February 27, 2012

WW2 PROPAGANDA: WAR OF WORDS Part 2 Nazi Propaganda

By the time he rose to power in 1933 Adolf Hitler was made into the very personification of a "saviour" and mesmerized millions of Germans who worshiped him as an idol. In the video above he presented himself as the collective consciousness of the German people, acting on behalf of their interests, and spewed rhetoric of the need to defend Germany against its enemies. The German people looked up to him as their only hope for the restoration of their national pride and readily embraced everything that he said believing it to be the Gospel truth.

The Treaty of Versailles of 1919 had dealt Germany harsh terms after their defeat in World War I. It forced them to admit responsibility for causing the war and imposed stringent demilitarization in addition to territorial changes and financial reparations. The humiliation and anger felt by the German people was shared by Hitler and it was from this cauldron of discontent that he emerged to lead the nation. The German people saw him as the only leader who was capable of restoring Germany to glory. But the world recognized him for what he was, the Incarnation of Evil.

This propaganda poster underscored by the inscription "Long live Germany" depicted Hitler as a savior to the nation.  It illustrates a silhouette of the German eagle as if it were descending from the heavens, like the dove which descended upon Jesus Christ at his Baptism. Nazi propaganda projected Hitler as the very embodiment of the German nation. It is interesting to note that before Hitler's appearances at Nazi rallies, his deputy Rudolph Hess would deliver rousing introductions, bordering on the verge of hysteria, and proclaimed to ecstatic crowds that "The Party is Hitler! But Hitler is Germany, as Germany is Hitler!" It was not an improvisation but the tactics of a meticulously prepared propaganda. The tone of these words held an uncanny similarity to those spoken by Jesus to his disciples. In the Book of John, Chapter 14:20, Jesus said, "In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you."The origin of one was totalitarian and the other Divine, but both statements were an affirmation of absolute unity, calling for the total sacrifice and subordination of the individual to an established doctrine.

This is an NSDAP (Nazi Party) poster which was circulated in Germany circa 1924. It depicted an eagle as having broken free from its chains and the symbol of the rising swastika on the horizon as the harbinger of a new dawn. It was a Nazi promise that under the yoke of Hitler, Germany would be liberated from the bondage that was the Treaty of Versailles. During the inter-war period, the Weimar Republic experienced an alarming degree of hyperinflation which led to Germany defaulting on its reparation payments. Consequently, French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr seizing valuable industrial assets. The climate of resentment and outrage was fertile ground for Hitler and the Nazi Party to wield its ideology.

Propaganda was the key. Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" published in 1925 was a veritable blueprint of theories and ideologies that would later become instrumental in the policies of the Third Reich. This treatise on propaganda was permeated with Hitlers perverse vision of the world and of humanity, and amounted to nothing more than a jumble of logical fallacies. Just like all the despots who came before, and after him, Hitler understood the means with which to conquer the soul of the German people, and to defeat his enemies. Simplicity and generalizations were the order of the day, as provided by the following quotation.

"The people in their overwhelming majority are so feminine by nature and attitude that sober reasoning determine their thoughts and actions far less than emotion and feeling. And this sentiment is not complicated, but very simple and all of a piece. It does not have multiple shadings; it has a positive and a negative; love or hate; right or wrong; truth or lie; never half this way and half that way, never partially, or that kind of thing." (Hitler)

Hitler knew that the most effective propaganda campaigns had to be constructed with the most simplest of messages, so that the weakest link in society could understand them. It had enormous appeal not only to young Germans but to compatriots who were provincial in their outlook of things. He said that "the receptive powers of the masses are very restricted and their understanding feeble. On the other hand they quickly forget." Posters and photographs of Hitler posing with German children were intended to project his image as that of a loveable father figure. Stalin, who was as great a mass murderer as Hitler, generated the same kind of propaganda.

Just eight days after having been elected as Chancellor of Germany, Hitler established the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and appointed Joseph Goebbels as its head. Their objective was to spread Nazi ideology throughout the globe, and maintain an iron-fisted control over every aspect of German society and culture. One department dealt exclusively with German and international newspapers. Other departments worked on assigned portfolios such as Budget, Law, Propaganda, Radio, Film, Personal, Defence, International, Theatre, Music, Literature, Visual Arts, and Tourism. In 1933 the fledgling Ministry had only five departments and 350 employees but by 1939 at the start of World War II there were 2,000 employees in 17 departments. Quite noteworthy is that between 1933 and 1941 the Ministry's propaganda budget skyrocketed from 14 million to 187 million Reichsmarks.

Hitler Youth was established in 1922 as a paramilitary division of the Nazi Party composed of youth 14 to 18 years of age but included members as young as 10 years old.  They were considered the future of the German Reich and were indoctrinated in Nazi ideology at a very young age - inculcated with the principles of honour, sacrifice and anti-Semitism.  As part of their scouting activities they went camping, played sports, exercised and competed for badges. They also distributed Nazi propaganda literature, and recruited new members. Initially none received weapons training, however during the Allied bombing of Germany, boys of Hitler Youth charged into battle willing to die for Hitler. The girls however were groomed for a future role of wife and mother.

Nazi ideology was diffused through a vast array of propaganda in the form of posters, film, literature and even postage stamps glorifying German women in the role of motherhood for the Reich. Women were encouraged to have as many children as possible otherwise, Hitler warned, the German race would be overrun by so-called inferior races. They even received "mothers crosses", medals that looked similar to military decorations, in gold, silver, or bronze. The bronze medal was awarded to mothers with four children, the silver medal to mothers of 6 children, and the gold medal to mothers of 8 or more children.  They were distributed annually at Mother's Day rallies, and members of the Hitler Youth were ordered to salute them military-style. The good German mother was considered to be the one who submitted to to the demands of the State while fulfilling her destiny of protecting the purity of German pedigree.

anchluss propaganda postcard

Upon Hitler's rise to power, he revived the ambitions for Pan-Germanism, a political ideology based on ethnocentrism and racism which had its origins in the 19th century. Its aim was the reunification of all Germanic peoples of Europe, and was the impetus that led to the anchluss - the occupation and annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany in March 1938 followed soon after by the annexation of Sudetenland and the occupation of Czechoslovakia. Ambitions for Pan-Germanism was not a new concept but originally took hold during the Napoleonic wars with the birth of "romantic nationalism". Germany's history had long been one of fragmentation consisting of a disconnected patchwork of states.  It was the goal of the Nazi Party to re-unite ethnic Germans into a larger "Great Germany" through invasion and "liberation" of neighbouring countries.

Poster Nazi Blitzkrieg of Poland 

The major focus of Nazi ideology was Hitler's vision of
"lebensraum", that is, living space for the Greater German state  After having already annexed Austria, and invaded Czechoslovakia, Germany targeted Poland. Hitler feigned an attempt to negotiate with the Polish government for the control of the Free City of Danzig, and access through the Polish Corridor to East Prussia, but Poland refused, cognizant of Hitlers real agenda.  On August 31, 1939, Nazi SS disguised in Polish uniforms staged an attack against a German radio station at Gleiwitz (Gliwice) and broadcast the incident to the world as so-called "evidence" of Polish aggression against Germany.  It was the pretext that Hitlerr needed to start a war. The very next day Germany invaded Poland without a declaration of war.

Polish civilians and soldiers in towns throughout the western frontier of Poland fled the German onslaught. In the town of Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) the Poles who fled succeeded in killing approximately 5,000 to 6,000 ethnic Germans. These Germans who were formerly neighbors, were suspected by the Poles of being spies for the Nazi regime, traitors, or snipers. Nazi propagandists pounced on the opportunity to elicit support from Germans and the world by fabricating the number of Germans killed to that of 58,000. The Nazis published the following photograph in one of their newspapers as "proof" of the atrocities committed by the Polish people.  Wehrmacht soldiers and journalists were photographed inspecting the scene of a so-called massacre of Bloody Sunday, September 3, 1939. Notice the editor's crop marks at the top of the photo, an indicator that it was selected for publication in a Nazi newspaper.

Anglio Twoje Dzielo! ( Britain, Your Work!)
This Nazi propaganda poster depicted the image of a wounded Polish soldier blaming Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for the Polish defeat in the September Campaign in September 1939.  (The British Prime Minister had already ceded Czechoslovakia to Hitler a year earlier as a result of the Munich Agreement.) Hence, Nazi propaganda attempted to persuade the Poles into joining the German army but few did. The Polish people harbored a great deal of animosity and distrust against Germany, the result of centuries of German occupation and partition of Poland.

"Der Pimpf" was the name of a Nazi magazine which began publication in 1935, as "Morgan", but was changed in 1937. The name "Der Pimpf"  means "little rascal", "scamp", or "little fart." The magazine had wide appeal among young German boys who were easily indoctrinated with Nazi ideology. It contained articles glorifying the adventures of the Hitler Youth and urged young Germans to aspire to become SS soldiers.  On the cover of this issue, a drawing of the Polish cavalry was depicted as charging towards German tanks.  This was purely a myth perpetuated by the Nazis, from the first day that Poland was invaded by Germany. In the "Skirmish of Krojanty"  the Polish cavalry led a charge against a German infantry battalion but was forced to retreat under a barrage of fire by German armoured personnel carriers. Shortly thereafter a team of reporters had converged on the area, and seeing the dead bodies of Polish cavalrymen and their horses, assumed that they had charged against German tanks. It provided the Nazis with the opportunity to perpetuate the myth, in an effort to undermine and humiliate the Poles in the eyes of the world.To this day, many people still believe this Nazi propaganda.

Nazi German Poster of Eagle with wings spread over Europe and Russia ("Deutschlands Europaische Sendung") This poster was distributed by the Nazis throughout occupied Europe, circa 1942 onward. It was an attempt by Hitler to persuade Europe that Germany was part of the Eastern crusade against Bolshevism. (The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, ie, the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union, signed on August 23, 1939 was the precursor to the joint invasion and partition of Poland on September 1st, 1939.) The treaty  was abrogated when Hitler turned his armies against Russia in June 1941.  Hitler called it Operation Barbarossa, named after the medieval ruler Frederick Barbarossa, who according to legend would rescue Germany in her time of need.  Despite initial successes the Nazi armies were ultimately decimated.

Der Sturmer was the most vehemently anti-Semitic newspaper in Nazi Germany. This image was the front page of its May 1934 issue which depicted a caricature of Jewish men collecting the blood of Christian children for a religious ritual.  It was one of many anti-Semitic slurs against the Jews and included accusations of pornography, anti-capitalism and anti-catholicism. Jews were portrayed as ugly characters with grotesque facial features and misshapen bodies.  The publisher of the tabloid, Julius Streicher, promoted the myth of blood libel which had originated during the Middle Ages. It claimed that Jews killed Christian children, sacrificed them and drank their blood.  This propaganda continues today and finds acceptance largely among the uneducated, the provincial, and most particularly the disenfranchised.

Nazi propaganda portrayed the Jews as the cause of all Germany's economic and social problems and accused them of international capitalism and Bolshevism.  In a speech given by Hitler at a Nazi rally, he asked the audience who was responsible for Germany's defeat in WWI and the audience erupted "the Jews". The indoctrination was complete.  In this poster from 1942, the Jews were depicted carriers of typhus. It was a metaphor Hitler often used to portray Jews as a source of moral and social decay. By then Jews had been deported to Nazi German concentration camps where they were starved, tortured and worked to death. Outbreaks of typhus in the camps and lice infestation among the Jewish inmates were held as "proof" by the Nazis that the Jews were a race of "dangerous bacillus".

Translated to English, the slogan means "Smash the Enemies of Greater Germany",  and illustrated the anger felt by Germans against Britain, US, and Russia. This poster dates to the summer of 1940. At that time a battle was raging which ultimately marked the turning point for Allied fortunes during WWII. It was the Battle of Britain, which pitched the forces of the Luftwaffe against that of the RAF. Germany failed to destroy Britain's formidable air defenses and met with its first major defeat of the war. Churchill praised Allied pilots who fought in Battle of Britain in a historic speech - "Never was so much owed by so many to so few".

Fundamental to Nazi ideology was the myth of the "master race" exemplified by the white skin, and blue-eyed blondes of the German and Nordic peoples, and with it came the notion of safeguarding the so-called "purity" of their race as a means to preserve their idea of cultural superiority in a world of mongrels. Much of this theory has been borrowed from various sources. The writings of a French aristocrat and racial theorist, Arthur de Gobineau claimed that the fall of the ancient regime in France was the result of racial degradation brought about by racial mixing, for which he blamed the Jews. (This provided the Nazi Party with fodder to make similar pronouncements about the Jews in relation to Germans.)  But Hitler was most influenced by a French biologist and founder of genetics Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who, unlike Darwin, categorized each race in a specific order from the origin of apes. A German geneticist, Ernst Haeckel elaborated on this theory by organizing each race in gradations from "fully human" to "subhuman". The word "aryan" was derived from the Sanskrit word "arya" which means "honourable", "respectable" and "noble" however in its original unadulterated version, arya did not refer to Germanic peoples but rather to the Indo-Iranian peoples. However by the 18th century Europeans altered its definition to include Indo-European ancestry which included Greeks, Latin, and Germans. 

Nazi Propaganda Film
The Eternal Jew
"Der Ewige Jude" (The Eternal Jew) was a Nazi propaganda film produced by the Ministry of Propaganda headed by Joseph Goebbels.  As with all other media generated by the Nazi Party, its intention was to mold public opinion. It was always the same refrain; to stereotype the Jews as grotesque, as parasitic and as untermenschen bent on enslaving the world. The film was produced as if it were a documentary but it was a chain of staged events narrated with the most venomous vitriol. The Germans ordered the Jewish congregation of Vilker synagogue to assemble for full services wearing tallithim and tefillin.  When the Rabbi was ordered to read from the Torah, he looked at the camera and uttered, "Today is Tuesday". It was a signal to indicate that the assembly was coerced, because the Torah is never read on Tuesdays.

This Nazi propaganda poster dated from 1941 reads as "Europe's Victory is Your Prosperity". Germany is depicted here by the mailed fist which is shown to have defeated England, hence the cross on the graveyard, and is then poised to destroy Stalin and the Soviet Union. (But Hitler was unable to invade England in 1940 which marked his first major defeat in the war. His adventures in the Soviet Union will have proved equally futile, but with greater losses.)  Hitler was vehemently opposed to communism and regarded the Soviet Union as the repository of European Jewry and Bolsheviks. He warned that a "victory of Bolshevism over Germany would not lead to a Versailles Treaty, but to the final destruction, indeed the annihilation of the German people."  Until 1942, the Nazis promoted the slogan, "Der Russe sei eine Bestie, er muesse verrecken." meaning "the Russian is a beast, he must croak" but the slur was quickly dropped when the German labor force needed Russian workers.  Hitler also condemned capitalism, and the Jews for monopolizing global wealth for "selfish purposes". (Such generalizations were used by the Nazi Party in a calculated attempt to rally support from German factions left and right.) The impetus for invading Russia was to guarantee the security and safety of a Greater Germany however "lebensraum" or "living space" was a really a euphemism for Nazi plunder of neighboring countries.

Editor's Note:
The video, images and quotations presented in this special series are for educational purposes and not meant as dissemination of Nazi propaganda.  Our best defense against propaganda is knowing how to define and identify it.

Polish Greatness.com and Polish Greatness (Blog) are fiercely opposed to Nazism and neo-Nazism and strongly condemns all private or public persons, organizations, leaders, and nations which promote hate propaganda in any form.


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