How important were European theaters in World War II
As early as 1924 Adolf Hitler wrote:
"It [the propaganda] does not have to research the truth objectively, insofar as it is favorable to the others, in order then to present it to the masses in doctrinal honesty, but to serve its own without interruption."
Communication of National Socialist content
After his appointment as German Chancellor in January 1933, Hitler founded the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, which was headed by Joseph Goebbels. The aim of the ministry was to spread the National Socialist ideology through art, music, theater, films, books, radio, educational material and the press.
There were several target groups for Nazi propaganda. The Germans were warned urgently about the alien enemy and the threat to the state from the Jews. In the period before the legislation or executive measures against Jews were introduced, propaganda campaigns created a climate in which violence against Jews was tolerated. This was particularly the case in 1935 (before the Nuremberg Race Laws were passed in September) and in 1938 (before the economic exclusion of Jews by a whole wave of laws after the Crystal Night). The propaganda not only encouraged indifference but also acceptance of the imminent measures against Jews. These were often presented to the public as necessary government intervention with the aim of “restoring order”.
Another key point of Nazi propaganda was the actual or alleged discrimination of the German population in the Eastern European countries, which after the First World War had been assigned areas at the expense of Germany. This included the former Czechoslovakia and Poland. The aim of this propaganda was to develop political loyalty and “racial awareness” in the ethnically German population. It was also intended to make foreign governments - including the major European powers - believe that Nazi Germany was simply making understandable and reasonable demands for concessions and annexes.
After the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, Nazi propaganda turned to the civilian population in their own country as well as to soldiers, police officers and non-German helpers who served in the occupied territories. Above all, she emphasized the connection between Soviet communism and European Judaism and portrayed Germany as the savior of “Western” culture in the face of the “Jewish-Bolshevik threat.” The propaganda painted an apocalyptic picture of the consequences of a Soviet victory. This was particularly the case after the catastrophic defeat of the Germans in Stalingrad in February 1943. This type of propaganda certainly contributed to the fact that both National Socialists and non-National Socialist Germans and local helpers fought to the end.
The role of the film
Films in particular played an important role in spreading racial anti-Semitism, the military successes of the Germans and the ideological enemy. The Nazi films portrayed Jews as "subhumans" who tried to penetrate Aryan society. For example, that's how the Jews were in the movie The Eternal Jew (1940) portrayed under the direction of Fritz Hippler as wandering, “cultureless parasites”, driven by sex addiction and greed for money. Other films like The triumph of the will (1935) by Leni Riefenstahl glorified Hitler and the National Socialist movement. In two other works by Riefenstahl, Festival of the Nations and Festival of Beauty (1938), it is about the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. They were designed to promote national pride by glorifying Germans' achievements in the Olympics.
The role of newspapers
The newspapers in Germany, but above all The striker, often used anti-Semitic caricatures to portray Jews. After the Germans triggered World War II with the attack on Poland in September 1939, the Nazi regime used propaganda specifically to convince the civilian population and soldiers that Jews were not only "subhumans" but also a dangerous enemy of the German Empire. The regime aimed to gain support or at least tolerance for a policy aimed at permanently eliminating Jews from areas with German settlement.
Covering up atrocities and mass murder
During the implementation of the “Final Solution”, the Nazi concept for the mass extermination of European Jews, the SS officers forced the victims of the Holocaust in the killing centers to keep false appearances. The aim was to deport the Jews from Germany and occupied Europe as smoothly as possible. Those responsible in the concentration camps and killing centers forced the prisoners, many of whom were soon to die in the gas chambers, to send home postcards stating that they were treated well and lived in good conditions. At the time, Nazi propaganda was used to cover up atrocities and mass murder.
In June 1944, the German security police allowed representatives of the International Red Cross to inspect the Theresienstadt camp / ghetto. This was in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, today's Czech Republic. The SS and police founded Theresienstadt in November 1941 as a model camp and tool of propaganda for the German Reich. The camp / ghetto served to appease Germans who were confused that German and Austrian Jews, who were elderly, disabled war veterans or locally known artists and musicians, were being deported to “work in the east”. In preparation for the 1944 visit, the ghetto was subjected to a “beautification campaign”. Following the inspection, SS officers produced a film with residents of the ghetto. It was supposed to show the good treatment of the Jewish "residents" of Theresienstadt who allegedly enjoyed them. Almost all women, men and children who were forced to take part in the film were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp after the film was finished.
Mobilizing the population
The National Socialists used the propaganda effectively. They mobilized the German population to the end to support the Nazi regime's wars of conquest. Nazi propaganda was also an effective tool to motivate those who carried out the mass murder of European Jews and other victims of the regime. It also served to secure the tolerance of millions of other viewers for racially motivated persecution and mass murder.
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