Priming the Pump of Evil
|"Fight for the cause."|
|"The German Navy in action."|
|"Two people, one war."|
Goebbels tried to become a published author, writing plays and novels, but was unsuccessful. He took a series of odd jobs to support himself, including as a bank clerk and a runner on the local stock exchange.
|"Tanks, your sword!"|
|"Behind the enemy forces: the Jew."|
Goebbels joined the Party (NSDAP) in 1924, and was number 8762. This wasn't a particularly impressive number, to be one of the early birds you would want as low a number as possible, certainly below 1000. Some other bigwigs had relatively high numbers, too, but "traded down" over time when early Party Members passed away. Things like your party number were very important in the Third Reich, and even when you got a new, lower number, people (or at least rivals for power) remembered. This also probably contributed to Goebbels' sense of unease.
Hitler recognized that Goebbels was educated and spoke well. Such men were necessary in the Party, which otherwise was largely composed of uneducated roughnecks. Hitler had Goebbels give some speeches shortly after Hitler got out of Landsberg Prison, and Goebbels showed a talent for giving them.
|SA and SS.|
|"This hand leads the country."|
|"The only result is victory!'|
|"Degenerate music." (Promo for a pre-war exhibition of decadent culture).|
|"Officer of tomorrow."|
|"This German woman was tormented by Polish beasts protected by the British. How do you explain this, Mr. Chamberlain?"|
It was the time of the Great Depression, and scapegoats were needed. Hitler had to garner public support one way or another to win elections, and Goebbels began focusing more on the Jews as the cause of Germany's problems. He began emphasizing phrases such as "Jewish wire-pullers" and "International High Finance," an obvious code for Jewish bankers. Naturally, this all fit into Hitler's philosophy as set forth in "Mein Kampf," and it appealed to a certain subset of the population.
|Propaganda encouraged women to join the Labor Service.|
Events were moving quickly, however. The 27 February Reichstag Fire, followed by the 5 March election which was not quite as impressive as Hitler had hoped, suggested that propaganda efforts needed to be intensified in order to shape public opinion and take advantage of events that could inflame the masses. Accordingly, Hitler, using his authority under the Enabling Act, created the position of Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda on 14 March for Goebbels. This was the main post that Goebbels held for the remainder of his life.
Goebbels set up shop in the 18th-century Leopold Palace near the Reich Chancellery. It was handy for gaining quick access to Hitler across the street. Goebbels quickly went to work to increase party support among the masses, though no more elections were held. Since there were no longer elections, there was no quantitative way to know how well Goebbels' techniques were working - which no doubt suited him just fine.
|"The inhuman crimes of 'gangster pilots' will forever bar the United States from civilized society."|
|A 1940 Italian poster showing the Germans kicking the British John Bull character.|
To deflect attention and once again show his utter loyalty - which was the one thing that Hitler required above all else - Goebbels organized Kristallnacht on 9 November 1938. Goebbels also ramped up the propaganda campaign against the Jews in general. This restored Goebbels' place of favor within Hitler's inner circle, to the consternation of others who resented Goebbels' ability to cause problems and enhance his own position via his control of public opinion. Some people date the beginning of the Holocaust to this spurious act by Goebbels.
|Posters encouraged Italians and citizens of other German allies and conquered lands to join the German military. "For honor, for life."|
|This poster combines outrage at Allied bombings with the old Goebbels stand-by, anti-Semitism.|
Standard propaganda themes used by all countries, such as not talking indiscreetly and thereby revealing secrets to spies, followed similar themes. Whereas Allied propaganda on the same themes tended to play on the viewers' sense of patriotism and desire not to harm the soldiers, Goebbels' posters instead had an air of menace - as in, you had better do what we say, because if you don't, you won't like the consequences any more than we do.
|"Quiet! You put me in danger."|
|"Stalingrad is taken!" Well, not quite.|
|"The battle of Stalingrad. The military needs you to defend the homeland."|
|"The enemy sees your light! Dim it!"|