and Father
‘Children, what do you know of the Fuhrer?’
Hitler knew that he needed to create a good foundation in order to become fully and unquestionably supported. In order to do this, he needed to gain the support and awe of the younger generation of Germans so that their belief in his ideology was cemented throughout their lives. In order to do this, he created the persona of a father figure to the children of Germany in the hope that they would look up to him as they would their own parents, or, more importantly, hold him in higher esteem than the man and woman who raised them, as a Godly figure.
Hitler spent a lot of his time delivering passionate and often, stern, speeches. These would have been broadcasted all over Germany. Whilst they would have caught the attention of Germany’s adults, either through agreement or fear, they would have simply terrified the children. To prevent this, the idea that he was approachable was formed and distributed to the German youth, mainly through the Hitler youth programme. This allowed the German children to be indoctrinated from an early age and pledge their undoubting loyalty to the Fuhrer and Germany.
The Jewish Question
‘The Jewish God is Money’
Whilst a resentment towards the German Jewish population grew during the years of the Depression, it was paramount in Hitler’s view that every Germany should isolate their Jewish countrymen in an attempt to force them to leave. This was before the decision that the Jewish population should be rid of all together; before the Final Solution was agreed to. There was a problem however – not every German resented the Jews as much as the Nazi’s believed they should.
An epic and dehumanising campaign was launched to ‘educate’ the German people against the Jews. Many German Jewish citizens were completely assimilated and regarded themselves as loyal Germans. The Nazi’s argued that no Jew could be German, rather being Jewish was belonging to a race of it’s own, not just a religion. To indoctrinate the public into this belief, Jews were portrayed as having hooked noses, prominent features and as being grotesquely fat. The ‘fat’ Jew portrayed here is both a symbol of greed physically and well as metaphorically. The idea that the Jewish population were rich through greed and misery, as well as through theft, was fed to the German population in order to create a nationwide resentment towards their fellow Jewish man. In addition, this not only demeaned the religion as a whole but it also helped to form the opinion that Jewishness was not a faith – ‘God is money’ – but a race and therefore, they were not a part of the German race and culture.
Although the Nazi’s used scare tactics to create an obedient German nation, they knew that this was not enough to create complete loyalty. Hitler and his party used propaganda in a, arguably, very successful way to indoctrinate the population until their views and ideals were deeply rooted in the Germanic society.