page has Chapters 1 and 2 of Eugen Hadamovsky’s book on the principles
on Nazi propaganda. For more details, see the table
of contents page.
The source: Eugen Hadamovsky, Propaganda und nationale
Macht: Die Organisation der öffentlichen Meinung für die nationale
Politik (Oldenburg: Gerhard Stalling, 1933).
and National Power:
The Organization of Public Opinion for
by Eugen Hadamovsky
Power and Public Opinion
This book is intended for the intellectual leadership of
the nation. They must be familiar with tools, the use of whose power over
the spirit is once again secured. Spirit should not be talked about, rather
it should be made effective, just as light illuminates an object without
one being able to see the light beam in clear air.
A near-sighted national materialism likes to speak with a certain bitterness
about “the people of poets and philosophers,” and thinks deeds
are more important than words. But it forgets that the deed is born of
the thought, and the thought of the word. Our energy, our military activity,
and our spirit of sacrifice first declined when our most valuable possessions,
our poets and philosophers, were mortally wounded. All the roots of our
strength are in them, as is the almost daemonic willingness to sacrifice
oneself to enthusiastic attack and organized discipline, traits that
the German people display better than anyone else.
Liberalism and its offspring Marxism are intellectually and organically
The nation again passionately recognizes German politics, German soldiers,
and the German spirit. The mutual bond and dependence between these feelings
and forces is apparent to everyone.
Our questions are these: In which ways will public opinion properly express
the instinctive spirit and will of the nation? How will radio, the press,
news services, and propaganda and cultural institutions give expression
to the powerful life currents of the nation? How can they be intellectually
controlled without falling into the traps and pitfalls of liberalism?
Will public opinion take on intellectual or primitive form? Will it stress
individual freedom, Bolshevist bureaucracy, or be restricted only according
to certain forms and aims? May we choose between the liberal principle
of individualism and the Bolshevist principle of collectivism, or must
we find a new way? These are vital questions for the German people and
the German mind. They cannot be answered with theories from a desk. Their
answers must rather grow out of the nation. That will be possible only
when we have resolved to abolish the structures of liberal public opinion,
and laid new foundations for future growth. This book contains a thorough
study and investigation, not from a party standpoint, but rather with
attention to the whole area.
Historical and contemporary examples show that the means of public opinion
can endanger or destroy national unity if they are improperly used or
controlled by the enemy.
But possession and use of the means are not sufficient. The greatest
care must be taken to prevent propaganda from being used for its own sake.
Propaganda is the will to power; it is always subsidiary to an idea. If
the idea is missing, the whole artificial structure collapses. Idea, propaganda,
and power are inseparably connected. A pure, crystal clear will and the
highest idealism, intellectual superiority, vision, and sufficient knowledge
of the means of public opinion and the possibilities and limits of governmental
structures must all come together in order to successfully free the national
will for our great task.
Propaganda and Power (Organized
Each organization of individuals
requires a certain amount of
common ideas and similar interests.
— Hitler —
The Creative Word
The word is apparently the original element of human thought, and therefore
of human genius. Today as well, it exercises its inescapable power on
everyone whose intelligence has not been overcome by cynicism.
Applicability to truth and falsehood is characteristic of the word; man
alone decides which use he will make of it.
The average man, and more certainly the masses, succumbs almost infallibly
to the power of the word, unconcerned with its inherent truth. The inherent
truth in words is not enough to combat spoken lies, but rather only a new
word which can be set against the old. In order for this new word to be
believed, the people and masses must hear and understand it. It must come
to them and speak their language; its power must be greater than that
of the old.
If the arts and the sciences are somehow separated by their mysterious
languages that define the borders of each and their jurisdictions, the
art of life, politics, works more than ever with the means of creative
language in order to win the masses and hold them firmly within the boundaries
of a definite conception and worldview. Creative language will occasionally
make wide departures from the natural and aesthetic. That has no harmful
effect on the masses, whom we must today consider a political reality,
even if it does violence at times to the German language. One generally
has to be careful when applying the so-called aesthetic yardstick to politics,
as it gives no hint of possible outcomes.
As long as Western civilization relied on secret cabinet politics, the
polished language of diplomacy served as a sharp and pointed Toledo sword
to politics. To cynics, it was the art of saying the opposite of what
one thought. In the mouth of an expert, it was a way of protecting oneself
from the aims and influences of by the enemy. When the French Revolution
opened the age of mass struggle, the gentlemanly games and limited risks
of cabinet politics were replaced by all-out struggling movements of masses
and nations. The fine old language of diplomacy yielded to the new, blunt,
and violent language of political mass propaganda. Political language
became a public affair.
Freedom, equality, brotherhood, capitalism, socialism, communism, profit,
surplus value, output, international economy, Soviet Germany, nationalism,
blood, land, race, self sufficiency, Third Reich — each of these
is its own slogan, encompassing the inferences and doctrines of worldview.
They assault the enemy, hammer at him, raise doubt, fear, resistance,
Adherents see in them a positive promise of a brighter future, and find
in them a spiritual, faith-restoring rescue from blind, purely psychological
Today, the political “layman” faces a puzzling mass of words,
a flood of unfamiliar concepts, a mysterious, ordered, deafeningly strong
and one-sided view of life that works through the word to recruit and
The major ideological parties make use of the technical aspects of language
in their organizational structures. What is a ‘Truf,” a “Staf,”
the “Osaf,” an “Uschla?” They are no longer mere abbreviation
in a telegraph code (Truppführer, Standartenführer, Oberster
S.A. Führer, Untersuchungs- und Schlictungsausschuss), but rather
these are new words that have become colloquialisms, a jargon, in the
National Socialist Party. Although these words may not be found in the
creative works of Luther, Goethe, or Nietzsche, many will remain in our
vocabulary. Today, at any event, they exercise their effect in spite of
Every German is familiar with Hitler’s S.A. In the popular mind, it simply
means the brown shirts, “the Hitlers.” The Führer himself
answers the question, “What does S.A. mean?” with three definitions:
Saalschutzabteilung [meeting hall
guards]; Sportabteilung [sports
group]; and Sturmabteilung [storm
troopers]. This explanation conceals a sense of uncertainty.
The S.A. is a myth that cannot be captured in a few words; it can only
be felt and experienced. The experience of a generation is summarized
in this concept. The brief hard rhythm of this word has become something
holy to millions.
The number of such words is legion. Each is propaganda by its very existence,
each a form of intellectual bondage. Their very names require agreement
or opposition, excite storms of the will, determine our actions.
Philologists and artists will accuse such newly created words of not
being an organic part of the language, but rather artificial constructions.
That is true of many such expressions. No one, however, will be able to
root many of them out from the soul of people. They have become a familiar
element of popular speech. The word S.A. is an example. One should on
theoretical grounds question the right to existence of any expression
which has not achieved popularity, acceptance, and organic union with
the language. The right is a question of life. Life has previously created
and justified such words in the sciences, arts, and economic and technical
occupations. It now does so in politics as well.
There are also constructions that are intentionally designed to be effective
and to produce suggestion through their unfamiliarity and which therefore
remain strange to popular instinct. An example of such a construction
is the communist word “agitprop.” There are “agitprop men,”
“agitprop troops,” and “agitprop leaders,” the apostles
of Bolshevist revolution under the red star. The word comes from agitation
The letters G.P.U. are just as strange. They are the initials of Gossundarstwennoje
Polititschkoje Uprawlenje, the Soviet secret police. We call them
the Cheka. They have systematically eliminated all other viewpoints in
the country by systematic terror. These letters have become a symbol to
the entire world of bloody terror and sinister underground power.
Creative language in political propaganda uses phrases and slogans to
establish control. This is not new. The campaign slogans of a movement
are and always have been the best propaganda. Anyone who had played a
political role in the world was either a master of the word and of creative
language, or else fought side by side with men accomplished in these arts.
Christianity conquered the world with its slogan “love thy neighbor
as thyself.” The German people did not lose a war against the entire
world because of the weakness of their weapons and soldiers, but rather
because of the bureaucratic sterility of their leading officials. They
were beaten not on the field of battle, but on the field of words. Their
soul was crushed. They were never given a slogan to carry into the great
struggle, while the enemy carried “against the Huns,” “for
democracy,” and “for the League of Nations” onto the field.
In politics, the fruitful and creative will always triumph over the unfruitful,
the bureaucrats, the mere diplomats. Fichte’s observation that neither
the power of the army nor the quality of the weapons decides a battle,
but rather the power that leads the spirit to victory is also applicable
to the political, military, and economic struggles of our day.
Since the war, German historians have studied the problem of propaganda
with commendable thoroughness. They have given lengthy and elaborate definitions,
as Friedrich Tönnies has done, and engaged in fruitful work in concrete
areas, as for example Friedrich Schönemann’s study of the art
of mass propaganda in the United States of America.
We could also have studied the problems of propaganda and mass organization
in an earlier period, and one closer to home, namely the origins of the
German worker’s movement in the middle of the last century and its gradual
drift towards Marxism. And the struggles of the Social Democrats, who
emerged as victors from a struggle with the all-powerful Bismarck and
who triumphed over Karl Peters, the German African hero, must certainly
open our eyes to the nature, dangers, possibilities, and necessities of
propaganda. The intelligentsia, meanwhile, lived in its own world of illusion
as life passed them by. They do much the same today, although the tremendous
power of the masses is displayed before their very eyes.
Such raw expressions of power are always springing up and falling apart
when they do not succeed in seizing power. But their desperate power is
often based on inescapable necessity.
The Social Democrats were a group of men who achieved political power
through the abundant resources of the German working class. Communism
fought to be their successors. Revolution will always strike at the heart
of a state when bureaucrats, ignorant desk politicians, or generals believe
that they can set naked force against effective propaganda. This is not
sufficient, especially when the nation’s intellectuals are neutral or,
as was the case in Russia in 1905, are sympathetic toward the revolution.
If propaganda tactics are properly used, they will have a subtler, deeper,
and therefore stronger effect on the human will than will blatant oppression.
Propaganda is the art of exercising power without possessing the means
of power; it is the secret through which the powerless can overcome the
powerful when they rest too securely in their strength.
Marx and Engels began alone, as exiles without money in a foreign country.
Lenin was alone in Switzerland, condemned to death. Mussolini was expelled
from his social democracy as an agitator. Hitler was an unknown corporal
with seven followers in 1918. In twelve years, he created the greatest
mass movement in history, with which he conquered Bismarck’s state.
They were all poor, without property, alone. They had nothing but their
heartfelt ideals. But these ideals, so fatal to some, but capable of so
much more in others, would have been buried along with their poverty and
extinguished with their lives had they not had the gift of inflaming,
inciting, winning, and persuading others. They were not only idealists,
but propagandists as well. As a result, they became great. They preached
community, lived it, stirred the courageous, forced the common man to
common labor. Their propaganda was the art of building community, their
power was both actual and spiritual force.
There is something of the propagandist in everyone. We all have the feeling
that we understand it. In reality, everyone uses propaganda; it is a manifestation
of human community life. It is just as in politics. The barroom philosopher
always knows what has to be done. The only thing missing with him, unfortunately,
is the spiritual bond. Fundamentally, one may be so bold as to say that
propaganda and politics are as accessible to the common man as to the
intellectual. And the best propagandists are women.
They understand how to get “his” attention when they want to
build a strong home, even when “he” isn’t so willing.
A woman is the best propagandists of love and marriage.
Leading politicians often display unstable characteristics. The phrase
“whims of the prima donna” applies not only to capricious
women, but to many politicians as well. Examples are Julius Caesar whom
the Romans called “regina” in mocking verse, and Napoleon,
whose womanly breast drove doctors to distraction. His whims were the
despair of those around him.
Effective propaganda is rarely a question of womanly inclinations or
capriciousness as such. Often, an intuitive decision emerges with a surprising
primitiveness of thought, as is clearly shown in the recently emerging
harshness of manliness. Such thought is always instinctive, earthy, single-minded,
intent on actions, never on so-called objective standards of observation. The objective observer, of course, is an intellectual who recognizes the apparent weakness of the opponent, and exploits it thoroughly. He sees the strength of the self-imposed limitations of a man of action as a weakness. This overlooks that fact that
in politics, just as in the individual, there are two minds, one of action,
and one of contemplation. Only one is publicly observable. No one is familiar
with the other. The clarity, simplicity, and limited horizons of the working
class, actually great naiveté and innocence in the Nietzschean
sense, are disparagingly misinterpreted as peasant stupidity or cleverness,
which city-dwellers take to be one and the same.
The ignorance of intellectuals in politics has shown itself throughout
history. When Napoleon entered an academic competition in Lyon with an
essay on human ideals, it did not win the prize that the poor lieutenant
had longed for. Instead, it was scornfully judged to be “not worth
looking at.” The same thing happens with many intellectually superior
soldiers and politicians.
Only Caesar who, by calculation, was a democrat and remained so throughout
his life has been admitted to the democratic pantheon of great heroes,
and his clever work of propaganda on the Gallic Wars has become “world
Recently, he has had a successor. Bernard Shaw, the Irishman, praised
Revolt in the Desert by the English Colonel Lawrence first, because
he had to praise something English to maintain his popularity, and second,
because Lawrence is, as a matter of fact, a good chap (and third, perhaps,
because Colonel Lawrence made his English colleagues on the General Staff
look stupid??). Literary circles compared the book to Caesar’s Gallic
Wars, and called it one of the greatest works of literature (perhaps
they were impressed by the English Colonel’s mocking judgments on the
In the popular criticism of today, no leading politicians fails to appear,
in enemy propaganda, to be a perfect idiot, a coward, or a mere terrorist
whose intelligence is so low that he must be secretly controlled from
elsewhere. Lenin was portrayed as a sick criminal in middle class pamphlets,
Hitler as a hangman and maniac in proletarian pamphlets, Mussolini as
a bloody tyrant in class struggle pamphlets. Material intended for the
masses is not so-called objective writing, but rather such hate-filled
pamphlets and caricatures.
Caricature, misrepresentation, and one-sidedness appear to belong in
To laugh at the enemy is as important as to fear his strength. The science
of suggestion has, which is often dubious, found an accurate precept when
it maintains that suggestion works most effectively in a state of excitement.
Ridicule and fear are both sentiments and emotions that encourage effective
suggestion. Ridicule gives the feeling of superiority, for when one laughs
he is confident of victory. Fear, on the other hand, compels one to get
to work at once because he believes he has perceived danger. Ridicule
and fear, then, are two components of propaganda that are indispensable
to its success.
Confidence in one’s cause and an absolute faith are further obvious requirements.
Only a fool can hope to gain success for an idea in which he himself does
not believe. “There is,” writes Goebbels, “only truth.
Either we lie, in which case the enemy is right, or we tell the truth
and everyone else lies. We believe that the truth is on our side with
all the steadfastness of our blood.”
When an intellectual criticizes someone’s propaganda, his first
point is not its simple, often vulgar language. He excuses that with a
reference to the “people.” He also excuses the ridiculing or
fear-provoking calumnies of the enemy, although he begins to speak of
one-sided fanaticism, and inwardly holds the thesis that ‘to know all
is to forgive all.” His greatest complaint concerns the perpetual
repetition of certain goals, slogans, and catchwords.
He thinks assumed limitations are actual limitations, and says pityingly,
“Well, he is after all only a propagandist…”
He then makes a few good “suggestions”: (1) one cannot take
an absolute position, but rather one must say something good about the
other side; (2) atrocity propaganda is not artistic. It offends the cultured;
(3) one cannot always say the same thing, for that is boring.
If this brilliant intellectual became the head of a propaganda ministry,
Betmann-Hollweg’s fiasco in propaganda leadership during the war would
be surpassed. He would resemble those fine patriots who tried to encourage
the “people” in 1917 with speeches about the fatherland, but who
achieved the opposite.
If one reverses the principles of the intelligent, well-meaning intellectual,
he will have the secret of effective propaganda.
Believe completely in your cause, do not shrink from powerful emotions,
unceasingly hammer the same thoughts into the minds of the masses.
The necessity of conviction and of the methods of emotional arousal have
been psychologically explained. One-sidedness is indispensable because
the confusion around us is so great that every impression will quickly
be shoved aside by a new one. Nothing is forgetful as the masses. Something
can have appeared in a thousand newspapers and have been talked about
by the millions, but a few months later it will be completely forgotten.
Scarcely one per cent of those selected from the masses will recall the
name of important personages of the dates and events.
Among the members of a large party one can observe that even the majority
of those engaged in propaganda forget the most vital slogans in six months
or a year unless the highest officials of the party repeat them over and
over again. If those involved have such poor memories, others will not
believe anything unless it is repeated to them. Life is a strong opponent.
Only that which is itself lively, headed towards victory, and constantly
present can overcome a hostile world. Criminal psychology has learned
from practical experience that the testimony of a single witness is highly
untrustworthy. There is no trial in which the witnesses say the same thing,
even though they may all be disinterested and possess characters of the
highest integrity. Often the assertions of witnesses who have experienced
the same event are entirely contrary to each other. It is not surprising,
then, that propaganda, which is only a substitute, must repeat the same
thing over and over again to have any effect, since actual experiences
are so poorly and imperfectly remembered. Its secret is simplicity and
Power (Organized Strength)
Power built only on propaganda is fleeting, and can disintegrate from
one day to the next unless the power of organization is added to propaganda.
The use of such strength or power is reflected at all levels of human
life, from the strong bond of the family which brings two people together
as a simple matter of personal choice to the powerful bonds of peoples
“There has never been,” Mussolini said, “a government
founded solely on the consent of the governed, who approved its every
use of force. Consent is as transient as sand castles on a beach. It cannot
always be present, it can never be complete.”
Not since the Inquisition has the West seen as large a scale of violent
mental control as is seen today in Soviet Russia, where millions are sacrificed
to a bloody idol. Even the blood bath of the French Revolution pales in
comparison. The Cheka works carefully with the news and propaganda organizations
of the Bolshevist party. If the party’s press and propaganda announcements
were suppressed or sabotaged through indifference or terror, then power
would be set against power, criminal penalties against sabotage, whips
and hunger against indifference and apathy, and every spark of resistance
would be crushed.
Since the individual remains defenseless even when he is an agent of
power, a sense of strong community develops as quickly from an offensive
as from a defensive spirit. The activists find each other in either case.
The momentary flow of enthusiasm is spiritually maintained through popular
gatherings and systematic schooling and discipline. Such organized power
can then with greater power attack the unorganized and ultimately, like
a polyp, devour all the positions of power in a governmental structure.
One entirely deceives himself if he thinks the principles underlying
these methods are limited to Russia or to a certain time. Unrestrained
instincts certainly make brutal intervention necessary, though civilized
nations need not experience the same blood bath as did Russia under the
rule of the Soviets, except under conditions of extreme danger.
Propaganda and power, however, are never entirely opposed to one another.
The use of force can be a part of propaganda. Between them lie different
degrees of effective influence over people and masses. The range extends
from the sudden exciting of attention or the friendly persuasion of the
individual to incessant mass propaganda, from the loose organizing of
proselytes to the creation of state or semi-state institutions, from individual
to mass terror, from authorized use of the might of the strong, of position,
class, or government, to the military enforcement of obedience and discipline
by means of martial law.
The principle of the unified formation of the will through a graduated
use of propaganda and power is perfectly developed in the “advanced”
nations of the world. We of the German Republic (with laws that forbade
free speech!) can look to the United States of America. In this celebrated
free democracy, one can clearly see the development of national ideals
through the use of every kind of information and propaganda, including
terror and the use of governmental power. This has resulted from an influx
of immigrants which drove the Anglo-Saxon leadership to a tempo of extreme
nationalism and self-defense. The “melting pot” is the slogan
of Americanization. The struggle goes against the hyphenated (for example,
the German-Americans), against every assertion of nationality, and against
all those having dangerous intentions towards the existing governmental
structure, such as the “radicals” who organized the labor unions
in the United States. Schönemann quotes the following words of George
Creel, the American propaganda chief during the war, which illustrate
the general and particular goals of American propaganda:
What we had to have was no mere surface unity, but a passionate belief
in the justice of America’s cause that should weld the people of the
United States into one white-hot mass instinct with fraternity, devotion,
courage, and deathless determination…. We began with the initial
conviction that the war was not the war of administration, but the war
of one hundred million people, and we believed that public support was
a matter of public understanding.
The basic idea of propaganda was extended to complete autocracy by draconian
war laws. The United States threatened, according to Schönemann,
(law of 15 June 1917) fines “up to ten thousand dollars or imprisonment
for twenty years:”
- for whomever shall willfully make or convey false reports or false
statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success
of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote
the success of its enemies;
- for whomever shall willfully cause or seek to cause insubordination,
disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty, or
- for whomever shall willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment
Further additions were made to this dangerous and enticingly vague
law. But that was not enough. The broader law of 16 March 1918 extended
to all possible expressions against the war. Under Section 2, it prohibited
all disloyal statements or actions regarding government bonds, and in
Section 3 decreed further crimes such as “the uttering, printing,
writing, or publishing of disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive
language intended to bring the government, constitution, flag, or uniforms
of the army and navy of the United States of American into contempt
scorn, contumely, or disrepute.” And finally, “words or acts
which support or encourage the cause of any country with which the United
States is at war, or which oppose the cause of the United States.”
And if that were not enough, the Postmaster General could handle whatever
the president, legislators, and courts could not. He could exclude from
the mails that which he wished, and could even deny postal service to
the sender for “evidence satisfactory to him.” Every suspected
citizen was thus completely defenseless. And the non-English press was
further muzzled, as it was required to submit an English translation
of every political article to the local postmaster. And when one considers
the lynching and terrorism, and the threats from the State Councils
of Defense, nothing remained of freedom and thought, speech, or the
One might object that these laws were enacted solely because the United
States was at war, under a state of emergency, and that these restrictions
on public opinion disappeared when the war ended. This objection is easily
refuted. Has not Germany been under an unbroken state of emergency since
1914? What danger threatened the powerful United States in 1914-1919,
lying as it does on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean? The U.S.A. is
safe in the center of a vast industrially rich continent; more than six
thousand nautical miles separate it from any powerful enemy.
Germany fought a desperate war against the entire world. It fought not
for the gain or loss of gold, goods, colonies, business, or markets. These
were secondary. Its struggle was rather for existence, being or not being,
for its spiritual and actual unity as a nation, for its daily bread. Instead
of accommodating their spiritual attitude to this task, our political
and intellectual leadership was entirely unfamiliar with the role of propaganda
in other countries, all too silent in their disastrous and academic attempts
to win influence with the peoples of foreign countries. They never understood
how to powerfully suppress subversive foreign activity.
From the beginning, active and determined enemy propaganda was not limited
to producing an absolute confidence in victory in their own nations which
would be nourished by elements of hope, by the feeling of superiority,
and of fear. They also looked for and found a way to reach Germany in
order to produce the opposite beliefs of despondency, hopelessness, and
inferiority, as well as disastrous belief that voluntary defeat and surrender
would be favorably received, since the allies were not fighting against
the innocent German people, but rather against Prussian militarism, the
Kaiser, and the Junkers.
Enemy and German Propaganda during the World War
Captured English pilots who had dropped inflammatory leaflets over the
Western front since December 1915 were convicted by our military courts,
their offense punished as a violation of the laws of war. We forbade our
own pilots to drop leaflets on enemy troops. Late in the war, we made
a disastrous attempt at the counter-propaganda, using apparently moral
unmanned hot air balloons. They kept our propaganda of “extravagance,”
as one of us said, far from the enemy. That it also kept us far from success
was not noticed. Our internal propaganda could not be “political,”
our foreign propaganda could not “irritate England.” From the
beginning, our enthusiasm and activism were officially corrupted to devotion,
endurance, and passivity. The world and concept of propaganda left a stale
aftertaste. They labeled enemy activity as evil and immoral which one
was afraid of. One saw the enemy lies but was still taken in by them.
While the army at the front remained strong and in control of its actions,
German intellectuals lost control of the masses. Their propaganda stood
speechless before the raging flood from without and the bubbling turmoil
within. Here their naiveté was exposed, for they believed the German
people and the peoples of the world were too “sensible” to believe
such “nonsense,” such lies and fabrications.
In his memoirs, published in 1920, Colonel Nicolai, the head of the German
intelligence service, recalled with a quiet, rather painful pleasure the
approach of the German bureaucracy to enemy propaganda. The Foreign Service
office in the Foreign Ministry decided to seek expert advice as to the
abnormal mental condition of the enemy, which was proven by his hate-filled
propaganda! When German legislators and governmental officials saw examples
of enemy propaganda, they suggested to the high command that they doubted
the genuineness of the material, instead of opposing it everywhere with
vehement action. They depended on so-called human reason, without considering
that is it dependent on impressions from the surrounding world. We receive
these impressions for the most part today indirectly, through news reports
with pictures, sounds, and words. Every man therefore depends on the news,
and even with the strongest opposition of the rational facilities one
must finally believe what one hears over and over again and nowhere finds
refuted with inner conviction and the force of truth.
The slogans about Huns and Boches and the bloody hand print (“The
Hun’s market [sic]) which glared from a hundred thousand wall
posters in large enemy cities for four years, the horror-provoking Belgian
atrocity stories, the filthy lies about the use of corpses to make grease
(based on an intentional mistranslation of the word Kadaververwertung
[cadaver utilization], and
the portrayal of German soldiers as grotesque, arrogant, cowardly drunkards
and sauerkraut pigs must certainly have aroused the feelings of the enemy’s
masses to an extreme and bitter desire for combat and victory.
H. G. Scheffeur said in regards to the German answer to such hate-propaganda:
Germany lost itself in otherworldliness, in varied and confusing world
views; it worshipped the intellect for its own sake. Knowledge was often
an end, not a means. It was used to shed light on the world and the
universe, but not to master life. An army of worldviews sprang up, but
not control over the world. They enriched the intellect, but as Schopenhauer
proved, in a way that nourished itself like a vampire on the will and
Germany’s enemies deafened the world’s reason, as well as their own
civilization, by childishly attempting to brand the greatest modern
culture as “barbaric.” They expanded on hate inherited from
their ancestors, or made even more revolting inventions, as was revealed
in a survey of French scientists which asked “Whether Germans were
The indignation which such claims of barbarism kindled in the breast
of the German people proved that they could still see the true worth
of the enemy. They expected truthfulness and justice from him. But the
indignation was express together with a peculiar and unfortunate defect
in human judgment which endangers the broadest and deepest thrusts of
the German spirit. Germans tried to show that they were not barbarians
through historical and scientific means. It would have been better and
easier if they had proven their enemies were barbarians….
Such unified propaganda worked for the most part on the other side, although
it was supported by some pitiable paid stooges and insane idealists among
the German people. Here, the Germans suddenly became poets and philosophers
who had been driven to war not for the defense of food, home, and freedom,
but for the conquest of the world under the ruling class. The enemy masses
were not insane, raving, chauvinistic, and inflamed Frenchman, Belgians,
and Serbs, they were instead, peaceful farmers, workers, and citizens;
their leaders were not relentless statesmen intent on victory, coldly
calculating for the advantage of their own peoples, but rather humanitarians
extending the olive branch, who were fighting only to give German freedom,
human dignity, and — the League of Nations. The best of these apostles
of happiness who appeared to the German people and its intellectuals was
the noble Wilson, whose Fourteen Points were to bring “world peace.”
“It was really tough luck for the Germans to believe Wilson,”
an American Senator later said.
The English intellectuals worked hard under the leadership of Herbert
George Wells, the popular novelist, trade unionist, and socialist, following
the firm directives from the Propaganda Ministry headed by Lord Northcliffe.
Müller-Freienfels wrote that Wells, in his reminiscences, said: “Those
in England had carefully considered how best to reach the German mentality,
and had agreed that we had to catch the Germans through their tendency
towards speculative ideas; therefore, it was decided that the League of
Nations was by far the best way. It was played up like a roman candle.”
The enemy press completely cooperated with such propaganda. Significantly,
the press chief (Lord Northcliffe) was a member of the Allied government,
and conversely, the members of government considered it self-evident that
the press should be a participant in decision making and in the center
of discussion and debate. The foreign press portrayed us as having started
the war, as war criminals, as protracting the war through our desire for
world conquest, and as the final losers. This was done to strengthen their
own militant posture and their alliance, and to prepare for a devastating
peace. They worked towards a systematic weakening of our fighting force,
and mobilized enemies of the German state as well as international fanatics
in neutral nations and even in Germany itself to assist their cause. They
were exceptionally clever in that they directed their propaganda against
the Kaiser and General Ludendorff as the organizers of the war, but made
little mention in pictures or publication of Field Marshal Hindenburg,
who had the highest trust of the people. They hoped not only to gradually
drive a wedge between these men but also to convince the masses that their
supposed explanations of the depravity of our leaders were serious and
They acted like Bismarck in 1871. As is well known, he took the greatest
care not to do anything that could harm the newly founded republican
government as long as he knew it was agreeable to his political goals.
He must have thought that, with the republican government in power, he
could at least include it as a known factor in his calculations rather
than as a chaotic force intent on gaining power by surprising and incalculable
While enemy leaders and intellectuals directed their entire wills and
thoughts to our destruction, German officials in Berlin offices led the
struggle as if they had the most secure positions in the world.
The Society of German Scholars and Artists used its own limited means
to clear things up somewhat in 1915. In 1916, it approached the Reich
Chancellor in conjunction with the Interior Ministry, the Admiralty, and
the General Staff and demanded material and financial support. Reich Chancellor
Betmann-Hollweg made a few trivial remarks, refusing every expense on
the brilliant grounds that current funds “had not been appropriated”
for purposes of internal political propaganda.
A weary indolence filled the Berlin offices when important war matters
were handled. Enthusiasm was much greater on jurisdictional disputes,
and while the army bled to death in an enormous ring, those in Berlin
joined with growing enthusiasm in the hunt for soft jobs and war profits.
A few well meaning patriotic societies, a few voices in the wilderness,
believed they could restore lost spiritual vitality through thundering
speeches or emotional appeals. They spoke and wrote, but knew noting of
the hard realities of the front and of common life, with husbandless
wives and starving families. They aimed for the mind but achieved the
opposite, and gave the enemy free agitation material. The Assistant General
Command said in its monthly report that it was to be feared that the public
appearance of the “German National Union” on 4 August 1916 served
the enemy more than the fatherland.
Wounded volunteers, seriously wounded and disabled workers, farmers,
soldiers, and officers of unshakable spirit were not trained and set before
the public. One had no confidence in the magnitude of Germany’s sacrifice,
and no courage to affirm it.
It was the army General Headquarters under the leadership of Hindenburg
and Ludendorff, after a look at the enemy, that finally decided to combat
the nation’s lethargic will, not the responsible political leadership.
But German specialization and bureaucracy exercised their disastrous force.
The General Staff had little direct influence on the machinery and instruments
of public opinion. In a resigned Imperial Germany, they apparently could
not reach the revolutionary decision to brutally set aside an ossified
government that did not willingly use its power.
Colonel Nicolai, the experienced head of Section IIIb of the General
Staff, was given control of propaganda.
After October 1915, the War Press Office was independent, operating directly
under the General Staff. It consisted of:
a) The Domestic Office for the German Press, under the leadership of
b) The Censor’s Office, under Major von Oldberg;
c) The Foreign Office for the Foreign Press, under Lieutenant Colonel
General control was in the hands of Deutelmoser. Thus army officers took
over the political leadership of public opinion, a task for which the
government was unsuited. Colonel Nicolai himself said that some journalists
of suitable ability, had they possessed political character, could not
have brought the impartiality that the officers in War Press Office demanded.
The tragedy of the Germany army, politics, and propaganda is contained
in that sentence.
German public opinion could not be led colorlessly, but rather it required
indivisible political will and character. It is indicative of the disintegration
of our internal position that a conflict could result about whether the
War Press Office was seeking “political influence!” It is really
so naive that one must wonder what those engaged in the argument thought
of as the tasks of the War Press Office.
In the course of his reflections, Colonel Nicolai himself comes to the
conclusion that the solution to the military necessities was inseparable
from political deliberations. Politics, military leadership, and public
opinion must be unified to secure success. Those who direct a war must
at the same time direct politics and public opinion.
At the end of 1915, the War Press Office together with the National Union
of the German Press and the Union of German Newspaper Publishers drew
up a common set of guidelines, but it refused to give the press a representative
in the War Press Office or to permit private organizations to play a part
in developing the guidelines. Later, the War Press Office began distributing
prepared articles, written for the most part by officers in competition
with professional journalists. This must naturally have led to an intensification
of existing antagonisms and further crippled work with the press.
The political leadership intentionally ignored the German press, and
worked exclusively through the Foreign Ministry.
The Wolff Telegraph Company was the center of its news agency. The Censorship
law of 1916 offset its total neglect of the German press by censoring
statements of the Reich and other leading officials taken from the foreign
The General Staff had to make the rather obvious demand that the political
leadership at least inform the German press at the same time as the foreign
press. When around 1916 the political leadership finally gave in to pressure
from the General Staff and decided to establish an office for press and
propaganda, Major Deutelmoser was relieved of his previous duties in the
War Press Office and put in charge of the new department.
While the influence of the War Press Office declined (despite the addition
of a fourth department which was added under the Hindenburg Plan to strengthen
the will to war) nothing new, of equal or superior value developed to
take its place. Everything was blocked by bureaucracy. People began to
‘organize’ instead of making propaganda.
While England had three propaganda ministers working along side each
other — Lord Northcliffe who led English propaganda with restless
energy, Robert Donald who was propaganda minister for neutral nations,
and Rudyard Kipling, who handled internal propaganda — foolishness
and a general weakness of the will dominated Germany. It lacked the character
necessary to handle the strong tensions controlled by the powerful apparatus
of economic, military, and political war leadership. It also lacked a
circle of men who could work together confidently on specialized tasks
and who were together possessed by an unyielding will for victory. Will
extended only as far as jurisdiction, and judged itself only that far.
Our first governmental attempt at propaganda had no success within the
country, and it damaged and exposed “German propaganda” in the
eyes of the entire world. One must finally conclude that the propaganda
was faulty in organization, in psychology, and in timing:
In organization, because it did not understand how to mobilize public
In psychology, because it lacked the unified leadership on which enthusiastic
activity and belief depends;
In timing, because propagandists generally did not learn abut an attack
until after it had already begun.
Propaganda is not instituted at the height of political or military actions.
It is, rather, to be used as an extensive and wide-ranging preparation
The Necessity of Action
The German-American Hansen wrote in 1920: “The German people and
its former ruling class have learned nothing from the most terrible experience
that has befallen any people.”
If one looks at the history of German nationalism, that was true for
over a decade. This marvelous nation, the most intelligent, disciplined,
and courageous in the world, has seen an almost unbroken selection of
its worst qualities in its leadership. They understood neither the spirit
of the world or of their own people. They spoke when they should have
kept silent and were silent when there was a chance to speak. They had
neither organized belief nor the courage to use power.
The former ruling class, which had given up without a fight in 1918 and
groveled under the red boot, began to complain when fiery nationalism
sprang from the depths and carried the masses along like an avalanche.
Intellect without strength feels inferior, and that is dangerous. That
man of the people [Hitler]
was too powerful for their tastes. They laid traps and began talking of
“brains.” Things, however, did not depend on “knowledge,”
with which they had failed so miserably, but on ability. The nation needed
his strength, not their “brains.”
Bismarck noted that he could not repress disturbing thought when considered
the extent to which our ruling circle had lost political ability. He said
that the first Chancellor who reached his position because of seniority
would be Germany’s misfortune He was right. Mr. Betmann-Hollweg was the
top student from a model school in Schulporta. He reached the office Reich
Chancellor in all the right ways, provided one ignores such things as
fighting ability, propaganda, and strength. He ably led us to national
This system of national weakness bred good soldiers without political
instincts, and politicians without backbones. It fell apart attempting
the impossible. Today, the “brain” with his academic record
or the nonpolitical soldier who seeks political office proclaims his political
judgment to the nation and to history.
Germany has always had the best soldiers in the world. It was an enemy
general, not a German one, who said that the German soldier had always
been worth three of the enemy. But a soldier without political instincts
is a mercenary. The soldier must carry a sense of the political system
in his blood. And although it is his duty to defend it to the limits of
his ability, it is the duty of the politician to avoid the necessity of
doing so. Hitler has properly said: “The duty of a statesman is not
to heroically lead a nation to defeat, but to preserve its existence.”
This requires politicians with a military, or morBettmane generally speaking,
fighting spirit [Blut] who
do not confuse politics with their official careers. The one as well as
the other, soldier and politician, must be willing to go to the limits.
There is no use of power which, in the face of necessity, should not be
used to defend the whole.
For the first time since that lone wolf Bismarck, the German race has
a man of political genius, who is above all a dogmatist of great ability.
Hitler will live in German history.
Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, who was popularly called the Soldier-King,
created the loyal Prussian civil service which became a model to the world.
Likewise, Hitler took the active, restless, and strong-willed elements
of our people, organized them into the National Socialist movement, stamped
it with his personality, and added an unprecedented aggressiveness and
a flexible political will. The creation of the Nazi Party will hold a
place in history.
No one knows what the end of the German drama will be, but this much
is certain. This noble nation, possessing the best cultured people in
the world, cannot continue in the center of a ring of greedy and uncivilized
nations if it is not in future decades to be torn apart by actual or spiritual
(as was the case during the last war) civil strife. Some say that enemy
propaganda won the World War. More accurately, divisions in the German
national will lost it. Whoever struggles with himself, whose soul is torn
by conflicting emotions, cannot capably direct his attentions outwards
because all his energies are required for the internal struggle. It is
no different for a great nation than for the individual. National power
depends on a unity of the national will. There is no way for Germany’s
fate to improve that does not begin with national union.
Fichte said in one of his speeches:
No nation that has sunk into a state of despondency can rescue itself
by the usual and previously successful methods. If their application
was useless when the nation was in possession of all its strength, of
what use will they be when the greater part is missing....
Every German who still believes that he is a part of a nation, who
thinks highly and honorably of it, who hopes and strives for it, who
builds and supports it, should eliminate all uncertainty from his faith….
The goals of spiritual reconstruction cannot be stated more beautifully
or more nobly, nor the use of all means better justified. Uncertainty
of belief means diversity and doubt; it means the paralysis of hope, will,
and action. It should be replaced by a certainty of the unity of political
beliefs in order to give the nation certainty and unity of aspiration
Control of Public Opinion
Nationalization is not only preaching; it is action and organization
as well. It must breed the type that compels others to accommodate it,
or be strong enough to lead them. Then all desires and aspirations will
no longer works against each other. Rather, their strengths which previously
neutralized each other will be united in a powerful central movement.
Individually each was too weak, but together they are as a firmly bound
bundle of sticks. Such a consolidated nation is unshakable, unbreakable,
The achievement of such a goal requires a change from Bismarck court
politics; mass movements provide the means in our century. Its method
requires that all existing forces in the area of public opinion, provided
they voluntarily submit, join to forcibly destroy and extinguish enemy
dogmas and enemy opposition. Its goal is the elimination of all serious
opposition in the masses; this, in order to produce a combat ready national
mass will that can preserve the nation’s existence through powerful national
politics. A nation which has bled to death, which has been enslaved and
dismissed by half the world, and which has been shredded by civil strife
cannot win back its right to life unless its leadership is resolved to
ignore so-called liberal advances in public life, and to obey only the
cold laws of history.
Liberalism is dead. If the nation is to live, liberal phrases must also
die. Attempts to establish liberalism’s principle of universal freedom
have endangered everyone’s life. Its dogmas about “public opinion”
produced division and weakness in the national will. Even the greatest
proponent of liberalism, John Stuart Mill, demanded of the government
“the greatest possible centralization of information, and its dissemination
from a central point.” Capitalistic liberalism itself scrapped the
holiest principles of its prophets and apostles and used so-called “public”
opinion solely for its own profit. But now the end has come.
The slogan of the freedom of public opinion must be buried without tears.
Public opinion does not spring up by itself, nor does it correspond to
true public feeling. Otherwise public opinion would reflect decisions
on important political affairs before anyone else, and would thus predict
such things as election results. The liberals, however, saw only the interest
that stood behind them, and thought along the same lines whenever something
new came up from the masses.
In contrast, vague moods of the masses which strive for recognition but
fail to achieve it, there is a public opinion for whomever can afford
it. The buyer remains in the shadows. The liberal states are dominated
by capitalistic interest groups. Knowingly or unknowingly, the intellectual
leadership of the press, literature, etc., works for them.
The capitalistic interest groups will be thrown out so that they cannot
endanger the whole in pursuit of their own interests. They will be replaced
by men, who, with a national instinct and primitive politics, will again
achieve victory. In place of the formation of opinion by private interests,
the future will inevitably bring a great and unified will-storm of national
political interests, not only for conditions of crisis, but for a lengthy
Public opinion can therefore be brought to a unity which it could never
have in liberal states.
Public opinion is the unified and leading expression of the public will.
Within the masses are moods which are not public and which cannot simply
be equated with public opinion. In the end, there is a gap between intellect
and drives. One should not consider this to be dangerous in the way that
blocking an outlet can be. The liberal mentality and propaganda have taught
us to conceive of propaganda in this way in the interests of those behind
them, the ruling interest groups. This illusion has been destroyed forever.
The vague moods of the populace which are not expressed through intellectual,
economic, or political emotions are not relevant or threatening to large-scale
politics. Every strong instinct finds an intellectual expression; else
its apparent strength rests on deception. If the intellectual elite becomes
active in the service of the whole, politics probably has to pay a limited
amount of attention to the existence of these inevitable, constantly changing
dreamy moods, but it may choose its means, methods, and goals without
respect to them.
It is clear that the use of the revised Bismarck method requires, under
today’s circumstances, a strong element of compulsion and power
which are indeed necessarily a part of these methods. One must add something
important, however. Bismarck’s political system, based on Prussian militarism
and official absolutism, believed it could check and restrain the dangerously
rising power of the masses by prohibitions and compulsion. This is a serious
error which was somehow incessantly repeated by all national German governments
until our recent republican days.
Only the democratic states recognized the obvious, that the masses cannot
be controlled simply by prohibition. The masses begin economically where
financial independence stops. Personal responsibility and restraint end
there as well. What we today call the masses develops not from just any
group of people but from one characterized so strongly by instability,
pliability, and explosiveness that the individual is no longer tangible.
The principles and methods of violent suppression break down, as a result,
when applied to this phenomenon. The entirely negative use of power will
never achieve its goals, for it will be successfully opposed by the power
structures of the masses — associations, organizations, and labor
unions. The masses are more numerous than the police. Bismarck’s defeat
by the Social Democrats is but one of many examples.
Propaganda and the use of differing degrees of power must therefore cooperate
in exceptionally clever ways. They must use the organizations of the masses
if they are to achieve definite success. A practical rule for the state
is thus: One does not scatter those who are organized, rather one organizes
All systems that have gained control of government through modern mass
movements have done this. Although it may outwardly appear complicated,
it has been brought about by the varied conditions of life, corresponding
to a system of public organizations, cooperatives, and associations. While
governmental propaganda strongly and consistently pursues its clear and
vital goals and while the exercise of governmental power makes any active
or passive attempt at obstruction impossible, the entire public organizational
apparatus will be used to make possible an organized variety of vigorous
individual interests alongside the unity of the mass propaganda line.
But this variety no longer permits the individual, only sums of individuals.
Thus from the human soup of liberalism a state will emerge an organism
dominated by a single compelling idea. The cells will no longer be independent
and opposed to one another, but will rather be linked together by a high,
meaningful, living reality.
Since our Gothic Reich collapsed and German unity was lost in battles
over intellectual and political beliefs, innumerable legends and fables
have lived in our people and in the artistic creations of our greatest
poets and philosophers that expressed the longing for the coming Reich
and an idea of its basic structure. The Prussians of the Mediterranean,
the Fascist Italians, have lived the great ideals of the German spirit
for a decade — Kant’s obligation, the Prussian knowledge of government,
Nietzsche’s joyful struggle, Fichte’s national development. Luckily, they
have found the way to national will building faster than the shredded
German people, and have perfected the methods of propaganda and the use
of differing degrees of power in the development of a modern state. Fascism
has a special ministry for national education. The party possesses a school
of political propaganda and the practical will to power. The motto of
the Fascists, “live dangerously,” is taken from Nietzsche. The
corporative philosophy which the labor force organized for the state is
not individualistic-Italian, but socialist-Gothic.
No one has the right to use the cheap slogan of an imitation of Fascism
in Germany because the deeply German spirituality, originating from ideals,
concepts and forms, is with us again today, placed at the service of our
modern leadership. Mussolini is historically unique, an accident, perhaps.
He is a powerful personality with deep spiritual roots going back to Nietzsche.
His system is, therefore, German in its essential characteristics, developed
from the creative spirit of German soil, and is returning to that soil
today. Here, supported by technical, highly developed, struggle-loving,
and disciplined people, it will reach a new and earthshaking level.
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