Nazism Essay, Research Paper
he National Socialist German Workers Party almost died one morning in 1919. It numbered only a few dozen grumblers it had no organization and no political ideas. But many among the middle class admired the Nazis muscular opposition to the Social Democrats. And the Nazis themes of patriotism and militarism drew highly emotional responses from people who could not forget Germany s pre-war imperial grandeur. In the national elections of September 1930, the Nazis received nearly 6.5 million votes and became second only to the Social Democrats as the most popular party in Germany. In Northeim, where in 1928 Nazi candidates had received 123 votes, they now polled 1,742, a respectable 28 percent of the total. The nation-wide success drew even faster… in just three years, party membership would rise from about 100,000 to almost a million, and the number of local branches would increase tenfold. The new members included working-class people, farmers, and middle-class professionals. They were both better educated and younger then the Old Fighters, who had been the backbone of the party during its first decade. The Nazis now presented themselves as the party of the young, the strong, and the pure, in opposition to an establishment populated by the elderly, the weak, and the dissolute.
As Hitler rose to power and became the Chancellor of Germany, he wielded unlimited and often ruthless authority. He destroyed democratic institutions in Germany, condemned avant-garde art, modern architecture, atonal music, and jazz as degenerate 1. Nazi rule after 1933 was totalitarian. The Nazi regime was not just another German government, for it concentrated on the transformation of Germany, which aimed at affecting the lives and thoughts of every German citizen. If Hitler wanted to rise to power, he had to use propaganda to influence the people. As he wrote in his book Mein Kampf to whom should propaganda be addressed? To the scientifically trained intelligentsia or to the less educated masses? It must be addressed always and solely to the masses 2.
Many ordinary people found it almost impossible to escape the propaganda in which Joseph Goebbels was a genius in promoting Nazi ideals through films, theatre and radio. Most Germans did seem happy with Nazi control and rule, those however who weren t, were severely dealt with by either the Gestapo or the SS. Although Hitler did use terror extensively, social and economic policies such as Strength through Joy, which organized leisure activities for the people and the Reinhardt program which gave a one billion mark boost to public works program, restored the prosperity of many German workers and civilians who suffered enormously from the Weimar years 3.
The organization of Nazi control was clearly well structured and organized. With Hitler as the supreme ruler, key figures had to be implemented in areas needed so the people of Germany would accept Nazism at its height. No better individual used this to the Nazi s advantage than the Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels was a genius at propaganda; he used basic concepts including the use of stereotypes to refer to enemies, the creation of scapegoats for Germany s problems and the bigger the lie, the better. Goebbels aimed to use his genius to promote Nazi ideals and beliefs as the only truth. Through this he controlled films in which he owned 93 per cent of and not used it to promote Nazi idealism, but used it to distract the people of the nation to keep them from forming any rebellions and avoid any trouble. Press and radio were also under the control of the Nazis. Max Amann (Nazi writer) controlled 80 per cent of German newspapers. Newspapers had rulings on what they could write about, which meant nothing opposing or critising Nazism. There were only two radio stations in Germany. National radio in Berlin and the local radio station controlled by the local Nazi representative. Workers on many occasions were sometimes forced to stop work and listen to Nazi messages, to reveal how it was near impossible to escape Nazi control due to propaganda. This is also seen through the 6000 loud speakers, which were situated around the city. In literature, old Germanic themes were encouraged. In architecture, neo-classical styles were followed, as seen in the work of Hitler s architect Albert Speer. The Berlin Olympics of 1936 provided the essential element for Goebbels to stage a massive propaganda show to the world. To show exactly what influence Hitler had on the Olympics, whenever he appeared at an event the Germans were almost certain of victory in the respective event.
The subliminal aspect of Nazi propaganda can most easily be seen in the work of German filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl directed one of the most famous propaganda movies of all time, Triumph of the Will. It is the only film in which Hitler played the leading role. During the film’s prologue, Hitler descends from the heavens like the messiah to the masses waiting for him in search of salvation.
Although it is now thought that Riefenstahl was put up to making films that glorified Nazi Germany by Hitler, and received Nazi funding, some believe that she was an innocent and aspiring filmmaker destroyed by speculation and rumormongering 4. Evidence of propaganda in her films did not stop at Triumph of the Will. Riefenstahl went onto produce two films about the Berlin Olympics, a worldwide event dominated and controlled by Nazi Germany, both of which carried subliminal messages of Nazi propaganda. Festival of Nations and Festival of Beauty provided a glimpse into the Berlin Olympics, while at the same time offering a new dimension to the reality of the Third Reich. The films suggested that the German athletes were not merely competing for themselves and pride in their country, but to defend and worship Hitler. Similar to other films of the time, these works reaffirmed the belief that Hitler was a god to the German people; and that the only way to worship and demonstrate loyalty toward him was to defeat all competitors. Riefenstahl’s films brought the comparison between Hitler and a demigod to an entirely different level. Where other films simply showed people giving praise to him, Riefenstahl’s films showed people praying and bowing to Hitler. Her films brought a religious fervor to the worship of Hitler that had never been seen before in any Nazi propaganda films.
Goebbels awarded Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will the best film prize at a 1935 International Film Conference. With this award, Goebbels made his intentions apparent while at the same time unmasking propaganda that lay beneath the surface of Riefenstahl’s film.
A carefully planned and organized propaganda helped Hitler to rise to power. With the aid of newspaper s, music, and literature, they made him out to be almost a god like figure. It helped him for several years until the Allies defeated him. His reign over the German people was less than memorable. It was a terrifying, horrible time in German history.