Background: There are a number of illustrated books like this published during the Nazi era. They were large books in which one pasted photographs received as premiums. My copy of this one brought the number of copies in print to 2,450,000. This is Goebbels’ introduction to the volume.
The source: Joseph Goebbels, “Vorwort,” Adolf Hitler. Bilder aus dem Leben des Führers (Hamburg: Cigaretten/Bilderdienst Hamburg/Bahrenfeld, 1936, pp. 7-8.
Misunderstandings about propaganda are common in the entire world, even in Germany, and difficult to deal with since they are based on deeply rooted prejudices. No better education on the matter can be imagined than that which the German people have enjoyed in the years since the World War. In this relatively short period of time, propaganda became a powerful force in Germany. One no longer needs to prove today that Imperial Germany collapsed under the attack of Marxist propaganda, and that the Marxist-democratic government in turn was replaced not only because of the National Socialist idea, but also because of National Socialist propaganda.
Propaganda is necessary. It is no good if a few inventive minds are told to make it. Like any great art, it has its gifted practitioners who usually found a school and teach it. We must also dispose of the widespread misconception that there is something dishonorable or defective about it. Just as with everything else in life, it depends what it is used for and what its practical results may be. It has nothing to do with advertising. At its best, it lets things and people speak for themselves, and takes care that their proper value is expressed and explained.
Good things and great men are their own best propaganda. One must let them speak for themselves. One of the most important characteristics of effective propaganda is that it does not leave anything out, but also does not add anything that is not essential to the subject under discussion. The characteristics of events or personalities should be clearly and strongly and simply expressed in a way that raises them above the confusion of ordinary events, so that they are clear to the broad masses who are to be reached.
National Socialism and its leading representatives have not only a natural gift for the matter, but also have worked steadily, untiringly and in close connection to the people to develop and use the most refined and advanced techniques. The Führer himself was our great teacher. It is not widely known that for a long time at the beginning of the party, he held no office other than that of propaganda leader, and that his brilliant mastery of this party office gave the party its real spiritual organization and political stamp.
From his very nature and character, as the child of his people that he always was and will remain, he knew how to speak to his people from his heart. This explains the great love and vast reserves of confidence on the part of his followers, and later the entire German people. At first, the people saw him from a distance as a politician and statesman. His human nature was in the background.
Today the whole world knows him as the creator of National Socialist teachings and the builder of the National Socialist state, as the pathfinder of a new order for Europe and for peace and prosperity for the nations. People throughout the world, however, often have a rather unclear idea of the compelling and fascinating nature of the man Adolf Hitler. The great simplicity and the simple greatness that flow from his person reach not only every German, but also every foreigner with sure instincts. He is probably the one person in the entire world who is most clearly and deeply rooted in the feelings and thinking of the modern era, and is therefore as no other in the position to give the age its new form.
To understand him, one must see him not only as a politician and statesman, but also as a person. That is the purpose of this book. It is a testimony to his personality, written with love and appreciation by his closest aides and oldest fighting comrades. They here give the public a picture of this great man that has hitherto not been available. They all have known the Führer well for many years, and have learned to admire him through daily contact. That is the real value of this book.
This book shows the Führer as a human being with regards to all important questions of the day. The German people will be pleased to have the opportunity to see the Führer close up and to get to know him better.
It is good that people have the ability to secure this book in an easy and inexpensive way, giving it access to a broad German readership. May it find a happy and successful reception by the German people!
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