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How did Hitler use propaganda to gain support?

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“Propaganda attempts to force a doctrine on the whole people… Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea.”–Adolf Hitler. These words showed Hitler’s awareness of the importance of propaganda–a means that helped him to gain support from the people. The fact that Hitler became chancellor in 1933 gave the Nazis more freedom and opportunities to use propaganda to spread their ideas of National Socialism. In 1933, the set up of the Reich Chamber of Commerce gave Nazis the right to control and filter the culture–literature, art, films, radio, etc–that citizens were exposed to. And the Nazis Teacher’s Association controlled the education of children. Through these three means of propaganda: posters, films, and education, Hitler was able to consolidate his position as the Fuhrer, and gain new supporters.

Education played an important part in cultivating faithful and reliable followers for the Nazi Party. The Nazis controlled what was to be taught in school. For example, 97% of the teachers in Germany were members of the Nazi Teacher’s Association, where they were trained to teach the Nazi curriculum. Most teachers were willing to join the Nazi Teacher’s Association because if they got reported for saying things that opposed to the Nazi curriculum at school, they would face troubles from the Nazis or lose their jobs. Subjects were changed to benefit the Nazis. For example, biology was about race and racial purity; both concepts were the foundations for Hitler’s racism and anti-Semitism. Therefore, children were taught according to the Nazi curriculum, which was a huge benefit for Hitler. In Nazi Germany, a post-school activity called Hitler Youth was very popular among boys; by 1933 its membership reached 100,000.

Because Hitler’s expectations of the youth were “swift, tough, and hard”, the Hitler Youth accepted strong and healthy youths and eliminated the weaklings, who would be humiliated by those who were accepted. In 1939, the authorities made it compulsory to attend every Hitler Youth meeting, whereas, before 1939, boys could avoid participation by paying subscription. This law helped to bring up the attendance rate from 25% in 1938 to almost 100% in 1939. This number definitely helped Hitler to gain support because the full attendance rate ensured that every youth received Nazi education and was devoted to Nazi Germany. Being in the Hitler Youth also gave the boys a sense of pride because it meant that the Fuhrer had accepted him and it proofed that he was fit and strong. So the Hitler Youth was the start of a gradual path that led a boy to becoming a blind follower of Hitler.

Posters were another use of propaganda that helped the Nazi gain support. Nazi designed propaganda posters for every part of the society. For example, the following was a poster for the working-class.

‘Your Own KdF-Car’ poster, 1939

This poster was published in 1939, the time when most trade unions were replaced by the German Labour Front. The KdF or “Strength through Joy” is an organization created by the Labour Front that promised the workers better working conditions and leisure. The message “Your Own KdF-Car”, enthused workers because it gave them a hope of owning a “people’s car” and having a more comfortable life. Workers, motivated by posters like this, paid millions of marks into the saving scheme, believing that they would get a car at the end. This proves that Hitler, by using the “People’s car” as a lure, had succeeded in getting both support and money from workers. The following was another Nazi propaganda poster that showed Hitler as a mystical figure.

‘One People, One Nation, One Leader!’ poster of Hitler, 1938

The slogan: “One People, One Nation, One Leader” delivered the idea of National Socialism and Leadership Principle to the people. The leadership principle meant that Hitler had dictatorial power over decision making, and he didn’t have to discuss it with others. In this poster, Hitler, looking mystical and yet determined, had convinced people that he was the ultimate ruler who had the power to decide the nation’s destiny. Even though one poster could not change one’s mind about the Nazis, seeing masses of posters similar to these on the street could gradually make one believe in Hitler and support him.

Hitler also used films to get support. Films were used to promote the idea of anti-Semitism and National Socialism. For example, a propaganda film called “The Eternal Jew” showed Jews as sub-humans and compared them to filthy rats. This film was shown at every cinema, so Germans, especially those who had never met a Jew before, believed the film. Another successful Nazi propaganda film was “Triumph of the Will” created by Leni Riefenstahl, whom Hitler appointed for this propaganda film. This film contained many powerful scenes like the one with 50,000 brownshirts standing in very orderly fashion as Hitler gives his speech. Riefenstahl was able to use camera techniques to make Hitler appear taller and larger on screen. All these scenes made the Nazi look strong and tough.

Therefore people were willing to trust the Nazis, and those oppositions were convinced that it was useless to go against Nazi. This film became a success as soon as it was release; the film was played to packed movie theater nation-wide and Riefenstahl had won a Cultural Achievement Award for her outstanding work. This shows that Germans were interested in the film, and Hitler’s ideas were able to spread to lots of people. The films eventually helped Hitler to gain support because the artwork itself was well-made and that people responded enthusiastically.

In conclusion, propaganda played an important part in gaining support for Hitler. It was so powerful because it was be seen everywhere, everyday. Films, posters and education were used by Hitler to gain support from the people.





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