|July 23rd, 2007||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2007
Goebbels on Propaganda
Background: This is to my mind one of Goebbels' most interesting speeches. It was given on 9 January 1928 to an audience of party members at the so-called "Hochschule für Politik," a series of training talks for party members in Berlin. It is Goebbels' most extended discussion of the nature of propaganda, all the more interesting because of its early date.
The source: "Erkenntnis und Propaganda," Signale der neuen Zeit. 25 ausgewählte Reden von Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1934), pp. 28-52.
Knowledge and Propaganda
by Joseph Goebbels
My dear fellow party members!
Our theme this evening is hotly disputed. I realize that my viewpoint is subjective. There is really little point to discussing propaganda. It is a matter of practice, not of theory. One cannot determine theoretically whether one propaganda is better than another. Rather, that propaganda is good that has the desired results, and that propaganda is bad that does not lead to the desired results. It does not matter how clever it is, for the task of propaganda is not to be clever, its task is to lead to success. I therefore avoid theoretical discussions about propaganda, for there is no point to it. Propaganda shows that it is good if over a certain period it can win over and fire up people for an idea. If it fails to do so, it is bad propaganda. If propaganda wins the people it wanted to win, it was presumably good, and if not, it was presumably bad. No one can say that your propaganda is too crude or low or brutal, or that it is not decent enough, for those are not the relevant criteria. Its purpose is not to be decent, or gentle, or weak, or modest; it is to be successful. That is why I have intentionally chosen to discuss propaganda along with a second theme, knowledge. Otherwise, our discussion this evening would be of little value. We have not gathered to discuss lovely theories, but rather to find ways of practically working together to deal with our everyday challenges.
What is propaganda, and what role does it have in political life? That is the question of greatest interest to us. How should propaganda look, and what is its role in our movement? Is it an end in itself, or only a means to an end? We must discuss that, but we can do that only when we begin with the origin of propaganda itself, namely the idea, then move to the target of propaganda, namely people.
Ideas in themselves are timeless. They are not tied to individuals, much less to a people. They rest in a people, it is true, and affect their attitudes. Ideas, people say, are in the clouds. When someone comes along who can put in words what everyone feels in their hearts, each feels: "Yes! That is what I have always wanted and hoped for." That is what happens the first time one hears one of Hitler's major speeches. I have met people who had attended a Hitler meeting for the first time, and at the end they said: "This man put in words everything I have been searching for for years. For the first time, someone gave form to what I want." Others are lost in confusion, but suddenly someone stands up and puts it in words. Goethe's words become reality: "Lost in silent misery, God gave someone to express my suffering."
Some kind of idea is at the beginning of every political movement. It is not necessary to put this idea in a thick book, nor that it take political form in a hundred long paragraphs. History proves that the greatest world movements have always developed when their leaders knew how to unify their followers under a short, clear theme. That is clear from the French Revolution, or Cromwell's movement, or Buddhism, Islam, or Christianity. Christ's goal was clear and simple: "Love your neighbor as yourself." He gathered his followers behind that straightforward statement. Because this teaching was simple, crisp, clear, and understandable, enabling the broad masses to stand behind it, it in the end conquered the world.
One then builds a whole system of thought on such a brief, crisply formulated idea. The idea does not remain limited to this single statement, rather it is applied to every aspect of daily life and becomes the guide for all human activity — politics, culture, the economy, every area of human behavior. It becomes a worldview. We see that in all great revolutionary movements, which begin with a clear, crisp, understandable, all-encompassing idea. They spread more and more and become a mirror of life that reflects all activities of the peoples, and indeed in a particular way.
Then one can say that a person has a worldview—not because he knows a lot or has read a lot—but because he sees all of life from a certain standpoint, and measures everything by a certain standard. I am a Christian when I believe that the meaning of my life is the heavy responsibility to love my neighbor as myself. Kant once said: "Act as if the principle of your life could be the principle for your entire nation." I am a National Socialist not when I want this or that from politics, rather when I consider all aspects of daily life. I must act in all things by putting the good of the whole above my personal good, by putting the good of the state above my personal good. But then I also have the guarantee that such a state will be able to protect my personal life. I am a National Socialist when I see everything in politics, culture or the economy from this standpoint. I therefore do not evaluate the theater from the standpoint of whether it is elegant or amusing, rather I ask: Is it good for my people, is it useful for them, does it strengthen the community? If so, the community in turn can benefit, support and strengthen me. I do not see the economy as some sort of way of making money, rather I want an economy that will strengthen the people, make them healthy and powerful. Then too I can expect that this people will support and maintain me. If I see things in this way, I see the economy in National Socialist terms.
If I develop this crisp, clear idea into a system of thought that includes all human drives, wishes and actions, I have a worldview.
As an idea develops into a worldview, the goal is the state. The knowledge does not remain the property of a certain group, but fights for power. It is not just the fantasy of a few people among the people, rather it becomes the idea of the rulers, the circles that have power. The view does not only preach, but it is carried out in practice. Then the idea becomes the worldview of the state. The worldview has become a government organism when it seizes power and can influence life not only in theory, but in practical everyday life.
Now we must consider who is the carrier, the transmitter, the guardian of such ideas. An idea always lives in individuals. It seeks an individual to transmit its great intellectual force. It becomes alive in a brain, and seeks escape through the mouth. The idea is preached by individuals, individuals who will never be satisfied to have the knowledge remain theirs alone. You know that from experience. When one knows something one does not keep it hidden like a buried treasure, but rather one seeks to tell others. One looks for people who should know it. One feels that everyone else should know as well, for one feels alone when no one else knows. For example, if I see a beautiful painting in an art gallery, I have the need to tell others. I meet a good friend and say to him: "I have found a wonderful picture. I have to show it to you." The same is true of ideas. If an idea lives in an individual, he has the urge to tell others. There is some mysterious force in us that drives us to tell others. The greater and simpler the idea is, the more it relates to daily life, the more one has the desire to tell everyone about it.
If I believe that the nation must be governed by the principle that the common good comes before the individual good, I will tell it to those to whom it applies. As soon as I realize that this principle is not only of a transcendental nature, but that it applies to daily life, I have the need to tell it to those in the economic world. And if I see it applies to culture as well, I have the need to tell it to those people involved in cultural activities. The great masses will never be won simply by such a sentence; it must cast its shadow over all areas of human life.
You see how an idea spreads and becomes a worldview, and how the bearer, the individual, reaches out to form a community, and how an organization, then a movement grows from the individual. The idea is no longer buried in the heart and mind of an individual. Now there are four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, eighty, a hundred, and ever more. That is the secret of ideas; they are like a wildfire that cannot be restrained. They are like a gas that seeps through everything. Where an idea finds entry, it enters, and soon that person is influencing others. The others cannot stop it. They may believe they can stop the fire by force. They may even be able to do so for two, or ten, twenty, or fifty years. But that is not significant in the larger course of world history. It is irrelevant if something happens today or tomorrow, or even years in the future.
It is possible to slow an idea by force for a certain period of time. In reality, however, that advances the idea, for force drives out that which is weak. The elements that do not really belong collapse. Suddenly, the individual becomes a community, a movement, or if you prefer, a party.
Each movement begins as a party. That does not mean it has to follow the methods of parliamentary parties. We see a party as a part of the people. As an idea spreads, becoming a worldview that spreads to the community, the community will want to give the idea practical form. The party will feel the necessity to organize. Someone will suddenly have the idea: "You think the way I think. You are working over there, I am working here, and we know nothing of each other. That is absurd. It would be better if we worked together, if I did my part and you did yours. Would it not be good if we met every month and talked?" That is an organization. Gradually, a strong organism develops, a party ready to fight for its ideals. A party that does not want that will indeed continue to preach its ideals, but will never bring them into reality.
A recent example may help. Our movement is often accused of losing its character as a movement. We are accused of taking the vast, broad and ever-moving system of thought of the völkisch movement and forcing it into a Procrustean bed. We supposedly had to chop of the legs of the movement that stuck out, eliminating important parts of the völkisch idea. National Socialism is only a surrogate for the real movement, some say. In fact, the völkisch movement ran aground on this matter. Each declares his own particular interest central to the völkisch movement, and accuses anyone who does not share his views as being a traitor to the cause. That is the way the völkisch movement was before the war. If someone had been able to take this great idea — and the völkisch idea was greater than the Marxist idea — and develop out of it a tightly disciplined political organization, then the völkisch idea, not the Marxist idea, would have won on 9 November . Marxism won because it had a better understanding of political conditions, because it had forged the sword it would later use to conquer the state. If a völkisch organizer had understood how to form a great movement — it is a question of life or death for our nation — the völkisch idea, not Marxism, would have won, It was a worldview, but it did not understand how to form a party and how to forge the sharp sword that would have enabled it to conquer the state.
The state needs a worldview. Christianity also conquered the state, and in the moment that it conquered the state it began to carry out practical political activity. You can with justice claim: "Yes, but at the moment Christianity took over the state, it began to cease being Christian." That is the tragedy of all great ideas. At the moment they enter the realm of this life of sin, of the all-too-human, they leave the heavens and lose their romantic magic. They become something normal. We are not discussing whether or not one can change the nature of life. Things have gone on this way for millions of years, and will go on in the same way for millions more. You will have to ask a higher power why that is so. At the moment an idea takes practical form, it loses its angel's wings, its romantic mystery. If someone had had the courage to strip the völkisch idea of its romantic mystery, if one had taken account of the hard facts, it would not look as romantic today as it does to some dreamers. But it would have kept millions of German children from starving. For me, it is more important that a nation lives than that an idea remains as pure as possible in the heads of a few dreamers.
You can see that a movement needs an organization if it is to conquer the state — and it must conquer the state if it wants to do something of positive and historic significance. I have often met the kind of wandering apostle who says: "Well, everything you are doing is fine, but you really must also take a stand against foreign words in the German language." And another comes along who says: "Well, everything you say is good, but you must have a point in your program that says allopathy is dangerous, and you must support homeopathy." If the movement were led by such apostles, the Jew would end up in charge. The Jew would find something new every day until nothing was left. It is not the task of a revolutionary fighting movement to settle the dispute between allopathy and homeopathy, rather its task is to take power. The movement must have a program such that every honest fighter can stand behind it. Now, it is certainly true that the modern German cultural establishment produces every manner of nonsense. I know that this nonsense is poisoning the German national soul. There are those who say: "Something has to happen. You have to do something. If you want to fight the movie industry, you must build your own theater, even if it at first has only the most primitive equipment. And if you see that the children are being poisoned by what they read in school, you must begin to win children's souls and give them the antidote." My reply is simple: You can spend ten years giving the antidote to the poison that is produced by a badly led cultural establishment, but a single decree from the Ministry of Culture can destroy all your work. If you had spent that ten years winning fighters for the movement, the movement would have conquered the Ministry of Culture! Everything else is mere piecework.
If a movement wins political power, it can do those positive things it wants to do. Only then does it have the power to protect its accomplishments. At the moment a movement or party wins control of the state, its worldview becomes the state and its party becomes the nation. The nation is not the 60 million people who live in it. That is a confused mixture. One says yea, the other nay. That is not a nation. A nation is characterized by consciousness. Instinct alone is not enough. Only when I am aware that I am a member of the nation, when I am consciously a German, do I belong to the German people. The Great Elector did not say: "Think and remember that you are a German." Rather, he said: "Consider well that you are a German." Consideration is at the level of consciousness. Such consciousness belongs to the entire nation. Adolf Hitler rightly answered the court in Munich in this way when he was asked: "How could you think of establishing a dictatorship over sixty million with such a tiny minority?" His reply: "If an entire nation has become cowardly, and there are only a thousand left who want something great, and who have to power to transform the state, then these thousand people are the nation." If the others let a minority conquer the state, then they must also accept the fact that we will establish a dictatorship.
|July 23rd, 2007||#2|
Join Date: Mar 2007
The same is true of a movement. If a movement has the strength to take over the state, than it has the power to transform the state. I am the last to complain that the Marxists rule us today. As long as we do not have the strength to overcome them, they have the political right to rule us. I am surprised how little they use that right. I would do things differently. That is their tragic misunderstanding of their own worldview. I do not complain that the gentlemen of the Berlin Police use their power against us, only that they call themselves democrats and claim that they allow freedom of thought and of speech. That is nonsense. That is lying hypocrisy, for in truth these gentlemen are dictators.
If a movement has the strength to take over government positions of power, then it has the right to form the government as it wishes. Anyone who disagrees is a foolish theoretician. Politics is governed not by moral principles, but by power. If a movement conquers the state, it has the right to form the state. You can see how these three elements combine ideals and personalities. The idea leads to a worldview, the worldview to the state, the individual becomes a party, the party becomes the nation.
The important thing is not to find people who agree with me about every theoretical jot and tittle, but rather that I find people who are willing to fight with me for a worldview. Winning people over to something that I have recognized as right, that is what we call propaganda. At first there is knowledge; it uses propaganda to find the manpower that will transform knowledge into politics. Propaganda stands between the idea and the worldview, between the worldview and the state, between the individual and the party, between the party and the nation. At the moment at which I recognize something as important and begin speaking about it in the streetcar, I begin making propaganda. At the same moment, I begin looking for other people to join me. Propaganda stands between the one and the many, between the idea and the worldview. Propaganda is nothing other than the forerunner to organization. Once it has done this, it is the forerunner to state control. It is always a means to an end.
Although I must hold unshakably and unalterably to the idea, propaganda adjusts itself to the prevailing conditions. Propaganda is always flexible. It says different things here than it does there. It cannot be polished, laminated and stuffed; rather it must occupy the space between the one and the many. I talk differently on the streetcar with the conductor than I do with a businessman. If I did not, the businessman would think I was crazy and the streetcar conductor would not understand me. That means propaganda cannot be limited. It changes according to whom I am trying to reach. Let me tell a good story about a party member in Berlin who since 1919 has promoted the National Socialist idea. At first, he beat his head bloody against a wall that we want to avoid. He began by distributing the wildest anti-Semitic publications on the street. He knew it was bad stuff, but there was nothing better, so he read these books or newspapers in the subway. Everyone could see that he was a harmless crank, and when he stood up and left his newspapers behind, someone regularly would say: "Sir, take your newspaper along with you." He would angrily take his paper and leave it with the conductor, saying: "Here, German brother." And the conductor certainly thought he came from the nuthouse. He gradually realized that the methods that worked with friends and comrades do not work with strangers.
In other words, there is no ABC of propaganda. One can make propaganda, or one cannot. Propaganda is an art. Any reasonably normal person can learn to play the violin to a certain degree, but then his teacher will say: "This is as far as it goes. Only a genius can learn what remains. You are not a genius, so be content with what you have learned." I can certainly teach any reasonable person the absolute basics of propaganda. But I will soon recognize the limits. One is either a propagandist, or one is not. It is wrong to look down on a propagandist. There are people who say a propagandist is merely a good drummer. This displays a certain envy and lack of ability. They are mostly mediocre philosophers whom the masses ignore. You have seen often enough — no one can deny it — that our movement has good speakers. Since our opponents do not have good speakers, they say: "Well, they are only good drummers." Hitler was called the "Drummer of National Unity" for five years. When they realized that this drummer had ideas that didn't fit into their way of thinking, he was suddenly a "crazy politician" who had to be dealt with. It is foolish to look down on propagandists. The propagandist has a certain role within the party. It is good for our young movement that we are young and lacking in really great leaders — though naturally not in comparison to other parties. The great leaders we have cannot stick to a particular area, but must be able to do everything. They must be propagandists, organizers, speakers, writers, etc. They must be able to get along with people, find money, write articles, and a lot more. That is why it is wrong to say that Hitler is merely a drummer. That is what is great about him, and what separates him from everyone else. He is a politician, and also a propagandist, while the leaders of other parties understand neither politics nor propaganda. You can see how propaganda relates to the worldview and to the organization. After we have finished the hard work of moving the idea and the worldview from the individuals to the masses, propaganda has the task of taking the knowledge of the mass and enabling it to take over the state.
Let me give an example.
What good would it do if everything we know to be right stayed in our few heads! The few would doubt the rightness of the idea, since they would see that no one was joining them. And if we did not have the people — from the lowliest S.A. man who distributes newspapers to the best speaker, or the leader of the party, all our lovely knowledge would be useless, for only we would know it. The others would continue their nonsense, and the German people in the end would perish.
Propaganda is absolutely necessary, even if it is only a means to an end. Otherwise, the idea could never take over the state. I must be able to get what I think important across to many people. The task of a gifted propagandist is to take that which many have thought and put it in a way that reaches everyone from the educated to the common man. You will all grant me this, and as further evidence I can recall a Hitler speech in Jena. Half the audience were Marxists, half students and university professors. I had a burning desire to speak with both elements afterwards. I could see that the university professor and the average man had understood what Hitler said. That is the greatness of our movement, that it can use language to reach the broad masses.
Of course, the style will vary according to the speaker. It would be a big mistake to expect everyone to treat the idea in the same way, for as great as it is, so different are the individuals who are to be reached by it. You will surely hear some people say that they like one speaker, while others prefer another. It would be a mistake to try to make the soft-spoken speaker into a thundering orator, or a thundering orator into a soft-spoken chap. Neither would accomplish anything. The soft-spoken speaker would never reach the heart no matter how hard he tried, nor would the thundering orator succeed in speaking quietly. Everyone would go home dissatisfied. The bigger our movement gets, the more kinds of people it can house, and each will reflect the movement a little differently. No two things in God's world are alike. Everything is a little different. Thus one person reflects things differently than another.
As propaganda draws an ever-growing following to the idea, the idea broadens, becomes more flexible. It no longer stays in a few heads, but wants to include everything. At that moment it becomes a comprehensive program. We can happily see that that is the case in our movement. You will never find millions of people willing to die for a book. But millions of people are willing to die for a gospel, and our movement is becoming more and more a gospel. All that we have come to know in our individual lives is joining to form a great faith that lives unshakably in our hearts. Each of us is willing, if necessary, to give his all for it. No one is willing to die for the 8-hour day. But people are willing to die so that Germany will belong to the Germans. What Adolf Hitler prophesied in 1919 is becoming clearer every day: "Freedom and Prosperity!" The movement is increasingly freeing itself from the all too human, and becoming a powerful force. The time is coming when people will not ask us what we think about the 8-hour day; but rather when Germany is seized with desperation they will ask: "Can you give us back faith?" If a movement has brought the idea from the individual to a worldview, building in the end a clear gospel for which each is ready to die, that movement is near victory. That does not happen in the study, but rather in battle, in bitter battle each day with the enemy, bringing him to see how he has led the nation down the wrong path. I must say that I learn the most from reading the "Berliner Tageblatt" [A newspaper hostile to the Nazis]. That is a fine example of the Jews at work. From the Jewish standpoint, I've never noted a single mistake, whereas the nationalist papers make mistakes all the time.
I now want to outline the essential characteristics of propaganda. We have already agreed that propaganda is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Its task is to spread the knowledge of National Socialism to the people, or to a part of the people. If propaganda does that, it is good; if not, it is bad. The German Nationalists claimed that Hitler's propaganda before 9 November 1923 was too loud, too noisy, too popular. Hitler replied: "Munich must become National Socialist. If I achieve that my propaganda will have been good. If I had wanted to make you happy, it would have been bad. But that was not my intention." You cannot evaluate propaganda in midcourse, but rather you have to wait until it reaches its maker's goal. You cannot say that our propaganda was wrong because the government banned it. That is false. Under Jewish police officials, our propaganda would be wrong if it were not banned, for that means it would be harmless, The fact that it is banned is the best evidence that we are dangerous. If the ban is lifted, do not come to me and say that the Jew has seen the error of his ways. It will be lifted when the Jew sees that it is not achieving his purpose. You can say what you want. The Jew will put away his dagger only when he sees that it is better not to use it against a propaganda method, or when he sees that the dagger has already done its duty.
Success is the important thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I say in the Pharus Hall [A meeting hall the Nazis often used in Berlin]. That is a matter of practice, not of theory.We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths. I find them by thinking, or at my desk, anywhere but in a meeting hall. That is where I transmit them. I do not enter the meeting hall to discover intellectual truths, but to persuade others of what I think to be right. I learn methods there that I can use to reach others with what I have found to be right. The speaker or propagandist must first understand the idea. He cannot do that in the middle of making propaganda. He must start with it. Through daily contact with the masses, he learns how to communicate that idea. It is not the task of propaganda to discover knowledge, but to transmit knowledge. It must adjust to those it wishes to reach with that knowledge. The propagandist's speeches or posters that are aimed at farmers will be different than those aimed at employers; those aimed at doctors will be different than those aimed at patients. He will adjust his propaganda to fit those he is speaking to. You can see that all the critical standards used by other parties to evaluate propaganda miss the point, and that most complaints about the NSDAP's propaganda result from a false understanding of propaganda. If someone tells me: "Your propaganda has no civilized standards," I know there is no point in even talking with him.
It makes no difference if propaganda is at a high level. The question is whether it reached its goal. My first goal when I came to Berlin was to make the city aware of us. They could love us or hate us, as long as they knew who we were. We have reached that goal. We are hated and loved. When someone hears the term National Socialist, he does not ask: "What is that?" Once we have reached the first goal, we can work on turning hate to love and love to hate, but never to indifference. The battle against indifference is the hardest battle. There may be two million people in this city who hate my guts, who persecute and slander me, but I know that I can win over some of them. We know that from experience. Some of those who persecuted us and fought most bitterly against us are today our most determined supporters. You see that the important thing for propaganda is that it reach its goal, and that it is a mistake to apply critical standards that are irrelevant.
Let me give another example. If someone asks me what I think of another person, it is silly for me to say: "I like him, but he cannot play the piano." The answer will be: "So what? He is a corporate lawyer. Why don't you see if he is good at what he does?" That is a good answer. And it applies just as well to propaganda.
Our propaganda follows a clear line. Adolf Hitler once told me that it is not necessary to give a programmatic speech to a public meeting. The public meeting requires the most primitive approach. If the fine gentlemen say: "You are only a propagandist," the answer is this: "Was Christ any different? Did he not make propaganda? Did he write books, or did he preach? Was Mohammed any different? Did he write learned essays, or did he go to the people and say what he wanted to say? Were not Buddha and Zarathustra propagandists?" True, the philosophers of the French Revolution built their intellectual foundations. But who got things moving? Robespierre, Danton, and the others. Did these men write books, or did they speak in popular meetings? Look around today. Is Mussolini more an author or a great speaker? When Lenin took the train from Zurich to Petersburg, did he repair to his study and write a book, or did he speak to thousands? Fascism and Bolshevism were built by great speakers, by masters of the spoken word! There is no difference between the politician and the speaker. History proves that great politicians were always great speakers: Napoleon, Caesar, Alexander, Mussolini, Lenin, name whomever you want. They were all great speakers and great organizers. If a person combines rhetorical talent, organizational ability, and philosophical ability, if he has the ability to transmit knowledge and to gather people under his banner, then he is a brilliant statesman.
If someone tells me today: "You are a demagogue," I answer him in this way: "Demagogy in the good sense is simply the ability to get the masses to understand what I want them to understand." Of course, I can adjust to the feelings of the broad masses, which is demagogy in the bad sense. Then I change not only the form of what I want to say, but also the content.
You cannot tell me that things have changed. Formerly, speakers built movements; today we live in the age of the press, and it is the writers who are influential. This theory is obviously false. Of course the press is important. But if you examine well-written editorials, they turn out to be speeches in disguise. The Marxists did not win through their editorials, but rather because each Marxist editorial was a little propaganda speech. They were written by agitators. They sat in their offices or in smoke-filled bars, writing not elegant, intellectual and polished essays, but rather brutal, direct words that the average man understood. That is why the masses devoured the Red press. We must learn from their example. Marxism did not win because it had great prophets — they had none. Marxism won because its nonsense was promoted by agitators of the ability of August Bebel and Lenin. They led Marxism to victory. If the völkisch movement had had such agitators at its disposal, its stronger intellectual foundations would surely have led it to victory. Some critics complain: "All you do is criticize! You only complain. You can't do things any better yourselves!" Others say that "the Angriff [Goebbels's newspaper in Berlin] is entirely negative. Say something positive for a change." Well, I am not in a position to say anything positive about Isidor Weiss [the Jewish Vice Chief of Police in Berlin, and a regular Goebbels target]. I can only be negative. And there is nothing positive I can say about the Republic. There is nothing positive about it. I can say something positive only when I eliminate the negative. The most brilliant statesman on earth could do nothing with this Republic. And Marxism preached only the negative for sixty years. The result was that it took over the state on 9 November 1918. Hitler once said: "Keep those know-it-alls who always want to do something positive away from me." We can do something positive only when we have first gotten rid of the negative. A leader does not emerge from a conference table. He develops from the masses, and the more a true leader rises from the masses, the more he draws the masses to him. The mass is the weak, cowardly, lazy majority of people. One can never entirely win the broad mass. The best elements from the mass must be put in a form where they can be victorious. That is the task of a brilliant mind. We thank fate that it has given us one of these minds, a mind superior to all others, whom we willingly serve. That is the proof that we will win. If others find their wisdom in majority rule, but a movement is led by one person, that movement will win. When it wins is irrelevant. It will win because that is the way things are. Look around as much as you want. You will everywhere see our movement's intellectual foundations.
The task of the leaders and followers is to drive this knowledge ever deeper into the hearts of our shattered nation. Each must make that clear, each must think things through. Everything we do must be clear. We will never give up. If everything is clear, one does not have to be an outstanding speaker. If he can say it all in a few words, he is a propagandist. If we have an army of such propagandists, from the littlest to the Führer himself, and if each spreads our crystal-clear knowledge to the masses, the day will come which our worldview takes over the state, when our organization seizes the reins of power, when we are no longer members of a slave colony, but rather citizens of a political state that we ourselves have formed.
That is our task on this planet: to create the foundation on which our people can live. When we do that, this nation will create works of culture that will endure for eons in world history!
|July 23rd, 2007||#3|
Join Date: Mar 2007
Background: This is a summary of Goebbel's speech on propaganda to the 1927 Nuremberg rally, taken from a Nazi book on the rally. Compare it with a more developed version of his thinking in the above 1928 speech to party members in Berlin.
The source: Alfred Rosenberg and Wilhelm Weiß, Reichsparteitag der NSDAP Nürnberg 19./21. August 1927 (Munich: Verlag Frz. Eher, 1927), pp. 30-32..
Goebbels' Speech at the
1927 Nuremberg Rally
Dr. Goebbels spoke on the party's propaganda. He began by referring to his speech at the previous party rally in Weimar in which he discussed various propaganda opportunities. Today he wanted to lay out principles and show how propaganda cam be transformed into a political organization. The idea becomes a worldview on its way to governmental power.
Ideas find people to spread them. The more an idea spreads and reaches all areas of life, the more it becomes a worldview. If an organization becomes the bearer of a worldview, its ultimate goal is the government, which is the bearer of the whole nation. Propaganda reaches its goal if its worldview takes practical form by gaining control of the state. In the beginning is the idea, which is taken up by propaganda and transformed into an organization that seeks to win the state. The task of propaganda is to spread knowledge. The speaker mentioned the notorious word "drummer," which "they" in their goodness and mercy apply to us. The essential characteristic of propaganda is effectiveness. The best propaganda is that which is most effective. It is good if I persuade three million people to believe in a political theory, but it is even better if those three million are ready to give their lives for the idea. But revolutions have never been made by millions, but rather only by small minorities. Propaganda does not need to be intellectual; it must be effective. It should express our worldview in a way that can be understood by the masses. The völkisch idea has existed for 50 years. I will grant that it was stronger 50 years ago than it is today. But one must remember that on 9 November 1918 it was not this idea, but another, that triumphed. If the völkisch movement then had understood power and how to bring thousands out on the streets, it would have gained political power on 9 November 1918. The völkisch movement today is accused of simplifying its idea, even of being indecent. A corrupted nation of 60 million suffering slavery will not be freed by "high class" and "decency." The complaints about the National Socialist movement come from bourgeois anxiety. People in the bourgeois camp ask if we are not really Bolshevists. The speaker suggested such brilliant writers express their national doctrines to a thousand communists in a working class meeting. He thought that they quickly would not know whether or not they themselves were communists (laughter). A political meeting is no polite gathering. The speaker must make his knowledge understandable to the people before him. If the good citizen is used to being spoken to in a "high class" way, then one must tickle his fancies by being "high class" (laughter). Most parties today do not know how to speak to the workers. With the German people today in a desperate situation, one cannot use "white-gloved" methods to reach them.
There are two kinds of propaganda, one aimed at the understanding, the other the feelings. Both depend on imponderables. Worldview movements aim for the feelings. The force behind worldview movements has never been understanding, but rather faith. For example: Christ never wrote a party program, but did preach the Sermon on the Mount. In it he laid the foundations of a new world, summarized in the simple phrase "Love your neighbor as yourself." Rousseau's words were the foundation of the French Revolution, but if an agitator had not stood at his side his theory would have slumbered on the bookshelves. Marx's "Capital" is the foundation of the Marxist movement. It would have remained book learning had not thousands of agitators made it a political force. Bebel and Lenin gave this philosophy political power, not Marx. Mussolini is both the philosopher and agitator of Fascist thinking. He is also the statesman who found in the March on Rome the right action while he was chewing on his pen behind his desk. When someone asked him about his theory of the state, he answered that he had developed it while being asked! When one wants to condemn a speaker who has found a way to connect with the masses, one calls him a demagogue.
Marxism had two important intellectual fathers: Marx and Engels. The Marxist movement is founded on their work. Bebel and Lenin brought Marxism to the masses. Marxism never attempted to alleviate the misery of its followers, but rather to use their misery to build the political power that eventually gave it political success. National Socialism must do the same. The leader stands at the head of the broad masses, but without them he is nothing. Each needs the other. The individual is effective when supported by the political will of the masses, the masses are effective when they are captivated by the energy of the leader. Propaganda is good if it is successful, if it reaches the group of people for which it is intended.
The goal of our propaganda is control of the government. We want to replace the organization with a state founded on the idea.
|July 23rd, 2007||#4|
Join Date: Mar 2007
Background: This article comes is the lead from the first issue of the Nazi Party's central office for propaganda (Reichspropagandaleitung). It lays out Goebbels' public thinking on propaganda in 1931.
The source: "Wille und Weg,"Wille und Weg (later Unser Wille und Weg), 1 (1931), pp. 2-5.
Will and Way
by Joseph Goebbels
It is the task of National Socialist theory to construct a program that can hold its own in the daily political struggle. We have worked on this program since the start of the movement. Its basics are laid out in the 25 points [the party's official program, adopted in 1920]. The 25 points provide the foundation of all of National Socialist practice.
The National Socialist movement develops from political practice. It stems not from a desktop, but rather from real life. That distinguishes it from every other contemporary German political organization.
A good theory is the most practical thing in the world. That has been true for the National Socialist movement, and will remain so. In the long term, practical work is impossible unless it is supported by a programmatic theory, which in turn can find its methods and goals only from practice.
It will not be the goal of this magazine to spread and deepen National Socialist theory and practice. That is, we do not intend to add another programmatic and theoretical attempt to those the movement already has, and which certainly help to give us a intellectual face to outsiders. Rather, our goal is to show practitioners the methods they can use to gradually gain power by winning the souls of the people.
Political methods always presume a political goal. Only when the goal is crystal clear and unchangeable is it possible to determine the foundations of practical work. The means one uses to reach the goal is political will.
Therefore, the goal of these pages, written from those in the field for those in the field, is this: We want to take the existing and developing theory and program of National Socialism and determine what is necessary for them to be realized in the political arena. A political program whose proponents do not gain power is useless, for it can not be applied to practical life. Without power, no political platform will have historical significance. More than any other art, the art of politics is far removed from the dry theories of the desktop. They come from daily life, and exist for daily life.
There are a variety of ways to gain power. There are illegal means to gain power through brute force; one can also gain power legally by winning a majority in an election. There are revolutions, Putsches, uprisings. But each of these methods requires a political group to win the sympathies of the broad masses, if it wishes over the long run to maintain is power. But the sympathy of the people does not come of itself; it must be won.
The means of gaining that support is propaganda. The task of propaganda is not to discover a theory or to develop a program, but rather to translate that theory and program into the language of the people, to make them comprehensible to the broad masses of the people. The goal of propaganda is to make what the theorists have discovered clear to the broad masses.
Theoreticians found a political movement. Propagandists follow close behind. The theoreticians give a movement its intellectual foundations, the propagandists puts the programmatic content of the movement into the coinage of the people, and spread it to them.
It would hardly be worthwhile to argue about who is most important in the struggle for power. The propagandist is nothing without the theorist, but the theorist is also nothing without the propagandist. One can't give political knowledge to the people without the proper means of propaganda. Even the most brilliant political theories will have no impact unless they are put in a form that the people can understand.
The great accomplishment of the National Socialist movement is that it created a synthesis of both elements of the art of politics.
The foundation of National Socialist theory is firm. Naturally it needs disciplined and thoughtful development, but the task of a worldview is not to explain the what of political life, but rather the how. A worldview does not govern the things of life, but rather the relationships of those things. The task of explaining this relationship in the details of public life, of persuading the broad masses of its desirability, is the task of our political propaganda.
No other political movement as understood the art of propaganda as well as the National Socialists. From its beginnings, it has put heart and soul into propaganda. What distinguishes it from all other political parties is the ability to see into the soul of the people and to speak the language of the man in the street. It uses all the means of modern technology. Leaflets, handbills, posters, mass demonstrations, the press, stage, film and radio — these are all tools of our propaganda. Whether or not they serve or harm the people depends on the use to which they are put.
In the long run, propaganda will reach the broad masses of the people only if at every stage it is uniform. Nothing confuses the people more than lack of clarity or aimlessness. The goal is not to present the common man with as many varied and contradictory theories as possible. The essence of propaganda is not in variety, but rather the forcefulness and persistence with which one selects ideas from the larger pool and hammers them into the masses using the most varied methods.
Therefore, we named this magazine "Will and Way." The will of the National Socialist movement is laid out in its program. The way changes every day. Since we do not have political power, we can not realize the ideas of National Socialism. We must therefore give all our energy to achieving power. We will gain power only with the people, not against them. They will join us when it feels as we do, when it is persuaded that what we want is correct.
Thus National Socialist propaganda is the most important aspect of our political activity. It is in the foreground of our practical goals. Without it, all our knowledge would be fruitless, without effect. Propaganda must put knowledge in a fresh form. It must spread it to the people, it must convince people of the necessity of our knowledge. It wins new fighters for the movement. It makes members out of supporters and martyrs out of members.
Today, we have a tight network of National Socialist propaganda throughout the country. It should be clear to any observer that we are preparing not only for the tasks of today, but for the future. National Socialist propaganda serves to educate the people. Its task is not only to win them for the tasks of today, but to assist in the transformation of the character of the broad masses. We are convinced that a new politics in Germany is possible only after a complete transformation of our national character, after an entirely new national way of thinking. This is our most pressing task, and in working for these tasks today we are doing the best preparatory work for the great political tasks of tomorrow.
National Socialist propagandist is the teacher of the people. National Socialist propaganda is the art of teaching the people. Today we are in the opposition. The propaganda we carry out today will become practically organized and wide-ranging national education after we take power.
The goal of this monthly is to create the foundations, to show the ways and means through which we can reach these high goals. We intend to strengthen and sharpen our will for our political goals. We want to deal with our practical daily tasks. We want to give ourselves the steely firmness that is necessary to survive the nerve-wracking daily battles.
But this will must not be directed aimlessly at the people. This will must be focused in a clear direction. It must be directed to the nation, organized, disciplined, focused and clear. We want to show the way that leads from success to success until victory is attained. Our goal in these pages is to bring will and way together in an unified synthesis of practical techniques. We are not writing for the general public, but rather for those active in daily politics throughout the country. It is a forum for discussion firmly tied to the party. Each who has something to say has the right and duty to speak. We will here exchange experiences, make proposals, criticize mistakes and suggest improvements.
These pages should over the course of time become a resource that political fighters will need for their daily battles. They should receive teaching, education and strength. They will receive the power to bring our ideas to Germany, and learn the ways and means to put a good theory into effective practice.
The knowledge of our movement is sealed by the blood of the 200 who died for it. To transform this will into reality is our daily task in the struggle for power.