Background: This is Max Amann’s speech at the 1936 Nuremberg Rally,
taken from the official party proceedings. Amann was one of Hitler’s oldest
friends, and controlled the Nazi Party’s publishing system. The speech
makes the rather remarkable argument that Germany had a free press.
The source: “Die Neugestaltung der deutschen Presse
im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland,” Der Parteitag
der Ehre vom 8. bis 14. September 1936. Offizieller Bericht über
den Verlauf des Reichsparteitages mit sämtlichen Kongreßreden
(Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1936), pp. 212-224.
The Transformation of
the German Press in
National Socialist Germany
by Max Amann
The National Socialist seizure of power gave us the task of
forming all of German life according to the spirit of National
Socialism. The Führer’s difficult fourteen-year struggle
gave us the character and methods we needed to meet the challenges.
A look back on what had been accomplished in the three and a
half years since the National Socialist revolution, with its
many actions and decisions, shows us that only it allowed us
to fulfill our goals, and that it alone is able to find solutions
to the problems facing the German people. We need the compass
that the Führer gives us through his model and teachings,
and to pledge to follow and remain loyal to that which we learned
during the struggle for power. The virtues we learned then led
to National Socialism’s irresistible victory. Had we not had
them, we would not have won power, and had we not maintained
them, the power we gained would not have restored health and
strength to the German people.
Our opponents during the struggle for power believed that
they had a successful attack on us in claiming that the onrushing
National Socialism had a party program that was limited to generalities,
one that allowed no concrete positions on the problems of public
and private life. Besides, the program was only designed to deceive
the people, and National Socialism would ignore it once in power.
The Führer had already answered these charges in the
party’s program: It obligated National Socialists to defend the
programmatic goals even at the risk of their lives. Even in the
earliest days we believed that the few general principles of
the program were better suited to deal with the problems of everyday
life than a well-developed theoretical structure. This idea has
proven its correctness a thousand times over in the past three
and a half years.
I am happy to say that in my areas of endeavor in the party
and state, a few National Socialist principles have given me
the sure foundation for the many difficult decisions I have made.
I am also convinced that the German people and the world public,
insofar as it is ready to evaluate the situation objectively,
will agree that developments in the German press give daily proof
of the correctness and value of our National Socialist principles.
A look back before our seizure of power reminds us how numerous
the problems of the press once were. Our few newspapers with
their limited circulations fought heroically in the front lines
to gain power. They stood against several thousands newspapers
that represented other ideas and interests. There were many differences
between the leading newspapers back then, but there was one thing
they all lacked when compared to the National Socialist press:
they had lost their connection to the people. They were responsible
not to the people, but to some other group, be it parties, churches,
economic interests or corporations, or they looked to their own
good without considering the general good of the people. Such
a press promoted class struggle, the confusion of social standing,
religious incitement or moral decay. They did not promote the
good of the individual and the strengthening of the community,
rather collapse and decay. These newspapers that appealed to
people’s lowest instincts had lost their national and moral sense
of responsibility, and had little influence.
Such a press could not be tolerated by National Socialism,
whose task is the mobilization of all good and healthy strengths
of the individual and the community, encouraging their expression
and development. The German people is being rescued from a fragmentation
of parties, classes, interests and special interests to enable
them it to find its own nature and its own strengths once more.
This requires that the whole of the German press serve German
tasks. Our party’s press is always a model, for it developed
only to serve the idea and thereby the people. The exhausting
everyday work aims at reaching that end.
That makes clear the goal of the National Socialism in the
area of the press. All that is necessary is to follow a very
few National Socialist principles.
1. The good of the German people was the goal from
the beginning. The party’s fight and our positions on individual
issues were never ends in themselves, but rather they illuminated
each aspect of our efforts in the light of the whole. We knew
that the people were our highest treasure. We never wanted to
impose an alien dictatorial system, but rather through the work of
each individual National Socialist to win the confidence of the
people. That is the prerequisite for leadership. Loyalty to the
people and concern for their welfare is the foundation of the
will and actions of National Socialism.
This led to my first task: the transformation of the German
press into a true German people’s press, a press that eliminated
harmful, selfish or foreign elements and served only the people
and its welfare. That means that the reader is no longer the
object of a press that is harmful or foreign to him. Rather the
principle guiding the press is the good of the individual and
the community. A government that has as its only task securing
the future of the nation can create such a press, and only such
a state. In it, the interests of the state, of the community
and of the individual agree. What is it that the reader wants
from his newspaper? It should acquaint him with daily events
both large and small, letting him know how these affect his life
and how he can help the whole community. The newspaper should
bring him into contact with the community and the community into
contact with him, putting him in the center of what is happening.
Besides meeting the needs of the individual and the community,
which is the highest goal of the press, it should also satisfy
his need for relaxation.
The press has a role in the daily life of every citizen, man,
women or maturing youth, that cannot be filled by anything else,
and the state has the duty to ensure that it can fulfill its
role. Any state that is not an end in itself has the duty to
see that the only goal of the press is to serve the people. That
is why the Führer supported a people’s press at the very
beginning, and commented on the harmful effects of the press
at the time in “Mein Kampf.” He declared that it was
the duty of the state to stop any misuse of this instrument of
2. The idea of the equality of all people stood in
contrast to the National Socialist principle of the creative
power of personality. The responsibility of the individual replaced
the irresponsibility of the masses. The accomplishment principle
replaced all other principles for evaluating people. We could
therefore have no doubt that the principle of accomplishment
also applied to the press, that it was the foundation of a press
that served the people. It can be controlled only by people who
have the necessary prerequisites of character and will for these
As in every area of life, here too competition is important to the full
development of abilities. Accomplishment and creativity are therefore
the marks of the press in a National Socialist state. All governmental
measures concerning the press must serve these principles.
This rules out monopoly control of the press by any single
hand. Despite all predictions to the contrary, it is also clear
that private ownership of the press, as long as it is consistent
with National Socialist views, has been maintained. This is compelling
proof for our faithfulness to our party program and the depth
of our adherence to the correctness of its principles, since
otherwise it would have been easy for us to establish a party-owned
press monopoly. That certainly would have been pleasanter for
the party press itself. But the party did not choose the comfortable
way. In the past three and a half years its own press too has
been subordinate to these principles. The party press faced competition
and had to improve. It has gained its position as the politically
leading press by its own efforts.
3. The affirmation of the creative power of personality
and accomplishment in the press proves the falsity of our opponents’
claims about National Socialism plans and ideas. Supposedly the
press would lose all lose all independence by state ownership
and control of its content.
To the contrary, we have created the foundations for a truly
In the past, the so-called freedom of the press did not mean
the press served the people, only that it was independent of
the state. It was, however, left under the control of other powers
and influences. The freedom of the press can only be secured
when it is free from every kind of dependence. The first prerequisite
is that only worthy and appropriate people are able to work in
the press. The press must also have a sound economic foundation
that removes any possibility of influencing it by financial means.
Our principle of guaranteeing that the press is formed by the
creative power of personality assures the freedom of its contents
from outside influences, for such personalities would not work
in the press if their abilities were restricted. We also know
that a press that is the people’s best comrade in their daily
struggles can develop only from the work of the newspaper itself.
A relationship between reader and the newspaper requires a precise
knowledge of the needs of the readership. Also, we have not interfered
with, and will not interfere in the future, with the mature variety
of the German press, unique in all the world. Such variety would
be destroyed by central control of its contents. Of course, the
way in which the important questions of a nation are discussed
in public does require that the state protect the people from
harm. A state that fails in its duty to protect the people from
such damaging press activity has lost its right to exist, for
the people, not the press is the measure of all things!
Thus the National Socialist state does influence the press
with regard to the vital issues of the nation. The newspaper
must serve the whole. In areas where only the state is able to
judge what is necessary, it has priority. The press still depends
entirely on the work of its members. That is not interfering
in the press, but rather a way of increasing its value for the people
and the nation by preventing the press from doing great harm.
Germany would today not have regained its military freedom or
the Rhine land, it would not have borders guarded by weapons
and aircraft, it would have no super highways and major buildings,
but it would have seven million more unemployed, if the value
of such measures had been argued in the press. The result when
the press is not subject to such restrictions is clear from Germany’s
terrible fate after the World War.
My most important goal is to protect our press from outside
influence. The seriousness with which the state takes the independence
of the press is proven by its laws, for through the Reich Chamber
of Culture Law and the Editor’s Law the press itself has the
responsibility of fulfilling its mission. This is in contrast
to all other countries in the world, where press control is exercised
by the police.
Only the application of these principles can ensure that the
press serves the good of the community. This is clear from the
devastating example of the press before National Socialism, which
never was concerned with that issue. The goal was never to protect
the people, but to serve the press as an end in itself. It was
of no interest if the press were bought by some force and used
to harm the people. Nor did it care if the makers of the press
had the ability to say something to the people that was in its
interest. The talk of freedom of the press only made the individual
defenseless against the misuse of the press.
All the measures National Socialism has implemented flow from
these principles. These include the Reich Chamber of Culture
Law, the regulations of the Reich Chamber of Culture, the Editor’s
Law, and the Advertising Council of the German Economy. The Reich
Chamber of Culture and the Editor’s Law view the press not as
an end in itself, but as the work of creative personalities.
They therefore involve everyone working in the press and give
them appropriate guidelines. Finally, the legal prerequisites
for implement the principle exist. Only those of ability and
character may use the instrument of the press. These laws provide
the basis for excluding all those elements who would misuse the
press, and open the way for those with ability. Through these
laws and regulations, we have done solid National Socialist work.
Let me summarize the most important measures and their results.
1. All non-Aryans and those with non-Aryan relatives are prohibited
from working in the press. The German press today is produced
by Germans and is an expression of German culture and the German
2. All special interests and organizations who oppose the
unity of the nation, whether of economic or religious nature,
as well as all their advocates and functionaries have been eliminated
from the German press. The German press no longer is divided
into segments that serve classes, churches and economic interests,
but rather it serves the entirety of the German people. All those
working in the press are obliged to serve only the common good
of the German people.
3. We have also excluded all those from the German press who
lacked the necessary abilities. This includes elements that used
the press to split rather than unify, those to whom the people
was not the highest value, who used religion to fragment the
nation, who saw the press only as a business. We have ruthlessly
removed them all. The whole German press today is worthy of its
4. We have made personal responsibility the foundation of
the press, and eliminated such influences as those of anonymous
capital or intermediaries for third parties.
5. Subventions or other support for the press, regardless
of their form, are forbidden, and thus the possibility of corruption
is ruled out.
On the other hand, we have done all in our power to provide
a firm economic foundation for publishers. Among many other measures,
the regulations on advertising from the Advertising Council of
the German Economy serve this goal. Above all, we have reduced
the total number of newspapers, which was the result of the former
identification of parts of the press with various special interests.
The result is that the economic health of the newspaper industry
has increased, and promises good social and economic conditions
in the future .
6. We have insisted that the press has intellectual and cultural
public responsibilities for everyone, whether editor or publisher,
and have eliminated any idea of the press as an end in itself.
The economic functions too serve the intellectual goals of the
press. We have removed all involvement in the press from those
companies that had a purely economic interest. This guarantees
that the press serves the people, not private interests that
may harm them.
7. We have made known to those in the German press the importance
of their tasks, which obliges them to work to the best of their
abilities. It is now self-evident to all those working in the
German press that their work is based on the foundation of truth,
the protection of individual honor, regard for morality and national
8. Earlier the members of the press fought amongst themselves.
We have formed a profession involving them all, regardless of
function, and thus built the foundation for a professional outlook
suited to the magnitude of their responsibilities.
The success of our measures is evident in the growth of the
publishing firms as well as in the increase in the total circulation
of the German press. Our enemies once predicted that the victory
of National Socialist would mean the end of the German press.
This prophecy has proved as false as all their others.
Before National Socialist legislation, the circulation of the press was
uncertain. There was no law requiring accurate figures be given, and there
were various ways of determining circulation. We defined the concept and
required that accurate figures be given. There are about 17 million households
in Germany. The circulation of the German daily press in the first quarter
of 1936 was 19,700,000. That means that every German home receives a newspaper,
without even considering magazines.
There are still some prophets, mostly among the emigrants, who cannot
stop lying. These boys believe that the reduced number of German newspapers
is proof of the correctness of their former prophesies. Let me speak clearly
The strength and impact of the German press has not declined
simply because the number of individual newspapers is less. We
have gotten rid of the sensational press along with all the other
newspapers that served something other than the German people.
The 2,000 papers that today serve the German people are worth
far more to us than the 3,250 papers of the past that to a significant
degree worshiped at altars other than the fatherland, and which
therefore had to be sacrificed for the fatherland!
And what better evidence for the strength of the German press
is there than that despite the reduction in the number of newspapers,
the total circulation has increased! To those prophets I have
this to say: Just as the German people have defeated forces harmful
to them and thereby regained their freedom and strength, so too
the German press has been freed from these elements and has its
lasting place in Germany. I might also give them the good advice
to direct their attention to the press in other nations.
In my address to the party congress last year I referred to
the criticism of the press levied by leading statesmen in the
western democracies. Today I will discuss the press in a country
that is carrying out a revolutionary transformation of the press:
It is obvious that Jewish Bolshevism is using entirely different
press principles than we National Socialists. That is clear even
in the way it implements its policies. We retained all the valuable
principles of the past, but in Russia they have followed the
principle of destruction. We have kept that which honestly served
the German people, but Bolshevism began by destroying everything
that existed. We retained individual personality, initiative
and competition as the foundations of the press, and also private
property. In Communist Russia, as in everything else they established
a monopoly of the state, the unions and the collectives. Our
whole purpose was to build a press that served the German people,
while Bolshevism tolerated only a proletarian class press that
strove to eliminate all not in the ruling class. It is no surprise
that their journalists are almost entirely Jewish. Jewish control
of the press system is more advanced than any other area of the
The content of our press is determined by the needs of the
people, whereas the contents of the communist press are determined
by the press department of the Central Committee of the Communist
Party. It also has censorship authority. Furthermore, each edition
of a newspaper must pass state censorship before it can be distributed.
The rules and administrative system rule out any independence
on the part of the press. It is merely an instrument of Jewish
class rule. Given the nature of communist doctrine, it is obvious
that all moral and national virtues are entirely lacking, or
are the targets of the communist press’ campaign of annihilation.
Given communist doctrine and its attitude toward the press,
it is also obvious that not only the press, but also journalists
themselves are under the state. Government regulations control
every aspect of journalistic activity. Detailed rules determine
their compensation and activities. This makes particularly clear
the nonsense of communist planning. It is not surprising that
there are few communist journalists, since their economic position
is very bad. As an example, even after a pay increase several
years ago, only about 10% of provincial journalists even owned
a pocket watch.
Our press can depend on competition and a sound and responsible
leadership on the part of publishers. The monopoly of the press
in Russia has completely destroyed its economic foundations.
Aside from the three Moscow newspapers, all Russian newspapers
lose money and required government subventions of 30 million
rubles in 1930. The elimination of personality and competition
naturally, the logical result of communist teaching, replaced
sound economics. The people had to pay for the resulting losses.
The communist planned economy took intellectual and business
matters from the publishers, leaving them only with the organizational
and technical aspects of putting out a newspaper. The state makes
all the important decisions. It determines the newspaper’s planning,
its circulation area, its circulation, its content. Its postal
monopoly controls the distribution. The advertising business,
also a monopoly, is entirely insignificant as a result of the
communist economic system.
Building the Russian system on foundations entirely different
from those of National Socialism naturally led to grotesque consequences.
The newspapers’ content is bad. The level of the average journalist
in the Soviet Union is low. “Pravda,” the leading communist
newspaper, recently published a letter that said: “We have
few journalists with initiative who can handle a question independently.”
Most editors have passed only a middle-level exam in Russian
writing, and many are semi-illiterate. Many articles as a result
have several authors, since no single journalist is able to write
them. The 18 June 1936 issue of “Pravda” provides examples
of poor reporting even from the sole official Russian news agency
“Tass.” The leading communist newspaper has been carrying
regular articles about the complete inadequacy of the Russian
The same deficiencies are evident in every area. The distribution of
newspapers and magazines is the result more of accident than orderly plan.
The members of the Bolshevist government responsible for the press were
unable to conceal its catastrophic failures and weaknesses at the communist
press congress this past May. They mentioned the obvious weaknesses in
journalists’ knowledge of simple political and economic matters, which
had to be publicly criticized, and added that newspapers and magazines
are often distributed irregularly. As an example, magazines dated in January
saw the light of the day only in March or April. The propaganda chief
of the Communist Party said: “This is true contempt for the subscribers.
Those responsible must be punished.” This communist spokesman forgot
to mention only that these problems are not accidental, but rather the
result of the application of communist principles.
The Soviet press catastrophe shows with frightening clarity
what would have happened to the German press and our other cultural
values if National Socialism had not rescued our people and fatherland
from the hands of Jewish Bolshevism.
When the Führer returned from the war as an unknown soldier and
began his struggle to rescue the German nation, he had nothing but his
own will. The press of the whole world was against him, above all the
press of self-serving parties. Here, too, the National Socialist state
changed the face of Germany. The face of the German press today reflects
the living soul and creativity of the German people.
We have not found it necessary to harm our people by making experiments
with uncertain outcomes. We have not wasted party or government money.
Our only capital was the incomparable experience of a 14-year struggle
and the unshakable will to solve the tasks the Führer gave us. We
established the economic foundation of the German press on National Socialist
principles, and built upon that foundation.
Old National Socialists always think back to the spirit of
the period of struggle. When one battle was finished, the Führer
stood before us and gave the order “the fight continues.”
These words are the best expression of the laws we follow in
working for the German people, for they command us never to tire
or rest until our work is done.
The slogan today is the same as always. Then the struggle
was to gain control of state power. Today our task is to work
every day to fulfill the meaning of the National Socialist seizure
of power: to make the nation healthy and strong in all areas
by realizing the program of the movement.
My Führer! In the past years the measures we have taken, in close
cooperation with our party comrade Dr. Goebbels, have fulfilled point
23 of our party platform.
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