Historical Background: After the First world war a series of new ideas and solutions for the war torn countries arose from several political leaders. One of these leaders was Adolf Hitler, a young fascist who used propaganda as his main tool to appeal to the masses.
Prompt: In what ways did Hitlers speeches and ideas appeal to the German people? What effect did his propaganda campaign have on Germanys youth? What were the causes and effects of the common hatred of the Jews?
Hitler once remarked 'If the Jews didn't exist, we would have to invent them'. This is one of his most revealing comments on Nazism. Nothing creates more unity than a common enemy. The hatred of the Jews was the backbone of Hitler's power.
A speech at the Siemens Dynamo Works in Berlin, 10 November 1933
And today that Movement cannot be destroyed: it is there: people must reckon with it, whether they like it or notFor here they see before them an organizationinspired to the highest degree by national sentiment, constructed on the conception of an abso
lute authority in the leadership in all spheres, at every stagethe solitary party which amongst its members has completely overcome not only the conception of internationalism but also the idea of democracy, which in its entire organization acknowledges only the principles of Responsibility, Command, and Obedience.Here is an organization which is filled with an indomitable aggressive spirit, an organization which when a political opponent says your behaviour we regard as a provocation for the first time does not see fit immediately to retire from the scene but brutally enforces its own will and hurls against the opponent the retort, We fight today! We fight tomorrow!
Source: A speech made in Dusseldorf, on the Nazi party to gain support, 1932.
An almost unbroken chain of homeless men extends the whole length of the great Hamburg-Berlin highway.
Some of them were guild memberscarpentersmilkmenbricklayers. Far more numerous were those whom one could assign to no special profession or craftunskilled young people, for the most part, who had been unable to find a place for themselves in any city or town in Germany, and who had never had a job and never expected to have onewhole familiespiled all their goods intocarriages and wheelbarrows that they were pushing along as they plodded forward in dumb despair. It was a whole nation on the march.
There is no repulsive disease of which traces are not to be seen here. There is no form of mutilation of degeneracy that is not represented, and the naked bodies of the old men are in a disgusting state of decline
SOURCE: An excerpt from Heinrich Hausers periodical, Die Tat, on conditions in Germany, 1932
Why do we oppose the Jews? We are enemies of the Jews because we are fighters for the freedom of the German people. The Jew is the cause and the beneficiary of our misery...He has made two halves of Germany. He is the real cause for our loss of the Great War. The Jew is responsible for our misery and he lives on it. That is the reason why we, as Nationalists and Socialists, oppose the Jew. He has corrupted our race, fouled our morals, undermined our customs, and broken our power. The Jew is the plastic demon of the decline of mankind. We are enemies of the Jews because we belong to the German people. The Jew is our greatest misfortune.
Joseph Goebbels, chief of Nazi propaganda,1930
The Fascist accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide; he rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, life which should be high and full, lived for oneself, but above all for others-those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will come after...Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. (Fascism) affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage. Fascism denies, in democracy, the absurd conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the e garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of "happiness" and indefinite progress...If every age has its own characteristic doctrine, there are a thousand signs which point to Fascism as the characteristic doctrine of our time.
Excerpt from "The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism" by Benito Mussolini, 1932
Hitler stood unmoved...The audience was breathless under his spell. This man expressed their thoughts, their feelings, their hopes; a new prophet had arisen- many saw him in him already an other Christ, who predicted the end of their sufferings and had the power to lead them into the promised land of they were only prepared to follow him. Every word he said was true. They had won the war-yes. Been deprived of the reward for their heroism by a number of traitors-yes. Had suffered incessantly ever since-yes. Been enslaved, suppressed, exploited-yes, yes, yes. But the day had arrived when they would free and revenge themselves.
Excerpt from Restless Days: A German Girl's Autobiography (1935)
Lilo Linke describes a Nazi rally during the Depression
Hitler made each insignificant, poverty-stricken, jobless youth of the slums feel himself one of the great of the earth, since the youth was a German. Hitler told the young men that the fate of Germany was in their hands...He put them into uniforms, he taught them to march and sing together, he aroused that sense of comradeship and esprit de corps so precious to the young, and gave them what is even more precious- an object for hero worship. The most important subject in the new curriculum is history, with the emphasis laid on German heroes, German inventors, German rulers, poets, artists. The German child must be taught that his nation is superior to every other in every field...It is this violent, fanatical, youthful despot, backed by some millions of like- minded youths, who now rules Germany. Truly it is a new thing in the world- a great modern country submitting itself to the will of its young men.
Nazism and Youth (1933) by Dr. Alice Hamilton written after her second post-World War I trip to Germany
In what ways did Hitlers speeches and ideas appeal to the German people? What effect did his propaganda campaign have on Germanys youth?
Document Based Question Essay
Twentieth century Europe went trough the troubles of war torn countries trying to get back on economic and political prosperity. With this new goal several countries like Germany had radical leaders step up to this challenge. One of these leaders was Adolf Hitler, a totalitarian fascist who learned how to use propaganda to provoke the spirit of nationalism and heroism. One of his major goals was to use nationalism against a common enemy, the Jews.
The use of propaganda prevailed in the Nazi party as the main tool to gain support from the masses. Propaganda varied from using it in speeches and books to the way pictures of Hitler and other members of the Nazi party were publicized, for instance in (Document 2) Hitler is portrayed as a valiant, fearless and noble man. After the First World War the German people were under very bad conditions and the picture of this new leader represented the realization of all their hopes for a better life. In a speech made by Joseph Goebbels for the Nazi party he said Jews? We are enemies of the Jews because we are fighters for the freedom of the German people (Document 6) German speeches appealed to the public because they were always directed towards change in the country and it blamed their life struggles on the Jews, making it a common enemy. By using propaganda the Nazi party was able to control the masses and mobilize them whenever he needed to.
The use of propaganda opened many doors for the German government. It was mainly used to provoke a feeling of nationalism within the country. By uniting the people and making them loyal to Germany Hitler secured his position and the cooperation of the German people on his future plans. For example in Document 6 Joseph Goebbels the chief of Nazi Propaganda said We are enemies of the Jews because we belong to the German people by emphasizing this thought in most speeches the Nazis created a common enemy that was according to Hitler necessary If the Jews didn't exist, we would have to invent them' (Document 1) By creating this common enemy Hitler could blame all the past experiences during the first world war and the injustice of the Versailles treaty on someone other than the German government, so the Jews were basically only being used as scapegoats. The employ of Nationalism towards the youth was very strong during this time too. The German child must be taught that his nation is superior to every other in every field (Document 9) Hitlers main goal was to make a nation consisted by a group of people that he considered perfect and unique. By shaping the german youth to think just like him Hitler secured his goal for the future.
The effects of all the propaganda and nationalism were so effective on the German people that it ultimately ended up reshaping the way they thought about the government. For example Lilo Linke, a German girl wrote in her autobiography This man expressed their thoughts, their feelings, their hopes; a new prophet had arisen- many saw him in him already an other Christ (Document 8) One of the effects of the Hitlers speeches on the masses were that they completely trusted him to the point that they almost saw him as another if not part of their religion. However the most dramatic effect of Germanys propaganda was the cooperation of the German people to give in the Jews knowing what was about to happen to them. Millions of people died because of Hitlers radical ideas whole familiespiled all their goods intocarriages and wheelbarrows that they were pushing along as they plodded forward in dumb despair. (Document 5) The overall effect was that the Nazis ended up being hated by other countries like France and England who hated Germany and saw them as evil perpetrators who had to be taken down (Document 3).
Although Hitler did make some progress happen for the German people his major accomplishment was the annihilation of millions of Jews. Without his propaganda and ability to speak and the war-torn public, Hitler would have never reached any of his goals. However he did, and with this accomplishment he moved forward to controlling the masses overall but the youth specifically due to the fact that he wished for his plans to carry on in Germany even after he was gone.
Pojer Susan M, © 1998-2003 ®
Liz and Aisling
Presnell Jenny, World War II Resources on the Internet