How Successful Was Nazi Propaganda in the Period 1933-39?

Topics: Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, Nazism Pages: 14 (4440 words) Published: October 8, 1999
How is Success of Propaganda Gauged?
The Nazi propaganda machine is at times impressive, at times unusual, at times terrifying.
"...Everything is propaganda."

The Nazis understood human psychology. It was Goebbels' simple realisation that, for instance in cinematic propaganda, there was a need for the viewer to be entertained. Otherwise, there would be no interest in watching at all. This is simply a single instance of the successfulness of Nazi propaganda. Goebbels realised this and corrected it.

How can success be gauged? Maybe by considering the theories and practices of propaganda such as with the cinema - but how can one know how much propaganda was reaching people? - Therefore how successful it was? There was no market research, very few non-Gestapo conducted opinion polls to look at... and even if there were many others, the information would not be accurate - the opinions affected. Who would, in Nazi Germany 1933-39, tell a street researcher that they believed "Triumph of the Will" to be contrived and blatantly self-indulgent propaganda? If there had been polls conducted, the results would have shown exactly what Goebbels and Hitler wanted people to think - this was achieved by making sure that only certain things were safe to think – and more importantly safe to say.

Goebbels, in his 1934 New Year speech:
"Only he who thinks he is lost is lost."
…The penalty for telling Hitler jokes was death.

Alternatively, one could look at how much opposition (i.e. resistance) there was to the Nazi regime – and to Nazi propaganda. Was there absolute opposition? There really was not very much - there was in some circles a feeling of acquiescence to the Nazi regime, neutral emotion towards the treatment of Jews for instance. This is a very general, and lies in broad public opinion, from interviews made after the fall of the Nazis... between 1933 and 45 the people of Germany, no matter how indifferent would know better than to not appear reasonably enthusiastic about Hitler.

The last, and most useful means of gauging success of propaganda is to find the aims - and simply investigate the successfulness of their execution. But just because it achieved its aims, was it necessarily successful, per se?

This study will find out if these aims were achieved - and whether this meant that Nazi propaganda was truly successful.
How Successful was Nazi Propaganda 1933-39?
The relevance of how successful propaganda was at reaching people is that: it would be largely true to say – if it had reached people, if it had influenced peoples thought in a way beneficial to the rise of the Nazi party, therefore it had achieved a primary aim.

The human front of Nazi propaganda was Dr. Joseph Goebbels. In many respects, the German population saw propaganda through him. The maintenance of a perfect, profound, and above all credible image was essential to the success of propaganda…however, this varied:

The historian Richard Grunberger said in ‘A Social History of the Third Reich':
"Once a leader had established himself in popular affection, disreputable revelations about his way of life…enhanced rather than undermined his standing."
However he goes on to make the reference to "newsreels featuring Goebbels in a grand seigniorial setting had to be withdrawn" – audience reactions were hostile.
It is a demonstration of the Nazi desire for credibility and close relation with the desires of the people, that the newsreel was withdrawn. Goebbels was not willing to make willing mistakes, a man in determined to achieve his aims.

There were many means by which he went about this... the tools of the propaganda machine were diverse and total. The common thought was that propaganda "should infiltrate every aspect of people's lives." To do this, Goebbels needed to affect all forms of the media. To...
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