The Significance of Nazi Propaganda under Hitler's Rule

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The Significance of Nazi Propaganda under Hitler's Rule

The appointment of Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany in 1933

should, in theory, have been nothing more than merely a change of

administration. However, from the start of their ‘seizure of power’

the Nazis were prepared to apply this power in ‘revolutionary’ ways.

(Fest, 1974, p.373). In the elections of 1933 that resulted in

Hitler’s chancellorship, the Nazi party only managed to gain 43.9% of

the vote; yet by 1939 they had the support of the majority of the

German population. There has been much debate during the last fifty

years, questioning how Nazism managed not only to have initially

attained their power, but also, how they managed to maintain this

power and so effortlessly and rapidly gain the support from the

majority of the German people (Fest, 1974, p.374). There have been

many factors which have been used to explain Hitler’s maintenance of

power from 1933-39, and the significance of propaganda has often been

given much of the credit for this. William Shirer, who lived and

worked in the Third Reich during the first half of its existence,

wrote that

no-one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly

conceive how difficult it is to escape the…consequences of a regime’s

calculated and incessant propaganda. (Shirer, 1962, p.248)

However, what this essay will attempt to show is that whilst the

significance of propaganda in maintaining Hitler in power cannot be

underestimated, it is not all-pervasive; even Goebbel’s “full bag of

tricks could not turn black into white” (Kershaw, 1991, p.89). In

order for propaganda to succeed it could, perhaps, b...

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...e of terror. Indeed Emil Lederer, a contemporary

observer argued that winning over the masses was not merely more

important than brutality as a means of control, but was the “necessary

pre-requisite for the use of terror.”(Hiden et al, 1983, p.53)


J Fest (1974) Hitler (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)

D Geary (1993) Hitler and Nazism (Routledge)

J Hiden & J Farquharson (1983) Explaining Hitler’s Germany (Batsford

Academic and Educational Ltd, 1989 edn)

I Kershaw (1991) Hitler ( Longman)

S Lee (1998) Hitler and Nazi Germany (Routledge)

D Peukert (1987) Inside Nazi Germany (B.T. Batsford Ltd)

W Shirer (1962) The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (The Reprint

Society Ltd)

D Welch (1983) Nazi Propaganda (Croom Helm Ltd)

D Welch (1995) The Third Reich – Politics and Propaganda (Routledge)
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