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German Propaganda Archive Calvin College

 

Background: The following essay is interesting as a reflection on propaganda at an early stage of the war. Unser Wille und Weg was the Nazi monthly for propagandists.

The source: “Öffentliche Versammlungen im Kriege?”, Unser Wille und Weg, 10 (1940), pp. 52-53, which took it from a publication of the Gaupropagandaleitung Weser-Ems titled Vorschlägen für die Gestaltung nationalsozialischer Feiern, Gedenktage, Kundgebungen und Versammlungen.


Public Meetings During Wartime?


Is it really necessary for the NSDAP to hold public meetings during wartime? Do not the tasks of the party come far behind those of the Wehrmacht?

don’t people quickly learn everything they need to about political and military events from the radio, the press, and newsreels? And has not the German people become a mature political people for whom these news media are sufficient?

Propaganda Magazine CoverAnd is there not a shortage of adequate meeting rooms in many places?

Besides, should not one consider the understandable desire of many citizens to stay home during blackouts?

In a time of action, is not it better to give up on speaking? Is it not enough to hold a membership meeting? After all, one can insist that all party members come, which rules out failure.

Is it not enough — if one has to hold such a meeting — to make it an “expanded” membership meeting? Then the party members will have to come, and anyone else interested can show up as well.

Party member! Propagandist! The regular membership meeting of the NSDAP is more important today than ever in the life of the party, but it is still only a meeting of the membership. There is no such thing as an “expanded” membership meeting, for a meeting is either limited to the membership, or it is a public meeting! No, I am talking about public meetings of the NSDAP! You perhaps believe that because of the points mentioned earlier they aren’t necessary? My friend! How long have you been thinking so foolishly, how long have you wanted to be so comfortable (it is true, is it not?). Have we already won the battle, this grave struggle for the fate of our people? You know as well as I that this battle for the lives and futures of us all is being fought not only with weapons but even more with the hearts of two worlds that have faced each other as deadly enemies since 1918! Never again may 9 November 1918 be repeated in Germany!

Party members! It is a period of struggle [Kampfzeit — the Nazi term for their battle to gain power before 1933], the kind of struggle that has always been the real test for us National Socialists, just as in the long and difficult years before the takeover, just as in the hard and proud years after the seizure of power. And do you not recall the words of the Führer at the beginning of the war:

Let no one tell me that in his Gau, his county, his group or his cell, that morale is bad. You are the people responsible for morale!

Leaders! Propaganda heads! That is the Führerís order to you in this battle. You want to set aside the sharpest sword the movement has in this battle, the public meeting? Listen! As the war began your Gauleiter, the Führerís direct subordinate, spoke untiringly and with inspiring power day after day from county to county to his political leaders, laying out the directions to follow. Your county leader in turn spoke again and again to the responsible leaders of the local groups, explaining the meaning and goals of today, forging ever stronger the fighting community of the NSDAP. As local group leader, you are responsible for the behavior and morale of all citizens in your area.

And you believe that you can dispense with public meetings, even though the heavy attendance at meetings proves that the people want them!

How? You think that your propaganda leader, your education leader, even you, perhaps, can say the right things to the people, since there is sufficient opportunity?

Maybe! But that will happen often enough, and even if it seems enough to you, the people do not always want to hear you or your subordinates. They want to hear others, and you will certainly grant me this:

There is nothing else like a proper public meeting with a national speaker, a shock speaker or a Gau speaker of the NSDAP! The right spirit prevails at such meetings, the eyes of everyone moisten, once again people experience the genuine, inimitable old-style meeting of the NSDAP! No live radio report or gripping newspaper article can duplicate the experience of community in which unleashed power flows to the individual, The speaker rises — or do you think that there aren’t enough good speakers left at home? Wrong. It is true that many speakers, the men who were always the best intermediary between the will of the Führer and the problems, hopes, and beliefs of his people, have been called to the armed forces, but there are still enough speakers, mostly veterans of the World War, who are ready to serve the home front by speaking to meetings — and they are good speakers every one. The Gau propaganda office is happy to report that it has only experienced speakers in its ranks, men who without exception were active in the movement before the seizure of power, men who are eternally young at heart and whose strength is rooted in the experience of battle.

Yes, local group leader, you can surely tell me yourself that such a speaker can reduce some of the weariness and stress from the lives of the people under your authority. Such a speaker is conscious of his deep responsibility and will appeal to his people from the deep spiritual strength of his love of his people, from his ability to reach the heart and soul of his audience! You know yourself from experiences during the struggle for power how often you said after a good meeting: “This meeting moved us forward!”

During this war, during our most serious struggle, we want public meetings to do this!

You know that such meetings are always a real experience!

Despite the blackout, despite the reluctance of the people, you must strive for packed meetings, which must always be carefully organized and carried out.

 

[Page copyright © 1998 by Randall L. Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]


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