German Propaganda Archive Calvin College

Background: By 1939 the Nazis had a problem. The experienced propagandists of the Kampfzeit [1919-1933] were often busy doing other things. New recruits had to be trained. How was that to be done? This article by the Gaupropandaleiter of East Prussia explains what is being done in his area. Once the war began in September 1939, the problems got much more severe as both old and new propagandists were taken into the military.

The source: Gaupropagandaleiter Joachim Paltzo, “Ausbuildung unserer Propagandisten,” Unser Wille und Weg, January 1939, pp. 8-10.

Training Our Propagandists

(Ways to Train Future Propagandists)

The question of training training future propagandists for the party and its affiliates is always at the center of our concerns. One important reason for that is what is everywhere evident: the experienced propagandists of the Kampfzeit who gained a great deal of propaganda experience in battles with our domestic opponents are no longer fully available for propaganda activity. After 1933, these men generally were entrusted with high and responsible tasks and offices. They today have responsible positions in government, administration, public bodies, business, and not least in the new military. Their broad experiences in general still are available to the movement. Many are still active as propagandists for the movement.

However, it must be noted, there is a danger today that the propaganda knowledge and experience we gained during the struggle for power are not always followed as they should be. Take, for example, the injunction Reichspropagandaleiter Dr. Goebbels gave long ago prohibiting any form of compulsion to increase attendance at our public meetings and other public gatherings. Party comrades inexperienced in propaganda work can think of no other way to fill their meetings than to use compulsion to get people’s comrades to attend. The experienced propagandist, however, knows that in the long run that will not work to fill meetings or accomplish any other propaganda activity. Preparing a public meeting requires more than the ability to order and threaten.

The propagandist of the Kampfzeit had a great many experiences that he could use to help his people’s comrades accept a certain idea. He had learned the most varied methods of propaganda and tested them in battle. He knows their effectiveness and how to use them.

All experienced propaganda directors must work to transmit the sum of these experiences to those active in propaganda today, and to those who will be propagandists in the future.

This task can be achieved only in practice; lectures, theoretical discussions, learned tomes, or other methods, no matter how well-intended, cannot help here.

How can such practical training be accomplished?

The principle is that we are not dealing with professional propagandists, but rather with party comrades who outside their jobs are active as propagandists in local groups, counties, and Gaue. As always, the best training is daily political activity.

Obviously, a party comrade who is an active propagandists should have a thorough understanding of the National Socialist worldview and the political problems and challenges of our day.

Equally essential that he be filled with a desire to work and fight for the movement. Only party comrades with these characteristics should be trained as propagandists.

To begin, the party comrade must be placed in the middle of things. Experienced propagandists should help and guide him as he takes on assigned propaganda tasks. Gradually, such guidance and personal experience and observation will enable him to understand the methods and possibilities of propaganda. Only when he has reached that point is it time for systematic training.

I have had good results from the following methods.

About 40 party comrades who have had the practical propaganda experience described earlier are brought together with 10 experienced and older propagandists for 10 days. These 50 propagandists are sent to a local group and housed with party members and people’s comrades for 2 or 3 days. After 2 or 3 days, the “training course” moves to another local group and is housed in the same way.

The training program includes one or two daily lectures from experienced propagandists with long, practical experience. These are given by experienced county propaganda leaders as well as the Gauhauptstellenleiter of the Gau propaganda office. Since these lectures are not the most important part of the training, they take up at most four hours of the day.

For the rest of the day, the “training course” must perform practical propaganda work in the area. One evening, there may be a fraternal evening for the local group. The propagandists must organize the gathering by working out a program, renting a hall, finding participants, rehearsing, in short do everything necessary for a fraternal evening. Along the same lines, a public meeting will be organized for the next evening, and then a village community evening.

During these 10 days the propagandists will learn the most common propaganda methods. The course must organize leaflet distribution in the area. Another day, the task will be to organize a poster campaign in the right way. Film and radio will also be practically used. The propagandist thus learns, under the guidance of experienced propagandists, how to use the individual propaganda methods and sees their effects. Since he has opportunity during his free time to be with his hosts, the courses offers him the opportunity to meet other people’s comrades. He can discuss political issues with those other than his close friends back home.

Since the training course changes its location every 2 or 3 days, various propaganda methods can be practically applied without overwhelming people’s comrades in the area with propaganda. Furthermore, not only to the “course participants” learn from such practical experience, but also party comrades and colleagues in the local group gain ideas from the work of these “course participants.”

Two years of experience in Gau Ostpreußen have shown that not only propagandists, but also county and local group leaders welcome these training courses. Propagandists must apply for such a course, and country and local group leaders ask for the course to be held in their local group.

To summarize, it can be said that in contrast to theoretical advice, the results of such practical training is excellent. The young propagandists receives not only necessary knowledge and skills, but also a great love and enthusiasm that is essential for his propaganda work.

The guiding principle here is Reichspropagandaleiter Dr. Goebbels’s words that speakers and propagandists can no more learn through theoretical training than one can teach swimming on dry land. A propagandist cannot be trained or educated through theoretical lectures. He must learn through practice to use propaganda methods and understand the idea of propaganda activity.

Editor’s note: The question discussed by the Gaupropagandaleiter of Ostpreußen is our most important propaganda challenge. To encourage further thinking, other Gaupropagandaleiter are encouraged to comment on the matter, given examples of how they are solving this problem in their area.

[Page copyright © 2017 by Randall Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]

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