Background: The Nazis faced a significant problem after taking
power in 1933. Their speakers had been tested by hard political conflict.
Once Hitler was in power, some of the drive went out of the system. How
was the enthusiasm of the early years of the movement to be maintained,
and where would new speakers come from? This 1936 essay from the party
monthly for propagandists reports on an effort to meet both goals. It
shows the importance Nazism put on constantly presenting the population
with its views
The source: Hans Rieß, “Ein Wort zur Reichsrednerschule,”
Unser Wille und Weg, October 1936, pp. 17-20.
A Word on the Reich Speaker School
by Hans Rieß
In the course of the last year as part of the reorganization of the party’s
speaker staff, the Reichspropagandaleitung has
established a Reich Speaker School to train the most suitable and capable
speakers. The Reich Speaker School is a so-called traveling school, since
it does not have a fixed geographic location, but rather moves from Gau
to Gau. This has the advantage of freeing participants from
the usual necessity of traveling to and from the school, saving them much
time, not to mention money. The establishment of the Reich Speaker School
has been warmly welcomed by speakers and propagandists. Interest in the
new establishment was so strong from the beginning that a large number
of applicants had to be turned down by the Reichspropagandaleitung.
This alone proves how valuable the work of the Reich Speaker School is.
Still, there were a few cases in which speakers thought participation
in the Reich Speaker School was not important, since they had been active
as party speakers for years and had addressed hundreds of meetings successfully,
without ever having gone to a speaker school. It makes no sense to train
old and experienced speakers like them.
Others see the need for a speaker school, but do not think
that the Reichspropagandaleitung needs to establish one.
There are Gau schools, educational establishments, etc.,
and they do not understand why speakers do not attend existing
schools. Since these objections might surface again, or may have
already surfaced, it may be appropriate do refute these prejudices,
for that is what they are.
The Kampfzeit [the Nazi term
for the period between 1919 and 1933 when the party fought for
power] was undoubtedly the best school for National
Socialist fighters, and National Socialist speakers in particular.
All our familiar Reich, Gau and Kreis speakers
came out of that hard school, and they are still the party’s
leading political speakers. However, here and there it must be
admitted that there are political speakers who did well during
the Kampfzeit, indeed who were often among the best speakers,
yet today they do not do well because they have not moved with
the times, because they keep playing the same old record from
the Kampfzeit in their meetings. After the three years
of positive National Socialist constructive work that is behind
us, such rhetorical activity is at least negative, in no way
up to the increased expectations for a political speaker today.
It is no longer sufficient for a speaker to attack our opponents
and expose the mistakes of the past. Rather, he has to perform
positive political work. He must address the events and questions
of today. He should present his audience with the National Socialist
worldview, and should help form the new German person in the
way we want him to be formed and educated according to our worldview.
If a speaker is to do this creatively, he must understand the
factors that influence the life of a people. He must be familiar
with the history of his people. More than that, he must be familiar
with the vital questions and things that influence the fate of
our people at present and in the future. Comprehensive knowledge
is the essential equipment of a speaker. Although it cannot be
the task of the Reich Speaker School to provide the speaker with
such theoretic knowledge, it can give him practical advice in
using his knowledge. It will make the speaker aware of common
mistakes and give him advice for writing his speeches, and for
his practical activity.
The most important task of the Reich Speaker School, however,
is to give the speaker new drive, to give new fuel to the fires
of his enthusiasm. It should help to preserve the revolutionary
force of the Kampfzeit and to maintain the strength that
will enable him, just as in the years of struggle, to inspire
the hearts of his audience with enthusiasm, both today and in
Given what has been said about the special tasks of the Reich
Speaker School, having speakers participate only in regular training
courses is not a happy solution. It cannot be beneficial to have
the tried and tested speakers of the party participate in training
courses with other course participants who have to start by learning
the most basic elements of National Socialism. The National Socialist
speaker, based on his years of rhetorical activity, already knows
a great deal about political, economic, cultural and social matters,
which can be used as a foundation by the Reich Speaker School.
In the discussions that follow each talk between the speaker
and the participants, false ideas and impressions can be discussed
and set right. In these exchanges of ideas, all of life’s questions
can be considered from the standpoint of the National Socialist
worldview, which contributes to the absolutely necessary building
of a unified worldview on the part of the whole speaking staff.
The speakers certainly should not become identical mechanical
speaking machines, but rather thinking men with their own ways of
expression and organization.
On the question of expert speakers, it is advisable to bring
in leading experts from around the Reich, not from the Gau
in which the course is being held. The likely experts from
within the Gau are likely to be known by the speakers.
It is understandable that even if they are extraordinarily capable
in their area, they will not be as interesting as experts from
somewhere else in the Reich. Participants have regularly expressed
the understandable desire to hear another expert on the subject,
preferably a leading figure who deals with the matter on a daily
It has also been valuable during Reich Speaker School courses to include
visits to institutions, factories, etc., which provide the participants
with practical impressions that are more valuable and enduring than any
The Reich Speaker School is also extraordinarily important
for training the next generation of speakers. This is a problem
that daily becomes more pressing, as the circle of experienced
old speakers from the Kampfzeit diminishes, and it is
of great importance to find suitable people to replace them.
In the past, those who might become new speakers studied National Socialist
writings to train themselves. But a command of the material does not in
itself make a National Socialist fighter. This gives the Reich Speaker
School a major and important task, but a satisfying one. It must prepare
the next generation of speakers through intensive preparation and education,
training the political speakers of tomorrow. Its courses will present
National Socialist thinking in vivid form to the young National Socialist
fighter. Here he will learn the qualities and characteristics of the speaker
of the Kampfzeit, and here he will find the strength that will
enable him to fulfill his mission, to go out to the people as the bearer
and proclaimer of a new age.
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