Background: Although people tend to think of Hitler and Goebbels when Nazi propaganda comes to mind, there were hundreds of thousands of propagandists at lower levels who maintained day-to-day contact with the population. This 1934 article from the Nazi monthly for propagandists complains that some are not up to the task, and that great care should be taken to appoint only those who are truly capable.
The source: “Der Propagandawart,” Unser Wille und Weg, 3 (March) 1934, pp. 26-28.
The Propaganda Warden
The rise of the German freedom movement from seven men to a party of millions, and then to the party of the state, and a party not only in possession of the might of the state, but also of the hearts of its people, is inextricably bound to the activity of propaganda. The work of propaganda made known to the public the name, nature, and goals of the young NSDAP, and in the following years won over ever new masses of racial comrades, filling them with the idea and the spirit of National Socialism, making them fellow fighters in Adolf Hitler’s cause. Today the movement has reached its first goals, the conquest of state power, and complete responsibility for the fate of the German people. Now it turns to the next goal, to transform the whole German people into thinking and acting National Socialists, making Germany a 100% National Socialist state.
The future task of propaganda, and of each propagandist, is therefore not smaller than it was during the years of struggle, but rather larger and even more important. It will take great skill to imbue our people with National Socialist thinking and above all to make clear to them the reasons for National Socialism’s goals and policies. The variety and significance of the task is enormous. Thus, only the most capable party comrades should lead and direct propaganda activity.
In the local group, the lowest level of the political organization, the work of propaganda is the responsibility of the local group propaganda warden. He has a lot of work and great responsibility. The mood of the local group and in the broader population in the territory of the local group, the readiness of racial comrades to sacrifice, and the willingness to join in constructive work are the result of the work of the propaganda warden. All of these factors make clear the importance of the work of propaganda. If the local group is near a larger town, the seat of a Kreis or Gau office, the work will be a little easier, since it will be easier to get a party member as a speaker for an educational evening or a meeting. Things are different if the local group is not near such a town. Every Gau has countless villages and local groups that are isolated, often hours away from the next town, and far from a railway or other means of transportation. In these places, a propagandist has to rely on himself, and particularly in such situations it is critical that the propaganda warden have real propaganda skill and experience.
This requirement is often sinned against, which is no secret and does not need to be concealed. The Gau and Kreis propaganda leaders can say a lot about it. In some of the local groups founded in the past year, and even earlier, people were appointed to various posts in the same way as in a bowling or skat club. The local group leader announces at a membership meeting that the Gau office has ordered the establishment of a new position and the appointment of someone to fill it. He looks around until he finds a “victim.” “Müller, you could do it.” Müller has no idea what to do, and mutters something suggesting both a willingness and an unwillingness to accept the post. He is consoled by words along these lines: “It’s OK. There isn’t much to do, and the main thing is that we have someone listed on paper so that we can tell the Gau office.”
In nine cases out of ten, this will prove a mistake. Müller brings more or less to do the job, doing things half-way, or at least not to the degree that is expected. The result is usually a letter to the Kreis, Gau, or Reich propaganda office that goes something like this: “I have been appointed local group propaganda warden. I have not done anything like this before, and am not sure what I am supposed to do. I would appreciate the corresponding directives.”
The good will of the party comrade is not to be doubted, but neither the local group nor any higher office can expect much of such a “propaganda warden.” Ability is not learned through directives, but rather it must be learned through practice and struggle. Directives and the like are but helps and support, which make the work of the propaganda warden easier and show him the direction of the next propaganda campaign. But they will never be the foundation on which so multi-faceted a field as propaganda can be based. Particularly in newly-founded local groups, experience shows that it is critical that the local group leader appoint people who are suited and capable. There is almost always a party member with some talent for propaganda. Finding him and putting his talent to good use is the responsibility of the local group leader. His task is not only to appoint people on paper, but rather he has the duty and obligation to find only party comrades who are willing to take on the job, but who also have the knowledge and experience to do it successfully. The propaganda warden is the heart and most active agent of a local group’s propaganda, and a selection according to these criteria is the prerequisite for the educational work of the coming weeks and months.
The second major National Socialist campaign against German unemployment will begin in a few weeks. The propaganda warden in particular must demonstrate his skill and ability in this great campaign. More than two million racial comrades gained work in the first major campaign. Each propaganda warden must put his full efforts in the coming weeks and months to help find work for as many as possible of the remaining 3,750,000 unemployed racial comrades. The Führer’s appeal to create new jobs for our racial comrades must reach into the most distant Alpine valley and the loneliest reaches of the heath. The propaganda warden is responsible to see that the call reaches every last racial comrade, and that everyone recognizes his duty to assist the German nation in this regard.
The great responsibility that rests on the propaganda warden alone shows clearly the duties of his position. The campaign must reach into the last German hut, to every last racial comrade. Propagandists will have increased duties and responsibilities in the coming months. This more than ever requires that the position be given only to party comrades who are really suitable and capable, who are able to devote their energy and strength fully to the movement and our worldview.
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