Background: Propaganda was a major, perhaps the major, duty of the Nazi Party. Here I translate two pieces from “Front der Heimat,” a two-sided flyer for party members in the Linz area published shortly after the war began. It is labeled “Confidential! Only for Party Members!,” giving them the illusion perhaps of being in the know, although there is nothing particularly secret in it. The front side has one article, the back five, of which I will translate only one. The others deal with why older people are being drafted rather than younger ones (they have military experience), the dangers of scavenging in the countryside for food, information on clothing rationing, and technical assistance.
The first article deals with the importance of Hitler’s speeches, the second explains why even party members may not listen to foreign radio broadcasts.
The source: “Front der Heimat,” Folge 2, produced by the Gaupropagandaamt Oberdonau, Linz. It is undated, but the contents suggest that it appeared in October 1939.
We have recently heard the Führer speak twice. As always when the Führer speaks, his words fill our thoughts and feelings. They reach the individual as well as the nation. A Führer speech always has effects that last a long time, for weeks, and leaves citizens especially open to the great questions of the day.
This gives a clear task to party members, who share a responsibility for the attitudes and behavior of the people toward the life questions of the nation. The Führer’s words are seeds in the people’s hearts. The party member must care for this seed and see that it bears fruit. He will therefore study the Führer’s speech word for word over and over again in order to master the arguments that he will need in face-to-face propaganda. If he is able to rely on the words of the Führer in all his conversations, he will be able to draw on the Führer’s powerful authority that can reach and silence even the most stubborn complainer.
It might seem useful here to analyze the Führer’s speeches section by section. That is exactly what may not be done. Each Führer speech is a unified whole, using language so clear that even the least educated citizen can follow its train of thought. That is what is so wonderful about the Führer’s speeches, and it would be a sin to try here to add our own interpretations. One can’t treat them like a catechism. They work on our thoughts and feelings in their entirety. They are an experience that must not be diminished by overly clever discussion.
The task of each propagandist, therefore, is to guard the national experience of each Führer speech, to nourish the flame of enthusiasm, ever to encourage it. He will be able to do this if he gives his full devotion and earnestness to studying each word, letting them work on him each day anew. Then his conversations with citizens will be imbued with a glimmer of the rousing and unifying power that dwells in all the Führer’s words.
We must keep the following in mind: the older generations of the German people are still in part influenced by the former bourgeois culture. Despite good will and an openness to the National Socialist outlook, liberal thinking and feelings are still alive in these generations. The better part of the notorious complainers and know-it-alls belong to these older generations. These individuals still take themselves much too seriously. This individualism, for which private property is as holy as private opinions, is typical of the beer stool politician and countryside strategist who has his own opinions of every government decision or event. He crinkles his brow as if he himself had to solve the German need for raw materials. He uses as many foreign words as possible, usually incorrectly, to explain the complicated foreign currency situation, but his favorite pastime is making prophecies about foreign affairs. He worries about the future of the Baltic states or concludes that the Netherlands should be conquered. He announces that Russia sooner or later will annex Afghanistan, and doubts whether Rumania and Turkey can remain neutral. He never fails to explain how he would do things if he were in charge.
In brief, he is one of those people we often encounter who has a special talent to confuse ordinary people, to shake their faith and plunge them into uncertainty and doubt. Party members must make short work of these blabbermouths.
Of course, we must not forget that citizens have a natural desire to see behind the facade of the political stage, where their fate is after all being decided. This political desire is in itself healthy and is only an expression of the political consciousness of the whole nation. It should not be opposed. We can understand why the average citizen wants to know how long the war will last, and it is good that he turns to a party member for an answer, since he expects to find in him the proper political understanding.
But we must surely give the curious citizen a different answer than the one he expects. He must be told that in the National Socialist Führer state, the Führer and his advisers make all the important decisions without discussing them in advance in public. That is how our present situation differs from that of the World War. Then irresponsible party politicians in the German parliament could chatter about anything at all. This loose talk gave the enemy its most important information and its most damaging propaganda arguments. For example, on 29 November 1917 a certain Herr Haase gave a speech arguing for peace in the German Reichstag just as the army was winning a great victory on the southwestern front. The Social Democratic press published the speech. A few days later, British planes dropped 100,000 copies of the speech over the German front. Thank God, we are protected from such examples of free speech. Today the world hears only the Führer’s voice as the voice of Germany’s political will. His voice is also the only one that the enemy can hear to learn what is important at any given point to the German leadership. And his words are unmistakably clear. The German people get their clear “information” from the Führer’s voice as well. He who thinks he needs other information to evaluate the situation is like the soldier who sneaks over to the enemy camp at night to better “inform” himself.
This is how to evaluate the Führer’s speeches. The main goal is to strengthen and deepen the people’s confidence in every way. That is best done through example and by forcefully dealing with all political muttering and complaining. We want the people to take a calm and sure outlook on things, but not a fatalistic one. In the long one, attitudes are critical. We will best be able to strengthen and firm up attitudes when we can add the authority of the Führer’s words and experiences to the scales.
The present situation of the German Reich has made it necessary, for military reasons, to close down many radio transmitters. Greater difficulties would result from their continued operation than are caused by closing them down.
Meanwhile, foreign stations around the Reich have begun an almost unbelievable campaign of lying agitation against Germany. The result is that the citizen scanning his radio dial finds a majority of enemy stations that he can easily hear at any time. As we know from the World War, such lies when repeated with the necessary insolence and patience do not lack for effect. It might be that some of our citizens weaken as a result of such steady influence and confusion could enter our ranks.
To combat this evil, the Reich government has announced a law that imposes the heaviest penalties for listening to foreign stations.
The first task of the party member is to obey the law himself. No one of us can say that he needs to know what foreign stations say for his own work. And the law does not make an exception for party members, as if their opinions were firmer than those of ordinary citizens.
The opposite is true. Experience shows that no one is unaffected by what he hears. Besides, anyone who has listened to such stations has the desire to tell someone about it. It makes no difference what he says. His talk proves that he has ignored the law and encourages others to do the same.
Remember, too, the words of Field Marshall Göring, who said that the greater part of foreign radio propaganda is nothing other than crude slanders of the Führer, the German army, and the German people.
It is a matter of honor for each party member to set a good example, to avoid listening to foreign radio stations, and to respond directly to those citizens who do, making clear to them how contemptible their behavior is. We certainly will never speak about foreign broadcasts ourselves!
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