Here are parts of a speech by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, delivered in
Nuernberg in 1934. The ending of this speech is in the film Triumph of
"It is difficult to define the concept of propaganda thoroughly and
precisely. This is especially true since in past decades it was
subject to unfavorable definitions, particularly as the enemy defined
it with regards to us Germans. First, then, we must defend it. Those
abroad sometimes claim that in the past we Germans were particularly
good in this area, but that unfortunately is not consistent with the
facts. We learned this all too clearly during the World War. While the
enemy states produced unprecedented atrocity propaganda aimed at
Germany throughout the whole world, we did nothing and were completely
defenseless against it. Only when enemy foreign propaganda had nearly
won over the greater part of the neutral states did the German
government begin to sense the enormous power of propaganda. It was too
late. Just as we were militarily and economically unprepared for the
war, so too with propaganda. We lost the war in this area more than in
The cleverest trick used in propaganda against Germany during the war
was to accuse Germany of what our enemies themselves were doing. Even
today large parts of world opinion are convinced that the typical
characteristics of German propaganda are lying, crudeness, reversing
the facts and the like. One needs only to remember the stories that
were spread throughout the world at the beginning of the war about
German soldiers chopping off children's hands and crucifying women to
realize that Germany then was a defenseless victim of this campaign of
calumny. It neither had nor used any means of defense.
The concept of propaganda has undergone a fundamental transformation,
particularly as the result of political practice in Germany.
Throughout the world today, people are beginning to see that a modern
state, whether democratic or authoritarian, cannot withstand the
subterranean forces of anarchy and chaos without propaganda. It is not
only a matter of doing the right thing; the people must understand
that the right thing is the right thing. Propaganda includes
everything that helps the people to realize this.
Political propaganda in principle is active and revolutionary. It is
aimed at the broad masses. It speaks the language of the people
because it wants to be understood by the people. Its task is the
highest creative art of putting sometimes complicated events and facts
in a way simple enough to be understood by the man on the street. Its
foundation is that there is nothing the people cannot understand,
rather things must be put in a way that they can understand. It is a
question of making it clear to him by using the proper approach,
evidence and language.
Propaganda is a means to an end. Its purpose is to lead the people to
an understanding that will allow them to willingly and without
internal resistance devote themselves to the tasks and goals of a
superior leadership. If propaganda is to succeed, it must know what it
wants. It must keep a clear and firm goal in mind, and seek the
appropriate means and methods to reach that goal. Propaganda as such
is neither good nor evil. Its moral value is determined by the goals
"Each propaganda had a direction. The quality of this direction
determines whether propaganda has a positive or negative effect. Good
propaganda does not need to lie, indeed it may not lie. It has no
reason to fear the truth. It is a mistake to believe that people
cannot take the truth. They can. It is only a matter of presenting the
truth to people in a way that they will be able to understand. A
propaganda that lies proves that it has a bad cause. It cannot be
successful in the long run. A good propaganda will always come along
that serves a good cause. But propaganda is still necessary if a good
cause is to succeed. A good idea does not win simply because it is
good. It must be presented properly if it is to win. But a good idea
is itself the best propaganda. Such propaganda is successful without
being obnoxious. It depends on its nature, not its methods. It works
without being noticed. Its goals are inherent in its nature. Since it
is almost invisible, it is effective and powerful. A good cause will
lose to a bad one if it depends only on its rightness, while the other
side uses the methods of influencing the masses. We are for example
convinced that we fought the war for a good cause, but that was not
enough. The world should also have known that our cause was good.
However, we lacked the effective means of mass propaganda to make that
clear to the world. Marxism certainly did not fight for great ideals.
Despite that, in November 1918 it overcame Kaiser, Reich and the army
because it was superior in the art of mass propaganda.
National Socialism learned from these two examples. It drew the
correct practical conclusions from that knowledge. The ideal of a
socialist national community did not remain mere theory with us, but
became living reality in the thoughts and feelings of 67 million
Germans. Our propaganda of word and deed created the conditions for
that. Mastering them kept National Socialism from the danger of
remaining the dream and longing of a few thousand. Through propaganda,
it became hard, steely everyday reality."
"Marxism could not be eliminated by a government decision. Its
elimination was the end result of a process that began in the people.
But that was only possible because our propaganda had shown people
that Marxism was a danger to both the state and society. The positive
national discipline of the German press would never have been possible
without the compete elimination of the influence of the liberal-Jewish
press. That happened only because of the years-long work of our
propaganda. Today particularism in Germany is something of the past.
The fact that it was eliminated by a strong central idea of the Reich
is no accident, rather depended on psychological foundations that were
established by our propaganda.
Or consider economic policy. Does anyone believe that the idea of
class struggle could have been eliminated only by a law? Is it not
rather the fact that the seeds we sowed in a hundred thousand meetings
resulted in a new socialist structure of labor? Today employers and
workers stand together in the Labor Front. The Law on National Labor
is the foundation of our economic thinking, realizing itself more and
more. Are not these social achievements the result of the long and
tireless labor of thousands of speakers?"
"We could eliminate the Jewish danger in our culture because the
people had recognized it as the result of our propaganda. Major
cultural achievements such as the unique "Kraft durch Freude" are
possible only with the powerful support of the people. The
prerequisite was and is propaganda, which here too creates and
maintains the connection to the people.
The Winter Relief last year raised about 350 million Marks. This was
not the result of taxation, rather many gifts of every amount.
Everyone gave freely and gladly, many of whom in the past had done
nothing in the face of similar need. Why? Because a broad propaganda
using every modern means presented the whole nation with the need of
this program of social assistance.
45 million Reich Marks of goods and services were provided. 85 million
Reich Marks worth of fuel were distributed. 130 million Reich Marks
worth of food were given out. Ten million Reich Marks worth of meals
were provided, and 70 million Reich Marks worth of clothing.
Some of these achievements were the result of donations in kind,
others the result of cash donations. Street collections, donations of
a part of paychecks, contributions from companies, and gifts
subtracted from bank accounts resulted in cash totaling 184 million
Reich Marks. 24 million marks alone were the result of "One Dish
Sundays." The Reich itself added 15 million marks to the
contributions of the people. The railway system provided reduced or
free shipping with a value of 14 million Marks.
Of our population of 65,595,000, 16,511,00 were assisted by the Winter
Relief. There were 150,000 volunteers. There were only 4,474 paid
workers, of whom 4,144 were in the 34 Gaue and 330 in the Reich
Propaganda and education prepared the way for the largest social
assistance program in history. They were the foundation. Their success
was that, over a long winter, no one in Germany went hungry or was
Over 40 million people approved of the Fuehrer's decision to leave the
League of Nations on 12 November 1933. That gave him the ability to
speak to the world in the name of the nation, defending honor, peace
and equality as the national ideals of the German people. The issues
of disarmament were put on firm and clear foundations. Once again,
propaganda was the foundation for the nation's unity on 12 November,
and therefore of the freedom of action that the Fuehrer had.
Each situation brings new challenges. And each task requires the
support of the people, which can only be gained by untiring propaganda
that brings the broad masses knowledge and clarity. No area of public
life can do without it. It is the never resting force behind public
opinion. It must maintain an unbroken relationship between leadership
and people. Every means of technology must be put in its service; the
goal is to form the mass will and to give it meaning, purpose and
goals that will enable us to learn from past failures and mistakes and
ensure that the lead National Socialist strength has given us over
other nations will never again be lost.
May the bright flame of our enthusiasm never fade. It alone gives
light and warmth to the creative art of modern political propaganda.
Its roots are in the people. The movement gives it direction and
drive. The state can only provide it with the new, wide-ranging
technical means. Only a living relationship between people, movement
and state can guarantee that the creative art of propaganda, which we
have made ourselves the world's master, will never sink into
bureaucracy and official narrow-mindedness.
Creative people made it and put it in the service of our movement. We
must have creative people who can use the means of the state in its
It is also a function of the modern state. Its reach is the firm
ground on which it must stand. It rises from the depths of the people,
and must always return to the people to find its roots and strength.
It may be good to have power based on weapons. It is better and longer
lasting, however, to win and hold the heart of a nation."