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Nazi domestic propaganda and popular response, 1943-45

Kirwin, G. A. (1979) Nazi domestic propaganda and popular response, 1943-45. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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This thesis is a study of the effects of totalitarian propaganda in a period of unrelenting crisis. Its importance as a totalitarian state and the vast amount of documentary material available make National Socialist Germany of 1943-45 an "ideal" subject for such a study. As long as Germany was confronted with a generally favourable military situation, as was the case in the years 1939-42, the work of Nazi propagandists was a comparatively easy one. The Stalingrad debacle in the winter of 1942-3, however, marked a turn not only in Germany's'military fortune, but also in domestic morale and response to propaganda. Nazi propagandists, now deprived of the favourable context, faced their first real test and were compelled to create a substitute for the increasingly unwelcome real world. It is shown that the German people's recognition of the growing rift between this propaganda-ersatz, "world" and the reality of the military situation resulted in a fall in Nazi propaganda's reputation for truth and trustworthiness, as well as an increasing dependence on alternative, even forbidden, unofficial information sources (e. g. rumours, foreign radio stations, the accounts of soldiers at the front). The thesis deals with those factors determining propaganda policy, the popular response to this propaganda and the reaction of the propagandists to this response. Within the context of this two-way process of interaction between propagandists and propaganda audience particular attention is paid to six themes. (a) What was the comparative importance of fear and consolation as components of Nazi propaganda policy? How successful were propagandists in strengthening the German people's will to resist the enemy by pointing out the dire consequences of defeat, and, at the same time, in providing adequate "positive" arguments to convince their audience of the feasibility of "final victory"? (b) How effective was constant repetition of the propaganda message? (c) How "total" was, in fact, Nazi propaganda? Was the propaganda audience identical with the German people? (d) What was the effect of military events and bombing on the popular attitude to both Nazi propaganda and the unofficial information sources, mentioned above? (e) How crucial were class and regional factors in determining morale and response to propaganda? (f) What effects did military setback and bombing have on popular attitudes to the future and the growing likelihood of defeat? Did the German people accept the basic propaganda argument that defeat would constitute their own destruction? The study is principally concerned with the Nazi press and radio, as well as some aspects of Party propaganda. Chapters 2-7 each contain a basic research subject for an examination of one or more of the questions listed above. The subjects chosen are the Battle of Stalingrad, the subsequent "Total War" campaign, the anti-Bolshevik and anti-Semitic propaganda campaigns in the first half of 1943, the Allied bombing offensive against the Reich, retaliation (Vergeltung) propaganda, and, finally, the catastrophic. chain of events in the final nine months of the Second World War. Chapter 8 presents some general conclusions

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Warner, G. and Campbell, P.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Politics
Identification Number/DOI:
ID Code:73922


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