Background: This article is taken from Die Hoheitsträger, a confidential publication for Nazi leaders, though it rarely contained much confidential information. . It is a description of how to organize a meeting campaign. These were a frequent aspect of life in Nazi Germany. Although the writer of this article claims enormous success, internal reports from the period suggest that German citizens were by this time often bored with meetings, and went because of pressure, not desire.
The source: “Die Versammlungswelle,” Die Hoheitsträger, III (#1, 1939), pp. 27-28. It was also published in Unser Wille und Weg, (9, February 1939, pp. 44-46).
The Meeting Campaign
When we speak of a meeting campaign, we are talking primarily of mass meetings that are carried out in substantial numbers on a single day. When properly prepared, these campaigns have always had the desired results.
The spoken word remains our most effective method of propaganda, before our seizure of power as well as after.
Besides the mass meeting, we recognize another form of oral propaganda, individual conversation. However, the most effective propaganda remains that in which one can speak directly to the masses of the people.
Here I wish to examine the precise preparations that will lead to certain success if they are followed to the last detail. Perfect preparation is the most important factor, which places great responsibility on the individual local groups and their propagandists.
First, the support of the entire organization for these mass meetings must be guaranteed. In preparation for a meeting campaign in Breslau, for example, the local groups began by reserving the meeting halls on the day appointed by the district office.
Above all one must be sure to reach the middle and smaller-sized areas, which enable us to reach each individual citizen with our meetings.
The work of the individual local groups is checked, and confirmed by them. The individual meeting halls are now confirmed, which gives us the total number of meetings. After determining the number of meetings, the next important step is to immediately request the necessary speakers from the Gau propaganda office. Not much more needs to be said here, since the work with the speakers themselves begins several days before the campaign, once confirmations have been received. Now is the time to begin energetic propaganda for the campaign.
This work should start 6-8 weeks before the date of the campaign.
In our district propaganda ring, we have found the right means to guarantee the success of such a campaign.
In coordination with the district party leader, who should be notified in good time, the members of the district propaganda ring notify all offices, party units, organizations and groups to plan no meetings of their own in the 10-14 days prior to the campaign, and to inform their members of the approaching campaign.
Everything must center on the approaching meeting campaign.
That means making the public aware of the approaching campaign. Hold brief meetings with the press to inform them of the appropriate propaganda. In larger cities like Breslau, make contact with the radio, etc., as well.
Working with the press, which has the most significant task in publicizing the campaign, is particularly important.
Catchy headlines in the press, e.g. “80 Mass Meetings on a Single Day” or “80 Reich and Gau Speakers on a Single Evening” are the best ways to inform citizens.
It is important to find a powerful slogan for the campaign, under which other propaganda can fall.
The press should mention the campaign in every issue during the 10-14 days preceding the campaign. (Party officials can help out here if some newspapers fail to see that such publicity is not “overdone,” but rather necessary. The editors). This should always use the slogan of the campaign. Sometimes a headline that uses short and vivid sentences is enough by itself.
Several days before the campaign, the press can introduce the speakers. Effective articles in the press will build curiosity.
In larger cities, the radio will also assist in the publicity.
The various party units and groups are reminded to use their newsletters to encourage their members to attend the mass meeting of their local group.
The county and party offices send a letter to all leading officials of the party, as well as to government and city officials and the army, encouraging them to attend the meeting in their area, for it should be a community mass meeting.
A powerful poster should be ready for hanging three days before the campaign.
It is more effective when citizens see the same poster over and over again. There should therefore be a single poster for the campaign on which details of the individual meetings can be added (see below).
Other posters are forbidden during this period, so that only this poster is to be seen in businesses and building entrances.
Political leaders must repeatedly urge business owners and landlords to place this poster in a visible place, not in some inconspicuous corner.
The local groups should now distribute a leaflet to every household (see below).
The county office will contact the responsible leaders of the organizations to see to it that they appear at the appropriate meeting. They can be given a list of the meeting locales, and can inform local group leaders several days in advance which meetings they will attend.
The speakers are the guests who serve as intermediaries between the people and the government.
If the speaker is to fulfill his tasks effectively, he must himself be persuaded.
A meeting must therefore be held in a way that inspires the speaker to make it an experience.
After speakers accept, they are given their assignments and told to be there several hours early.
The day of the campaign dawned in Breslau. With pleasure, the propagandists heard people speaking of the campaign on the streets, in streetcars, and elsewhere.
The press carried the final stories. The face of the city was noticeably changed by posters, etc.
The county leader held a special reception. The mayor in Remter held a reception as well. He welcomed the guests and assured them of the interest of the city.
Speakers not familiar with Breslau were given a city tour.
The speakers then had dinner together.
Speakers drew lots for their locale to rule out favoritism in assignments.
Each speaker drew a slip with the meeting at which he would speak.
The speakers tried to find out what they could about their assignments.
The local groups had been instructed to send a car for their speaker at a given time. Each local group or locale sent its propaganda leader, who himself learned of the speaker he would have only upon arrival.
The propaganda leaders arrive at the appointed time and are introduced to their speakers.
There must be enough time for the speakers and propaganda leaders to discuss the meeting, and deal with any special requests on the part of the speaker.
We can say that we in Breslau succeeded in getting all but the most hopeless citizens to show up at a meeting.
The press rightly spoke of empty streets on this evening.
Everyone was impressed by the campaign.
Entering a meeting hall was an experience. Halls were decorated elegantly. The mood recalled that of mass meetings during the period of struggle [before 1933].
The center of the evening was the political speech alone; other distractions were avoided.
All the mass meetings were opened with a brief fanfare. A party leader gave a greeting. The flags were carried in, and the speaker began to talk. Nothing else belongs in a public mass meeting.
The old fighting spirit was alive in all the meetings, and an unprecedented enthusiasm crowned the propagandists’ work.
One last thing. The day after, not a single poster for the campaign remained. How undisciplined it looks when days after tattered posters remain. As quickly as possible, the posters must be removed. That also is a kind of propaganda.
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