German media during the second world war

Essay, 2003

9 Pages, Grade: good




The Weimar Republic

The rise of Propaganda: 1933



The Press Agency:

Propaganda during the War


The Russian Campaign:

Total War and the need for strenghtening morale:

The retreat into mythology and promises of retaliation:

The fall of Propaganda




This essay will analyse the German media during the Second World War. It will focus mainly on how radio and the press were used as propaganda tools by the National Socialists from 1933 until the end of the war. The essay will firstly described how the media in form of radio, press and press agencys were restructured by the state. The next paragraphs will then evaluate the use of the media during the war as propaganda tools, divided into four parts: Blitzkrieg, the Russian Campaign, Total War and the need for strenghtening morale and the retreat into mythology and promises of retaliation at the end of the war. Finally the essay will briefly summarise how the press, broadcasting and press agencys developed after the war in the different Allied Zones.

The Weimar Republic

During the Weimar Republic, the state often used the right to limit the press freedom by introducing new law. Even worse than this state control was the inner “cleaning” by industrials who sponsored newspapers and agencys. One of them was Hugenberg who published nationalistic parols and ideas. It is generally acknowledged that Hitler might not have been as popular without Hugenberg introducing national propaganda to the Germans (Meyn, 1990). Further, the Weimar Republic, which was the first German democracy, was despised by many people, which made them

susceptible to Fascism. In this time until he got into power 1933, Hitler gathered supporters against the inner enemy with the help of demagogy and propaganda

(Klaeser, 1998).

The rise of Propaganda: 1933

With the establishment of the Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda on March 12, 1933 Joseph Goebbels got “wholesale control of the mass-media” (Welch, 1995, page 24). It was seperated into seven different departments, during the war in even 14, and staffed by young and enthusiastic National Socialists (Welch, 1995). In a speech 1928 Goebbels said: “If we have an army of such propagandists,... the day will come which our worldview takes over the state, when our organization seizes the reins of power” (Goebbels, 1928).


Radio was state-regulated since 1925 and financed by licence fees. Fifty-one per cent of the capital was owned by the Ministry of Post who appointed a Radio Commissioner, forty-nine per cent by the regional broadcasting companies who were responsible for the output. Goebbels saw radio as an instrument to guide public opinion towards the National Socialist´s concept of a national community. His main problem was to break down the federal structure: It took Goebbels several months to establish his new system in which nine regional stations became merely branches controlled by the Ministry for Propaganda under the name of Reich Radio Company. Everyone connected to radio had to be member of the Company which enabled the state a total unity in radio output. The success in the campaign to bring Saarland back to Germany showed the possibilties of radio as a propaganda tool. It was from then on

marketed as the public´s media and the state produced cheap radios (Volksempfaenger), which were unable to receive most of the foreign stations but enabled everyone to listen to German propaganda. Alone in 1933 fifty speeches by Hitler were transmitted, community listening was introduced and “radio soon came to be regarded as the Nazi´s regime´s principal propaganda medium for the dissemination of National Socialist ideas and in the creation of a single public opinion” (Welch, 1995, page 33). The National Socialist´s biggest success was to create a mass listening public. Only during the war when the large amount of political broadcasting was counter-productive some problems became obvious and Goebbels started devoting nearly 70 per cent to light music (Balfour, 1979).


The press proved to be more difficult as they were associated with parties, pressure groups, religious bodies and private companies. The newspaper landscape in Germany flourished and more publications existed than in Italy, France and Britain together. Goebbels made a three-pronged approach: Firstly, he wanted to control everyone involved in the press industry, secondly the Party´s publisher house Eher Verlag gradually achieved direct or indirect ownership of the German Press majority and lastly the content was controlled with the help of the state-controlled press agency, the Deutsches Nachrichtenbuero, daily directives and press briefings.

The membership in the German Newspaper Publisher´s Association was compulsory and every member was screened for racial and political reliability. The press´new role was no longer only to inform but also to instruct. The emergency

decree after the Reichstag Fire in February 28, 1933 allowed the regime to suspend publication. It was the pretext for the suppression of Communist and Social Democratic Press (Welch, 1995). Newspapers were taken over and only some liberal papers like the Frankfurter Zeitung and the Berliner Tageblatt were permitted to continue publishing with changing amount of critic against the state (Meyn, 1990). At the beginning of 1933, the state owned only 55 daily newspapers, but at the end of the year 27 more and the circulation increased by 2.4 million copies a day. By 1939 the Eher Verlag controlled two-third of the press, but the papers kept their old name so that people were not made aware of the change. It was controlled by the Reich Press Chamber of which the Reich Association of the German Press became a corporate member. It kepts registers of racially pure editors and journalists and regulated the competition. The Press Chamber inbued a strong national Socialist bias and tried to educate a new generation of journalists along strict party lines.


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German media during the second world war
Liverpool John Moores University  (Medien)
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ISBN (eBook)
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Torsten Teering (Author), 2003, German media during the second world war, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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