Rallying the Nation
"The goal of our propaganda is control of the government. We want to replace the organization with a state founded upon the [National Socialist] idea."
Joseph Goebbels, 1927
Nazi propagandists appealed to popular desires for order by advertising the party as a protest movement against the instability and ineffectiveness of the "Weimar system." Indeed, from 1919 through the worldwide Depression that began in 1929, no single German political party was able to establish a parliamentary majority. Disagreements over economic policies, as well as the growing opposition between political parties, prevented a workable coalition. Instead, a succession of chancellors governed by presidential decree through Article 48 of the Weimar constitution, established to preserve democracy in times of unrest.
The Nazi Myth
Nazi Party propaganda decried the Weimar Republic as a morass of instability, corruption, and inaction. Nazi propagandists promoted the party as Germany's only political movement that spoke for all non-Jewish Germans, regardless of class, religion, or region. All other political parties, Nazi propaganda asserted, were special interest groups devoted to particularistic causes. Pledging to unite the nation and put the country’s at least six million unemployed back to work, Adolf Hitler garnered massive popular support.
- Poster: "Greater Germany: Yes on 10 April" (1938)
- Poster: "We Women Are Voting Slate 2 National Socialists"
- Early Nazi campaign poster by Mjolnir: "National Socialism–The Organized Will of the Nation"
- Poster: "We're for Adolf Hitler!"
The "National Community"
Key to Nazi ideology and propaganda was the creation of a "national community" (Volksgemeinschaft), a racial union of "Aryan" Germans transcending class, religion, and region. The political and social strife of the Weimar period had no place in this community. Instead of the protection of personal rights enshrined in the Weimar constitution, Nazi propagandists emphasized the welfare of the national community. "Racially pure" Germans ("national comrades") were to sacrifice for the commonweal. Nazi propaganda was crucial in selling the myth of the national community to Germans longing for unity, national pride and greatness, and a break with the social stratification of the past. Propaganda helped prepare the public for a future defined by Nazi ideology.
- Poster: "Women! … Save the German family. Vote for Adolf Hitler!"
- Poster: "Workers of the Mind, of the Fist, Vote for the Front Soldier / HITLER!"
- One Pot Sunday
- Poster: "Students/Be the Führer's propagandists"
Wartime propagandists often seek to justify the use of military force by portraying it as morally defensible and necessary. In summer 1939, as Hitler finalized plans for the invasion of Poland, the public mood in Germany was tense and fearful. No crowds lined the streets calling for war, as they had done at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. The specter of that war and the deaths of two million German soldiers haunted popular memory. The Nazi propaganda machine was tasked with building public support for a new war. Throughout World War II, Nazi propagandists disguised military aggression aimed at territorial conquest as ethnic self-defense necessary for the survival of "Aryan civilization."
- Poster: "Build Weapons and Munitions for the Front!" (1941)
- Mjölnir poster: "Victory or Bolshevism"
- Poster: Why we fight—for our children's bread!!
Back to Top