“My used to deceive the masses into

“My whole life can be summed up as this ceaseless effort of
mine to persuade other people”

 ~Adolf Hitler1

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In my opinion this description perfectly describes Adolf
Hitler’s views on propaganda and indeed politics in general. Throughout his
political career, he deceived masses of German people using propaganda in order
to assert his dominance and to win their favour. Furthermore, he also believed
in the simplification of social, economic and political problems, a technique
which he used to deceive the German people into believing the Jews were the
enemy. Therefore, this doctrine of diabolic causality was instilled in Hitler
and the Third Reich and so spread throughout Germany until the entire
population believed that the Jews were an enemy and not just scapegoats for the
failure of the economy, the embarrassment of the Treaty of Versailles and
indeed the fall of the Weimar Republic. This propaganda and “tight control over
all artistic expression in Germany helped create an atmosphere that made it
possible for the Nazis to commit terrible atrocities”2
Accordingly, it is true to say that this statement about Hitler’s views on
propaganda relates to every aspect of his politics and the execution of his
political, social and economic endeavours.

The general definition of propaganda, according to the
Oxford English dictionary, is “information, especially of a biased or
misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.”  Propaganda was the most important tool
Hitler’s government used to assert influence and this information was most
definitely of a misleading nature, rooted in bias and anti-Semitism. 3

The first step the Third Reich needed to take in order to
successfully establish a solid foundation for their propaganda policy was to
take control of German media. Joseph Goebbels played an extremely significant
role in this effort. He was the German Nazi propaganda leader from 1930 due to
his effective oration skills and experience with Nazi propaganda in his weekly
newsletters. Goebbels held this position “both to advance the Nazi cause in
elections and to help create the ‘Hitler myth’ of a caring and dedicated
national leader”. We can see how competent Goebbels was on this front as the
masses adored their Fuhrer, clearly depicted in the propaganda film by Leni
Riefenstahl “The Triumph of the Will”. In 1933, Goebbels was appointed Reich
minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. From then on Goebbels set
laws in place that controlled exactly who got to hear what was said in the
government, thereby giving him and Hitler total control over the mass media in
Germany, the perfect platform to filter distorted information into the minds of
the German public.4 With a PhD in German literature,
Goebbels used all aspects of the media and became the most powerful
propagandist the world has ever seen.5

In Mein Kampf, Hitler lays out his views on propaganda, a
tool he consistently and effectively used to deceive the masses into believing
in his own views. In the first section, he explains how he genuinely believes
that the masses prefer “doctrines” and “commanders” over liberal freedom, and
this theory obviously is reflected in his Fascist leadership style.6
Hitler goes on to state that the message that the propaganda aims to convey
must be “adjusted to the most limited intelligence”. This perfectly depicts how
he both deceives people and simplifies the issues he wishes to convince the
people of. He understands that to truly win people over, “all propaganda must
be popular”. Appealing to people’s emotions is the surest way to get the
“attention and thence to the heart” of the German crowds, according to Hitler
in Mien Kampf. This technique of simplifying real information into populist
opinion (i.e. what the people want to hear) is the epitome of Hitler’s style of
propaganda. Indeed, propaganda was so crucial to his rise and success that he
describes it as an “art” (Hitler)

“It is a mistake to make propaganda many-sided”
(Hitler).  In an effort to prevent the
crowd from forgetting the information he tries to convince them of, Hitler
states that “all effective propaganda must be limited to a few points and must
harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what
you want him to understand by your slogan” It is extremely important to note
that it is only what Hitler ‘wants’ them to understand, not necessarily the
truth of the matter. These slogans such as euphemisms were frequently used to
enhance the populist and emotive discourse in Nazi propaganda. For instance,
worlds such as “liquidated”, “exterminated” and “eliminated” added vibrancy,
emotion and intensity to the rhetoric (Hitler).

The extent to which Hitler was willing to deceive the masses
by distorting the truth can be seen in a certain passage in Mein Kampf. “The
magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of credibility, since the
great masses of the people in the very bottom of their heart tend to be
corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil”. This explored concept is
one that can be shocking for the contemporary reader as with the internet and resources
of the modern world, it is impossible for politicians to get away with telling
such lies. However, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis depended on this for the success
of their regime. He claims that he is not alone as the “great lie-virtuosi”
make “treacherous” use of “even the most insolent lies” as they know it will
resonate with the public who will then fall to whatever beliefs they wish them

Although this manipulative and deceitful political policy on
propaganda is appalling, one cannot deny that it did work. When we look at just
the immense success of Nazism within Germany, Hitler’s and Goebbels’s cunning
can almost be applauded, and they certainly correctly used the psychological
theories of the time to control the minds of the public.

 As well as propaganda,
the emotive rhetoric he employed whilst addressing crowds also distorted the
truth. This discourse was typical of the right-wing nationalist movements of
the mid-19th Century7.
For example, Mussolini in Italy and Franco in Spain made use of similar
passionate and emotive speech to spur the masses into believing what they said
and to appeal to their emotions, thereby encouraging the people to join their
movement. As well as being ungrammatical, Mein Kampf is ‘repetitive, simplistic
and inaccurate’ and makes use of lies which Hitler aimed to spread. This
deliberate style reflects Hitler’s convictions on the use of propaganda. The
simplified ideas frequently repeated simplify the true complexity of the
situation to convince the masses.

Hitler used these propaganda techniques to spread his ideas.
He tried to convince his people that socialist, Bolsheviks, the Weimar
Republic, communists and especially the Jews were the cause of all the problems
the German state were experiencing at that time. For example, a widely
circulated propaganda cartoon (an illustration from a 1919 Austrian postcard)
at the time was an image of a caricatured Jew stabbing the German army in the
back. This type of diabolic causality was typical of the Third Reich as the
capitulation was blamed upon the unpatriotic populace. The German people were
exposed to an immeasurable amount of this false political idea so that they
began to believe that the Jews, communists etc. were to blame for the loss and
embarrassment following the First World War, the high levels of inflation and
stagnating economy, the collapse of the monarchy.

Hitler believed Jewish bankers were responsible for the
treaty of Versailles. Anti-Semitism was at the core of Hitler’s beliefs.

Jews caused the economic depression, so Germany had to go to
war to defend itself. Following the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had to pay
expensive war reparations that seriously affected the economy. By the end of
1923, the rate of inflation was 3,250,000%.

Hitler also used the Jews as scapegoats for the growth of
communism, an ideology that Hitler himself was extremely against. On top of
this, Hitler welcomed war in the East as he was prepared to lead a Holy Crusade
against Bolshevism.

The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were justified by Hitler as an
attempt to “promote racial hygiene and to prevent racial intermixing”. Thus, we
can see how effective and accomplished Hitler was at deceiving the masses as
such racist laws would usually have been protested. The German people came to
believe that the State’s role consisted of taking measure to enforce the growth
of the Aryan race. The government enforced a “Lebensborn breeding programme” in
which German women deemed suitable to carry true, “racially pure” Aryan children
were impregnated by men of a similar physical stature, in order to have true
born Aryan children, thus expanding what Hitler believed to be “the Master
race”. Also, 5000 babies were euthanised from 1939-1945 as they were disabled.
Aktion T4 claimed a further 275,000 victims deemed disabled through involuntary
euthanasia. This compulsory sterilisation was under the 1933 Law for the
Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring. In other Eastern European
countries such as Austria and Poland, 250,000 children with blond hair and blue
eyes were deemed “racially viable” and kidnapped by the SS to be raised by
childless couples in Germany. Once again, these horrific atrocities were
permitted by the German people due to how the Nazi government deceived them through
propaganda to believe such actions for the good of greater Germany. For
instance, a Nazi propaganda poster from 1936 exists which supports the
compulsory sterilisation law as it states that “inferior people” (such as those
suffering from a mental illness) “are reproducing unrestrainedly while their
sick and asocial offspring burden the community”. Therefore, the government’s
use of emotive language and seemingly scientific phrases was an effective
propaganda style. (Edward Arnold November 2017)8

Not only did Hitler use manipulative techniques to deceive
masses of people, but he also manipulated those whom he worked closely with.
After each meeting with a field marshal he turned to them, shook both their hands
and told them “But you’re not going to abandon me”.9
He had a huge ability to manipulate people, and that is what led to his

Hitler used his totalitarian control over people’s minds to
not only rally them to the Germany Army and Nazism itself, but also to explain
to them (in a dishonest way) why the social, economic and political problems
faced by Germany had come about. He employs words such as “sly”, “dumb”, “crooks”,
“satanic”, “brutal” (Hitler). These harsh words can heavily influence one
reading or listening to such hateful speech. Not only this, but the passion and
certainty with which Hitler delivered these words to a crowd was so incredible
that it can be seen why one would be influenced by his opinions, however
absurd. This rhetoric begins the portrayal of Hitler’s vision that the Jews are
responsible for the state of affairs in Germany at the time. “He works
systematically for revolutionization in a two-fold sense, economic and
He explains that war is caused simply by the Jews; “thanks to his international
influence, incites them to war”. Not only this, but he believes the Jew ruins
the foundations of a state and uproots the economy- until all economic
influences are “under his control”. Thus, it is clear that Hitler openly and
unashamedly uses the Jew as scapegoats for the economic turmoil in Germany at
the time, as well as blaming the Jew for the war. Therefore, it can be concluded
that although Hitler did simplify social, political and economic problems in
order to deceive the masses, he also did believe in similar ideals.

Hitler’s Table Talk, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Phoenix Press 2002 page 221

Grill, John Peter Horst, Joseph Goebbels, Salem Press Biographical
Encyclopaedia, 2013

Oxford English dictionary, (www.oed.com)

Grill, 2013

Ibid page 153

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf tr. R. Manheim, London 1969, page 162

Lecture notes Edward Arnold.

Edward Arnold, Lecture slides; Nazi Germany.

Laurence Rees, The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler, Ebury Press 2012, page 375

Mein Kampf