is difficult to define the concept of propaganda thoroughly and
precisely. This is especially true since in past decades it was
subject to unfavorable definitions, particularly as the enemy defined
it with regards to us Germans. First, then, we must defend it. Those
abroad sometimes claim that in the past we Germans were particularly
good in this area, but that unfortunately is not consistent with
the facts. We learned this all too clearly during the World War.
While the enemy states produced unprecedented atrocity propaganda
aimed at Germany throughout the whole world, we did nothing and
were completely defenseless against it. Only when enemy foreign
propaganda had nearly won over the greater part of the neutral states
did the German government begin to sense the enormous power of propaganda.
It was too late. Just as we were militarily and economically unprepared
for the war, so too with propaganda. We lost the war in this area
more than in any other.
The cleverest trick used
in propaganda against Germany during the war was to accuse Germany
of what our enemies themselves were doing. Even today large parts
of world opinion are convinced that the typical characteristics
of German propaganda are lying, crudeness, reversing the facts
and the like. One needs only to remember the stories that were
spread throughout the world at the beginning of the war about
German soldiers chopping off children's hands and crucifying women
to realize that Germany then was a defenseless victim of this
campaign of calumny. It neither had nor used any means of defense.
The concept of propaganda
has undergone a fundamental transformation, particularly as the
result of political practice in Germany. Throughout the world
today, people are beginning to see that a modern state, whether
democratic or authoritarian, cannot withstand the subterranean
forces of anarchy and chaos without propaganda. It is not only
a matter of doing the right thing; the people must understand
that the right thing is the right thing. Propaganda includes everything
that helps the people to realize this.
in principle is active and revolutionary. It is aimed at the broad
masses. It speaks the language of the people because it wants
to be understood by the people. Its task is the highest creative
art of putting sometimes complicated events and facts in a way
simple enough to be understood by the man on the street. Its foundation
is that there is nothing the people cannot understand, rather
things must be put in a way that they can understand. It is a
question of making it clear to him by using the proper approach,
evidence and language.
Propaganda is a means
to an end. Its purpose is to lead the people to an understanding
that will allow them to willingly and without internal resistance
devote themselves to the tasks and goals of a superior leadership.
If propaganda is to succeed, it must know what it wants. It must
keep a clear and firm goal in mind, and seek the appropriate means
and methods to reach that goal. Propaganda as such is neither
good nor evil. Its moral value is determined by the the goals
Propaganda must be creative.
It is by no means a matter for the bureaucracy or official administration,
rather it is a matter of productive fantasy. The genuine propagandist
must be a true artist. He must be a master of the popular soul,
using it as an instrument to express the majesty of a genuine
political will. Propaganda can be pro or con. In neither case
does it have to be negative. The only thing that is important
is whether or not its words are true and genuine expressions of
the people. During its period of opposition, the National Socialist
movement proved that criticism can be constructive, indeed that
in a time which the government is in the hands of destructive
powers it may be the only constructive element.
The concept of popular
enlightenment is fundamentally different. It is fundamentally
defensive and evolutionary. It does not hammer or drum. It is
moderate in tone, seeking to teach. It explains, clarifies, and
informs. It is therefore used more often by a government than
by the opposition. The National Socialist state, growing out of
a revolution, had the task of centrally leading both propaganda
and education, uniting two concepts that are related but not identical,
molding them into a unity that in the long term can serve the
government and people.
Even during the time
when we were in the opposition, we succeeded in rescuing the concept
of propaganda from disfavor or contempt. Since then we have transformed
it into a truly creative art. It was our sharpest weapon in conquering
the state. It remains our sharpest weapon in defending and building
the state. Although this is perhaps still not clear to the rest
of the world, it was obvious to us that we had to use the weapon
with which we had conquered the state to defend the state. Otherwise
we faced the danger that we could lose the people even though
we had power, and that without the people we would lose power.
We put what we hard learned during our attack on the November
pseudo-state in the service of our state. The great wealth of
ideas and never failing creativity of our propaganda, proven during
our struggle for power, was perfected to the last detail. Now
we turned it to serve the state itself to find meaningful ways
and flexible forms to immunize the people's thinking. The people
should share the concerns and successes of their government. Its
concerns and successes must therefore be constantly presented
and hammered into them so that the people will consider the concerns
and successes of their government to be their concerns and successes.
Only an authoritarian government, firmly tied to the people, can
do this over the long term. Political propaganda, the art of anchoring
the things of the state in the broad masses so that the whole
nation will feel a part of them, cannot therefore remain merely
a means to the goal of winning power. It must become a means of
building and keeping power.
This requires alert attention
to the events of the day, and a trained and lively creativity
that must include a complete knowledge of the soul of the people.
The people must be understood in their deepest depths, or intuitively
understood, for only then can one speak in a way that the people
will understand. Propaganda must be the science of the soul of
the people. It requires an organized and purposeful system if
it is to be successful in the long run.
That is what we lacked
during the war. That is where our enemy was superior to us. We
must make up for that. We must take the techniques and dominance
of the other side's opinion apparatus and fill it with the fire
of the soul and the glow of new ideas.
Propaganda too has a
system. It cannot be made any old way. In the long run, it can
only be effective in the service of great ideals and far-seeing
principles. And propaganda must be learned. It must be led only
by people with a fine and sure instinct for the often changeable
feelings of the people. They must be able to reach into the world
of the broad masses and draw out their wishes and hopes. The effective
propagandist must be a master of the art of speech, of writing,
of journalism, of the poster and of the leaflet. He must have
the gift to use the major methods of influencing public opinion
such as the press, film and radio to serve his ideas and goals,
above all in an age of advancing technology.
Radio is already an invention
of the past, since television will probably soon arrive. On the
one hand successful propaganda must be a master of these methods
of political opinion, but on the other it may not become stale
in using them. It must find new ways and methods every day to
reach success. The nature of propaganda remains the same, whatever
the technical means, but the means nonetheless are becoming ever
broader and far-reaching. One need only consider the revolutionary
impact of the invention of radio, which gave the spoken word true
mass effectiveness. This has had great effects on the technical
apparatus of propaganda, but the art of propaganda has remained
Understood in this sense,
propaganda has long since disposed of the odium of inferiority.
It holds first rank among the arts with which one leads a nation,
It is indispensable in building a modern state. It is something
of a connecting link between government and people.
Each propaganda had a
direction. The quality of this direction determines whether propaganda
has a positive or negative effect. Good propaganda does not need
to lie, indeed it may not lie. It has no reason to fear the truth.
It is a mistake to believe that people cannot take the truth.
They can. It is only a matter of presenting the truth to people
in a way that they will be able to understand. A propaganda that
lies proves that it has a bad cause. It cannot be successful in
the long run. A good propaganda will always come along that serves
a good cause. But propaganda is still necessary if a good cause
is to succeed. A good idea does not win simply because it is good.
It must be presented properly if it is to win. But a good idea
is itself the best propaganda. Such propaganda is successful without
being obnoxious. It depends on its nature, not its methods. It
works without being noticed. Its goals are inherent in its nature.
Since it is almost invisible, it is effective and powerful. A
good cause will lose to a bad one if it depends only on its rightness,
while the other side uses the methods of influencing the masses.
We are for example convinced that we fought the war for a good
cause, but that was not enough. The world should also have known
that our cause was good. However, we lacked the effective means
of mass propaganda to make that clear to the world. Marxism certainly
did not fight for great ideals. Despite that, in November 1918
it overcame Kaiser, Reich and the army because it was superior
in the art of mass propaganda.
National Socialism learned
from these two examples. It drew the correct practical conclusions
from that knowledge. The ideal of a socialist national community
did not remain mere theory with us, but became living reality
in the thoughts and feelings of 67 million Germans. Our propaganda
of word and deed created the conditions for that. Mastering them
kept National Socialism from the danger of remaining the dream
and longing of a few thousand. Through propaganda, it became hard,
steely everyday reality.
That which we only imperfectly
and inadequately understood during the war became a virtuously
mastered art during the rise of the National Socialist movement.
Today one can say without exaggeration that Germany is a model
of propaganda for the entire world. We have made up for past failures
and developed the art of mass influence to a degree that puts
the efforts of other nations into the shadows. The importance
the National Socialist leadership placed on propaganda became
clear when it established a Ministry for Popular Enlightenment
and Propaganda shortly after it took power. This ministry is entirely
within the spirit of National Socialism, and comes from it. It
unites what we learned as an opposition movement confronting the
enemy and under persecution from an enemy system, sometimes more
from necessity than desire. Recently some have tried to imitate
this ministry and its concentration of all means of influencing
opinion, but here too the slogan applies: "Often copied,
The organizational union
of mass demonstrations, the press, film, radio, literature, theater,
etc., is only the mechanical side to the matter. It is not so
much that all these means are in one hand. The important thing
is that this hand knows how to master and control them. Establishing
a central office is not difficult. What is difficult is finding
people who are experts in an area previously not a concern of
We could not have done
that ourselves if we had not been through the great school of
our party. She was our teacher. During 14 years of opposition
we gathered an enormous amount of knowledge, experience, wisdom
and ability. This made us able to use the wide-reaching methods
of government propaganda without running the risk of losing the
spirit behind them. Effective propaganda avoids any form of bureaucracy.
It requires lightening-fast decisions, alert creativity and inexhaustible
inventiveness. The machinery of the organization would remain
lifeless and rigid if it were not constantly driven by the motor
of the spirit and the idea.
It is therefore also
wrong to think that a ministry could replace what the movement
alone is able to do. Cooperation between the party and the government
was necessary for the major successes that we are proud of. Only
when all means of propaganda are concentrated and their unified
application assured will it be possible to carry out major educational
and propaganda battles as we did before 12 November 1933 [the
referendum Hitler called to approve Germany's withdrawal from
the League of Nations] or 19 August 1934 [The referendum called
to approve Hitler's absolute power after the death of Hindenburg],
which were of true historical significance.
If such an art of active
mass influence through propaganda is joined with the long-term
systematic education of a nation, and if both are conducted in
a unified and precise way, the relationship between the leadership
and the nation will always remain close. From authority and following
will develop that type of modern democracy for which Germany is
the model for the entire world in the Twentieth Century.
That is also the basic
requirement for any practical political activity. A government
that wishes to be successful over the long term cannot ignore
it. Its projects and plans would fail were they not supported
by the people. But the people must understand them in order to
One can but smile when
one looks over our borders at the efforts of parliamentary-democratic
parties that are all concerned with this: "How can I tell
my children?" A fear of the people is the characteristic
of liberal government theory. It has set the people free, and
now does not know what to do with them. The hunt for popularity
usually means nothing other than concealing the truth and speaking
nonsense. One dares not say what is right, and what one does say
leads to disaster. But that is presumably what the people want.
One no longer has the courage to say unpopular things, much less
do them. The result is that great European problems are lost in
useless debates while political, economic and social crises of
unprecedented magnitude face the nations.
There are times when
statesmen must have the courage to do something unpopular. But
their unpopular actions must be properly prepared, and must be
put in the proper form, so that people will understand. The man
on the street is usually not as unreasonable as some think. Since
it is he who usually has to bear the heaviest burdens that result
from unpopular policies, he at least has a right to know why things
are being done this way and not that way. All practical politics
depends on its persuasiveness. It is no sign of wise leadership
to acquaint the nation with hard facts from one day to the next.
Crises must be prepared for not only politically and economically,
but also psychologically. Here propaganda has its place. It must
prepare the way actively and educationally. Its task is to prepare
the way for practical actions. It must follow these actions step
by step, never losing sight of them. In a manner of speaking,
it provides the background music. Such propaganda in the end miraculously
makes the unpopular popular, enabling even a government's most
difficult decisions to secure the resolute support of the people.
A government that uses it properly can do what is necessary without
running the risk of losing the masses.
Propaganda is therefore
a necessary life function of the modern state. Without it, seeking
great goals is simply impossible in this century of the masses.
It stands at the beginning of practical political activity in
every area of public life. It is its important and necessary prerequisite.
Let me give several recent
examples. I need only sketch the details. They are too fresh in
our memories to require elaboration.
There are no parliamentary
parties in Germany any longer. How could we have overcome them
had we not waged an educational campaign for years that persuaded
people of their weaknesses, harms and disadvantages? Their final
elimination was only the result of what the people had already
realized. Our propaganda weakened these parties. Based on that,
they could be eliminated by a legal act.
Marxism could not be
eliminated by a government decision. Its elimination was the end
result of a process that began in the people. But that was only
possible because our propaganda had shown people that Marxism
was a danger to both the state and society. The positive national
discipline of the German press would never have been possible
without the compete elimination of the influence of the liberal-Jewish
press. That happened only because of the years-long work of our
propaganda. Today particularism in Germany is something of the
past. The fact that it was eliminated by a strong central idea
of the Reich is no accident, rather depended on psychological
foundations that were established by our propaganda.
Or consider economic
policy. Does anyone believe that the idea of class struggle could
have been eliminated only by a law? Is it not rather the fact
that the seeds we sowed in a hundred thousand meetings resulted
in a new socialist structure of labor? Today employers and workers
stand together in the Labor Front. The Law on National Labor is
the foundation of our economic thinking, realizing itself more
and more. Are not these social achievements the result of the
long and tireless labor of thousands of speakers?
What about the shortage
of foreign currency? This affects the people in serious ways.
Propaganda once again is the key to dealing with the problem.
The Hereditary Farming
Law, the idea of the Reich Agricultural System, market regulations
in agriculture, all these need propaganda to show the people their
importance, which is necessary of they are to succeed.
We could eliminate the
Jewish danger in our culture because the people had recognized
it as the result of our propaganda. Major cultural achievements
such as the unique "Kraft durch Freude" are possible
only with the powerful support of the people. The prerequisite
was and is propaganda, which here too creates and maintains the
connection to the people.
The Winter Relief last
year raised about 350 million Marks. This was not the result of
taxation, rather many gifts of every amount. Everyone gave freely
and gladly, many of whom in the past had done nothing in the face
of similar need. Why? Because a broad propaganda using every modern
means presented the whole nation with the need of this program
of social assistance.
45 million Reich Marks
of goods and services were provided. 85 million Reich Marks worth
of fuel were distributed. 130 million Reich Marks worth of food
were given out. Ten million Reich Marks worth of meals were provided,
and 70 million Reich Marks worth of clothing.
Some of these achievements
were the result of donations in kind, others the result of cash
donations. Street collections, donations of a part of paychecks,
contributions from companies, and gifts subtracted from bank accounts
resulted in cash totaling 184 million Reich Marks. 24 million
marks alone were the result of "One Dish Sundays." [On
some Sundays, people were encouraged to have a simple meal at
home, donating the money saved to the Nazi charity] The Reich
itself added 15 million marks to the contributions of the people.
The railway system provided reduced or free shipping with a value
of 14 million Marks.
Of our population of
65,595,000, 16,511,00 were assisted by the Winter Relief. There
were 150,000 volunteers. There were only 4,474 paid workers, of
whom 4,144 were in the 34 Gaue and 330 in the Reich headquarters.
Propaganda and education
prepared the way for the largest social assistance program in
history. They were the foundation. Their success was that, over
a long winter, no one in Germany went hungry or was cold.
Over 40 million people
approved of the Führer's decision to leave the League of
Nations on 12 November 1933. That gave him the ability to speak
to the world in the name of the nation, defending honor, peace
and equality as the national ideals of the German people. The
issues of disarmament were put on firm and clear foundations.
Once again, propaganda was the foundation for the nation's unity
on 12 November, and therefore of the freedom of action that the
Each situation brings
new challenges. And each task requires the support of the people,
which can only be gained by untiring propaganda that brings the
broad masses knowledge and clarity. No area of public life can
do without it. It is the never resting force behind public opinion.
It must maintain an unbroken relationship between leadership and
people. Every means of technology must be put in its service;
the goal is to form the mass will and to give it meaning, purpose
and goals that will enable us to learn from past failures and
mistakes and ensure that the lead National Socialist strength
has given us over other nations will never again be lost.
May the bright flame
of our enthusiasm never fade. It alone gives light and warmth
to the creative art of modern political propaganda. Its roots
are in the people. The movement gives it direction and drive.
The state can only provide it with the new, wide-ranging technical
means. Only a living relationship between people, movement and
state can guarantee that the creative art of propaganda, which
he have made ourselves the world's master, will never sink into
bureaucracy and official narrow-mindedness.
Creative people made
it and put it in the service of our movement. We must have creative
people who can use the means of the state in its service.
is also a function of the modern state. Its reach is the firm
ground on which it must stand. It rises from the depths of the
people, and must always return to the people to find its roots
and strength. It may be good to have power based on weapons. It
is better and longer lasting, however, to win and hold the heart
of a nation.