CAS Calvin College

Background: The following essay was published in the Nazi monthly for propagandists. It describes the routine in a Gau propaganda office. The writer was a Kreis (county) propaganda leader of the NSDAP. A Gau a regional Nazi division.

The source: “14 Tage Mitarbeit in einer Gaupropagandaleitung,” Unser Wille und Weg, 5 (1935), pp. 207-210.

14 Days in a Gau Propaganda Office

by August Sill

An organization has value not only when it is intelligently and effectively organized, but also when it remains lively. What good are newsletters and lists, card files and statistics, when the organization itself calcifies and becomes paralyzed, when each branch fails to remain in contact with the whole? Only from such liveliness and mutual cooperation comes independent and responsible action. Only a living organization guarantees success!

The Gau Propaganda Office [Gaupropagandaleitung] in Württemberg is an excellent example of this truth. Clear guidelines organize each propaganda action. Each Kreis receives the speakers it needs, timely posters and leaflets reach the most distant village. In turn, the political leaders of the Kreis, local groups and neighborhood groups inform the central office of their activities and plans. Close relations between the central offices and the subordinate units are thus maintained. And the GPL has found yet another way to maintain close contact. Kreis propaganda leaders spend ten to fourteen day periods working at the Gau propaganda office, giving them direct experience with its day-to-day work. This also establishes personal relationships between the Gau and Kreis, which can be extraordinarily valuable in that those at the political front lines come to know the Gau propaganda leader and his staff. They learn the working practices of the Gau office and can take what they learn back and apply it to their Kreis as it is appropriate.

In this article, I will present my own impressions of the Gau propaganda office. I was pleasantly surprised, as I began my work, to see how small the office is. The Gau propaganda office has only three rooms, and these rooms are simply and practically furnished.

In the reception room, which is also the workroom for the secretarial help, the visitor sees a large glass showcase. It includes awards and posters, but also displays in an eloquent way every manner of national Kitsch. One can hardly believe what money-hungry fantasies have brought to the market. Thank God, such “citizens” are called to account by the watchful eyes of National Socialist propagandists. The display provides an educational display of which decorations and goods are worthy of the German people, and which are not.

The second room is occupied by the Department of Active Propaganda. It handles the meeting system, the assignment of speakers and the distribution of posters and pamphlets. It also receives plans and activity reports from the Kreis offices. In several suitable cabinets, one finds election statistics, election plans, and reports. Election posters and pamphlets from all national, provincial, and town elections from 1919 to 1933 are preserved. Other cabinets contain propaganda writings, brochures, and newspapers of the NSDAP and the Marxist parties from the period of struggle for power. There is a particularly interesting archive of pictures of each meeting and mass meeting of the years of struggle, as well as those since the seizure of power. To ease the organizational work of the department leader, carefully maintained files of the Gau and Kreis speakers guarantee that he can at any time send the right man to the right place.

The critical decisions, the campaign plans for meeting actions and the documents for all significant propaganda activities are kept in the office of the Gau propaganda leader. He and his closest collaborators here direct the National Socialist press, film, and radio.

It is astonishing, indeed hardly credible to an outsider, that the huge, all encompassing propaganda activity for the entire Gau and its 64 Kreise is directed by this office with its staff of five.

Through happy accident, I was there at a time of intense activity. It was the week before the referendum of 19 August 1934, the day on which each German was to decide if he was willing to give his full confidence to the Führer. This referendum, of vast importance both domestically and internationally, demanded the full energy of the entire propaganda apparatus. That meant: the full efforts of everyone! Each Gau and Kreis speaker had to be in constant readiness, even if it meant giving up a longed for vacation on the Island of Sylt or a well-deserved visit to the Bavarian Alps. They all heeded the telephone call. As proclaimers and preachers of the National Socialist idea, they spoke day after day in mass meetings from place to place, from city to city.

The walls of the office for active propaganda were covered with two large tables showing the operating plan of a modern political battle, which were color-coded to show the 64 Kreis and 80 Gau speakers. At a glance one could tell when and where a particular Gau speaker had spoken. This clever plan of meetings and speakers along with the news service of the propaganda office worked flawlessly, even when a speaker was hindered by illness or other reasons.

Together with speaker assignments, the necessary posters, leaflets and other material had to be distributed. The entire enormous task was accomplished with the help of only a single additional worker.

The effort was crowned by success. Once again, the “ancient and magical force of the spoken word” had led to victory.

After days of intense effort, the final reports came into the Gau office. Some Kreis leaders could not resist bringing in their reports personally. With pride and satisfaction, the Gau propaganda leader was able to announce on the morning of 20 August: “Gau Württemberg was among the best in the Reich. Once again, the hard-headed Schwabians have done their duty.”


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