Sunday, May 15, 2005

Joseph Goebbels: The Karl Rove of Nazi Germany

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” – Joseph Goebbels

German Nazi Party member Joseph Goebbels became Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister in 1933, which game him power over all German radio, press, cinema, and theater. In 1925 Goebbels met the party leader Adolf Hitler. In 1926 he was made Gauleiter, or party leader, for the region of Berlin, and in 1927 he founded and became editor of the official National Socialist periodical Der Angriff (The Attack). He was elected to the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1928. By exploiting mob emotions and by employing all modern methods of propaganda Goebbels helped Hitler into power.

Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda

Based on Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda

    1. Propagandist must have access to intelligence concerning events and public opinion.
    2. Propaganda must be planned and executed by only one authority.

    a. It must issue all the propaganda directives.
    b. It must explain propaganda directives to important officials and maintain their morale.
    c. It must oversee other agencies’ activities which have propaganda consequences.

    3. The propaganda consequences of an action must be considered in planning that action.
    4. Propaganda must affect the enemy’s policy and action.

    a. By suppressing propagandistically desirable material which can provide the enemy with useful intelligence.
    b. By openly disseminating propaganda whose content or tone cause the enemy to draw the desired conclusions.
    c. By goading the enemy into revealing vital information about himself.
    d. By making no reference to a desired enemy activity when any reference would discredit that activity.

    5. Declassified, operational information must be available to implement a propaganda campaign.
    6. To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of an audience and must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium.
    7. Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.
    8. The purpose, content and effectiveness of enemy propaganda; the strength and effects of an expose; and the nature of current propaganda campaigns determine whether enemy propaganda should be ignored or refuted.
    9. Credibility, intelligence, and the possible effects of communicating determine whether propaganda materials should be censored.
    10. Material from enemy propaganda may be utilized in operations when it helps diminish that enemy’s prestige or lends support to the propagandist’s own objective.
    11. Black rather than white propaganda may be employed when the latter is less credible or produces undesirable effects.
    12. Propaganda may be facilitated by leaders with prestige.
    13. Propaganda must be carefully timed.

    a. The communication must reach the audience ahead of competing propaganda.
    b. A propaganda campaign must begin at the optimum moment.
    c. A propaganda theme must be repeated, but not beyond some point of diminishing effectiveness.

    14. Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans.

    a. They must evoke desired responses which the audience previously possesses.
    b. They must be capable of being easily learned.
    c. They must be utilized again and again, but only in appropriate situations.
    d. They must be boomerang-proof.

    15. Propaganda to the home front must prevent the raising of false hopes which can be blasted by future events.
    16. Propaganda to the home front must create an optimum anxiety level.

    a. Propaganda must reinforce anxiety concerning the consequences of defeat.
    b. Propaganda must diminish anxiety (other than concerning the consequences of defeat which is too high and which cannot be reduced by people themselves).

    17. Propaganda to the home front must diminish the impact of frustration.

    a. Inevitable frustrations must be anticipated.
    b. Inevitable frustrations must be placed in perspective.

    18. Propaganda must facilitate the the displacement of aggression by specifying the target for hatred.
    19. Propaganda cannot immediately affect strong counter-tendencies; instead it must offer some form of action or diversion, or both.

    Goebbels' Principles of Propaganda by Leonard W. Doob

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