Background: During World War II the Nazi propaganda system faced considerable challenges. Many experienced propagandists were drafted, replaced by inexperienced newcomers. This article outlines the basics of what a Nazi propagandist at the local level needed to know. It comes from the monthly publication of the Gau Propaganda Office in Weser-Ems.
There are many organizations and titles listed that could be translated in several ways. To avoid confusion I am leaving most of them in German. I do translate commonly known terms, such as the various chambers of culture.
The source: “Merkblatt fur den Propagandisten im Gau Weser-Ems,” Monatsblätter der Gaupropagandaleitung Weser-Ems der NSDAP., 7 (1942), #3, pp. 10-13.
As a result of frequent staff changes in the propaganda offices at the county and local group levels, we provide this summary of the current guidelines and directives for propagandists, which will help to avoid unnecessary questions.
The propaganda of the NSDAP and its subordinate and affiliated organizations is in the hands of the Reichspropagandaleiter, who is charged by the Führer with overseeing the entire propaganda system. He:
He has control over the entire German radio system, organizationally, culturally and economically, and works to ensure that the whole German nation is filled with the National Socialist worldview. He also is responsible for disseminating information about the accomplishments of the leadership of party and state.
The press and film are also at his disposal for these purposes.
An organization reaching from top to bottom ensures the systematic accomplishment of the propaganda system’s goals.
Propaganda leaders are appointed by the party at the Gau, county, and local group levels to see that the appointed tasks of propaganda are accomplished in all areas.
They work closely with party leaders.
It is located in Oldenburg, Meinardusstraße 4. The telephone number is 6361. The Film Office is located at Parkstraße 5, telephone 2848.
To avoid delays, all mail should be addressed to the appropriate office, not to the official in charge personally.
The Reichspropagandaleiter of the NSDAP is also Reich Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, and also President of the Reich Chamber of Culture.
The same is true in the Gau offices.
The Gaupropagandaleiter of the NSDAP is head of the “Propaganda Department” in the Gau office. Its subsections include Active Propaganda, the Propaganda Ring, Culture, Radio, and Film. He is simultaneously head of the Reich Propaganda Office for Weser-Ems.
The Reich Propaganda Office is a branch of the Reich Ministry for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment. It is responsible for all government propaganda and cultural tasks in the Gau, e.g., for general propaganda, the press, radio, film, theater, literature, visual arts, music, and tourism.
The Gaupropagandaleiter is further, as the direct subordinate of the President of the Reich Chamber of Culture, the Landeskulturwalter. The heads of the individual chambers are responsible to him: visual arts, the Reich Chamber of Literature, the Reich Chamber of Theater, the Reich Chamber of Music, and the Reich Chamber of Film.
The Propaganda Ring has Reich, Gau, county, and local group offices. Its task is to ensure the unity of propaganda with regards to the public appearance of the party and its subordinate and affiliated organizations, and to provide general guidelines for propaganda.
The following units of the party and its subordinate and affiliated organizations are a part of the ring:
SA, SS, NSKK, NSFK
Amt für Handwerk und Handel (DAF)
NSG “Kraft durch Freude” (DAF)
Hauptamt für Volkswohlfahrt (NSV)
Amt für Volksgesundheit (NSD-Aerztebund)
Amt für Agrarpolitik (Reichsnährstand)
Amt für Erzieher (NSLB)
Amt für Kriegsversorgung (NSKOB)
Amt für Beamte (RDB)
Amt für Technik (RDT)
Amt für Rassepolitik
Amt für Kommunalpolitik
The organizations in Propaganda Ring I also constitute the Radio Working Group.
Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (Turn- Sport- und Schützenvereine)
Deutsches Rotes Kreuz
Handwerks-, Industrie- und Handelskammern
Kameradschaftsbund Deutscher Polizeibeamten
Reichsbund der Haus- und Grundbesitzer
Reichsbund der Kinderreichen
Volksbund für das Deutschtum im Ausland (BDA)
Wirtschaftsgruppe Gaststätten- und Beherbergungsgewerbe
Reichsbund der Kleingärtner und Kleinsiedler
Reichsbund für deutsche Seegeltung
Mass meetings, the meeting system, speaker assignment and training, slide shows, the picture archive, posters, publications and exhibitions, propaganda leadership, ethnic propaganda, damage prevention, reports.
Large gatherings that involve more than one county require the prior approval of the Gaupropagandaleitung. Secure approval 4-6 weeks in advance!
Every public meeting is not a “mass meeting.” The term “mass meeting” is only to be used for large meetings!
The platform must always be inspected in advance. Only 90% of the allowable number of people may be on it.
Sound systems should be inspected by the head of the Radio Office in the Gaupropagandaleitung.
Reporters, photographers, and cameramen at large meetings addressed by leading figures must wear an official armband and have an ID card.
The Organisationsleiter approves membership meetings, and roll calls. The meeting arrangements, speakers, etc., go through the Propagandaleiter.
The party’s public meetings are under the authority of the area’s political leader. The Propagandaleiter is responsible to him for the preparations and technical arrangements. Public meetings by subordinate and affiliated organizations will be approved by the relevant political leader only in exceptional circumstances. People may not be compelled to attend meetings.
Drinking and smoking are prohibited at all membership and public meetings.
All speakers at public meetings must follow the speaker information material published by the Reichspropagandaleitung or the Gaupropagandaleitung. All county speakers or candidates must be certified by the country, all Gau speakers by the Gau. Each must have the appropriate ID card.
For meetings by the military, the head of the military speaker system in the Gaupropagandaleitung is responsible. There is close cooperation with the offices of the Volksbildungswerk.
Speakers on military themes and military speakers are assigned only by the Gaupropagandaleitung through the Office of Military Speakers.
The Gaubildstelle is responsible for slide shows. Slide shows and speakers must be requested through this office. A list of material is always available.
The Gaubildstelle maintains an archive of pictures of important events of the history of the movement.
Amateur photographers are members of the “Reichsverband deutscher Fotoamateure,” which is under the local picture head.
By the 20th of each month, all planned local group meetings for the coming month must be reported to the local group leader, and all county gatherings to the county leader. The county or local group leader will approve such meetings by the 25th of the month, after consultation with the Propagandaleiter and the Organisationsleiter. The local propaganda leader will report by the 25th of the month to the county propaganda leader, and he by the 27th to the Gaupropagandaleitung, the desired speakers and themes.
The heads of the party, state, army, and economic and cultural life should be invited as guests of honor. In addition, old party member, wounded veterans, wives and mothers of soldiers, and active party members, along with outstanding workers and farmers, should also be invited.
Four copies of all political material, including brochures, text and illustrated posters, slides shows, and medals must be submitted to the Gaupropagandaleitung in advance. Unapproved materials may be confiscated.
Applications for slide shows in film theaters must be submitted to the office of the Gaupropagandaring in the Gaupropagandaleitung.
The party’s public bulletin boards must be under the supervision of a party leader. Empty display windows should also be used for propaganda purposes by the party.
Requests for paper to be used for propaganda purposes should be submitted to the Gaupropagandaring in the Gaupropagandaleitung.
All political and economic exhibitions and fairs, along with those responsible for them, must be announced to the Gaupropagandaleitung 4-6 weeks in advance. There should be close contact with all party offices, government offices, and organizations.
The Reichsarbeitsgemeinschaft Schadenverhütung is responsible for carrying out propaganda actions to reduce harmful problems in the area of health and the economy, including superstition (occultism and fortune telling), alcohol, accidents, fraud, occupational illnesses, fire prevention (home and forest fires), waste, venereal diseases, cancer, noise, poisonous mushrooms, agricultural pests, plagues, tuberculosis, and traffic safety, in cooperation with the appropriate offices of the party, the state, and the police. Those involved include the DAF, the Amt für Volksgesundheit (NS-Aerztebund), and the Reichsnährstand. Its head is the propaganda leader, who appoints an expert to carry out the duties in this area. The Gaupropagandaleitung can provide guidelines for the RAS experts.
The Reichsleitung has ordered all propagandists to submit a monthly activity report to their political leader, and to their superior propaganda heads.
Reports are to be carefully and thoroughly prepared, and submitted on time.
The press in the National Socialist Reich serves the interests of the state and the people. This determines its tasks and organization. Newspapers and magazines should follow the instructions of the Reich Ministry for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, or of the propaganda offices at the Gau level. The editor holds a public office. To fulfill his duties, he must be able to make independent decisions. No party office or government office therefore has the right to exert any pressure on the press. Any special wishes should be expressed through the Reich Propaganda Office. The press conferences held by the Reich Propaganda Office also give all party and government offices the opportunity to speak to the editors in the Gau. Press tours involving a large number of journalists may be organized only with the approval of the Reich Propaganda Office. Complaints about the press should also be made through the Reich Propaganda Office.
Although Dr. Dietrich as Reichspressechef holds both the party and state positions, authority is divided in the Gaue. The Gau Press Office represents the interests of the party and its organizations. It publishes the NS-Gaudienstfor the Gau press, which provides material from the party and its organizations. Naturally there is close cooperation between the press director in the Reich Propaganda Office and the Gaupresseamt. Both cooperate, for example, in organizing press conferences and press tours.
Professional matters are handled by the relevant officials in the Reich Chamber of the Press.
The war has had a major impact on the Radio Department (cultural radio, organization, technical aspects, radio propaganda and advertising, loud speaker installations, record player installations, record archives). The introduction of the unified national radio program has meant that the Gau only rarely can broadcast a program. Negotiations with the Reichsendeleitung and the transmitters in Hamburg and Cologne by the party and its divisions go through the Radio Department in the Gaupropagandaleitung. The representatives in Propaganda Ring I and II also form the Rundfunkarbeitsgemeinschaft for the Gaue and the counties. The Radio Department has a number of sets of loudspeaker equipment and record players, and also has a record collection. These are available at cost. The Radio Department also can advise on building loudspeaker installations or community radio listening facilities.
Film prints, box office, technical matters, youth and school films, press, film archive, the state office of the Reich Chamber of Film.
Local groups are responsible for party film showings. The propaganda leader and the film leader of the local group are responsible for the propagandistic and technical preparations. The films are provided through the Film Office in the Gaupropagandaleitung.
Invitations to film premieres, unless they come from the film distribution company or theater owners, are sent only in the name of the Reich Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment or, in the Gau, the head of the Reich Propaganda Office or the Gauleiter. Exceptions require the prior approval of the Reich Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment.
To improve the holdings of the film archive in the Gaupropagandaleitung, copies of all amateur films that have any significance to the Gau should be sent to it.
Amateur film-makers should be members of the “Bund Deutscher Filmamateure,” under the direction of the Film Department heads in the counties and local groups.
May be made through the Gaupropagandaleitung. Suggests may be made at any time.
The propaganda leader or cultural office director is responsible for art as an expression of the National Socialist worldview. He encourages, advances and supervises it, encouraging its use in the party and its subordinate and affiliated organizations.
Holidays and ceremonies, programs, caring for soldiers (RPA), the Gau Culture Ring (culture-political working group), NS-Kulturwerk (work with the public and lay audiences), village culture, theater, visual arts, music, literature.
The state office of the Reich Chamber of Culture, the Reich Chamber of Music, the Reich Chamber of Literature, the Reich Chamber of the Visual Arts.
A directive from the Führer expressly gives the Reich Propaganda Ministry police powers in the cultural area. This includes national holidays, state ceremonies, the press, radio, national songs, the visual arts, music, theater, film, literature, advertising in the economic and travel areas, exhibitions, fairs, and advertising.
Culture Ring (culture-political working group
All those in the divisions and affiliated organizations of the party charged with cultural matters from the Culture Ring. The following may also be included:
The department heads for propaganda, training, DAF, teachers (NSLB), city policy, the press
Leaders of the women’s and farmers’ groups
The department heads for film, radio, the KdF wardens and the officials for ceremonies and popular education.
The cultural officials in the state councils and mayors’ offices
The music officials oft cities and counties
The head of the musicians’ group
The head of the lay groups joined in the “NS-Kulturwerk”: Niederdeutsche Bühnen, amateur theater groups, singing clubs, choirs and orchestras (also their directors), ethnic and local organizations, museum associations
The heads of music groups of the party’s divisions, the Wehrmacht, the RAD, etc.
The head of the Reich Chamber of Literature (representative of the book trade)
The head of professional theaters and orchestras
Heads of public libraries, literary societies, and lecture clubs
The representatives of the Reich Chamber of Visual Arts
The heads of art clubs, artists’ societies, experienced gardeners, and heads of tourism and beautification organizations
The editors and culture reporters of the press
The holding of ceremonies within the NSDAP is exclusively under the control of the Hauptkulturamt der NSDAP, Reichsleitung or its subordinates, with the exception of ceremonies of birth, marriage, and death (Lebensfeiern) and all internal party ceremonies involving training in our worldview. The Propagandaleiter or the Kulturhauptstellenleiter are exclusively responsible for the content and carrying out of these ceremonies. Of course, the cooperation of other offices is desired and expected.
In organizing ceremonies, one should follow the suggestions in the Neue Gemeinschaft [a monthly magazine] of the Hauptkulturamtes der NSDAP and the Propagandaring Weser-Ems of the Gaupropagandaleitung.
According to a ruling by the President of the Reich Chamber of the Visual Arts, all architects are obliged to volunteer their services by giving advice in organizing the visual aspects of National Socialist ceremonies.
One regularly encounters events called Feierstunde, but which have nothing at all to do with the real meaning of the term.
An opera or operetta premiere that for some reason takes place on Sunday morning is not a Morgenfeier. Concerts, variety shows, lectures, and the like are not Feierstunden.
All offices and cultural officials are responsible for ensuring that the terms Morgenfeier, Feierstunde, Sonntagsfeier, and so on are always reserved for events that take place under the auspices of the party.
The Gauleiter has charged the Gaupropagandaleiter with responsibility for a unified and planned leadership and promotion of all cultural activities in rural areas. No organization in the Gau may make an exception without without prior consultation or agreement with the Gaupropagandaleitung. The same is true for the counties.
All lay cultural groups, amateur theatrical groups, amateur orchestras, singing clubs and choirs, ethnic, dance and costume groups, are joined in the “NS-Kulturwerk” as the official party organization for culture-political activities and their incorporation in National Socialist ceremonies.
All amateur orchestras are members of the “Reichsbund für Volksmusik.”
Besides the professional theaters, “regular” theaters include all amateur, lay and open air stages that present performances more than six times annually. They require permission from the Landesleiter of the Reich Chamber of Theater. The season plans of all “regular” theatrical groups must have the approval of the Reich Dramaturg in the Reich Propaganda Ministry.
The “Niederdeutsche Bühnen”, as a regularly performing group, is part of the Reich Chamber of Theater.
“Occasional” public theatrical performances, up to five times annually, require previous consultation by the organizer with the party (NS-Kulturwerk) and the county council or mayor’s office. Amateur theatrical productions require the approval of the Gaupropagandaleitung, Culture Office (“NS-Kulturwerk”), if not previously authorized by the “Propagandaring Weser-Ems.”
All literary organizations and lecture societies are organized in the “Reichswerk Buch und Volk,” and enjoy the support and protection of the Reich Ministry of Propaganda and the Reich Propaganda Offices. To avoid scheduling conflicts, close cooperation with the Volksbildungswerk and the party are necessary.
All public concerts require the approval of the city or county music officials.
Art exhibitions require the prior approval of the head of the Reich Chamber of Visual Arts through the Landeskulturwarter (Gaupropagandaleitung). Applications must be made three weeks in advance to the head of the Reich Chamber of Visual Arts.
The head of the Reich Chamber of Visual Arts should be consulted in erecting all memorials and monuments.
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