In 1933, the year Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) became chancellor of Germany, he named Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), his trusted friend and colleague, to the key post of minister for public enlightenment and propaganda. In this capacity, Goebbels was charged with presenting Hitler to the public in the most favorable light, regulating the content of all German media and fomenting anti-Semitism. Goebbels forced Jewish artists, musicians, actors, directors and newspaper and magazine editors into unemployment, and staged a public burning of books that were considered ”un-German.” He also spearheaded the production of Nazi propaganda films and other projects. Goebbels remained in this post and was loyal to Hitler until the end of World War II (1939-45). On May 1, 1945, the day after Hitler committed suicide, Goebbels and his wife poisoned their six children and then killed themselves.
Joseph Goebbels: Early Years
Paul Joseph Goebbels was born on October 29, 1897, in Rheydt, Germany, an industrial city located in the Rhineland. Because of a club foot that he acquired during a childhood bout with osteomyelitis, a swelling of the bone marrow, the young Goebbels was exempted from service in the German army during World War I (1914-18). Instead, he attended a series of German universities, where he studied literature and philosophy, among other subjects, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in German philology from Heidelberg University.
In the first half of the 1920s, after unsuccessfully attempting to establish a career as a journalist, novelist and playwright, Goebbels became a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi) Party, which promoted German pride and anti-Semitism. Goebbels eventually became acquainted with the organization’s leader, Adolf Hitler. At this time, inflation had wrecked the German economy, and the morale of the German citizenry, who had been defeated in World War I, was low. Hitler and Goebbels were both of the opinion that words and images were potent devices that could be used to exploit this discontent. Hitler was impressed with Goebbels’ ability to communicate his thoughts in writing, while Goebbels was enamored of Hitler’s talent for speaking in front of large crowds and employing words and gestures to play on German nationalistic pride.
Goebbels: Rising in the Nazi Party Ranks
Goebbels quickly ascended the ranks of the Nazi Party. First he broke away from Gregor Strasser (1892-1934), the leader of the more anti-capitalistic party bloc, who he initially supported, and joined ranks with the more conservative Hitler. Then, in 1926, he became a party district leader in Berlin. The following year, he established and wrote commentary in Der Angriff (The Attack), a weekly newspaper that espoused the Nazi Party line.
In 1928, Goebbels was elected to the Reichstag, the German Parliament. More significantly, Hitler named him the Nazi Party propaganda director. It was in this capacity that Goebbels began formulating the strategy that fashioned the myth of Hitler as a brilliant and decisive leader. He arranged massive political gatherings at which Hitler was presented as the savior of a new Germany. In a masterstroke, Goebbels oversaw the placing of movie cameras and microphones at pivotal locations to accentuate Hitler’s image and voice. Such events and maneuverings played a pivotal role in convincing the German people that their country would regain its honor only by giving unwavering support to Hitler.
Joseph Goebbels: Hitler’s Propaganda Minister
In January 1933, Hitler became the German chancellor, and in March of that year he appointed Goebbels the country’s minister for public enlightenment and propaganda. In this capacity, Goebbels had complete jurisdiction over the content of German newspapers, magazines, books, music, films, stage plays, radio programs and fine arts. His mission was to censor all opposition to Hitler and present the chancellor and the Nazi Party in the most positive light while stirring up hatred for Jewish people.
In April 1933, at Hitler’s directive, Goebbels orchestrated a boycott on Jewish businesses. The following month, he was a guiding force in the burning of “un-German” books in a public ceremony at Berlin’s Opera House. The works of dozens of writers were destroyed, including German-born authors Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970), Arnold Zweig (1887-1968), Thomas Mann (1875-1955), Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Heinrich Mann (1871-1950), and such non-Germans as Émile Zola (1840-1902), Helen Keller (1880-1968), Marcel Proust (1871-1922), Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), H. G. Wells (1866-1946), Jack London (1876-1916) and André Gide (1869-1951).
In September 1933, Goebbels became director of the newly formed Reich Chamber of Culture, whose mission was to control all aspects of the creative arts. An offshoot of the formation of the chamber was the forced unemployment of all Jewish creative artists, including writers, musicians and theater and film actors and directors. Because the Nazis viewed modern art as immoral, Goebbels instructed that all such “decadent” art be confiscated and replaced by works that were more representational and sentimental in content. Then in October came the passage of the Reich Press Law, which ordered the removal of all Jewish and non-Nazi editors from German newspapers and magazines.
Joseph Goebbels: The Power of the Moving Image
At the start of World War II in 1939, Goebbels was entrusted with the task of uplifting the spirit of the German people and employing the media, and specifically the cinema, to convince the population to support the war effort. A typical project he instigated was “Der ewige Jude,” also known as “The Eternal Jew” (1940), a propaganda film that ostensibly charted the history of the Jews. In the film, however, Jews are depicted as parasites who disrupt an otherwise tidy world.Goebbels also orchestrated the production of “Jud Süss” (1940), a feature film depicting the life of Josef Süss Oppenheimer (1698-1738), a Jewish financial consultant who collected taxes for Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg (1684-1737), ruler of the Duchy of Württemberg, in the early 18th century. After the duke’s sudden death, Oppenheimer was put on trial and executed. Under Goebbels’s stewardship of the project, the story of Jud Süss was transformed from a human tragedy to an allegory about Jewish self-importance and greed.
Joseph Goebbels: The Beginning of the End
In 1942, Goebbels organized “The Soviet Paradise,” a large Nazi propaganda show that was exhibited in Berlin. Its purpose was to bolster the resolve of the German people by exposing the chicanery of Jewish Bolsheviks. On May 18, Herbert Baum (1912-42), a Berlin-based German-Jewish Resistance leader, and his accomplices partly demolished the exhibition by setting it on fire.
Goebbels refused to allow this act to be reported in the German media. Nonetheless, Baum and his small but determined group succeeded in striking a sizeable psychological blow to Goebbels and his propaganda machine.
Joseph Goebbels: Final Years
As the war plodded on and German casualties mounted, Goebbels became a proponent of an all-out battle to the death against the Allied forces. In this regard, he employed his own abilities as a public speaker to further incite the German populace. On one occasion, in August 1944, speaking from the Sports Palace in Berlin, he commanded the German people to support a total war effort. If Germany was destined to lose the war, he reasoned, it was fitting that the German nation and people be obliterated.
As 1944 segued into 1945, the German defeat seemed inevitable to the Nazi regime. While other Nazi higher-ups made contact with the Allies in the hope of negotiating lenient treatment after the German surrender, Goebbels remained steadfastly devoted to Hitler.
During the last days of April 1945, as Soviet troops were on the threshold of Berlin, Hitler was holed up in his bunker. Goebbels was the lone senior Nazi official at his side. On April 30, Hitler committed suicide at age 56 and Goebbels replaced him as Germany’s chancellor. However, Goebbels’ reign was short-lived. The following day, he and his wife, Magda (1901-45), fatally poisoned their six children. The couple then took their own lives, although accounts of exactly how they died vary.
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Joseph Goebbels, in full Paul Joseph Goebbels, (born October 29, 1897, Rheydt, Germany—died May 1, 1945, Berlin), minister of propaganda for the German Third Reich under Adolf Hitler. A master orator and propagandist, he is generally accounted responsible for presenting a favourable image of the Nazi regime to the German people. Following Hitler’s suicide, Goebbels served as chancellor of Germany for a single day before he and his wife, Magda Goebbels, had their six children poisoned and then took their own lives.
What is Joseph Goebbels known for?
Joseph Goebbels was the Nazi minister of propaganda under Adolf Hitler. He was instrumental in convincing the German people to support the Nazi regime and maintained their support during World War II.
How did Joseph Goebbels rise to power in the Nazi Party?
In 1924 Joseph Goebbels befriended members of the Nazi Party. He became district administrator of the party’s chapter in Elberfeld, Germany, and in 1926 Adolf Hitler appointed him district leader in Berlin. He would remain in that position until Hitler became dictator of Germany in 1933 and made him the Nazi state’s minister of propaganda.
How did Joseph Goebbels affect the Nazi movement?
As head of Nazi propaganda efforts, Joseph Goebbels crafted many of the myths and rituals that spread anti-Semitism and demanded devotion to the Führer in Germany. He orchestrated the 1933 burning of “un-German” books in Berlin and used motion pictures to spread propaganda. His work maintained Nazi support throughout World War II.
How did Joseph Goebbels die?
Joseph Goebbels and his wife poisoned their six children and killed themselves on May 1, 1945. He had become chancellor of Germany after Adolf Hitler’s suicide one day earlier, on April 30, as the Nazi state was collapsing.
Goebbels was the third of five children of Friedrich Goebbels, a pious Roman Catholic factory clerk, and Katharina Maria Odenhausen. His parents provided him with a high school education and also helped support him during the five years of his undergraduate studies. He was exempted from military service during World War I because of his clubfoot (presumably a result of having contracted polio as a child), which later enabled his enemies to draw a parallel with the cloven hoof and limp of the Devil. This defect played a disastrous role in his life by engendering in Goebbels a strong desire to be compensated for his misfortune.
After graduating from Heidelberg University in 1922 with a doctorate in German philology, Goebbels pursued literary, dramatic, and journalistic efforts, writing an Expressionist novel in diary form in the 1920s. Although not yet involved in politics, Goebbels, in common with most of his contemporaries, was imbued with a nationalistic fervour made more intense by the frustrating outcome of the war. During his university days, a friend also introduced him to socialist and communist ideas. Antibourgeois from his youth, Goebbels remained so despite his later upper-class affectations. On the other hand, initially he was not anti-Semitic. The high school teachers he valued most were Jews, and he was at one time engaged to a half-Jewish girl. As a young man his options remained wide open as he contemplated political involvement. Indeed, it was an accident that determined the party he was to join.
In the autumn of 1924 Goebbels made friends with a group of National Socialists. A gifted speaker, he became the district administrator of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP National Socialist German Workers’ Party) in Elberfeld and editor of a biweekly National Socialist magazine. In November 1926 Hitler appointed him district leader in Berlin. The NSDAP, or Nazi Party, had been founded and developed in Bavaria, and, up to that time, there had been practically no party organization in Berlin, the German capital. Goebbels owed his new appointment to the prudent choice he made in a conflict between Gregor Strasser, representing the “left-wing” anticapitalist faction of the NSDAP, and the “right-wing” party leader, Hitler. In this conflict, Goebbels displayed opportunism by taking Hitler’s side against his own inner convictions.
Goebbels proceeded to build Nazi strength in Berlin until Hitler’s accession to power in January 1933. In 1928 Hitler gave Goebbels—who founded Der Angriff (“The Assault”) in 1927 and served as its editor and later, from 1940 to 1945, served as editor of Das Reich—the additional post of propaganda director for the NSDAP for all of Germany. Goebbels began to create the Führer myth around the person of Hitler and to institute the ritual of party celebrations and demonstrations that played a decisive role in converting the masses to Nazism. In addition, he spread propaganda by continuing his rigorous schedule of speech making.
After the Nazis seized power, Goebbels took control of the national propaganda machinery. A National Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was created for him, and he became president of the newly formed “ Chamber of Culture.” In this capacity he controlled, besides propaganda as such, the press, radio, theatre, films, literature, music, and the fine arts. In May 1933 he was instrumental in the burning of “unGerman” books at the Opera House in Berlin. “The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is at an end,” Goebbels triumphantly told the crowd. A month earlier, Hitler had commanded him to organize a boycott of Jewish businesses. To be sure, Goebbels’s control of foreign propaganda, the press, theatre, and literature was limited—exercised only in bitter jurisdictional struggles with other officials—and he displayed little interest in regulating music and art. He did not, however, succeed in extending his power into other areas, such as the high schools.
Many of his cultural policies were fairly liberal, but he had to capitulate to the demands of nationalist extremists. Even his propaganda messages were limited by the rationale that ceaseless agitation only dulls the receptive powers of the listener. As far as Goebbels was concerned, efficiency took precedence over dogmatism, expediency over principles.
Goebbels’s influence decreased in the years 1937 and 1938. During this time he also became involved in a love affair with a Czechoslovakian film star that nearly caused him to give up his career and family. (In 1931 he married Magda Ritschel, a woman from the upper middle class who eventually bore him six children.) His role underwent little change with the outbreak of World War II.
Goebbels’s mastery of propaganda was particularly apparent after Germany’s defeats in Stalingrad and Africa. Goebbels did not falsify the facts of the prevailing situation. On the contrary, the main thrust of his propaganda—which he carried on personally and without respite in the press and over the radio—was to continually raise hopes by citing historical parallels and making other comparisons, by conjuring up allegedly immutable laws of history, or even, as a last resort, by referring to some secret miracle weapons. His public appearances, in sharp contrast to those of many other prominent Nazis who had retreated to bunkers and fortifications, did much to improve an image that had until then been overwhelmingly negative. Goebbels’s work was especially effective in intensifying the efforts of the home front: he became the protagonist of total war. After several false starts, the attempted assassination of Hitler on July 20, 1944 (see July Plot), brought him within view of his goal. On August 25 he became “Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War”—but it was, as he shortly lamented, too late.
Hitler died by suicide on April 30, 1945, and that day Goebbels became chancellor of the Reich, as per the instructions in Hitler’s will. However, on May 1 Goebbels, the only one of the original Nazi leaders to remain with Hitler in the besieged bunker in Berlin, and his wife had their six children poisoned with cyanide, and the couple then took their own lives.
Marriage to Mary
After marrying Mary, Joseph found that she was already pregnant, and being "a just man and unwilling to put her to shame" (Matt. 1:19), he decided to divorce her quietly, knowing that if he did so publicly, she could be stoned to death. An angel, however, came to Joseph and told him that the child Mary carried was the son of God and was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so Joseph kept Mary as his wife.
After Jesus&apos birth in Bethlehem, an angel came to Joseph again, this time to warn him and Mary about King Herod of Judaea and the violence he would bring down upon the child. Joseph then fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, and the angel appeared again, telling Joseph that Herod had died and instructing him to return to the Holy Land.
Avoiding Bethlehem and possible actions by Herod&aposs successor, Joseph, Mary and Jesus settled in Nazareth, in Galilee. The Gospels describe Joseph as a "tekton," which traditionally has meant "carpenter," and it is assumed that Joseph taught his craft to Jesus in Nazareth. At this point, however, Joseph is never mentioned again by name in the Bible𠅊lthough the story of Jesus in the temple includes a reference to "both his parents."
Joseph Goebbels and Propaganda
Joseph Goebbels was appointed Reich Minister of Propaganda On March 13 th 1933. Goebbels proved to be an expert in his mastery of the dark art of propaganda. Goebbels had no formal training in any aspect of propaganda. However, he did seem to fulfil what Adolf Hitler wrote in ‘Mein Kampf’ with regards to the truth: if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one and if you tell if often enough, people will begin to believe it.
Goebbels produced what he called his ‘Ten Commandments for National Socialists’ in the mid 1920’s. These were to underpin his approaches to propaganda. After January 30 th 1933, Goebbels was able to fully use his approach with seemingly no one willing to hold him back. His ‘Ten Commandments for National Socialists’ were:
1. “Your Fatherland is called Germany. Love it above all and more through action than through words.
2. Germany’s enemies are your enemies. Hate them with your whole heart.
3. Every national comrade, even the poorest, is a piece of Germany. Love him as yourself.
4. Demand only duties for yourself. Then Germany will get justice.
5. Be proud of Germany. You ought to be proud of a Fatherland for which millions have sacrificed their lives.
6. He who abuses Germany, abuses you and your dead. Strike your fist against him.
7. Hit a rogue more than once. When one takes away your good rights, remember that you can only fight him physically.
8. Don’t be an anti-Semitic knave. But be careful of the ‘Berliner Tageblatt’.
9. Make your actions that you need no blush when the New Germany is mentioned.
10. Believe in the future. Only then can you be the victor.”
It is known that Goebbels studied the way advertising companies worked in America. A great deal of his written work was made up of short sentences – as the above indicate. Everything was kept simple so that there could be no misunderstanding as to its meaning. When Goebbels wrote for something like ‘Der Angriff’ or ‘Volkischer Beobachter’ he punctuated his sentences with capital letters. For example:
“What we demand is NEW, CLEAR-CUT and RADICAL, therefore in the long run REVOLUTIONARY. The upheaval we want is to be achieved first of all IN THE SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE. We know no IFS OR BUTS, we know only EITHER…OR.”
Goebbels was never restricted by any moral code. His used his position within the Nazi hierarchy to influence newspapers, the cinema, theatres, art galleries and radio broadcasts. This was all part of Hitler’s ‘gleichshaltung’ policy – coordinating the whole population in Nazi Germany behind Hitler. It was Goebbels idea to ensure that loudspeakers were erected in streets to ensure that the people could hear speeches made by Hitler. This was developed into a scheme that allowed Germans to buy a cheap radio. Goebbels argued that if the Fuehrer had something to say then the people as a whole had to have the ability to hear what he said. However, once a radio had been purchased, each family had to pay 2 Marks a month for a license. During World War Two listening to foreign broadcasts such as the BBC World Service was forbidden.
(1897–1945). German minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels served the Third Reich (Germany’s regime from 1933 to 1945) under Adolf Hitler. Goebbels was responsible for presenting a favorable image of the Nazi regime to the German people. Following Hitler’s suicide at the end of World War II, Goebbels served as chancellor of Germany for a single day before he and his wife poisoned their six children and took their own lives.
Paul Joseph Goebbels was born on October 29, 1897, in Rheydt, Germany. His parents provided him with a high-school education and also helped support him during the five years of his undergraduate studies. He was excused from military service during World War I because of his clubfoot (presumably a result of having contracted polio as a child). After graduating from Heidelberg University in 1922 with a doctorate in German philology, Goebbels pursued literary, dramatic, and journalistic efforts he wrote a novel in diary form in the 1920s. Initially, Goebbels was not anti-Semitic he held high opinions of his Jewish teachers, and he was at one time engaged to a half-Jewish woman.
In the autumn of 1924, Goebbels made friends with a group of National Socialists. A gifted speaker, he became the district administrator of the Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) in Elberfeld and editor of a biweekly National Socialist magazine. In 1926 Hitler appointed him district leader in the politically important city of Berlin. Two years later, Hitler gave Goebbels the additional post of propaganda director for the Nazi Party for all Germany. Goebbels began to create the Führer (German: “Leader”) myth around Hitler and to institute the ritual of political party celebrations and demonstrations that helped convert the German masses to Nazism. In addition, he spread propaganda by continuing his rigorous schedule of speech making.
After the Nazis seized power, Goebbels took control of the national propaganda machinery. The Third Reich created a public enlightenment and propaganda ministry for him, and he became president of the newly formed Chamber of Culture. In this latter capacity, Goebbels controlled the press, radio, theater, films, literature, music, and the fine arts. In April 1933 he organized, upon Hitler’s orders, a boycott of Jewish businesses. One month later he was instrumental in the burning of “unGerman” books at the Opera House in Berlin. Overall, however, Goebbels’s control of foreign propaganda, the press, theater, and literature was limited, and he displayed little interest in regulating music and art.
Goebbels’s influence decreased during 1937 and 1938. During this time, he had become involved in a love affair with a Czechoslovakian film star that nearly caused him to lose both his career and his family. (In 1931, he had married Magda Ritschel, a woman from the upper middle class who eventually bore him six children.) Goebbels’s role underwent little change with the outbreak of World War II.
Goebbels was a master orator and propagandist. After Germany’s defeats in the Soviet Union and Africa, he did not falsify the facts of the situation. Instead, his propaganda consisted of press and radio spots in which he continually raised hopes, often by citing historical parallels. He continued his public appearances—even after many other prominent Nazis had retreated to bunkers and fortifications—which did much to improve an image that had until then been overwhelmingly negative. Goebbels’s work was especially effective in intensifying the efforts of the home front: he became a supporter of “total war,” and on August 25, 1944, he was officially given the title of Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War.
By the spring of 1945, the Germans were losing the war on all the major fronts. In late April, Goebbels and his family moved into an underground bunker with Hitler in Berlin. On April 30 Hitler committed suicide, naming Goebbels chancellor of the Reich in his will. On May 1, 1945, Goebbels and his wife poisoned their six children and then took their own lives.
Joseph Goebbels was born in 1897 and died in 1945. Goebbels was Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda and one of the most important and influential people in Nazi Germany.
Goebbels was born in the Rhineland and he attended the established Heidelberg University where he was awarded a doctorate of philosophy in 1920. He had not served in the German Army during the First World War as he was disabled by a clubbed foot which hindered his ability to walk. This feeling of physical inferiority (Goebbels was self-conscious about his lack of height as well), his rejection by the German Army and the terms of the Treaty of Versailles lead to Goebbels becoming a very embittered man in the early 1920’s. He joined the Nazi Party towards the end of 1924 though to keep his parents happy, he got a job in a bank to maintain some semblance of being middle class.
Goebbels was given the task of building up Nazi support in Berlin. He did this between 1926 and 1930. In 1928, he was elected to the Reichstag – something that he repeated in 1930. In 1929, he had been given overall charge of the party’s propaganda machine. It was here that Goebbels excelled. In 1933, after Hitler was appointed chancellor, Goebbels was appointed Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda. He held this post until 1945.
His sharp tongue made him enemies within the Nazi Party where some called him the “Poison Dwarf”. However, except for issues involving his marriage, he had Hitler’s support. Goebbels was a notorious womaniser and his wife wanted to divorce him after one liaison too many. Hitler refused to give his permission for a divorce as he had spent much time cultivating the importance of family values to the German public. How could he tolerate a senior figure in the Nazi Party presenting such a poor example? However, it is known that Goebbels was told by Hitler to change his ways.
Goebbels knew the power of controlling what people thought. Those that did not had to face the secret police. Those who were taken in by Goebbels were enthralled by colour film – rarely seen being used by politicians elsewhere as it was considered too unreliable. Films such as “The Eternal Jew” ( a black and white film) hammered home the anti-Semitic message of the party “Triumph of the Will” portrayed the might of Hitler and Germany. The displays at Nuremburg – done in partnership with Albert Speer – are significant achievements even by today’s standards of size and complexities of organisation.
During the Second World War, it was easy for Goebbels to persuade the public that things were going well when the war was going Germany’s way. However, this became a lot more difficult after the Battle of Stalingrad. This was portrayed on film as a failing of generals on the eastern front not showing enough commitment to the Nazi cause. Goebbels demanded “total war” from the Germans and in 1944, he was appointed Reich Commissioner for Total Mobilisation.
As Berlin was besieged by the Russians in April/May 1945, Goebbels stayed with Hitler in Hitler’s bunker. In his diary, he blamed the defeat of Germany on the German people and not Hitler. On May 1st, he gave poison to his six children and then shot his wife and then himself. He gave orders that his body should be burned. Before, his death, it is said that Hitler gave to Goebbels his own wrist watch as a mark that he had been the only senior Nazi leader to have stayed with Hitler to the end.
Joseph Goebbels was second only to Adolf Hitler as a propagandist of the Nazi movement. Small and sickly as a child, he was deemed ineligible for military service because of a clubfoot. His able and agile mind nonetheless led him to obtain a doctoral degree in German literature in 1921.
Goebbels joined the Nazi Party in 1924, entering a milieu where his talents were quickly recognized. Hitler appointed him as head of the Nazi Party in Berlin in 1926. In that city the party was in chaos, but within a year, Goebbels had expelled a third of the membership, put those remaining to work in creating effective propaganda, and begun a weekly newspaper titled Der Angriff (The attack). He made Bernhard Weiss (whom he nicknamed "Idisor"), the Jewish deputy commissioner of the Berlin police, his particular target. Although support for the Nazi Party remained small, it was not long before all of Berlin was keenly aware of the Brownshirts' presence. As Goebbels said, "Making noise is an effective means of propaganda" (Bramsted, 1965, p. 22).
Soon after the Nazi takeover on January 30, 1933, Hitler named Goebbels Minister of People's Enlightenment and Propaganda, in charge of a new ministry made to order for him. This position gave him a major say in most matters relating to propaganda, but Hitler's habit of establishing jobs with overlapping responsibilities meant that Goebbels had to constantly contend with other Nazi leaders for power. During World War II Goebbels's influence gradually increased. His Total War speech in February 1943 was an attempt to mobilize mass support for the war effort after the defeat at Stalingrad, but also to increase his own power. As a propagandist, Goebbels followed Hitler's thinking. Propaganda was a collection of methods to be judged only on the basis of their effectiveness. Methods that worked were good those that failed were bad. Academic theorizing was useless. Through natural ability and experience the skilled propagandist developed a feeling for what was effective and what was not. Propaganda had to be founded on a clear understanding of the audience. One could not persuade people of anything without taking existing attitudes and building on them.
Goebbels wanted Nazi propaganda to be easy to understand. It had to appeal to the emotions and repeat its message endlessly (but with variations in style). He favored holding to the truth as much as possible. However, Goebbels had no compunction about lying—although he thought it safer to selectively present or distort material rather than completely fabricate it.
Goebbels was a prime mover in the Nazis' anti-Semitic campaign. He regularly issued orders to intensify the campaign against the Jews. At the book burning in Berlin in May 1933, he announced the end of an "era of Jewish hyperintellectualism" (Reuth, 1993, pp. 182–183) and worked to eliminate Jews from German cultural life. He played a central role in the anti-Semitic violence of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) on November 9, 1938. He wanted Berlin to be one of the first major German cities to be "free of Jews."
Goebbels took a particular interest in film, especially the two vehement anti-Semitic films released in the fall of 1940: Jud Suess and Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew). The former was a so-called historic film set in the eighteenth century that accused Jews of financial and sexual crimes, the latter a documentary-style film based largely on footage filmed after the German invasion of Poland. It compared Jews to rats and suggested that they were responsible for most of the world's ills.
In his final major anti-Semitic essay in January 1945, Goebbels wrote: "Humanity would sink into eternal darkness, it would fall into a dull and primitive state, were the Jews to win this war. They are the incarnation of that destructive force that in these terrible years has guided the enemy war leadership in a fight against all that we see as noble, beautiful and worth keeping" (p. 3). After Hitler committed suicide as the Russian siege of Berlin raged, Goebbels and his wife decided to also end their lives on May 1, 1945, to avoid capture, but only after administering a fatal dose of poison to their six children. To their way of thinking, death, even that of their children, was preferable to life under a government other than the Third Reich.
Although Goebbels did not succeed in persuading all Germans to be strongly anti-Semitic, his propaganda intensified existing attitudes and made it easier for Germans to believe that the persecution of the Jews was at least partially justified. The Holocaust would not have been possible in 1933. Ten years of unremitting anti-Semitic propaganda established the foundation on which the concentration camps were built.
A Scandal In Nazi Germany
Baarová and Goebbel’s grand love affair came to an abrupt end in 1938. By then, Hermann Göring was tapping Baarová’s phone and relaying steamy tidbits to Hitler.
Torn between his passion for Baarová and his duty to maintain family values as a prominent member of the Reich, Joseph Goebbels decided to bring his wife and his mistress together, and he proposed an arrangement.
But Magda wasn’t having it: She demanded that he choose between the two of them. Then, the actor Fröhlich beat Goebbels up in a jealous fit.
Laid up with bruises on his face, Goebbels tried to cover up his disappearance by claiming that he was recovering from intestinal flu. Magda marched right to Hitler, desperate to obtain permission to go to Denmark and obtain a divorce.
Somehow, the events were leaked to the New York Daily News. Baarová’s affair with Goebbels was splashed on the front page of newspapers throughout the world, and Hitler was furious.
He banned Baarová from UFA and ordered Goebbels to reconcile with his wife. A public reconciliation was filmed at UFA with the entire family. Magda immediately got pregnant again with baby number five.
Universum Film (UFA) Lída Baarová in A Prussian Love Story, 1938.
Meanwhile, the Gestapo called Baarová into their office and forbade her from attending public events. Defying their orders, she arrived at the premiere of her film Der Spieler (The Gambler) to encounter a gauntlet of people shouting, “Whore! Whore!”
The film was continually disrupted by hecklers. At her line, “Where shall I get the 36,000 marks?”, someone jeered, “Go to your friend, Joseph!” After two days of further wisecracks and abuse, Der Spieler was pulled from distribution.
Lída Baarová had also just completed A Prussian Love Story, which depicted the doomed love affair between Wilhelm I and Elisa Radziwiłł. Seen as a thinly veiled depiction of her affair with Goebbels, it was banned from theaters and ultimately not released until 1950.
Blacklisted, mocked, and with the Gestapo dogging her every step, Lída Baarová desperately tried to get her immigration papers to travel to Hollywood. When that proved impossible, she headed home.
Arriving in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, she found her sister, Zorka Janů, in pre-production for Ohnivé Léto (Fiery Summer). She joined the cast of the film, which echoed her recent experience in its story about a doomed love triangle. She also played an 18th-century countess who steps out of a painting in one of her best-known films, Dívka v Modrém (Girl in Blue).
Facebook/Kowary, formerly Schmiedeberg A publicity photo for Dívka v modrém (Girl in Blue), 1939.
Seeking more ambitious projects, she traveled to fascist Italy and found work in several films, including L’ippocampo (The Hippocampus) directed by Vittorio de Sica. She saw Joseph Goebbels one last time at the 1942 Venice Film Festival. “He must have recognized me, but he did not make a single movement,” she later recounted. “He was always the master of self-control.”
Words of warning: Goebbels' love letters reveal tyrant in the making
Adolf Hitler's infamous propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, displayed anti-Semitic, self-centred and controlling behaviour as a young man in thousands of love letters, school papers and other documents which are due to be sold at a controversial auction on Thursday.
The extensive collection spans the period from Goebbels' childhood to shortly before he joined the Nazi party in 1924. It contains correspondence with girlfriends, including more than 100 letters he exchanged with Anka Stalhern, the girl reputed to be the first love of his life.
"It sums up the formative years of the No 2 man in the Third Reich," said Bill Panagopulos, whose company, Alexander Historical Auctions, will sell the collection in Stamford, Connecticut. "It shows how this rather simple, shy and lovestruck college student became radicalised."
The thousands of pages include Goebbels' college dissertation, his report cards and dozens of poems and school essays which may provide fresh insights into the mind of one of the most fanatical Nazis. Stalhern, a law student, ended her relationship with Goebbels in 1920. In his last letter to her that year, Goebbels wrote: "If I had you here with me I would grab you and force you to love me, if only for a moment – then I would kill you."
The papers also contain details about Goebbels' relationship with Else Janke, a young sports teacher from his home town of Rheydt, in North Rhine-Westphalia, whom he met in the early 1920s. In 1922, Janke revealed to Goebbels that she was half-Jewish. "She told me her roots. Since then her charms have been destroyed for me," Goebbels wrote in his diaries.
In what is seen as early evidence of his egotistical behaviour, several of Goebbels' writings are completed with numerous personal signatures. Replying to a teacher who offered condolences after the death of Goebbels' sister, the man who would later call for "total war" writes that his loss is minor compared with the losses suffered by "Our Fatherland". "You really get a feel for what was going on in his head," said Mr Panagopulos.
Goebbels and his equally fanatical wife, Magda, killed their six children with cyanide tablets before killing themselves at Hitler's Berlin bunker, the day after the Nazi leader committed suicide.
The Goebbels collection is expected to fetch more than $200,000 and is being sold on behalf of an unnamed Swiss company which obtained the documents after they had changed hands several times.
But the impending sale has invoked criticism from a Holocaust survivors group which has accused the auction house of making profits from Nazi memorabilia. It noted that Alexander Historical Auctions had last year auctioned off the journals of the Nazi death camp doctor Josef Mengele and said the Goebbels papers could be used to lionise the Nazi leader.
Menachem Rosensaft, of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, said the collection should be made available to historians in an archive instead. "I leave it to others to determine the morality of it all," he said. However, Mr Panagopulos said that neo-Nazis were not interested in such material and that most of the documents had been made available to historians before being put up for auction. He said because his father's home town had been destroyed by the Nazis during the German occupation of Greece during World War II, his morals "should not be questioned".
'The ram': Goebbels' sexual appetite
Goebbels's legendary promiscuity earned him the nickname "The Ram". "Eros awoke" he wrote in a diary in 1912 when he was just 16. He was overcome with a desire for "mature women" – in this case it was the stepmother of one of his school friends.
By the time he was 21 he boasted about simultaneously seducing two sisters called Liesl and Agnes. In 1930 he met his future wife, the Hitler worshipper Magda Quandt.
He fathered six children with her while continuing dalliances with other women. The most famous was his affair with the Czech actress Lida Baarova. Hitler, who was furious about his propaganda chief liaising with an "inferior Slav", forced him to end the affair.