German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: The following essay was published in the Nazi monthly for propagandists. It discusses how to make propaganda in rural areas. The author was Gaupropagandaleiter of the Rheinpfalz.

The source: Rudolf Trampler, “Grundsätzliches zur Landpropaganda,” Unser Wille und Weg, 5 (1935), pp. 234-237.

Fundamentals of Rural Propaganda

by Rudolf Trampler

The originality, techniques, and tactics of National Socialist propaganda, as well as the movement that it brought to victory, have no equal in all of history. It is solely the result of the National Socialist worldview. It has nothing in common with the propaganda efforts of earlier parties or with commercial advertising, as is still sometimes said. National Socialist propaganda offers neither a fixed system, nor some sort recipe to be used in every case. It is part of the world of Adolf Hitler’s ideas, tied to it as tightly as are his ideas of race, economics, and culture, and just as original. Our propaganda is enormously varied in its methods and results, and ultimately dependent on the individual. It depends above all on its proponent, on the psychological foundation of the intended audience within the population, and on an exact understanding of many external factors.

The following provides several ideas that can in general be applied to make propaganda in small rural communities, always after considering the general conditions relevant to farmers in rural areas.

Before making propaganda, one should consider the psychological attitudes of the rural population. I here outline the most important factors.

  1. The rural population as a community is not to be considered as part of the “masses” that we have learned to see as changeable and easily influenced, such as we find in cities, particularly big cities. For a variety of reasons, farmers are not as easy to reach, particularly as quickly, as are city-dwellers.
  2. The rural population hangs firmly to tradition and the past;
  3. Its attitude to religious matters is mostly conservative, which the Center Party previously knew how to use, and which those circles that we todays till encounter use under the general concept of “Catholic Action” (or the “Confessional Front”);
  4. A particularly important point that really flows from 1 and 3 above is the racial makeup of the part of the rural population one wants to reach with propaganda;
  5. The particular ownership and economic conditions.

Further, the propagandist must be sure not to ignore the necessary requirements and preconditions for propaganda methods. There are, briefly expressed:

  1. Propaganda is a means — never an end in itself;
  2. Rural propaganda may never be aimed at the educated, it does not presume the intelligentsia, but rather uncomplicated and direct people;
  3. Propaganda in rural areas is, therefore, as simple as the thinking of the people; every point is to be made in the simplest way and explained at the same elementary level;
  4. All points must be directed to the feelings;
  5. The content must be true; it must always say the same thing; the established facts and principles of the National Socialist state must, as always, be spread with the same varied means of propaganda.

The above principles of propaganda apply even more in the countryside than elsewhere. Propaganda methods that worked in cities, and may still work today, more or less fail there. On the other hand, the deeply-rooted errors in the way farmers think about workers must be opposed since they are barriers to the people’s community. One must certainly respect the fact that as a result of earlier deflation small rural farms do not have large cash resources or regular income, since they are enterprises that have a seasonal character. The small farmer sees only the the steady income of the city worker or people’s comrade, forgetting that that people’s comrade may have a large family that does not always have enough to eat, something that hardly ever happens with small farmers.

Today, too, the rural propagandists as a two-fold effort, tasks that are parallel and that reinforce each other:

  1. Political-worldview education;
  2. The realization of this worldview through laws and measures that directly impact the circle of rural residents and affect their personal existence.

This requires that propagandists, including those in leadership positions, are not only absolute National Socialists, but also have factual knowledge of the whole rural situation. Based on on their own reliable judgment, they must be familiar with all agricultural matters so that they can use the correct propaganda methods that guarantee success. It is true that since the takeover of power (and even earlier), the greater part of the farming masses thought well of us, and after two year of National Socialist government farmers generally approve of our actions (the Reich Inherited Farm Law, new market and price rules, regulation of milk production, etc.). However, recognition of the significance and farsightedness of these laws for the preservation of our people and state has not yet come close to the desired level. Since the propagandist in many cases is not a farmer himself and cannot, therefore, completely understand the wide-ranging significance of this or that measure, he must work closely with the branches of the Reich Farming Estate (Reichsnährstand). The Gaupropagandaleiter himself is responsible for this area, and is also usually the head of the rural propaganda office (Landespropagandastelle). With his connections to all governmental as well as other offices that are outside the party, he always has the ability to smooth out any frictions and to promote rural propaganda in the desired directions. The Reichspropagandaleitung has recognized the importance of this work by establishing a department for “agricultural policy” in every Gauleitung, headed by a volunteer to serve as liaison, guaranteeing efficient work.

National Socialist rural propaganda work can be described in a few words:

To incorporate farmers in a worldview-based people’s community; thereby alleviating all restraining influences that still today stand in the way of such incorporation into the people’s community; deepening the understanding of the nature and requirements among all people’s comrades who are not farmers.

There are many ways to establish and advance this great task; here are the most important:

  1. The Festival of the German Farmer (Harvest Festival on 1 October) and;
  2. The National Holiday of the German people, in which the relations between city and country can be stressed to a particular great degree;
  3. The “production battle,” which we have promoted with good success over the long term, and in which valuable experiences have been gathered through the cooperation between the organizations of the Reich Farming Estate, the agricultural-political apparatus, and the rural farming schools;
  4. The work along the same lines of the voluntary labor services;
  5. The re-established military preparedness and the resulting military law, making clear its significance for the rural population as well as the significance of the rural population for the Wehrmacht;
  6. The Reich laws respecting the principles of “blood and soil”;
  7. These further propaganda methods are particularly useful because of their vividness; radio, film, slides, along with education in the press and schools.

All in all, education of farmers must be based both on worldview and facts, and that all vivid propaganda methods are appropriate, but not those that are effective in other situations but which are not appropriate for the psychological nature of the countryside.

Last edited: 4 August 2023

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