German Propaganda Archive Calvin College

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Background: This page provides Chapter 5 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 5

The Leadership of the Press


The activity of the so-called
liberal press was the work of
grave-diggers for the German
people and the German Reich
— Hitler —

Objectivity


Germany has the world’s greatest annual production of books, magazines, and newspapers. That we have a greater volume does not mean that we have more writers or cleverer ones than other leading cultural nations. It does mean that one will find more intellectual trash in our publishing houses than elsewhere.

The German people has an elevated and noble desire to do things for their own sakes. This German idealism has enabled our people in the past to accomplish the greatest and most superhuman deeds, and will do so in the future as well. The marvelous German trait of seeing something and offering to it our humble selves becomes grotesque, however, when the thing is not worth the sacrifice. It is but a step from the elevated to the absurd. Self-sacrifice by workers, teachers, engineers, artists, soldiers, or politicians that serves life (and is therefore noble) can instantly become farcical if it is “objectively” subjected to examination with about the same scientific eagerness as is given to the urination of sheep dogs. (This actually happened at the scientific psychology congress in Hamburg in April 1931, and was reported in the Vossischen Zeitung).

“Impartiality” is a danger for people of weak character because it tempts them to hold it as more important than life. We have become well enough acquainted with it in both North and South Germany as well as in the former Habsburg monarchy as the most miserable and pedantic of bureaucratic manias. Revolutions and other events have shown us how little backbone its supporters have. A part of the German press has been slightly colored by it as well. Although they are in direct contact with the people, whose lives are in constant motion, contact with reality is not guaranteed. Paper can take a long time to die if it is not promptly devoured by the flames of revolutionary youth.

The ideal of the German press is “impartiality,” or “objectivity,” which sounds better. Those who want to be “impartial” or “objective” forget that one can be so only when he serves a great cause. The press is not a cause in itself, only an instrument.

Only a part of the press believes in the possibility of objectivity, and that not the brightest. The Mosse and Ullstein organizations are probably quite clear as to what a centralization of the news service and press means, and how it is possible to “spread infection” through the simple news. Only the naïve still believe it possible for news, and therefore its printing in the newspapers, to be objective.

The simplest laws of psychology as well as the experiences of criminology and jurisprudence compellingly prove that no report can be given that corresponds to the real course of events. The characters and souls of the participants act as a fine filter in every event. They permit only the assimilation and absorption of an entirely predetermined view of events. It is not even necessary to consider the degree of attentiveness, the inability to see the whole picture, or intentional efforts to present a false picture of events.

When a young scamp gets his ears boxed, the teacher is naturally at fault. If one asks the teacher, he will get a different story!

One may argue that today human weakness can be overcome by technology, and that for example a photograph can accurately represent a scene. That, however, is true only under very carefully controlled conditions in certain areas, as for example, scientific or criminal photography. In general, though, the camera lense is only as objective as the cameraman.

It all depends on one’s angle. It makes all the difference if a photographer uses his camera to photograph a wild and stormy revolutionary crowd or the energetic line of police facing them with nightsticks or carbines.

For example, one picture can be used by the middle class magazine Die Woche to make the flesh of its readers creep before revolution; the other persuasively shows the readers of the communist Arbeiter-Illustrierte the brutal and completely unfounded actions of the police “against the proletarian masses.” A clever reporter could snap both pictures and earn good money from both sides.

It is the same with every event. Each reporter, each group of reporters, will of necessity report something different. Thus, views, distortions, misrepresentations, lies, and falsehoods can play a part, but it does not have to be that way. When a journalist defends the honor of his profession, justice is on his side. The journalist is generally better than his reputation. In nationalist middle class circles, however, one always encounters an unjustified narrow-minded arrogance which is merited neither by position nor character.

If one wants to label working correspondents and the press as “objective,” he does so against better advice. If any large part of the press seriously worries about “objectivity” without serving a living political goal, it will decay into a comedy of objective objectivism that glorifies itself, and leads not to impartiality but to insipidness.

As a result, its readership will not be familiar with life.

Such a press produces types of intellectuals and average citizens who happily read about the nation without having the least notion of the way in which the nation shows its strength and what other forces it fights against. If one attempts to show these forces to an objectivist, he quickly makes the terrible discovery that the forces are not mysterious and incomprehensible entities dwelling in the clouds, but rather earthly men of flesh and blood who have organized a strong federation, who are building a party! Terrible, terrible. This objectivist is not, of course, in favor of those who want to make a reality of nationalization and who have joined together under banner. In the end, he thinks, the state is not the tribunal of life. Rather, it is a museum, a record keeping office, with everything neatly displayed in a showcase, having a number, a title, a governmentally approved name, with last of all the objectivist himself hanging on a nail in a glass case!

The kind of journalism these men have developed (they call it free, independent, neutral, nonpartisan, above party, and objective — ever and again objective) must be replaced or Germany will disappear. There is but one objective worthy of the full effort of the press — the nation. And the only justifiable objectivity is that which serves the cause of the nation.

Freedom of the Press


This is the place to speak of a second idol, “freedom of the press.” Thanks to its four hundred year tradition and its temporary control over the public opinion so idolized by liberalism, and thanks to the words of Napoleon III who called it the “eighth” great power,” the press still feels today that it is valuable and powerful by itself. This claim stands in contrast to reality, which shows the press to be the tool of certain forces, and by the moral outlook that demands not “freedom of the press,” but that the press serve the nation. The slogan of the freedom of public opinion did untold damage during the war. Our leading politicians, themselves uncreative and unimaginative in the use of language, succumbed all too easily to the slogans of their political opponents. All areas of public life came under government control as a result of the pressures of the war, whether in the area of material usage, food supplies, war materials, etc. A nation of 70 million had to comply with the bureaucratic necessities of the hour. The thousands of German newspapers, however, remained under the influence of a slogan, each without firm leadership, each dedicated to the quarrels of parties and interest groups.

A certain part of the press slowly but steadily set about eroding freedom and the spirit of resoluteness and joyful struggle, and concealing the picture of an enemy intent on our annihilation.

It is not at all clear that the professional association of the German press has drawn any conclusions in the fifteen years since the war. The by-laws of the Federation of the German Press [Reichsverband der Deutschen Presse] still say that the purpose of the federation is to: “Defend against all attempts to hinder the press in its legal tasks, especially…to defend against all attacks on the freedom of the press and on the honor of the German press, in particular, of German journalists.”

That the representatives of the press wish to defend their honor is understandable to Germans. It must be just as certain, however, that when the legal tasks of the press are spoken of, that these tasks are to be equated with the interests of the nation. In spite of this, men cling to the impossible idol of an independent press. Absolute freedom of the press should supposedly serve colorless “tasks under public law,” and public law in turn should protect the press. Struggling for freedom of the press, some demand the relaxation of the emergency press decrees of the government. The Federation of the German Press has about 3700 members that are, according to its figures, about 85% of all full-time journalists in Germany. They want to lead the struggle both through intellectual organizations as well as in cooperation with the publishers and the Reich Labor Union. They demand “the speediest possible abolition of the unbearable emergency decrees” and the “responsible participation of representatives of the R.D.P. in German press reforms as well as guarantees of just new press legislation in the interests of German journalists and publishers.” One would hope the Federation and the Union of German Newspaper Publishers would promptly, voluntarily, and clearly conclude that one can have influence only when one takes actual responsibility. They have expressed a strong defense of the honor of their profession. It would be good if in the by-laws of those federations that want to serve the public the talk were first of the nation and then of their professional interest, and if in fact they behaved that way. It is to be hoped that the leaders of German journalism will soon decide on the necessary changes in these organizations that will enable their feelings, their honor, and their sense of responsibility to be admired by everyone.

The German intellectuals active in public opinion should speak not of freedom, but rather of self-discipline and responsibility. The press should not be the ultimate value to which they pay homage, but rather they should serve the nation with their ability and strength.

What is the situation with respect to freedom of the press in other countries?

The alleged total freedom of the press in France is refuted by the dependence of the press on two agencies: Havas and Radio News. Even the largest papers in France are characteristically not very profitable. This has not led, as in Germany and England, to a concentration and merging of newspapers, but rather to a degree of venality and corruption unimaginable in Germany. It is well known that the pre-war anti-German incitement in the French newspapers came from the largest and most respected French newspapers without regard to their partisan political stands. Money went to the Petit Parisien, Le Jounal, Matin, Temps, etc. The Russian agent Rassalovich organized a fine system of corruption which lasted for a decade and gave French newspapers millions annually through open bribery of newspaper directors, editors, and journalists, as well as through bribery by advertising, highly profitable supplements, and the like. The campaign of bribery reached such enormous proportions that Poincare, the French Prime Minister, intervened in 1913. His intervention did not lead to a cessation of bribery, only to a diversion of the money to newspapers approved by the government.

Would a German journalist wish to establish the “freedom of the press” of democratic France here?

The control and leadership of the press in England is free of such happenings. A concentration of the press has since 1905 led to a remarkable series of mergers and to the formation of capitalistic trusts. In no other country has the concentration of the press taken the same remarkable form as in England. One need only think of the leading press trust built by Northcliffe and today led by Lord Rothermere, of the millions of copies of the great English newspapers, or of the newspaper trusts of Ellerman and Berry. A similar concentration has occurred in the American press, leading to mergers, the reduction of the number of newspapers and an increase in their circulations, though the English structure has not been as fully implemented in the U.S.A.

In as much as it is dominant has influence with the broad masses, and is connected with the government, the U.S. press is thoroughly modeled after the English. This was a natural consequence of language and blood relationships, which to some extent resulted in an intuitive inclination towards the English press structure. The American and British press systems are both dependent on the world-spanning English news agency (Reuters). That was shown in an especially unfortunate way during the World War. The systematic press campaign which was waged in North America after the war began was in essence a simple product of the English news and cable agencies. Furthermore, the English propaganda minister, Lord Northcliffe, had a very great influence on the American press, and invested in or controlled a considerable number of newspapers. During the war, a close relationship developed between Northcliffe’s London Times and the New York Times.

Germany could not get news to the U.S.A., so there was never a real battle for public opinion, only an entirely one-sided influence on the part of the ruthless English press.

The freedom of the press so beloved in Germany generally has not existed and does not now exist in the U.S.A. The dependence of the press on central news agencies (Associated Press and International News Service) and the officially encouraged nationalistic passion of the populace simply does not permit newspapers to have “free,” “neutral,” or “nonpartisan” attitudes. Leaving aside the differences in social and party politics, the public really only knows one party called “America” or “England.” All else is secondary. Right or wrong, my country!

The Anglo-Saxon world thus offers a picture of freedom of the press that exists not for the sake of the press, but for the sake of national tasks. It is generally not restricted by laws because the press possesses sufficient self-discipline. If, however, the ship of state steers through dangerous waters, or if the self-imposed discipline is somehow seriously endangered by freedom (as during the World War or other national emergencies, drastic measures are carried out to guard the health of the nation.

One has only to recall the American war laws and their enforcement. Clever restraint is exercised. No restrictions are placed on the free expression of personality as long as they do not seem necessary. If they are necessary, however, they are carried out with a drastic strength that immediately silences all rebellious elements with a single blow. This is the method used by Moltke against the humanists and humanitarians during the siege of Paris, and the one used by all great political craftsmen, whether during a struggle on a battlefield, in internal politics, or on the battleground of public opinion.

There is little to be said of Bolshevism in this study. Until just recently, it enjoyed 100% freedom of the press in Germany. In its homeland, it chased the middle class editors and journalists to the devil, sent them to Siberia, or put them up against a wall. They established a firm Asiatic system of complete subjection. Certainly those professional associations of the German press that are today so eager and enthusiastic about the establishment of Bolshevism in their own country would not take it at all well if Bolshevism had the opportunity to apply its methods to them. The Russian press today is a governmental and bureaucratic institution.

Fascist press organization is very interesting. Joachim Bottcher has kindly provided us with information about it.

Until the Fascist legislation, absolute freedom of the press prevailed. They began to change the organization of the press with the law of 8 July 1924. In the following years, press legislation was passed that attacked the plague of too many “nonpartisan” newspapers by encouraging consolidation and reuction in numbers.

The honor of journalists is well protected, and their number limited and controlled by the state. This is done in such a way that the governmentally approved professional associations themselves exercise the control, and have disciplinary and supervisory powers over their members. Corresponding to the corporative system, the professional journalistic associations are united by a syndicate. Local syndicates are at the bottom level, with regional syndicates above them. They are united in a national syndicate, which for its part belongs to the Confederation of Free Professions and Artists.

An intellectual leadership is thus established which is in direct contact with the government, maintains its own freedom and discipline, and leads the masses with the instruments of public opinion. The General Secretary of the Journalism Syndicate says the following about the effectiveness of the Fascist form: “The journalistic membership book has made the morally and spiritually uplifted Italian journalism into a secure and reliable tool of the state.” The professional, social, and economic interests of the professional journalists are, of course, protected along with the intellectual and political tasks of the corporation.

There is no censorship office for the press to accompany this power self-protected freedom and discipline, although there is a theater censor. The State’s Attorney in the Ministry of Justice can proceed against books and newspapers only for criminal offenses. The fact that one can sharply criticize the system and the Duce despite the Fascist state is shown by Croce’s clever book against Fascism which is still found today in the homes of faithful Italian liberals without in any way harming the public’s national drives.

The German and Foreign Press


The principles of objectivity and freedom of the press have led the German character, which is somewhat given to exaggeration, to a fragmentation that is unequaled elsewhere, and whose cause in no way lies in the famed German race. Otherwise, each village of more than five hundred inhabitants would have its own conception of the German “race.” We have the dangerous remnants of city, state, and church steeple politics. It looks as if we must also have a Bismarck to force the small under the leadership of the large.

According to the Institute for Newspaper Studies in Berlin (Dovifat), Germany has over 4,500 newspapers. North America, England, France, and Italy combined do not reach that total. The total daily circulation is 28 million in both Germany and England. In England, however, this total is shared by only 140 newspapers! The Institute also states that, if one disregards the reduction during the war, the number of German newspapers has been continually increasing for about 40 years. All the technical innovations and all the capitalistic influences have not brought about a reduction in the number of German newspapers or raised the circulation of the larger papers. Thus, there is a newspaper for every 21,000 inhabitants in Prussia, one for every 15,000 in Württemberg! England has only one newspaper for every 180,000 inhabitants! Countless German regions with less than 20,000 inhabitants have three or four newspapers.

The excessive fragmentation shown by these figures has its effect on the party position of papers. We have already shown that a newspaper is not an end in itself, and that a newspaper must serve a task and an idea. The task and idea can only be political. Hugenberg has discussed this notion in the following basically correct way. “In the long run, no great German paper can be the property of an industrial firm, of a group of industrial firms, or a federation of interests. Nor can a German paper in the long run be the representative of the property interests of such a firm or such a federation for the simple reason that the readers would go elsewhere. In the long run, a great newspaper can crystallize only around an idea…. This is proven today not only by socialism and the deliberate struggle against private property, but also in the uncertain direction and confusion of public opinion…. There is nothing for which I am more thankful to my friends in the Ruhr than this: they have previously followed this train of thought and have brought economic concentration into reality.”

The policy in German newspaper rooms is still quite different. Of the 3,000 newspapers that existed in 1895, 45% designated themselves as nonpartisan. The figure has since steadily increased. By the year 1930, it was over 55%. And newspapers that designated themselves as nationalist, patriotic, German, etc., were included with the party papers, not in the percentages of the nonpartisan. The result is a ratio of party papers to nonpartisan papers of 22% to 70%. A dismal state!

Less than 1% of the total of 4,500 German newspapers have circulations over 100,000, and about 70% have circulations of less than 5,000. The largest German newspaper is Ullstein’s Morgenpost with a circulation of about 500,000 followed, to a greater or lesser extent by papers such as the Nachtausgabe, the Lokalanzeiger, the Münchner Neusten Nachrichten, the Hamburger Fremdenblatt, the Völkischer Beobachter, the Hamburger Anzeiger, the Breslauer Neuesten Nachrichten, the Welt am Abend, and the B.Z. am Mittag, all having circulations between 150,000 and 200,000. Alongside them are a profusion of boulevard, yellow, local, provincial, and village papers, having circulations between 200 and 15,000 (in total, 99% of the German newspapers).

The defect in national and economic discipline shown by these figures becomes apparent when comparison is made to conditions in other countries. In Italy, according to Hans-Joachim Bottcher’s figures, there are at present no more than abut 80 daily newspapers. (The most important are La Tribuna, Il Giornale d’Italia, Il Lavoro Fascista, Il Corriere della Sera, Il Popolo d’Italia, La Stampa, Il Mattino.)

The most important newspapers in the Soviet Union are Isvestia with a circulation of 500,000 and Pravda with 600,000 as well as boulevard and party papers printed in Moscow and Leningrad which have circulations between 180,000 and 300,000.

The number of newspapers is also small in the United States of America; nevertheless consider that the Chicago Daily News has a circulation of 440,000, the Chicago Tribune 820,000 daily and 1,050,000 Sunday, the New York American 220,000 daily and 1,000,000 Sunday, the Daily News 1,300,000 daily and 1,600,000 Sunday, the New York Herald Tribune 300,000 daily and 400,000 Sunday, the New York Times 420,000 daily and 700,000 Sunday, and the New York World with 350,000 daily and 530,000 Sunday.

The unity of public opinion is shown even more strongly in the intellectually advanced French and English papers. France’s largest newspaper is the Petit Parisien which has a circulation which varies between 1,400,000 and 1,800,000. Matin has 700,000 as does the Petit Journal. Intransigeant has 400,000, the nationalist Coty paper L’ami du people has a circulation of 1,000,000 and sells for two pfenning. La Croix, the Catholic family paper, has 750,000, and a dozen provincial papers have circulations between 250,000 and 300,000.

In Great Britain, the Daily Express and its competitor the Daily Mail have circulations of almost 1,800,000. The circulations of the Daily Telegraph (1,500,000), the Daily Sketch and the Daily Herald (120,000 each), the Sunday Dispatch (1,300,000), the News Chronicle, and the Sunday Express (100,000 each), The Star, the London News, and the Manchester Guardian are likewise uncommonly high.

In Japan, the five leading daily newspapers in Osaka and Tokoyo have circulations ranging from 800,000 to over 1,000,000.

Despite the importance of leading individual newspapers in these countries, extensive concentrations of newspaper publishers, cartels, etc., have come about. Fortunately we can see that the confusing picture of 4,500 German newspapers having miniscule circulations has slowly but surely led to changes during the past two decades that were at first only under the surface, but which will eventually force unification. To a growing degree, press concentrations have developed in our country. The bravely upheld editorial policy of objective nonpartisan church steeple horizons is still a negative trait, but it no longer is the entire picture.

To ensure that these harsh but entirely justified criticisms of the daily press are not falsely understood or maliciously misinterpreted, it is necessary to praise another, as yet unmentioned, part of the German press. That is the German technical, academic, and professional journals.

Like the general press, they look back upon a four hundred year tradition, and have every reason to be proud of that tradition.

The German scientific press is unrivalled in the entire world, and will remain so. Technical genius has been joined with precise expression, exactness, scrupulousness, and a perfection of description which has become a model for the international scientific press, for the intellectual elite of foreign countries, and for science and education throughout the entire world.

The journals of the German mathematical associations, engineering and chemical societies, and of the natural science, geographic, and physical associations, as well as our anthropological, literary, and linguistic publications are read by scientists and experts in every country. Our geographical works and maps (Perthes, Gotha) are used by the geographers, army general staffs, navies, and mariners of the entire world.

The German artistic journals are on the same high level. Their tasteful and excellent selection, the excellence of their color plates, their photographic and colored reproductions are representative documents of a highly developed culture. Their layout, binding, general appearance, and artistic content are far superior to American magazines, French revues, or English artistic journals. In most cases, they are free of the tasteless kitsch of the day, and have nothing whatever to do with the false sentimentality both characterized by their obtrusive and unpleasant sugar-coated advertising centered layout.

It is deplorable that the frightful difficulties which the German nation is under today are wreaking havoc on even the oldest and most respected journals, forcing them to reduce their staffs as well as their size and appearance.

In contrast to the scientific press, the semi-technical magazines dealing with associations or areas of common or limited interest to the masses have become lucrative. This has been at the cost, one my note of the daily press (fashion, sports, film, and radio magazines).

The illustrated magazines and the radio magazines deserve special mention here. The circulation figures of daily newspapers do not equal the Berliner Illustrierte’s 1,800,000, the Funkwoche’s and Sendung’s 400,000 each, or the Illustrierter Beobachter’s 180,000.

One would probably be correct in assuming that the increase in such magazines, especially the illustrated ones, is not entirely due to technical advances in picture printing and reporting, etc.

The enormous development of illustrated magazines in the last few years leads one to suspect that they are in some way bound up with the development of radio. The radio has taken on a part of the significance of the daily press, although the newspapers have discovered how artificially to paralyze radio’s topicality.

Nevertheless, the rapidity of the electronic medium as well the urgency and familiarity of the spoken word have contributed to the formation of a broad popular audience (It is estimated that there are twenty million radio listeners in Germany and four and a half million receivers) that relies more on the radio than the daily newspapers. Since the pure word prevails on radio, it was natural that the public sought to balance the verbal with visuals. The publisher could meet his need if he were able to provide the large initial investment necessary to produce an illustrated magazine. He then created an instrument almost independent of economic or political fluctuations that returned a secure profit.

The development of radio has been central for another type of illustrated magazine, namely the approximately eighty German radio magazines that have a weekly circulation total of five million. The radio magazines have combined some degree of artistic or cultural criticism and advance notice of radio programs with technical advice and illustrations stemming less from the needs of the radio than from the magazine needs of the reader. They have quickly established a broad audience.

The effect of the radio on the press, to the disadvantage of the daily newspaper and the benefit of the illustrated magazine, is by no means at an end. It has, however, been artificially neutralized by the tactics of the large press organizations. Until the reorganization of the radio in summer 1932, its whole communication was centered in the so-called Dradag (Wireless Service Company). This company, however, was half controlled by the Federation of the German Press, and furthermore by the Mosse, Scherl, Wolff Telegraph Agency, and Telegraph Union firms. The representatives of the remaining shares were government officials who had neither substantial influence with the press nor a knowledge of the immense topical and political possibilities of the radio that they controlled. Thus, the influence of the press trust was absolute.

The result was that, while the news service of the Dradag was gathering the day’s news, the Berlin sensationalist papers could appear in the early afternoon with headlines shouting the day’s sensation. All the radio listener got for his money was a boring and yawn provoking academic lecture at 10 p.m. that gave the same news he had been fed by the press, and this in a German that should have been sufficient to send the announcer back to school.

Today, the news service is reorganized within the Reich Propaganda Ministry, and is in the hands of Fritzsche, the former Telegraph Union editor. Whether the influence of the press is definitely abolished and whether the radio, which works with the speed of light, will under their leadership make use of the full extent of its topicality remains to be seen. It would be good if the press had to put an end to its sensationalism and replace it with an increase in illustrateds and magazines. This would give radio its necessary supplement through pictures, and would be better than the not too impressive topicality of articles on radio.


Newspaper Concentration

We can recognize the following large groups in the German press today, disregarding the sensationalist newspaper and insignificant outsiders.

1. The middle class democratic papers, such as those published by the three large and competing Ullstein, Mosse, and Frankfurter Sozietatsdrukerei firms.

Ullstein owns several of the largest Berlin newspapers, as well as a string of well established journals, magazines, etc.

The Mosse firm likewise owns leading papers in Berlin.

2. The middle class national papers, such as those published by the Scherl concern and the remainder of the Hugenberg Company. The Huck concern, the Nahiel newspapers, Girardet, and Leonhardt also belong here because of their ideology. (Together, this group consists of about 1,000 newspapers).

3. The Catholic family papers, usually under ecclesiastical, Christian labor union, or federation leadership (about 600 papers).

4. The National Socialist propaganda organs of the Eher Publishing House, and the more or less “official party” Gau publishing houses. (Völkischer Beobachter, Angriff, etc., about 120 papers according to Dovifat.)

5. The Social Democratic propaganda organs and trade union papers (about 130 newspapers.)

The Social Democratic press is combined in the Concentration Holding Company, the company which controls the Party’s newspapers.

6. The Communist propaganda organs of the Kosmos Publishing House (Munzenberg Company), of the Peuwag Holding Company, which controls about 50 Communist Party newspapers.

These concerns and groups control practically all of the important German newspapers. Their papers have a clear bias, despite the much talked of “objectivity” and “freedom of the press.” The further they stray from the center of their position’s strength because of the capitalistic interlocking system, the weaker becomes their effect. The leaders of the Federation of the German Press, who speak in their proclamation of a complete and unrealistic freedom of the press, are probably well enough aware of these facts, even if the general public is not as well informed as the experts about the reality behind the mask of freedom of the press. The democratic press, looking back upon a history of opposition, best understands how to make the news, light reading, and general appearance of the newspaper so unified and convincing that one never notices the bias. The more they speak of freedom of the press and independence, the more the expert is convinced that nothing of them remains. As a result, this press has a large circle of supporters and readers of entirely different political views.

The middle class national paper is generally inferior to the clever layout of the democratic paper. One already knows these housewives’ complaints, but they are really not as interesting as Ullstein’s Morgenpost!

Its inferiority shows itself not merely with respect to the selection, taste, and style of arrangement and content. It also lacks a unified and persuasive internal attitude, apparently because the declining middle class national world no longer possesses a unified intellectual attitude, and consequently cannot persuasively present one.

The day’s events are generally treated with a certain reserve in the Catholic family paper, which does take clear stands based on its ancient tradition of belief. It is indeed no servant of a phantom, but of a firmly established community of families and churches within the Christian faith. The Catholic family paper therefore holds a basically conservative attitude. It has firmly supported the Central and Bavarian People’s parties for many years. Both are parties of organized Catholics.

The tottering middle class press, no longer persuaded or capable of persuasion, and the conservative tradition of the Catholic organs are now up against the revolutionary press.

The idea of central press organization may first have been carried out in the National Socialist movement soon after the acquisition of the Völkischer Beobachter under the leadership of Amann, the brilliant newspaper organizer. A system was build up into the “Central Publishing House of the Party,” which was based not on the capitalist principle of interlocking interests, but rather on absolute loyalty to National Socialism and party discipline. It is a system that built about fifty centrally controlled newspapers and magazines, beginning from nothing, and without outside capital. The Illustriertre Beobachter began here as well. It did not just contain picture news, but rather had a clear direction.

The National Socialist propaganda organ does not want to be a paper that reports the news, nor does it want to be objective, free, and independent, as is the ambition of the liberal press which puts itself at the center of the universe.

Dr. Goebbels most clearly expresses this attitude:

We wanted to continue propaganda methods by means of journalism, since the free spoken word was prohibited to us. It was not our intention to found an informative paper for our supporters. Our newspaper developed out of our attitudes, and should be written from and for those attitudes. Our aim was not to inform, but to incite, to stimulate, to impel. The organ we founded should act like a whip to wake sleepers from their slumber and incite them to restless action. The name (Der Angriff) as well as the motto of the newspaper was a program: “For the Oppressed! Against the Exploiters!” stood in large letters next to the title. It demanded to be read. The whole program and field of action was outlined by the title and masthead of this newspaper.

It may be pointed out to the German reader that such an approach which intentionally produces an attitude is indeed a recent development for the German press, but not for the world press. Whoever looks at the American press will be astonished by the bold make-up, the clever and surprisingly powerful headlines, and the general liveliness of layout. A perusal will also establish the surprising fact that the American press virtually never gives pure news. Whether it deals with a corporation scandal, which can be adorned and decorated in everyway by the fantasies of reporters, or whether it deals with political facts, it will regularly include extensive commentary. Or, the news itself may be presented in the form of an apodictic expression of opinion. It in no way resembles a boring lead article in a German newspaper, which developed from the same desire to comment on political events. One is so sure of his attitude and intellectual basis that from the beginning each event is observed, chosen, and interpreted from this viewpoint. National Socialism has adopted and implemented this style to some degree, and has doubtlessly paved the way for further future cooperation between government, the press, and the journalistic associations.

The firm discipline of National Socialism is not imitated by other parties. One does not find in them the same central unity. The Social Democratic propaganda organs, however, have followed a firm party line for many years. This was especially clear during the war, when no other camp had a party as firmly organized as the Social Democrats. Their press was firmly in the hands of the political leaders, was built up with the party’s money, and had the party members as its readership. Colonel Nicolai said of them that they were the section of the German press which most supported the assertion that public opinion was “evoked.” In 1928, the Social Democratic newspapers were merged into the Concentration Company at the suggestion of the Workers Bank (Goldschmidt). That was necessary to support several endangered Social Democratic newspapers.

The best Communist propaganda organs are under the leadership of Munzenberg (Kosmos Publishing House). Munzenberg, among others, has creater the Arbeiter Illustrierte, a pictoral magazine that from the first page to the last presents not objective pictoral news, but rather propaganda and photographs. The Arbeiter Illustrierte comments incessantly on the ideas of communist class struggle with pictures and photographs that may either be taken from life or persuasively staged.

These six large groups comprise even a large share of German newspapers, as an examination of the publishing house figures shows. The interlocking system also makes it possible to invest, influence, and control outside firms and newspapers without an outsider being able to perceive the influence. The large central companies have thus made use not only of the means of direct influence, but have also established a broader influence through their impact on the provincial press by means of news agencies, advertising agencies, and matrix agencies.

The power of news agencies will be considered later. A second and at least as important a means of control, given today’s economic conditions, is the advertising agency.

The large press today depends not on receipts from newspaper sales, but on advertising to cover production and distribution costs. The amount of advertising is the barometer of a healthy economy. It is also the area in which the press can be cut to the quick. As a result, the large newspaper groups have also been concentrations of advertising for many years.

These advertising agencies are: Rudolf Mosse, Invalidenbank, Ala, Hassenstein and Vogler, and the National Socialist advertising agency in the Eher Publishing House.

The purpose of these advertising agencies is to handle the traffic between newspaper and advertiser, to advise which organs should be chosen (through which an effective political and economic influence can be had), or to select them themselves. The advertising staff also decides the most effective methods of formulation and presentation, usually at no cost to the customer. They ae paid significant rebates by the newspapers, since they are, so to speak, big customers. Such rebates could never be given to individual advertisers. As a result, the advertising agencies have the press by the neck. This leads to the further strengthening of the influence of unified agencies within the frameworks of the remaining holding companies.

The smaller papers are especially in need of assistance if they are to remain in competition with large modern newspapers. Such assistance both enables them to remain viable and limits their independence. A newspaper with a higher circulation can maintain its own reporting and editorial staffs alongside its news agency. This permits it to edit the material provided by the news agency, which often disagrees with the paper’s own viewpoint, and to add light reading and supplementary material from a local or political point of view. But this is impossible for the smaller papers. They cannot afford it. To maintain their competitiveness with the large papers, they would have to decide whether to purchase prepared supplementary materials (which are costly in terms of paper and time), or to receive news and supplementary materials already set in type, were not materials available from these large concerns.

The oldest matrix services are about twenty-five years old today. Each large press concentration also has a matrix service. The matrix, imprinted on cardboard, is light, cheap, and easily transported even by airplane because of its minimal weight. The matrix spares the newspaper the preparation of news, supplements, etc. The small paper is thus spared the necessity of typesetter, make-up editor, editor, and reporter, and is still able to provide its readers with new and varied material from all areas of the arts and sciences as often as it pleases.


Further Development


The centralization of the news agency, which is essential to the leadership of the press, will be discussed in the next chapter. A survey of the present structure of the German press suggests the following means of unified leadership.

It is intellectually, artistically, and legally necessary that the professional press association assume direct influence, and above all that the associations of German journalists and publishers do so. One may adopt the Italian way or the initiative may come from the federations. This is not a time for theoretical discussions. In any case, German journalism has the task of seeing to it that its professional honor and ideology are inseparably bound to the national honor and ideology so that in the future interference with or sabotage of national power politics by the press will be entirely impossible. If our intellectual elite will work in service of our national tasks with passion and devotion, no censorship or legal restrictions on freedom of the press will be necessary. It is enough if the members of these professional associations have the legal authority to throw out parasites and put an end to their work. The reputation and honor of German journalists who work for the nation must be so high with the public that he who dares attack or maliciously scorn them must run against an impenetrable wall. It is possible and desirable for criticism to exist within the framework of the professional association itself, and for lively conflicts of interests to exist between the differing groups.

Above all, the German publishing trade has to remain free from control by foreign capital groups (Ignatz Petscheck in Leipzig), and must eliminate the parasites, price-cutters, and hyenas in its ranks who systematically subordinate the large publishing houses to the interests of foreign groups. If necessary, the state should use legal action. The press should be free from governmental capital and control in every other respect. It should enjoy not “independence” and “freedom of the press”, but rather the freedom of business and publishing policy, and a secure relationship with the readership and public opinion. These professional associations, which already cooperate in many areas with the Reich Labor Union, would be given certain legal authority in a press corporation.

The question of a centralization of advertising, which is necessary to the existence of the newspaper, and of a centralization of the typography and picture services would be handled within the framework of the Corporation. The basic roots of the strengths of both large and small newspapers are here. It would not be advisable to have a direct influence of the corporation on the central advertising, matrix, and picture agencies with indirect participation by the state, nor to have a direct governmental influence. It must be a supervisor, not a dictator, and set limits and legal boundaries against influence from unwelcome directions, especially from foreign groups.

Bureaucracy will be inhibited by the influence of the corporation and the newspaper publishers, as well as by sufficient room for free competition for advertising. If presently existing or newly formed press concentrations attempt to control the state, the state should have the obligation of eliminating such ideologically intolerable and government threatening concentrations. This would best be done, aside from direct prohibition, by eliminating the advertising base that finances them or by completely abolishing their ties with the central news agency.

Direct censorship and prohibition should be unnecessary. The unified leadership of the press is guaranteed by its own professional organizations, so that friction between local authorities and local press organizations are as good as eliminated. The newspaper publisher, for his part, controls those areas of the newspaper business that are important to him, and is entirely protected against economic attacks and sensationalistic demagogic maneuvers by shady competitors. The practicing journalist himself, in close cooperation with the wishes of the government and his publisher’s attitudes, creates the manner in which he will do his daily work. He develops a line that is in its essentials accepted by everyone. He bears the guiding idea of the German press and is respected by the nation. He is protected by the government, and with his fellow workers and artists advances national security and defense.

Go to Chapter 6

 

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