German Propaganda Archive Calvin College

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Background: This page has Chapters 1 and 2 of Eugen Hadamovsky’s book on the principles on Nazi propaganda. For more details, see the table of contents page.

The source: Eugen Hadamovsky, Propaganda und nationale Macht: Die Organisation der öffentlichen Meinung für die nationale Politik (Oldenburg: Gerhard Stalling, 1933).


Propaganda and National Power:

The Organization of Public Opinion for National Politics

 

by Eugen Hadamovsky


Chapter 1

National Power and Public Opinion

 

This book is intended for the intellectual leadership of the nation. They must be familiar with tools, the use of whose power over the spirit is once again secured. Spirit should not be talked about, rather it should be made effective, just as light illuminates an object without one being able to see the light beam in clear air.

A near-sighted national materialism likes to speak with a certain bitterness about “the people of poets and philosophers,” and thinks deeds are more important than words. But it forgets that the deed is born of the thought, and the thought of the word. Our energy, our military activity, and our spirit of sacrifice first declined when our most valuable possessions, our poets and philosophers, were mortally wounded. All the roots of our strength are in them, as is the almost daemonic willingness to sacrifice oneself to enthusiastic attack and organized discipline, traits that the German people display better than anyone else.

Liberalism and its offspring Marxism are intellectually and organically finished.

The nation again passionately recognizes German politics, German soldiers, and the German spirit. The mutual bond and dependence between these feelings and forces is apparent to everyone.

Our questions are these: In which ways will public opinion properly express the instinctive spirit and will of the nation? How will radio, the press, news services, and propaganda and cultural institutions give expression to the powerful life currents of the nation? How can they be intellectually controlled without falling into the traps and pitfalls of liberalism?

Will public opinion take on intellectual or primitive form? Will it stress individual freedom, Bolshevist bureaucracy, or be restricted only according to certain forms and aims? May we choose between the liberal principle of individualism and the Bolshevist principle of collectivism, or must we find a new way? These are vital questions for the German people and the German mind. They cannot be answered with theories from a desk. Their answers must rather grow out of the nation. That will be possible only when we have resolved to abolish the structures of liberal public opinion, and laid new foundations for future growth. This book contains a thorough study and investigation, not from a party standpoint, but rather with attention to the whole area.

Historical and contemporary examples show that the means of public opinion can endanger or destroy national unity if they are improperly used or controlled by the enemy.

But possession and use of the means are not sufficient. The greatest care must be taken to prevent propaganda from being used for its own sake. Propaganda is the will to power; it is always subsidiary to an idea. If the idea is missing, the whole artificial structure collapses. Idea, propaganda, and power are inseparably connected. A pure, crystal clear will and the highest idealism, intellectual superiority, vision, and sufficient knowledge of the means of public opinion and the possibilities and limits of governmental structures must all come together in order to successfully free the national will for our great task.

 

Chapter II


Propaganda and Power (Organized Strength)


Each organization of individuals
requires a certain amount of
common ideas and similar interests.
— Hitler —


The Creative Word

The word is apparently the original element of human thought, and therefore of human genius. Today as well, it exercises its inescapable power on everyone whose intelligence has not been overcome by cynicism.

Applicability to truth and falsehood is characteristic of the word; man alone decides which use he will make of it.

The average man, and more certainly the masses, succumbs almost infallibly to the power of the word, unconcerned with its inherent truth. The inherent truth in words is not enough to combat spoken lies, but rather only a new word which can be set against the old. In order for this new word to be believed, the people and masses must hear and understand it. It must come to them and speak their language; its power must be greater than that of the old.

If the arts and the sciences are somehow separated by their mysterious languages that define the borders of each and their jurisdictions, the art of life, politics, works more than ever with the means of creative language in order to win the masses and hold them firmly within the boundaries of a definite conception and worldview. Creative language will occasionally make wide departures from the natural and aesthetic. That has no harmful effect on the masses, whom we must today consider a political reality, even if it does violence at times to the German language. One generally has to be careful when applying the so-called aesthetic yardstick to politics, as it gives no hint of possible outcomes.

As long as Western civilization relied on secret cabinet politics, the polished language of diplomacy served as a sharp and pointed Toledo sword to politics. To cynics, it was the art of saying the opposite of what one thought. In the mouth of an expert, it was a way of protecting oneself from the aims and influences of by the enemy. When the French Revolution opened the age of mass struggle, the gentlemanly games and limited risks of cabinet politics were replaced by all-out struggling movements of masses and nations. The fine old language of diplomacy yielded to the new, blunt, and violent language of political mass propaganda. Political language became a public affair.

Freedom, equality, brotherhood, capitalism, socialism, communism, profit, surplus value, output, international economy, Soviet Germany, nationalism, blood, land, race, self sufficiency, Third Reich — each of these is its own slogan, encompassing the inferences and doctrines of worldview.

They assault the enemy, hammer at him, raise doubt, fear, resistance, and agreement.

Adherents see in them a positive promise of a brighter future, and find in them a spiritual, faith-restoring rescue from blind, purely psychological daily struggles.

Today, the political “layman” faces a puzzling mass of words, a flood of unfamiliar concepts, a mysterious, ordered, deafeningly strong and one-sided view of life that works through the word to recruit and organize.

The major ideological parties make use of the technical aspects of language in their organizational structures. What is a ‘Truf,” a “Staf,” the “Osaf,” an “Uschla?” They are no longer mere abbreviation in a telegraph code (Truppführer, Standartenführer, Oberster S.A. Führer, Untersuchungs- und Schlictungsausschuss), but rather these are new words that have become colloquialisms, a jargon, in the National Socialist Party. Although these words may not be found in the creative works of Luther, Goethe, or Nietzsche, many will remain in our vocabulary. Today, at any event, they exercise their effect in spite of theoretical philology.

Every German is familiar with Hitler’s S.A. In the popular mind, it simply means the brown shirts, “the Hitlers.” The Führer himself answers the question, “What does S.A. mean?” with three definitions: Saalschutzabteilung [meeting hall guards]; Sportabteilung [sports group]; and Sturmabteilung [storm troopers]. This explanation conceals a sense of uncertainty. The S.A. is a myth that cannot be captured in a few words; it can only be felt and experienced. The experience of a generation is summarized in this concept. The brief hard rhythm of this word has become something holy to millions.

The number of such words is legion. Each is propaganda by its very existence, each a form of intellectual bondage. Their very names require agreement or opposition, excite storms of the will, determine our actions.

Philologists and artists will accuse such newly created words of not being an organic part of the language, but rather artificial constructions. That is true of many such expressions. No one, however, will be able to root many of them out from the soul of people. They have become a familiar element of popular speech. The word S.A. is an example. One should on theoretical grounds question the right to existence of any expression which has not achieved popularity, acceptance, and organic union with the language. The right is a question of life. Life has previously created and justified such words in the sciences, arts, and economic and technical occupations. It now does so in politics as well.

There are also constructions that are intentionally designed to be effective and to produce suggestion through their unfamiliarity and which therefore remain strange to popular instinct. An example of such a construction is the communist word “agitprop.” There are “agitprop men,” “agitprop troops,” and “agitprop leaders,” the apostles of Bolshevist revolution under the red star. The word comes from agitation and propaganda.

The letters G.P.U. are just as strange. They are the initials of Gossundarstwennoje Polititschkoje Uprawlenje, the Soviet secret police. We call them the Cheka. They have systematically eliminated all other viewpoints in the country by systematic terror. These letters have become a symbol to the entire world of bloody terror and sinister underground power.

Creative language in political propaganda uses phrases and slogans to establish control. This is not new. The campaign slogans of a movement are and always have been the best propaganda. Anyone who had played a political role in the world was either a master of the word and of creative language, or else fought side by side with men accomplished in these arts.

Christianity conquered the world with its slogan “love thy neighbor as thyself.” The German people did not lose a war against the entire world because of the weakness of their weapons and soldiers, but rather because of the bureaucratic sterility of their leading officials. They were beaten not on the field of battle, but on the field of words. Their soul was crushed. They were never given a slogan to carry into the great struggle, while the enemy carried “against the Huns,” “for democracy,” and “for the League of Nations” onto the field. In politics, the fruitful and creative will always triumph over the unfruitful, the bureaucrats, the mere diplomats. Fichte’s observation that neither the power of the army nor the quality of the weapons decides a battle, but rather the power that leads the spirit to victory is also applicable to the political, military, and economic struggles of our day.

Psychological Foundations

Since the war, German historians have studied the problem of propaganda with commendable thoroughness. They have given lengthy and elaborate definitions, as Friedrich Tönnies has done, and engaged in fruitful work in concrete areas, as for example Friedrich Schönemann’s study of the art of mass propaganda in the United States of America.

We could also have studied the problems of propaganda and mass organization in an earlier period, and one closer to home, namely the origins of the German worker’s movement in the middle of the last century and its gradual drift towards Marxism. And the struggles of the Social Democrats, who emerged as victors from a struggle with the all-powerful Bismarck and who triumphed over Karl Peters, the German African hero, must certainly open our eyes to the nature, dangers, possibilities, and necessities of propaganda. The intelligentsia, meanwhile, lived in its own world of illusion as life passed them by. They do much the same today, although the tremendous power of the masses is displayed before their very eyes.

Such raw expressions of power are always springing up and falling apart when they do not succeed in seizing power. But their desperate power is often based on inescapable necessity.

The Social Democrats were a group of men who achieved political power through the abundant resources of the German working class. Communism fought to be their successors. Revolution will always strike at the heart of a state when bureaucrats, ignorant desk politicians, or generals believe that they can set naked force against effective propaganda. This is not sufficient, especially when the nation’s intellectuals are neutral or, as was the case in Russia in 1905, are sympathetic toward the revolution. If propaganda tactics are properly used, they will have a subtler, deeper, and therefore stronger effect on the human will than will blatant oppression. Propaganda is the art of exercising power without possessing the means of power; it is the secret through which the powerless can overcome the powerful when they rest too securely in their strength.

Marx and Engels began alone, as exiles without money in a foreign country. Lenin was alone in Switzerland, condemned to death. Mussolini was expelled from his social democracy as an agitator. Hitler was an unknown corporal with seven followers in 1918. In twelve years, he created the greatest mass movement in history, with which he conquered Bismarck’s state.

They were all poor, without property, alone. They had nothing but their heartfelt ideals. But these ideals, so fatal to some, but capable of so much more in others, would have been buried along with their poverty and extinguished with their lives had they not had the gift of inflaming, inciting, winning, and persuading others. They were not only idealists, but propagandists as well. As a result, they became great. They preached community, lived it, stirred the courageous, forced the common man to common labor. Their propaganda was the art of building community, their power was both actual and spiritual force.

There is something of the propagandist in everyone. We all have the feeling that we understand it. In reality, everyone uses propaganda; it is a manifestation of human community life. It is just as in politics. The barroom philosopher always knows what has to be done. The only thing missing with him, unfortunately, is the spiritual bond. Fundamentally, one may be so bold as to say that propaganda and politics are as accessible to the common man as to the intellectual. And the best propagandists are women.

They understand how to get “his” attention when they want to build a strong home, even when “he” isn’t so willing. A woman is the best propagandists of love and marriage.

Leading politicians often display unstable characteristics. The phrase “whims of the prima donna” applies not only to capricious women, but to many politicians as well. Examples are Julius Caesar whom the Romans called “regina” in mocking verse, and Napoleon, whose womanly breast drove doctors to distraction. His whims were the despair of those around him.

Effective propaganda is rarely a question of womanly inclinations or capriciousness as such. Often, an intuitive decision emerges with a surprising primitiveness of thought, as is clearly shown in the recently emerging harshness of manliness. Such thought is always instinctive, earthy, single-minded, intent on actions, never on so-called objective standards of observation. The objective observer, of course, is an intellectual who recognizes the apparent weakness of the opponent, and exploits it thoroughly. He sees the strength of the self-imposed limitations of a man of action as a weakness. This overlooks that fact that in politics, just as in the individual, there are two minds, one of action, and one of contemplation. Only one is publicly observable. No one is familiar with the other. The clarity, simplicity, and limited horizons of the working class, actually great naiveté and innocence in the Nietzschean sense, are disparagingly misinterpreted as peasant stupidity or cleverness, which city-dwellers take to be one and the same.

The ignorance of intellectuals in politics has shown itself throughout history. When Napoleon entered an academic competition in Lyon with an essay on human ideals, it did not win the prize that the poor lieutenant had longed for. Instead, it was scornfully judged to be “not worth looking at.” The same thing happens with many intellectually superior soldiers and politicians.

Only Caesar who, by calculation, was a democrat and remained so throughout his life has been admitted to the democratic pantheon of great heroes, and his clever work of propaganda on the Gallic Wars has become “world literature.”

Recently, he has had a successor. Bernard Shaw, the Irishman, praised Revolt in the Desert by the English Colonel Lawrence first, because he had to praise something English to maintain his popularity, and second, because Lawrence is, as a matter of fact, a good chap (and third, perhaps, because Colonel Lawrence made his English colleagues on the General Staff look stupid??). Literary circles compared the book to Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and called it one of the greatest works of literature (perhaps they were impressed by the English Colonel’s mocking judgments on the military?!).

In the popular criticism of today, no leading politicians fails to appear, in enemy propaganda, to be a perfect idiot, a coward, or a mere terrorist whose intelligence is so low that he must be secretly controlled from elsewhere. Lenin was portrayed as a sick criminal in middle class pamphlets, Hitler as a hangman and maniac in proletarian pamphlets, Mussolini as a bloody tyrant in class struggle pamphlets. Material intended for the masses is not so-called objective writing, but rather such hate-filled pamphlets and caricatures.

Caricature, misrepresentation, and one-sidedness appear to belong in propaganda.

To laugh at the enemy is as important as to fear his strength. The science of suggestion has, which is often dubious, found an accurate precept when it maintains that suggestion works most effectively in a state of excitement. Ridicule and fear are both sentiments and emotions that encourage effective suggestion. Ridicule gives the feeling of superiority, for when one laughs he is confident of victory. Fear, on the other hand, compels one to get to work at once because he believes he has perceived danger. Ridicule and fear, then, are two components of propaganda that are indispensable to its success.

Confidence in one’s cause and an absolute faith are further obvious requirements. Only a fool can hope to gain success for an idea in which he himself does not believe. “There is,” writes Goebbels, “only truth. Either we lie, in which case the enemy is right, or we tell the truth and everyone else lies. We believe that the truth is on our side with all the steadfastness of our blood.”

When an intellectual criticizes someone’s propaganda, his first point is not its simple, often vulgar language. He excuses that with a reference to the “people.” He also excuses the ridiculing or fear-provoking calumnies of the enemy, although he begins to speak of one-sided fanaticism, and inwardly holds the thesis that ‘to know all is to forgive all.” His greatest complaint concerns the perpetual repetition of certain goals, slogans, and catchwords.

He thinks assumed limitations are actual limitations, and says pityingly, “Well, he is after all only a propagandist…”

He then makes a few good “suggestions”: (1) one cannot take an absolute position, but rather one must say something good about the other side; (2) atrocity propaganda is not artistic. It offends the cultured; (3) one cannot always say the same thing, for that is boring.

If this brilliant intellectual became the head of a propaganda ministry, Bettman Hollweg’s fiasco in propaganda leadership during the war would be surpassed. He would resemble those fine patriots who tried to encourage the “people” in 1917 with speeches about the fatherland, but who achieved the opposite.

If one reverses the principles of the intelligent, well-meaning intellectual, he will have the secret of effective propaganda.

Believe completely in your cause, do not shrink from powerful emotions, unceasingly hammer the same thoughts into the minds of the masses.

The necessity of conviction and of the methods of emotional arousal have been psychologically explained. One-sidedness is indispensable because the confusion around us is so great that every impression will quickly be shoved aside by a new one. Nothing is forgetful as the masses. Something can have appeared in a thousand newspapers and have been talked about by the millions, but a few months later it will be completely forgotten. Scarcely one per cent of those selected from the masses will recall the name of important personages of the dates and events.

Among the members of a large party one can observe that even the majority of those engaged in propaganda forget the most vital slogans in six months or a year unless the highest officials of the party repeat them over and over again. If those involved have such poor memories, others will not believe anything unless it is repeated to them. Life is a strong opponent. Only that which is itself lively, headed towards victory, and constantly present can overcome a hostile world. Criminal psychology has learned from practical experience that the testimony of a single witness is highly untrustworthy. There is no trial in which the witnesses say the same thing, even though they may all be disinterested and possess characters of the highest integrity. Often the assertions of witnesses who have experienced the same event are entirely contrary to each other. It is not surprising, then, that propaganda, which is only a substitute, must repeat the same thing over and over again to have any effect, since actual experiences are so poorly and imperfectly remembered. Its secret is simplicity and perseverance.

Power (Organized Strength)

Power built only on propaganda is fleeting, and can disintegrate from one day to the next unless the power of organization is added to propaganda. The use of such strength or power is reflected at all levels of human life, from the strong bond of the family which brings two people together as a simple matter of personal choice to the powerful bonds of peoples and nations.

“There has never been,” Mussolini said, “a government founded solely on the consent of the governed, who approved its every use of force. Consent is as transient as sand castles on a beach. It cannot always be present, it can never be complete.”

Not since the Inquisition has the West seen as large a scale of violent mental control as is seen today in Soviet Russia, where millions are sacrificed to a bloody idol. Even the blood bath of the French Revolution pales in comparison. The Cheka works carefully with the news and propaganda organizations of the Bolshevist party. If the party’s press and propaganda announcements were suppressed or sabotaged through indifference or terror, then power would be set against power, criminal penalties against sabotage, whips and hunger against indifference and apathy, and every spark of resistance would be crushed.

Since the individual remains defenseless even when he is an agent of power, a sense of strong community develops as quickly from an offensive as from a defensive spirit. The activists find each other in either case. The momentary flow of enthusiasm is spiritually maintained through popular gatherings and systematic schooling and discipline. Such organized power can then with greater power attack the unorganized and ultimately, like a polyp, devour all the positions of power in a governmental structure.

One entirely deceives himself if he thinks the principles underlying these methods are limited to Russia or to a certain time. Unrestrained instincts certainly make brutal intervention necessary, though civilized nations need not experience the same blood bath as did Russia under the rule of the Soviets, except under conditions of extreme danger.

Propaganda and power, however, are never entirely opposed to one another. The use of force can be a part of propaganda. Between them lie different degrees of effective influence over people and masses. The range extends from the sudden exciting of attention or the friendly persuasion of the individual to incessant mass propaganda, from the loose organizing of proselytes to the creation of state or semi-state institutions, from individual to mass terror, from authorized use of the might of the strong, of position, class, or government, to the military enforcement of obedience and discipline by means of martial law.

The principle of the unified formation of the will through a graduated use of propaganda and power is perfectly developed in the “advanced” nations of the world. We of the German Republic (with laws that forbade free speech!) can look to the United States of America. In this celebrated free democracy, one can clearly see the development of national ideals through the use of every kind of information and propaganda, including terror and the use of governmental power. This has resulted from an influx of immigrants which drove the Anglo-Saxon leadership to a tempo of extreme nationalism and self-defense. The “melting pot” is the slogan of Americanization. The struggle goes against the hyphenated (for example, the German-Americans), against every assertion of nationality, and against all those having dangerous intentions towards the existing governmental structure, such as the “radicals” who organized the labor unions in the United States. Schönemann quotes the following words of George Creel, the American propaganda chief during the war, which illustrate the general and particular goals of American propaganda:

What we had to have was no mere surface unity, but a passionate belief in the justice of America’s cause that should weld the people of the United States into one white-hot mass instinct with fraternity, devotion, courage, and deathless determination…. We began with the initial conviction that the war was not the war of administration, but the war of one hundred million people, and we believed that public support was a matter of public understanding.

The basic idea of propaganda was extended to complete autocracy by draconian war laws. The United States threatened, according to Schönemann, (law of 15 June 1917) fines “up to ten thousand dollars or imprisonment for twenty years:”

    1. for whomever shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies;
    2. for whomever shall willfully cause or seek to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty, or
    3. for whomever shall willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service.

Further additions were made to this dangerous and enticingly vague law. But that was not enough. The broader law of 16 March 1918 extended to all possible expressions against the war. Under Section 2, it prohibited all disloyal statements or actions regarding government bonds, and in Section 3 decreed further crimes such as “the uttering, printing, writing, or publishing of disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language intended to bring the government, constitution, flag, or uniforms of the army and navy of the United States of American into contempt scorn, contumely, or disrepute.” And finally, “words or acts which support or encourage the cause of any country with which the United States is at war, or which oppose the cause of the United States.”

And if that were not enough, the Postmaster General could handle whatever the president, legislators, and courts could not. He could exclude from the mails that which he wished, and could even deny postal service to the sender for “evidence satisfactory to him.” Every suspected citizen was thus completely defenseless. And the non-English press was further muzzled, as it was required to submit an English translation of every political article to the local postmaster. And when one considers the lynching and terrorism, and the threats from the State Councils of Defense, nothing remained of freedom and thought, speech, or the press.

One might object that these laws were enacted solely because the United States was at war, under a state of emergency, and that these restrictions on public opinion disappeared when the war ended. This objection is easily refuted. Has not Germany been under an unbroken state of emergency since 1914? What danger threatened the powerful United States in 1914-1919, lying as it does on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean? The U.S.A. is safe in the center of a vast industrially rich continent; more than six thousand nautical miles separate it from any powerful enemy.

Germany fought a desperate war against the entire world. It fought not for the gain or loss of gold, goods, colonies, business, or markets. These were secondary. Its struggle was rather for existence, being or not being, for its spiritual and actual unity as a nation, for its daily bread. Instead of accommodating their spiritual attitude to this task, our political and intellectual leadership was entirely unfamiliar with the role of propaganda in other countries, all too silent in their disastrous and academic attempts to win influence with the peoples of foreign countries. They never understood how to powerfully suppress subversive foreign activity.

From the beginning, active and determined enemy propaganda was not limited to producing an absolute confidence in victory in their own nations which would be nourished by elements of hope, by the feeling of superiority, and of fear. They also looked for and found a way to reach Germany in order to produce the opposite beliefs of despondency, hopelessness, and inferiority, as well as disastrous belief that voluntary defeat and surrender would be favorably received, since the allies were not fighting against the innocent German people, but rather against Prussian militarism, the Kaiser, and the Junkers.

Enemy and German Propaganda during the World War

Captured English pilots who had dropped inflammatory leaflets over the Western front since December 1915 were convicted by our military courts, their offense punished as a violation of the laws of war. We forbade our own pilots to drop leaflets on enemy troops. Late in the war, we made a disastrous attempt at the counter-propaganda, using apparently moral unmanned hot air balloons. They kept our propaganda of “extravagance,” as one of us said, far from the enemy. That it also kept us far from success was not noticed. Our internal propaganda could not be “political,” our foreign propaganda could not “irritate England.” From the beginning, our enthusiasm and activism were officially corrupted to devotion, endurance, and passivity. The world and concept of propaganda left a stale aftertaste. They labeled enemy activity as evil and immoral which one was afraid of. One saw the enemy lies but was still taken in by them.

While the army at the front remained strong and in control of its actions, German intellectuals lost control of the masses. Their propaganda stood speechless before the raging flood from without and the bubbling turmoil within. Here their naiveté was exposed, for they believed the German people and the peoples of the world were too “sensible” to believe such “nonsense,” such lies and fabrications.

In his memoirs, published in 1920, Colonel Nicolai, the head of the German intelligence service, recalled with a quiet, rather painful pleasure the approach of the German bureaucracy to enemy propaganda. The Foreign Service office in the Foreign Ministry decided to seek expert advice as to the abnormal mental condition of the enemy, which was proven by his hate-filled propaganda! When German legislators and governmental officials saw examples of enemy propaganda, they suggested to the high command that they doubted the genuineness of the material, instead of opposing it everywhere with vehement action. They depended on so-called human reason, without considering that is it dependent on impressions from the surrounding world. We receive these impressions for the most part today indirectly, through news reports with pictures, sounds, and words. Every man therefore depends on the news, and even with the strongest opposition of the rational facilities one must finally believe what one hears over and over again and nowhere finds refuted with inner conviction and the force of truth.

The slogans about Huns and Boches and the bloody hand print (“The Hun’s market [sic]) which glared from a hundred thousand wall posters in large enemy cities for four years, the horror-provoking Belgian atrocity stories, the filthy lies about the use of corpses to make grease (based on an intentional mistranslation of the word Kadaververwertung [cadaver utilization], and the portrayal of German soldiers as grotesque, arrogant, cowardly drunkards and sauerkraut pigs must certainly have aroused the feelings of the enemy’s masses to an extreme and bitter desire for combat and victory.

H. G. Scheffeur said in regards to the German answer to such hate-propaganda:

Germany lost itself in otherworldliness, in varied and confusing world views; it worshipped the intellect for its own sake. Knowledge was often an end, not a means. It was used to shed light on the world and the universe, but not to master life. An army of worldviews sprang up, but not control over the world. They enriched the intellect, but as Schopenhauer proved, in a way that nourished itself like a vampire on the will and character.

Germany’s enemies deafened the world’s reason, as well as their own civilization, by childishly attempting to brand the greatest modern culture as “barbaric.” They expanded on hate inherited from their ancestors, or made even more revolting inventions, as was revealed in a survey of French scientists which asked “Whether Germans were human…”

The indignation which such claims of barbarism kindled in the breast of the German people proved that they could still see the true worth of the enemy. They expected truthfulness and justice from him. But the indignation was express together with a peculiar and unfortunate defect in human judgment which endangers the broadest and deepest thrusts of the German spirit. Germans tried to show that they were not barbarians through historical and scientific means. It would have been better and easier if they had proven their enemies were barbarians….

Such unified propaganda worked for the most part on the other side, although it was supported by some pitiable paid stooges and insane idealists among the German people. Here, the Germans suddenly became poets and philosophers who had been driven to war not for the defense of food, home, and freedom, but for the conquest of the world under the ruling class. The enemy masses were not insane, raving, chauvinistic, and inflamed Frenchman, Belgians, and Serbs, they were instead, peaceful farmers, workers, and citizens; their leaders were not relentless statesmen intent on victory, coldly calculating for the advantage of their own peoples, but rather humanitarians extending the olive branch, who were fighting only to give German freedom, human dignity, and — the League of Nations. The best of these apostles of happiness who appeared to the German people and its intellectuals was the noble Wilson, whose Fourteen Points were to bring “world peace.” “It was really tough luck for the Germans to believe Wilson,” an American Senator later said.

The English intellectuals worked hard under the leadership of Herbert George Wells, the popular novelist, trade unionist, and socialist, following the firm directives from the Propaganda Ministry headed by Lord Northcliffe. Müller-Freienfels wrote that Wells, in his reminiscences, said: “Those in England had carefully considered how best to reach the German mentality, and had agreed that we had to catch the Germans through their tendency towards speculative ideas; therefore, it was decided that the League of Nations was by far the best way. It was played up like a roman candle.” The enemy press completely cooperated with such propaganda. Significantly, the press chief (Lord Northcliffe) was a member of the Allied government, and conversely, the members of government considered it self-evident that the press should be a participant in decision making and in the center of discussion and debate. The foreign press portrayed us as having started the war, as war criminals, as protracting the war through our desire for world conquest, and as the final losers. This was done to strengthen their own militant posture and their alliance, and to prepare for a devastating peace. They worked towards a systematic weakening of our fighting force, and mobilized enemies of the German state as well as international fanatics in neutral nations and even in Germany itself to assist their cause. They were exceptionally clever in that they directed their propaganda against the Kaiser and General Ludendorff as the organizers of the war, but made little mention in pictures or publication of Field Marshal Hindenburg, who had the highest trust of the people. They hoped not only to gradually drive a wedge between these men but also to convince the masses that their supposed explanations of the depravity of our leaders were serious and accurate.

They acted like Bismarck in 1871. As is well known, he took the greatest care not to do anything that could harm the newly founded republican government as long as he knew it was agreeable to his political goals. He must have thought that, with the republican government in power, he could at least include it as a known factor in his calculations rather than as a chaotic force intent on gaining power by surprising and incalculable means.

While enemy leaders and intellectuals directed their entire wills and thoughts to our destruction, German officials in Berlin offices led the struggle as if they had the most secure positions in the world.

The Society of German Scholars and Artists used its own limited means to clear things up somewhat in 1915. In 1916, it approached the Reich Chancellor in conjunction with the Interior Ministry, the Admiralty, and the General Staff and demanded material and financial support. Reich Chancellor Bettman Hollweg made a few trivial remarks, refusing every expense on the brilliant grounds that current funds “had not been appropriated” for purposes of internal political propaganda.

A weary indolence filled the Berlin offices when important war matters were handled. Enthusiasm was much greater on jurisdictional disputes, and while the army bled to death in an enormous ring, those in Berlin joined with growing enthusiasm in the hunt for soft jobs and war profits.

A few well meaning patriotic societies, a few voices in the wilderness, believed they could restore lost spiritual vitality through thundering speeches or emotional appeals. They spoke and wrote, but knew noting of the hard realities of the front and of common life, with husbandless wives and starving families. They aimed for the mind but achieved the opposite, and gave the enemy free agitation material. The Assistant General Command said in its monthly report that it was to be feared that the public appearance of the “German National Union” on 4 August 1916 served the enemy more than the fatherland.

Wounded volunteers, seriously wounded and disabled workers, farmers, soldiers, and officers of unshakable spirit were not trained and set before the public. One had no confidence in the magnitude of Germany’s sacrifice, and no courage to affirm it.

It was the army General Headquarters under the leadership of Hindenburg and Ludendorff, after a look at the enemy, that finally decided to combat the nation’s lethargic will, not the responsible political leadership. But German specialization and bureaucracy exercised their disastrous force. The General Staff had little direct influence on the machinery and instruments of public opinion. In a resigned Imperial Germany, they apparently could not reach the revolutionary decision to brutally set aside an ossified government that did not willingly use its power.

Colonel Nicolai, the experienced head of Section IIIb of the General Staff, was given control of propaganda.

After October 1915, the War Press Office was independent, operating directly under the General Staff. It consisted of:

a) The Domestic Office for the German Press, under the leadership of Major Deutelmoser;
b) The Censor’s Office, under Major von Oldberg;
c) The Foreign Office for the Foreign Press, under Lieutenant Colonel von Herwarth.

General control was in the hands of Deutelmoser. Thus army officers took over the political leadership of public opinion, a task for which the government was unsuited. Colonel Nicolai himself said that some journalists of suitable ability, had they possessed political character, could not have brought the impartiality that the officers in War Press Office demanded. The tragedy of the Germany army, politics, and propaganda is contained in that sentence.

German public opinion could not be led colorlessly, but rather it required indivisible political will and character. It is indicative of the disintegration of our internal position that a conflict could result about whether the War Press Office was seeking “political influence!” It is really so naive that one must wonder what those engaged in the argument thought of as the tasks of the War Press Office.

In the course of his reflections, Colonel Nicolai himself comes to the conclusion that the solution to the military necessities was inseparable from political deliberations. Politics, military leadership, and public opinion must be unified to secure success. Those who direct a war must at the same time direct politics and public opinion.

At the end of 1915, the War Press Office together with the National Union of the German Press and the Union of German Newspaper Publishers drew up a common set of guidelines, but it refused to give the press a representative in the War Press Office or to permit private organizations to play a part in developing the guidelines. Later, the War Press Office began distributing prepared articles, written for the most part by officers in competition with professional journalists. This must naturally have led to an intensification of existing antagonisms and further crippled work with the press.

The political leadership intentionally ignored the German press, and worked exclusively through the Foreign Ministry.

The Wolff Telegraph Company was the center of its news agency. The Censorship law of 1916 offset its total neglect of the German press by censoring statements of the Reich and other leading officials taken from the foreign press.

The General Staff had to make the rather obvious demand that the political leadership at least inform the German press at the same time as the foreign press. When around 1916 the political leadership finally gave in to pressure from the General Staff and decided to establish an office for press and propaganda, Major Deutelmoser was relieved of his previous duties in the War Press Office and put in charge of the new department.

While the influence of the War Press Office declined (despite the addition of a fourth department which was added under the Hindenburg Plan to strengthen the will to war) nothing new, of equal or superior value developed to take its place. Everything was blocked by bureaucracy. People began to ‘organize’ instead of making propaganda.

While England had three propaganda ministers working along side each other — Lord Northcliffe who led English propaganda with restless energy, Robert Donald who was propaganda minister for neutral nations, and Rudyard Kipling, who handled internal propaganda — foolishness and a general weakness of the will dominated Germany. It lacked the character necessary to handle the strong tensions controlled by the powerful apparatus of economic, military, and political war leadership. It also lacked a circle of men who could work together confidently on specialized tasks and who were together possessed by an unyielding will for victory. Will extended only as far as jurisdiction, and judged itself only that far.

Our first governmental attempt at propaganda had no success within the country, and it damaged and exposed “German propaganda” in the eyes of the entire world. One must finally conclude that the propaganda was faulty in organization, in psychology, and in timing:

In organization, because it did not understand how to mobilize public opinion;

In psychology, because it lacked the unified leadership on which enthusiastic activity and belief depends;

In timing, because propagandists generally did not learn abut an attack until after it had already begun.

Propaganda is not instituted at the height of political or military actions. It is, rather, to be used as an extensive and wide-ranging preparation for them.

The Necessity of Action

The German-American Hansen wrote in 1920: “The German people and its former ruling class have learned nothing from the most terrible experience that has befallen any people.”

If one looks at the history of German nationalism, that was true for over a decade. This marvelous nation, the most intelligent, disciplined, and courageous in the world, has seen an almost unbroken selection of its worst qualities in its leadership. They understood neither the spirit of the world or of their own people. They spoke when they should have kept silent and were silent when there was a chance to speak. They had neither organized belief nor the courage to use power.

The former ruling class, which had given up without a fight in 1918 and groveled under the red boot, began to complain when fiery nationalism sprang from the depths and carried the masses along like an avalanche. Intellect without strength feels inferior, and that is dangerous. That man of the people [Hitler] was too powerful for their tastes. They laid traps and began talking of “brains.” Things, however, did not depend on “knowledge,” with which they had failed so miserably, but on ability. The nation needed his strength, not their “brains.”

Bismarck noted that he could not repress disturbing thought when considered the extent to which our ruling circle had lost political ability. He said that the first Chancellor who reached his position because of seniority would be Germany’s misfortune He was right. Mr. Bettman Hollweg was the top student from a model school in Schulporta. He reached the office Reich Chancellor in all the right ways, provided one ignores such things as fighting ability, propaganda, and strength. He ably led us to national despair.

This system of national weakness bred good soldiers without political instincts, and politicians without backbones. It fell apart attempting the impossible. Today, the “brain” with his academic record or the nonpolitical soldier who seeks political office proclaims his political judgment to the nation and to history.

Germany has always had the best soldiers in the world. It was an enemy general, not a German one, who said that the German soldier had always been worth three of the enemy. But a soldier without political instincts is a mercenary. The soldier must carry a sense of the political system in his blood. And although it is his duty to defend it to the limits of his ability, it is the duty of the politician to avoid the necessity of doing so. Hitler has properly said: “The duty of a statesman is not to heroically lead a nation to defeat, but to preserve its existence.” This requires politicians with a military, or more generally speaking, fighting spirit [Blut] who do not confuse politics with their official careers. The one as well as the other, soldier and politician, must be willing to go to the limits. There is no use of power which, in the face of necessity, should not be used to defend the whole.

For the first time since that lone wolf Bismarck, the German race has a man of political genius, who is above all a dogmatist of great ability. Hitler will live in German history.

Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, who was popularly called the Soldier-King, created the loyal Prussian civil service which became a model to the world. Likewise, Hitler took the active, restless, and strong-willed elements of our people, organized them into the National Socialist movement, stamped it with his personality, and added an unprecedented aggressiveness and a flexible political will. The creation of the Nazi Party will hold a place in history.

No one knows what the end of the German drama will be, but this much is certain. This noble nation, possessing the best cultured people in the world, cannot continue in the center of a ring of greedy and uncivilized nations if it is not in future decades to be torn apart by actual or spiritual (as was the case during the last war) civil strife. Some say that enemy propaganda won the World War. More accurately, divisions in the German national will lost it. Whoever struggles with himself, whose soul is torn by conflicting emotions, cannot capably direct his attentions outwards because all his energies are required for the internal struggle. It is no different for a great nation than for the individual. National power depends on a unity of the national will. There is no way for Germany’s fate to improve that does not begin with national union.

Fichte said in one of his speeches:

No nation that has sunk into a state of despondency can rescue itself by the usual and previously successful methods. If their application was useless when the nation was in possession of all its strength, of what use will they be when the greater part is missing....

Every German who still believes that he is a part of a nation, who thinks highly and honorably of it, who hopes and strives for it, who builds and supports it, should eliminate all uncertainty from his faith….

The goals of spiritual reconstruction cannot be stated more beautifully or more nobly, nor the use of all means better justified. Uncertainty of belief means diversity and doubt; it means the paralysis of hope, will, and action. It should be replaced by a certainty of the unity of political beliefs in order to give the nation certainty and unity of aspiration and action.


Control of Public Opinion

Nationalization is not only preaching; it is action and organization as well. It must breed the type that compels others to accommodate it, or be strong enough to lead them. Then all desires and aspirations will no longer works against each other. Rather, their strengths which previously neutralized each other will be united in a powerful central movement. Individually each was too weak, but together they are as a firmly bound bundle of sticks. Such a consolidated nation is unshakable, unbreakable, and indivisible.

The achievement of such a goal requires a change from Bismarck court politics; mass movements provide the means in our century. Its method requires that all existing forces in the area of public opinion, provided they voluntarily submit, join to forcibly destroy and extinguish enemy dogmas and enemy opposition. Its goal is the elimination of all serious opposition in the masses; this, in order to produce a combat ready national mass will that can preserve the nation’s existence through powerful national politics. A nation which has bled to death, which has been enslaved and dismissed by half the world, and which has been shredded by civil strife cannot win back its right to life unless its leadership is resolved to ignore so-called liberal advances in public life, and to obey only the cold laws of history.

Liberalism is dead. If the nation is to live, liberal phrases must also die. Attempts to establish liberalism’s principle of universal freedom have endangered everyone’s life. Its dogmas about “public opinion” produced division and weakness in the national will. Even the greatest proponent of liberalism, John Stuart Mill, demanded of the government “the greatest possible centralization of information, and its dissemination from a central point.” Capitalistic liberalism itself scrapped the holiest principles of its prophets and apostles and used so-called “public” opinion solely for its own profit. But now the end has come.

The slogan of the freedom of public opinion must be buried without tears.

Public opinion does not spring up by itself, nor does it correspond to true public feeling. Otherwise public opinion would reflect decisions on important political affairs before anyone else, and would thus predict such things as election results. The liberals, however, saw only the interest that stood behind them, and thought along the same lines whenever something new came up from the masses.

In contrast, vague moods of the masses which strive for recognition but fail to achieve it, there is a public opinion for whomever can afford it. The buyer remains in the shadows. The liberal states are dominated by capitalistic interest groups. Knowingly or unknowingly, the intellectual leadership of the press, literature, etc., works for them.

The capitalistic interest groups will be thrown out so that they cannot endanger the whole in pursuit of their own interests. They will be replaced by men, who, with a national instinct and primitive politics, will again achieve victory. In place of the formation of opinion by private interests, the future will inevitably bring a great and unified will-storm of national political interests, not only for conditions of crisis, but for a lengthy historical period.

Public opinion can therefore be brought to a unity which it could never have in liberal states.

Public opinion is the unified and leading expression of the public will.

Within the masses are moods which are not public and which cannot simply be equated with public opinion. In the end, there is a gap between intellect and drives. One should not consider this to be dangerous in the way that blocking an outlet can be. The liberal mentality and propaganda have taught us to conceive of propaganda in this way in the interests of those behind them, the ruling interest groups. This illusion has been destroyed forever. The vague moods of the populace which are not expressed through intellectual, economic, or political emotions are not relevant or threatening to large-scale politics. Every strong instinct finds an intellectual expression; else its apparent strength rests on deception. If the intellectual elite becomes active in the service of the whole, politics probably has to pay a limited amount of attention to the existence of these inevitable, constantly changing dreamy moods, but it may choose its means, methods, and goals without respect to them.

It is clear that the use of the revised Bismarck method requires, under today’s circumstances, a strong element of compulsion and power which are indeed necessarily a part of these methods. One must add something important, however. Bismarck’s political system, based on Prussian militarism and official absolutism, believed it could check and restrain the dangerously rising power of the masses by prohibitions and compulsion. This is a serious error which was somehow incessantly repeated by all national German governments until our recent republican days.

Only the democratic states recognized the obvious, that the masses cannot be controlled simply by prohibition. The masses begin economically where financial independence stops. Personal responsibility and restraint end there as well. What we today call the masses develops not from just any group of people but from one characterized so strongly by instability, pliability, and explosiveness that the individual is no longer tangible. The principles and methods of violent suppression break down, as a result, when applied to this phenomenon. The entirely negative use of power will never achieve its goals, for it will be successfully opposed by the power structures of the masses — associations, organizations, and labor unions. The masses are more numerous than the police. Bismarck’s defeat by the Social Democrats is but one of many examples.

Propaganda and the use of differing degrees of power must therefore cooperate in exceptionally clever ways. They must use the organizations of the masses if they are to achieve definite success. A practical rule for the state is thus: One does not scatter those who are organized, rather one organizes them oneself.

All systems that have gained control of government through modern mass movements have done this. Although it may outwardly appear complicated, it has been brought about by the varied conditions of life, corresponding to a system of public organizations, cooperatives, and associations. While governmental propaganda strongly and consistently pursues its clear and vital goals and while the exercise of governmental power makes any active or passive attempt at obstruction impossible, the entire public organizational apparatus will be used to make possible an organized variety of vigorous individual interests alongside the unity of the mass propaganda line. But this variety no longer permits the individual, only sums of individuals. Thus from the human soup of liberalism a state will emerge an organism dominated by a single compelling idea. The cells will no longer be independent and opposed to one another, but will rather be linked together by a high, meaningful, living reality.

Since our Gothic Reich collapsed and German unity was lost in battles over intellectual and political beliefs, innumerable legends and fables have lived in our people and in the artistic creations of our greatest poets and philosophers that expressed the longing for the coming Reich and an idea of its basic structure. The Prussians of the Mediterranean, the Fascist Italians, have lived the great ideals of the German spirit for a decade — Kant’s obligation, the Prussian knowledge of government, Nietzsche’s joyful struggle, Fichte’s national development. Luckily, they have found the way to national will building faster than the shredded German people, and have perfected the methods of propaganda and the use of differing degrees of power in the development of a modern state. Fascism has a special ministry for national education. The party possesses a school of political propaganda and the practical will to power. The motto of the Fascists, “live dangerously,” is taken from Nietzsche. The corporative philosophy which the labor force organized for the state is not individualistic-Italian, but socialist-Gothic.

No one has the right to use the cheap slogan of an imitation of Fascism in Germany because the deeply German spirituality, originating from ideals, concepts and forms, is with us again today, placed at the service of our modern leadership. Mussolini is historically unique, an accident, perhaps. He is a powerful personality with deep spiritual roots going back to Nietzsche. His system is, therefore, German in its essential characteristics, developed from the creative spirit of German soil, and is returning to that soil today. Here, supported by technical, highly developed, struggle-loving, and disciplined people, it will reach a new and earthshaking level.

 

Go to Chapter 3

 

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