Film im Dritten Reich

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
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National Socialism created an elaborate system of propaganda, which made use of the new technologies of the 20th century, including cinema.
The National Socialists courted the masses by the means of slogans that were aimed directly at the instincts and emotions of the people.
It is therefore not surprising that the government of the Third Reich valued film as a propaganda instrument of enormous power.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels 

The interest that Adolf Hitler and his Propaganda Minister Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels took in film was not only the result of a personal fascination.

The instrumentalization of film for propaganda had been planned by the National Socialist German Workers Party as early as 1930, (three years before they gained power), when the party first established a film department.
Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, who appointed himself “Patron of the German film”, assumed, accurately, that a national cinema which was entertaining and put the government in a glamorous light would be a more effective propaganda instrument than a national cinema in which the NSDAP and their policy would have been ubiquitous.
The main goal of the National Socialist film policy was to promote a certain form of escapism, which was designed to distract the population and to keep everybody in good spirits; Dr Goebbels indeed blamed defeat in World War I on the failure to sustain the morale of the people – a view which was also held by Adolf Hitler, as he explained in ‘Mein Kampf’.
The open propaganda was reserved for films like ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ (Victory of Faith) and ‘Triumph des Willen’s (Triumph of the Will), records of the Nürnberg rallies, and newsreels.
There are some examples of German feature films from the Third Reich that deal with the NSDAP, or with party organizations such as the Sturmabteilung, Hitler Youth or the National Labour Service, one notable example being ‘Hitlerjunge Quex’ – a film) about the Hitler Youth.
Another example is the anti-semitic feature film ‘Jud Süß’ (Jew Suss).
The propaganda films that refer directly to Nazi politics amounted to less than a sixth of the whole national film production, which mainly consisted of light entertainment films, although it is those propaganda films that are much more well known today, such as ‘Triumph des Willens’ .
The authorities and NSDAP departments in charge of film policy were the film department of the Ministry of Propaganda, the Reichskulturkammer (Reich Chamber of Culture), the Reichsfilmkammer (Reich Chamber of Film), and the Reichspropagandaleitung (film department of the Party Propaganda Department).
A system of “award” was used to encourage self-censorship; awarded for such things as “kulturellen Wert” (cultural value) or “Wert dem Volk” (value to the people), they remitted part of the heavy taxes on films.
Up to a third of the films in the Third Reich received such awards.
The Reichsfilmkammer
The Reichsfilmkammer (RFK; Film Chamber of the Reich) was a public corporation based in Berlin that regulated the film industry in National Socialist Germany between 1933 and 1945.
Everyone in the German Reich who wanted to work on films in any capacity had to be a member; lack of membership meant in effect a ban on employment.
Reichskulturkammer RKK

The predecessor of the Reichsfilmkammer was the Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft (SPIO) (“Film Industry Summit Organisation”).

The Reichsfilmkammer was established on the basis of the Gesetz über die Errichtung einer vorläufigen Filmkammer (“Law for the Establishment of a Temporary Film Chamber”) of 14 July 1933.
Under the Reichskulturkammergesetz (“Law of the Reich Culture Chamber”) of 22 September 1933 the Film Chamber was integrated as a subdivision of the newly founded Reichskulturkammer RKK (“Culture Chamber of the Reich”).
The establishment of the Reichsfilmkammer was preceded by an ordinance of the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda), which prohibited Jews and foreigners from any participation in the German film industry.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbles

To co-ordinate film to the goals of propaganda (Gleichschaltung), the NDAP subordinated the entire film industry and administration under Dr Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda, and gradually nationalized film production and distribution.

Gleichschaltung (“coordination”, “bringing into line”), is a National Socialist term for the process by which the NSDAP successively established a system of overall control and coordination over all aspects of society. 
Among the goals of this policy were to bring about adherence to a specific doctrine and way of thinking and to control as many aspects of life as possible.
A state-run professional school for politically reliable film-makers (Deutsche Filmakademie Babelsberg) was founded, and membership of an official professional organization (Reichsfilmkammer) was made mandatory for all actors, film-makers, distributors etc.
The censorship that had already been established during World War I and the Weimar Republic was maintained, with a National Film Dramaturgist (Reichsfilmdramaturg) checking all manuscripts and screenplays at the very first stages of production.
Film criticism was prohibited, and a national film award established.
A film bank (Filmkreditbank GmbH) was established to provide low-interest loans for the production of politically welcome films, and such films also received tax benefits.
Film Production
In the mid-1930s, the German film industry suffered the most severe crisis it had ever faced.
There were multiple reasons for this crisis.
Firstly, many of the most capable actors and film-makers had left the country after the rise to power of the Nazi government; others had been banned by the new Reichsfilmkammer.
These people left a gap that the film industry.
Secondly, the remaining actors and film-makers seized the opportunity to demand higher salaries, which considerably increased production budgets.
Consequently, it became more and more difficult to recover production costs.
Thirdly, the export of German films dramatically dropped due to international boycotts.
In 1933, exports had covered 44% of film production costs; by 1937, this figure had dropped to a mere 7%.
More and more production companies went bankrupt.
The number of companies dropped from 114 (1933–35) to 79 (1936–38) to 38 (1939–41).
This did not necessarily lead to a decrease in the number of new films, as surviving production companies became more prolific, producing many more films.

Adolf Hitler and Dr Goebbles visit UFA Studios

The consolidation of the film industry was undoubtedly beneficial for the government of the Tird Reich.

On the one hand, an ailing and unprofitable film industry would not have been of much use for the propaganda requirements.
And on the other hand, a small number of big film production companies were easier to control than a multitude of small ones.
Dr Goebbels went even further and directed a holding company – Cautio Treuhand GmbH – to buy up the stock majorities of the remaining film production companies.
In 1937, the Cautio acquired the largest German production company, Ufa, and in 1942 merged this company with the remaining companies – Terra Film, Tobis, Bavaria Film, Wien-Film and Berlin-Film – into the so-called “Ufi-Group”.
Universum Film AG
Universum Film AG – Logo

Universum Film AG, better known as UFA or Ufa, was a film company that was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry during the Weimar Republic and through World War II, and a major force in world cinema from 1917 to 1945.

UFA was created during November 1917 in Berlin as a government-owned producer of World War I propaganda and public service films.
It was created through the consolidation of most of Germany’s commercial film companies, including Nordisk and Decla. Decla’s former owner, Erich Pommer, served as producer for the 1920 film ‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’, which was not only the best example of German Expressionism and an enormously influential film, but also a commercial success.

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’

‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’ is a 1920 German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential films of the German Expressionist movement and is often considered to be one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era in film. The film used stylized sets, with abstract, jagged buildings painted on canvas backdrops and flats. To add to this strange style, the actors used an unrealistic technique that exhibited “jerky” and dance-like movements. This movie is cited as having introduced the ‘twist’ ending in cinema.

Pressured by the US film industry, in late 1921 UFA was merged with Decla-Bioscop, “with government, industrial and banking support” and a near-monopoly in an industry that produced around 600 films each year and attracted a million customers every day.
In the silent movie years, when films were easier to adapt for foreign markets, UFA began developing an international reputation and posed serious competition to Hollywood.
During the Weimar years the studio produced and exported an enormous, accomplished, and inventive body of work.

Der Blaue Engel

Famous directors based at UFA included Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau; under chief producer Erich Pommer the company created landmark films such as ‘Dr. Mabuse’ (1922), ‘Metropolis’ (1927), and Marlene Dietrich’s first talkie, ‘Der Blaue Engel’ (The Blue Angel) (1930).

UFA was also the studio of the ‘Bergfilm’, a uniquely German genre that glorified and romanticized mountain climbing, downhill skiing, and avalanche-dodging.
The ‘Bergfilm’ genre was primarily the creation of director Arnold Fanck, and examples like ‘Der Heilige Berg’ (The Holy Mountain) (1926) and ‘Weiß Ekstase’ (White Ecstasy) (1931) are notable for the appearance of Austrian skiing legend Hannes Schneider and a young Leni Riefenstahl.
The flying ace Ernst Udet also appeared in several of the films.

Alfred Hugenberg

The studio over-extended itself financially during the late 1920s, partly as a result of the expensive production of ‘Metropolis’, and was taken over by the press baron, former Krupp manager, and DNVP leader Alfred Hugenberg in March 1927.

Once it became clear in the late 1920s that sound film had taken off, UFA rapidly switched its production away from silent film and added soundtracks to films already being made such as Melody of the Heart. In spite of this the first German sound film was produced by its smaller rival Tobis.[2] UFA had previously been able to export its silent films around the world. Because of the new language barrier in the sound age, major films were often made with versions in several languages as happened with the expensive musicals The Three from the Filling Station (1930), Monte Carlo Madnes (1931) and The Congress Dances (1931). UFA particularly targeted the British, French and American markets.

UFA-Palast am Zoo – Berlin

During the same year, UFA opened the UFA-Palast am Zoo theatre in Berlin.

National conservative Hugenberg in the course of the “Machtergreifung ” on 30 January 1933 became Reich Minister of Economy in Hitler’s cabinet.
He resigned in June, but the company nevertheless became a compliant producer of National Socialist propaganda films, supervised by Hugenberg’s cabinet colleague Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.
His Ministry essentially controlled the content of UFA films.
With one stroke, the entire German film industry had been practically nationalized, however, German film-making preserved its character as a private industry.
Although Dr Goebbels founded the Filmkreditbank GmbH in order to fund the industry, the funds came from private investors.
Thus, there were no government subsidies to the film industry in the Third Reich.
Because of this, the industry was forced to remain profitable – and to produce films that met the expectations of the audience.
Film Distribution
A concentration also took place in the distribution field.
In 1942, the Ufa-owned Deutsche Filmvertriebs GmbH (DFV) took the place of all companies so far remaining.
For the export of films to foreign countries special companies had been established such as the Cinéma Film AG.
Since the days of the Weimar Republic, there had also existed an extensive system of educational film hire services which was extended under the National Socialist administration.
In 1943, there were 37 regional services and 12,042 city services.
In parallel, the Reichspropagandaleitung ran its own network of educational film hire services which included 32 Gaue, 171 district, and 22,357 local services.
All film hire services had extensive film collections as well as rental 16 mm film projectors available that made it possible to show films in any class or lecture room and at any group meeting of the Hitler Youth.
Apart from the Ufa-owned theatre chain, the cinemas were not nationalized.
The majority of the 5,506 theatres that existed in 1939 within the so-called Altreich (the “Old Reich”, i.e., Germany without Austria and the Sudetenland) were small companies run by private owners, however, a large number of rules and regulations issued by the Reichsfilmkammer limited the entrepreneurial freedom of the cinemas considerably.
For instance, it was mandatory to include a documentary and a newsreel in every film programme.
By a law of 1933 (the Gesetz über die Vorführung ausländischer Bildstreifen vom 23. Juni 1933) the government was also entitled to prohibit the presentation of foreign films.

UFA-Palast am Zoo – Berlin

An import quota for foreign films had been set during the Weimar Republic, and during World War II, the import of films from certain foreign countries was completely prohibited. For example, from 1941 onwards, the presentation of American films became illegal.

In order to boost the propaganda effect, the Nazis supported film shows in large cinemas with large audiences where the feeling of being part of the crowd was so overwhelming for the individual spectator that critical film perception had little chance.
Film shows also took place in military barracks and factories.
The Hitler Youth arranged special film programmes (Jugendfilmstunden) where newsreels and propaganda films were shown. In order to supply even rural and remote areas with film shows, the Party Propaganda Department (Reichspropagandaleitung) operated 300 film trucks and two film trains that carried all the necessary equipment for showing films in, for example, village inns.
The dislike that Goebbels and other film politicians had for individual, more private film viewing was probably one of the reasons why they did not make any effort to develop television – at that time a technique that was ready to be applied – as a new mass media.
Film propaganda had the highest priority in Germany even under the severe conditions of the last years of World War II.
While schools and playhouses stopped working in 1944, cinemas continued to operate until the very end of the war
In Berlin for instance, anti-aircraft units were posted specially to protect the local cinemas in 1944.
Star System
There always had been film stars in Germany, but a star system comparable to the star system in Hollywood did not yet exist.
Female Film Stars of the third Reich
Dr Goebbles and Adolf Hitler
Zarah Leander

In order to improve the image of the Third Reich, Dr Goebbels made great efforts to form a star system. 

The best-known example is the Swedish actress Zarah Leander who was hired in 1937 by the Ufa and became the most prominent and highest-paid German film star in only a few years.
The publicity campaign for Leander was run by the press office of the Ufa, which concealed her past as a film actress already well known in Sweden and put their money right away on her charisma as a singer with an exceptionally deep voice.
The Ufa press office provided the newspapers with detailed instructions on how the new star would have to be presented, and even the actress herself had to follow detailed instructions whenever she appeared in public.
This kind of star publicity had not existed in Germany before.

Olga Tschechowa
Lil Dagover

High politicians such as Adolf Hitler, Dr Goebbels, and Hermann Göring appeared in public flanked by popular German film actors.

The female stars in particular were supposed to lend some glamour to the male-dominated NSDAP events. Adolf Hitler’s preferred dinner partners were the actresses Olga Tschechowa and Lil Dagover, and from 1935, Hermann Göring was married to the popular actress Emmy Sonnemann.
The relationships of Dr Goebbels to several female film stars are also well known.
Magda Goebbels left a screening of the film ‘Die Reise nach Tilsit’, because it seemed to her too close a telling of her husband’s relationship with Lida Baarova, which had resulted in the actress being sent back to her native Czechoslovakia.

Lida Baarova,

Personal proximity to the political leaders became a determining factor for the career success of film actors An informal system of listings decided how frequently an actor would be cast.

The five categories extended from “to cast at all costs even without a vacancy” (for instance Zarah Leander, Lil Dagover, Heinz Rühmann) to “casting under no circumstances welcome”.
How crucial the film stars were for the image of the National Socialist government is also evident from the tax benefits that Hitler decreed in 1938 for prominent film actors and directors.
From that time on, they could deduct 40% of their income as professional expenses.

Richard Strauss
Arno Breker

In 1944 Dr Joseph Goebbels made a now famous list of “irreplaceable artists” called the ‘Gottbegnadeten list’ with people such as Arno Breker, Richard Strauss and Johannes Heesters.

During World War II German film stars supported the war effort by performing for the troops or by collecting money for the Winterhilfswerk (Winter Relief Organization).
Although most of the male stars were exempted from military service, some – such as the popular Heinz Rühmann – participated in the war as soldiers, often accompanied by newsreel film crews.

Hitlerjunge Quex

The films ‘Hitlerjunge Quex’ and ‘S.A.-Mann Brand’ also glorified those had died in the struggle to seize power; ‘Quex’ was based on a novel that sold over 200,000 copies over two years.

Hitlerjunge Quex is a 1932 German propaganda novel based on the life of Herbert “Quex” Norkus. 
The 1933 movie ‘Hitlerjunge Quex: Ein Film vom Opfergeist der deutschen Jugend’ was based on the novel, and was described by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels as the “first large-scale” transmission of National Socialist ideology using the medium of cinema.

Hitlerjunge Quex

Both the book and the movie, like ‘S.A.-Mann Brand’ and ‘Hans Westmar’ (see above), both released the same year, fictionalized and glorified death in the service of the NSDAP and Hitler.

Hitlerjungen marschieren
von Herbert Norkus ‘Grab der
NSDAP Kongress in Nürnberg
The novel Der Hitlerjunge Quex was written by Karl Aloys Schenzinger between May and September 1932.
It was first published in  NSDP party newspaper ‘Völkischer Beobachter’, and as a book in December 1932.
Both novel and movie are based on the real story of Herbert Norkus’ life. Norkus, a Hitler Youth member, died from injuries suffered when chased and confronted by Communist youths in the night of 23 / 24 January 1932 in the Beusselkietz neighbourhood of Moabit, Berlin.
While the murder was condemned by the press, the Communists started a counter-propaganda offensive, describing the incident as an accidental result of Communist self-defense during a NSDAP attack.
By January 1934 the film had been viewed by a million people.

Hans Westmar

Hans Westmar- ‘Einer von vielen’
Hanns Heinz Ewers
‘Hans Westmar. Einer von vielen. Ein deutsches Schicksal aus dem Jahre 1929’ (Hans Westmar. One of many.
A German Fate from the Year 1929) was the last of an unofficial trilogy of films commissioned by the Third Reich shortly after coming to power in January 1933, celebrating the ‘Kampfzeit’ – a ‘mythologised’ history of their period in opposition, struggling to gain power. 
The film is a fictionalized life of the famous National Socialist martyr Horst Wessel.

Horst Ludwig Wessel

Horst Ludwig Wessel (October 9, 1907 – February 23, 1930) was a German National Socialist activist and an SA-Sturmführer who was made a posthumous hero of the NSDAP following his violent death in 1930. He was the author of the lyrics to the song “Die Fahne hoch” (“The Flag On High”), usually known as ‘Horst-Wessel-Lied’ (“the Horst Wessel Song”), which became the Party anthem and, de facto, Germany’s co-national anthem from 1933 to 1945. His death also resulted in his becoming the “patron” for the Luftwaffe’s 26th Destroyer Wing and the 18th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division during World War II.

The film was based on a novel, personally commissioned by Adolf Hitler from his close friend Hanns Heinz Ewers.
It was among the first films to depict dying for Hitler as a glorious death for Germany, resulting in his spirit inspiring his comrades.
His decision to go to the streets is presented as fighting “the real battle.”

Leni Riefenstahl

“Leni” Riefenstahl

Helene Bertha Amalie “Leni” Riefenstahl (22 August 1902 – 8 September 2003) was a German film director, photographer, actress and dancer widely known for directing the propaganda film ‘Triumph des Willens’.

‘Triumph des Willens’ gave Riefenstahl instant and lasting international fame.
She directed eight films, two of which received significant coverage outside Germany, and many film histories cite the aesthetics as outstanding.
Riefenstahl took dancing lessons and attended dance academies from an early age, and began her career as an interpretive dancer.
After injuring her knee while performing in Prague, she saw a film about mountains ‘Der Berg des Schicksals, (1924) and became fascinated with the possibilities of this sort of film.
She went to the Alps to meet the film’s director, Arnold Fanck, hoping to secure the lead in his next project, but instead, Riefenstahl met Luis Trenker who had starred in Fanck’s films, who wrote to the director about her.
Der heilige Berg

Riefenstahl went on to star in many of Fanck’s mountain films as an athletic and adventurous young woman.

She became an accomplished mountaineer, and learned film-making techniques.

‘Der heilige Berg’ (The Holy Mountain) is a 1926 German UFA mountain film directed by Arnold Fanck and starring Leni Riefenstahl, Luis Trenker and Frida Richard. It was the future filmmaker Riefenstahl’s first screen appearance as an actress. The film cost 1.5 million reichsmarks to produce, and was released during the 1926 Christmas season.

Riefenstahl went on to have a prolific career as an actress in silent films.
Her last acting role before becoming a director was the 1933 production of the Arnold Fanck-directed, ‘SOS Eisberg’.
One of her fans at this time was Adolf Hitler.
Riefenstahl accompanied Fanck to the 1928 Olympic Games in St. Moritz, where she became interested in athletic photography and filming.
When presented with the opportunity to direct ‘Das Blaue Licht’ (The Blue Light) (1932), she took it. Breaking from Fanck’s style of setting realistic stories in fairytale mountain settings, Riefenstahl filmed ‘Das Blaue Licht’ as a romantic, wholly mystical tale which she thought of as more fitting to the terrain.

Leni Riefenstahl
Das blaue Licht

‘Das blaue Licht’ is a black-and-white 1932 film written and directed by Leni Riefenstahl and Béla Balázs, with uncredited scripting by Carl Mayer.
A young woman, Junta (Riefenstahl), lives apart from her village and, for her solitude and strangeness, is considered to be a witch; when she comes to the village for one reason or another, the townsfolk chase her away. They feel that she may in some way be responsible for the deaths of several young men of the village, who have felt compelled, one by one, to climb the local mountain (and fall to their deaths) on nights when the moon is full. Junta lives largely in solitude (except for the company of a young shepherd boy) in the tranquillity of the mountains surrounding the village. She is simple and innocent, but also seems something of a mystic. On full moon nights, a crack in a prominent local mountain admits the moon’s light and illuminates a grotto filled with beautiful crystals. This place of indescribable beauty, glowing with magical blue light, is a sacred space for Junta. The glowing blue light, shining from afar, to the village below, is also what has attracted the village’s young men, none of whom ever reached it before falling off the mountain’s treacherous slope.

Adolf Hitler and Leni Riefenstahl

A man from the city, a painter, travelling through the village, falls in love with Junta. All is pleasant and good and very chaste, until the next full moon night, when the man sees Junta climbing up the mountain. He follows her, actually reaching the beautiful grotto, and finds Junta in a state of ecstasy among the crystals.
Perceiving these thousands of crystals to be a source of immense wealth for Junta and the villagers, the man immediately runs down to inform the townsfolk and tells them of the correct route to reach the grotto. Junta does not realize that he is doing this, until the next day, when she finds some of her crystals on the path to the village, as well as some dropped tools. Rushing up to the grotto, she finds it completely barren of crystals: all have been taken by the greedy villagers. Meanwhile, the villagers and the painter are celebrating. Junta is totally devastated at this violation of the sacred grotto and of her trust in the outsider and falls to her death.

She co-wrote, directed and starred in the film, and produced it under the banner of her own company, Leni Riefenstahl Productions.
‘Das Blaue Licht’ won the Silver Medal at the Venice Biennale and played to full audiences all over Europe.
Der Sieg des Glaubens
Der Sieg des Glaubens
Der Sieg des Glaubens

Der Sieg des Glaubens (Victory of Faith) (1933) is the first propaganda film directed by Leni Riefenstahl.
Her film recounts the Fifth Party Rally of the NDAP, which occurred in Nürnberg from 30 August to 3 September 1933.

Its form is very similar to her later and much expanded version of the 1934 rally, known as ‘Triumph des Willens’.
It is a visual record of the rally and not much else, having no analytical content, so cannot claim “documentary” status.
It is pure propaganda for the NSDAP, who funded and promoted the film.
The film celebrates the “victory” of the NSDAP in achieving power with Hitler assuming the role of Chancellor of Germany in February 1933.
Triumph des Willens

Triumph des Willens
Triumph des Willens

‘Triumph des Willens’ is a 1935 film made by Leni Riefenstahl.

It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters.
The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Party leaders at the Congress, interspersed with footage of massed Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel troops.
Hitler commissioned the film and served as an unofficial executive producer; his name appears in the opening titles.

Triumph des Willens – Final Scene
The overriding theme of the film is the return of Germany as a great power, with Hitler as the leader who will bring glory to the nation.
‘Triumph des Willens’ was released in 1935 and became an example of propaganda in film history.
Riefenstahl’s techniques, such as moving cameras, the use of long focus lenses to create a distorted perspective, aerial photography, and revolutionary approach to the use of music and cinematography, have earned ‘Triumph des Willens’ recognition as one of the greatest films in history.
Riefenstahl won several awards, not only in Germany but also in the United States, France, Sweden, and other countries.
The film was popular in the Third Reich, and has continued to influence movies, documentaries, and commercials to this day.



‘Olympia’ is a 1938 film by Leni Riefenstahl documenting the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany.

The film was released in two parts: Olympia 1. Teil – Fest der Völker (Festival of Nations) and Olympia 2. Teil – Fest der Schönheit (Festival of Beauty).

It was the first documentary feature film of the Olympic Games ever made.
Many advanced motion picture techniques, which later became industry standards but which were ground-breaking at the time, were employed – including unusual camera angles, smash cuts, extreme close-ups, placing tracking shot rails within the bleachers, and the like.
The techniques employed almost universally admired, and the film appears on many lists of the greatest films of all-time, including Time magazine’s “All-Time 100 Movies.”
Olympia set the precedent for future films documenting and glorifying the Olympic Games, particularly the Summer Games.
The 1936 Summer Olympics torch relay was devised by the German sports official Dr. Carl Diem for these Olympic Games in Berlin.
Riefenstahl later staged the torch relay for this film, as with competitive events of the Games.

Jud Süß

‘Jud Süß’ is a German propaganda film produced in 1940 by Terra Filmkunst at the behest of Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.
The movie was directed by Veit Harlan, who wrote the screenplay with Eberhard Wolfgang Möller and Ludwig Metzger.
The leading roles were played by Ferdinand Marian and Harlan’s wife Kristina Söderbaum; Werner Krauss and Heinrich George played key supporting roles.
Although the film’s budget of 2 million Reichsmarks was considered high for films of that era, the box-office receipts of 6.5 million Reichsmarks made it a financial success.
Heinrich Himmler, Reich Führer SS, urged members of the SS and police to watch the movie.
Although some have dismissed the film as simply propaganda, others have pointed to Harlan’s talent as a director as one of the significant contributing factors to the film’s box-office success.
‘Jud Süß’
Together with ‘Die Rothschilds’ and ‘Der ewige Jude’, the film remains one of the most frequently discussed examples of the use of film to further the National Socialist racial philosophy.
The film is based on historical events.
Joseph Süß Oppenheimer was an 18th century Court Jew in the employ of Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg in Stuttgart.
As a financial advisor for Duke Karl Alexander, Duke of Württemberg, he also gained a prominent position as a court Jew and held the reins of the finances in his duchy.
In the process, he made a number of enemies who stated, among other things, that he was involved with local gambling houses.
When Karl Alexander died suddenly, Oppenheimer was arrested and accused of various crimes, including fraud, embezzlement, treason, lecherous relations with the court ladies and accepting bribes.
After a heavily publicized trial he was sentenced to death.
Joseph Süß Oppenheimer was led to the gallows on 4 February 1738.
The film premièred at the Venice Film Festival on 8 September 1940 and received rave reviews, earning the top award.
‘Jud Süß’ was a great box-office success in Germany and abroad.
It ranked sixth out of the thirty most popular German films of the war years.
Within the Third Reich, it was the number one film of the 1939–1940 season, viewed by audiences totalling over twenty million at a time when the population of Germany was some seventy million.
Der ewige Jude
‘Der ewige Jude’
‘Der ewige Jude’ (1940) is a German propaganda film, presented as a documentary.
The film’s title in German is the German term for the character of the “Wandering Jew” in medieval folklore. 
At the insistence of Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda, Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, the film was directed by Fritz Hippler.
The screenplay is credited to Eberhard Taubert.
The film consists of feature and documentary footage combined with materials filmed shortly after the German occupation of Poland.
At this time Poland’s Jewish population was about three million, roughly ten percent of the total population. 
Actor Harry Giese (1903–1991) narrated.
In 1937, a special wing of the Propaganda Ministry put on an art exhibition in Munich titled ‘Der ewige Jude’. 
It followed this up with the publication of a book consisting of 265 photographs, each with a caption describing the degeneracy of the Jewish race.
Adolf Hitler expressed his frustration and anger at the mixed response from the German media and insisted that propaganda should be expressed in such a way that the German people themselves would develop ann aversion with regard to the Jews.
In response to Hitler’s reprimand, Dr Goebbels launched a campaign against the Jews.
He ordered each film studio to make an anti-Jewish film.
In the case of ‘Der ewige Jude’ Dr Goebbels conceived of a film that would communicate to the German people the same message that had been the theme of the 1937 Munich exhibition.
Although Dr Goebbels did not generally take an active role in the production of particular films, he elected to do so in the case of major propaganda films such as ‘Der ewige Jude’.
Throughout the end of 1939 and the beginning of 1940, Dr Goebbels devoted “constant attention” to the production of ‘Der ewige Jude’.
The footage that Hippler shot in the Jewish ghettos of Lodz, Warsaw, Cracow and Lublin in German occupied Poland was the only footage shot specifically for the purpose of the film.
At the beginning of the film, animated text informs the audience that this “documentary footage” shows Jews in their original state “before they put on the mask of civilized Europeans.”
Hippler advertised the film as being a factual documentary consisting of pictures of real Jews with nothing faked or simulated.
Aside from the footage shot in Poland, the rest of the film consisted of stills and archival footage from feature films.
The basic tenet of the film as argued that “the Jew is an oriental barbarian who has insinuated himself cleverly into European society, and now exploits it parasitically.
This point is emphasized throughout the film, starting from the very opening lines of the film’s commentary:
The civilized Jews that we know in Germany give us only an incomplete picture of their racial character.
This film shows genuine shots of the Polish ghettos. It shows the Jews as they really are, before they conceal themselves behind the mask of the civilized European.’
Der ewige Jude – Rats
Following this commentary, the film provides a succession of scenes in which Jews are portrayed as an uncivilized, parasitic people with low social standing. 
The film utilizes a montage that juxtaposes these images of ghetto Jews with images of rats to draw an analogy between the migration of Jews from Eastern Europe with the migration of rats.
For example, one of the shots shows a pack of rats emerging from a sewer, followed by a shot of a crowd of Jews in a bustling street of the Lodz ghetto. Close-ups of those in the crowd reveal sickly, malformed facial features.
The narrator states that, as rats are the vermin of the animal kingdom, Jews are the vermin of the human race and similarly spread disease and corruption.
Unlike rats, however, the narrator continues, Jews have the uncanny ability to change their appearance and blend into their “human hosts.”
A scene depicts four bearded men in traditional religious Jewish clothing, then shows them shaved and in modern business suits, while the narrator explains that only a “trained eye” can distinguish their Jewish features.
Where rats appear, they bring ruin by destroying mankind’s goods and foodstuffs. In this way, they spread disease, plague, leprosy, typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and so on. They are cunning, cowardly and cruel and are found mostly in large packs. Among the animals, they represent the rudiment of an insidious, underground destruction – just like the Jews among human beings.

Wunschkonzert – Poster
Wunschkonzert (“Request Concert”) is a 1940 German drama propaganda film by Eduard von Borsody.
After ‘Die grosse Liebe’, it was the most popular film of wartime Germany, reaching the second highest gross.
The popular music show “Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht” (“Request Concert for the Wehrmacht”) was broadcast on the German radio network every Sunday afternoon.
Its popularity was based on the fact that it broadcast music requested by men in the armed forces, thus uniting the armed forces and the homefront in Volksgemeinschaft.
The story takes place during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.


The young Inge Wagner and Luftwaffe Fliegerleutnant (Flight Lieutenant) Herbert Koch meet, and within a few days fall in love.
They make plans for their joint future, but before they can get married Herbert is seconded to the Condor Legion and ordered to the Spanish Civil War; he is forced to leave immediately without giving Inge any explanation.
The mission is top secret and all contact with home is forbidden, including by letter, and he is unable to contact her with an explanation.
When after several months the operation is over, and Herbert is recovering from a severe injury, he is at last able to write to Inge, but she has moved in the meantime and he is unable to trace her.
Inge meanwhile is unable to forget Herbert and is prepared to wait for him.
Three years go by.
When the war begins with the Invasion of Poland in 1939, the men from Inge’s area all go off to the front, including Inge’s childhood friend, Helmut Winkler, whose proposal of marriage she has turned down, but who continues to hope for her hand.
Helmut is assigned to a Squadron where he is put directly under Herbert, who has meanwhile been promoted to Hauptmann (Group Captain).
The two become friends, not knowing that they both love the same girl.
Since the beginning of the war, a big musical event has taken place in Berlin every week, which is broadcast on the radio as “Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht” and provides a channel for greetings and messages between the front and home.
When Herbert, remembering the beautiful days with Inge, asks for the Olympic fanfares, Inge, who is listening at home like every one else, hears it and is encouraged by this sudden sign out of the blue to discover Herbert’s whereabouts, with renewed hope of seeing him again.
They exchange letters, and arrange to meet in Hamburg.
However, at the last moment before the meeting, Herbert and Helmut are both ordered off on a reconnaissance flight over the Atlantic and are shot down.
A German U-Boat picks them up.
Meanwhile Inge is waiting in vain.
Helmut is taken wounded to the military hospital, where all three meet in his sickroom.
After sorting out the confused situation – Herbert assumes that Inge and Helmut are engaged – the two lovers are reunited.
Starring roles were played by Ilse Werner as Inge Wagner, Carl Raddatz as Herbert Koch and Joachim Brennecke as Helmut Winkler.
Wunschkonzert was officially classified as “Politically valuable“, “Artistically valuable“, “Valuable for the people” and “Valuable for youth“.
By the end of World War II the film had been seen by almost 26 million people and taken 7.6 million Reichsmarks.



The last great film of the Third Reich was ‘Kolberg’.

‘Kolberg’ was a historical feature film made in 1945 German and was directed by Veit Harlan, it was intended as a propaganda piece to shore up the will of the German population to resist the Allies.
The film is based on the autobiography of Joachim Nettelbeck, mayor of Kolberg in western Pomerania.
It tells the story of the successful defence of the besieged fortress town of Kolberg against French troops between April and July 1807, during the Napoleonic Wars.
The film ends with King Frederick William III of Prussia being convinced by Gneisenau to rise up against Napoleon, and in the final scene he sits down to write the proclamation ‘An Mein Volk’ (“To my People”) announcing the ‘War of Liberation’.
Joseph Goebbels explicitly ordered the use of the historical events for a film, which he regarded as highly suitable for the circumstances Germany faced.
Kolberg, begun in 1943, was made in Agfacolor with high production values.
At a cost of more than eight million marks, it was the most expensive German film of the second World War, with the actual cost suppressed to avoid public reaction.
At a time when the war was turning against German fortunes, thousands of soldiers were used in the film.
Principal cinematography took place from October 22, 1943 to August 1944.


The exteriors were shot in Kolberg and environs, Königsberg, Berlin and environs, Seeburg and Neustettin.

To film scenes with snow during summer, 100 railway wagons brought salt to the set in Pomerania.
The film was finally completed at the Babelsberg Studios at Potsdam, while the town and nearby Berlin were being steadily bombed by the Allies.
Two extras were killed during the making of the film when an explosive charge went off too early.
The film opened on January 30, 1945 in a temporary cinema (U.T. Alexanderplatz) and at Tauentzien-Palast in Berlin, and ran under constant threat of air raids until the fall of Berlin in May. 
One of the last films of the Third Reich, it never went into general release.

Propaganda in the Third Reich

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Propaganda was skillfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler’s leadership of Germany (1933–1945).

National Socialist propaganda provided a crucial instrument for acquiring and maintaining power, and for the implementation of their policies, including the pursuit of total war.

In Opposition (1919–33)
Adolf Hitler devoted three chapters of his 1925/26 book ‘Mein Kampf’, itself a propaganda tool, to the study and practice of propaganda.
He claimed to have learnt the value of propaganda as a World War I infantryman exposed to very effective British and ineffectual German propaganda.
The argument that Germany lost the war largely because of British propaganda efforts, expounded at length in ‘Mein Kampf’, reflected then-common German nationalist claims.
Although untrue – German propaganda during World War I was mostly more advanced than that of the British – it became the official truth of Third Reich thanks to its reception by Hitler.

Mein Kampf’ contains the blueprint of later National Socialist propaganda efforts.

Assessing his audience, Hitler writes in Chapter VI:
Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people.
All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed.
The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses.
The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgement in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another.
The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning.
This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.
As to the methods to be employed, he explains: “Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side.
The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble.
On the other hand, they quickly forget.
Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas.
These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.
Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion.
The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.
Hitler put these ideas into practice with the re-establishment of the ‘Völkischer Beobachter’, a daily newspaper published by the NSDAP from February 1925 on, whose circulation reached 26,175 in 1929.
It was joined in 1926 by Joseph Goebbels’s ‘Der Angriff’, another propagandistic paper.
During most of the National Socialists’ time in opposition, their means of propaganda remained limited.
With little access to mass media, the party continued to rely heavily on Hitler and a few others speaking at public meetings until 1929.
In April 1930, Hitler appointed Goebbels head of party propaganda. Goebbels, a former journalist and National Socialist party officer in Berlin, soon proved his skills.
Among his first successes was the organization of riotous demonstrations that succeeded in having the American anti-war film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ banned in Germany.
In Power (1933–39)
Before World War II, National Socialist propaganda strategy, officially promulgated by the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, stressed several themes.

Treaty of Versailles

Their goals were to establish external enemies (countries that inflicted the Treaty of Versailles on Germany) and internal enemies, such as Jews and Bolsheviks, and topics like degenerate art.

Hitler and National Socialist propagandists highlighted the anti-Semitism and resentment present in Germany. The Jews were shown to be responsible for things such as robbing the German people of their hard work while themselves avoiding physical labour.
Posters, films, cartoons, and fliers were seen throughout Germany which attacked the Jewish community, such as the 1940 film ‘The Eternal Jew’.

A major political and ideological cornerstone of National Socialist policy was the unification of all ethnic Germans living outside of the Reich’s borders under one Greater Germany (e.g Austria and Czechoslovakia and territories taken from Germany by Poland).
Großgermanisches Reich Deutscher Nation

In ‘Mein Kampf’, Hitler made a direct remark to those outside of Germany.

Großgermanisches Reich

He stated that pain and misery were being forced upon ethnic Germans outside of Germany, and that they dream of common fatherland.

He concluded by stating they needed to fight for one’s nationality.
Throughout ‘Mein Kampf’, he encouraged Germans worldwide to make the struggle for political power and independence their main focus.
National Socialist propaganda used the ‘Heim ins Reich’ policy for this, which began in 1938.
National Socialist propaganda efforts then focused on identifying external enemies.
Propagandists strengthened the negative attitude of Germany towards the Treaty of Versailles by territorial claims and ethnocentrism.
Heim ins Reich

When the Treaty was signed in 1919 non-propagandists newspapers headlines across the nation spoke German’s feelings, such as “UNACCEPTABLE” which appeared on the front page of the ‘Frankfurter Zeitung’ in 1919.

‘The Berliner Tageblatt’, also in 1919, predicted “Should we accept the conditions, a military furore for revenge will sound in Germany within a few years, a militant nationalism will engulf all.”

Treaty of Versailles

Hitler, knowing his nation’s disgust with the Treaty, used it as justifiable leverage to influence his audience.

He would repeatedly refer back to the terms of the Treaty as a direct attack on Germany and its people.
In one speech delivered on January 30, 1937 he directly stated that he was withdrawing the German signature from the document to protest the outrageous proportions of the terms.
He rightly claimed the Treaty made Germany out to be inferior and “less” of a country than others only because blame for the war was placed on it.

Volksdeutsche Killed by Poles – 1939

The success of National Socialist propagandists and Hitler won the NDAP control of Germany.

For months prior to the beginning of World War II in 1939, German newspapers and leaders had carried out a national and international propaganda campaign showing that the Polish authorities had organised and tolerated violent ethnic cleansing of Germans living in Poland.
Until the conclusion of the Battle of Stalingrad on February 4, 1943, German propaganda emphasized the prowess of German arms and the humanity German soldiers had shown to the peoples of occupied territories.

Allied Bomber Fleet over the Reich – 1944

Pilots of the Allied bombing fleets were depicted as cowardly murderers, and Americans in particular as gangsters in the style of Al Capone.

At the same time, German propaganda sought to alienate Americans and British from each other, and both these Western nations from the Soviets.
One of the primary sources for propaganda was the Wehrmachtbericht, a daily radio broadcast that described the military situation on all fronts.
German victories lent themselves easily to propaganda broadcasts, and were at this point difficult to mishandle.
Satires on the defeated, accounts of attacks, and praise for the fallen all were useful for the regime.
After Stalingrad, the main theme changed to Germany as the sole defender of “Western European Culture” against the “Bolshevist Hordes”.

V1 Rocket
V2 (A4)Rocket

The introduction of the V-1 and V-2 vengeance weapons” was emphasized to convince Britons of the hopelessness of defeating Germany.

V-weapons, known in the original German as Vergeltungswaffen (retaliatory weapons, reprisal weapons), were a particular set of long range artillery weapons designed for strategic bombing during World War II, particularly terror bombing and/or aerial bombing of cities. They comprised the V-1 flying bomb, the V-2 rocket and the V-3 cannon. All of these weapons were intended for use in a military campaign against Britain, though only the V-1 and V-2 were so used in a campaign conducted 1944-5. After the invasion of Europe by the Allies, these weapons were also employed against targets on the mainland of Europe.
They were part of the range of the so-called Wunderwaffen (wonderweapons) of the Third Reich.

The increasing hardship of the war for the German people also called forth more propaganda explaining that the war had been forced on the German people by the refusal of foreign powers to accept their strength and independence.
Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels called for propaganda to toughen up the German people, and not make victory look easy.

Adolf Hitler reading
the ‘Völkischer Beobachter’

The ‘Völkischer Beobachter’ (“People’s Observer”) was the official daily newspaper of the NSDAP since December 1920.

It disseminated National Socialist ideology in the form of brief articles directed against the weakness of parliamentarism, the evils of Jewry and Bolshevism, the national humiliation of the Versailles Treaty and other such topics.

The Völkischer Beobachter (“Völkisch Observer”) was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from 8 February 1923. For twenty-five years it formed part of the official public face of the Nazi party. The “fighting paper of the National Socialist movement of Greater Germany” (Kampfblatt der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung Großdeutschlands) had its origin in the Münchner Beobachter (“Munich Observer”).

Dietrich Eckart
Thule Gesellschaft

In 1918 was acquired by the ‘Thule Society‘, and in August 1919 was renamed Völkischer Beobachter. The NSDAP purchased it in December 1920 on the initiative of Chase Bauduin and Dietrich Eckart, (both Thule members) who became the first editors. In 1921, Adolf Hitler acquired all shares in the company, making him the sole owner of the publication. The circulation of the paper was initially about 8,000 but increased to 25,000 in autumn 1923 due to strong demand during the Occupation of the Ruhr. In that year Alfred Rosenberg became editor. With the prohibition of the NSDAP after the Munich Putsch of 9 November 1923, the paper also had to cease publication, which resumed however on the party’s re-foundation on 26 February 1925. The circulation rose along with the success of the NSDAP, reaching more than 120,000 in 1931 and 1.7 million by 1944.

It was joined in 1926 by ‘Der Angriff’ (“The Attack”), a weekly and later daily paper founded by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.

The newspaper was set up by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, who in 1926 had become the Gauleiter in Berlin, and the NSDAP provided most of the money needed to ensure publication. The paper was first founded to rally NSDAP members during the nearly two-year ban on the party in Berlin. ‘Der Angriff’ was conceived as a mass circulation paper that fought the hated “System”.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbles

The most regular contributors were party functionaries; lead articles were usually written by the publisher, Dr Goebbels, until 1933, and signed “Dr. G.”. Willi Krause, using the pen name Peter Hagen, was its first editor-in-chief. He was succeeded first by Julius Lippert, (see below) then in 1933 by Karoly Kampmann, and from 1935, by Dr Goebbels’s trusted friend Hans Schwarz van Berk. A further attraction of the paper were the political caricatures by Hans Schweitzer.

Julius Lippert

Julius Lippert (9 July 1895–30 June 1956) was a German politician in the NSDAP.

Born in Basel, Switzerland, he became a nationalist in his youth after reading the philosophers Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain. He joined the German military and fought in World War I, twice being wounded, and ended the war as a 2nd Lieutenant.In 1936, Lippert supervised the 1936 Olympic Games.

Der Angriff was first published 4 July 1927 by the Angriff Press. Its motto was “For the oppressed against the exploiters“. In 1927 the circulation was around 2,000. This number rose to 146,694 in 1939 and 306,000 by 1944. After the NSDAP gained political power in Germany on 30 January 1933, the importance of the newspaper slowly decreased. When the Allies started the bombing campaign against Berlin, the circulation was increased to keep up the morale of Berliners. After 19 February 1945 Der Angriff was merged with the Berliner Illustrierte Nachtausgabe (Berlin Illustrated Night Edition). The last edition was published on 24 April 1945.

‘Der Angriff ‘ was mainly dedicated to attacks against political opponents and Jews – but also engaged in the glorification of National Socialist heroes such as Horst Wessel.

Horst Ludwig Wessel
Horst Ludwig Wessel

Horst Ludwig Wessel (October 9, 1907 – February 23, 1930) was a NSDAP activist and an SA-Sturmführer who was made a posthumous hero of the National Socialist movement following his violent death in 1930. He was the author of the lyrics to the song “Die Fahne hoch” (“The Flag On High”), usually known as ‘Horst-Wessel-Lied‘ (“the Horst Wessel Song”), which became the NSDAP anthem and, de facto, Germany’s co-national anthem from 1933 to 1945. His death also resulted in his becoming the “patron” for the Luftwaffe’s 26th Destroyer Wing, and the 18th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division during World War II.

‘llustrierter Beobachter

The ‘Illustrierter Beobachter’ was their weekly illustrated paper.

Other National Socialist publications included ‘Das Reich’, a more moderate and highbrow publication aimed at intellectuals; and ‘Das Schwarze Korps’, an SS publication, aiming at a more intellectual tone.
After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, all of the regular press came under complete NSDAP editorial control through the policy of ‘Gleichschaltung’, and short-lived propaganda newspapers were also established in the conquered territories during World War II.


The NSDAP relied heavily on speakers to make its propaganda presentations, most heavily before they came to power, but also afterwards.

Hitler, in ‘Mein Kampf’, recounted that he had realized that it was not written matter but the spoken word that brought about changes, as people would not read things that disagreed, but would linger to hear a speaker.
Furthermore, speakers, having their audiences before them, could see their reactions and adjust accordingly, to persuade.
His own oratory was a major factor in his rise, and he despised those who came to read pre-written speeches.
Sturmabteilung speakers were used, though their reliance on instinct sometimes ‘offended’ well-educated audiences, but their blunt and folksy manner often had their own appeal.
The ministry would provide such speakers with information, such as how to explain the problems on the Eastern Front, or how to discuss the cuts in food rations.
The party propaganda headquarters, sent the Redner-Schnellinformation (Speakers’ Express Information) out with guidelines for immediate campaigns, such as anti-Semitic campaigns and what information to present.
Specific groups were targeted with such speakers.
Speakers, for instance, were created specifically for Hitler Youth.
Nürnberg 1937
Hitler Jugend
Reichsparteitag Nürnberg

Poster art was a mainstay of the National Socialist propaganda effort, aimed both at Germany itself and occupied territories.

It had several advantages.
The visual effect, being striking, would reach the viewer easily.
Posters were also, unlike other forms of propaganda, difficult to avoid.
Imagery frequently drew on heroic realism.
National Socialist youth and the SS were depicted monumentally, with lighting posed to produce grandeur.
Hans Schweitzer, under the pen name “Mjölnir” produced many National Socialist posters.
Posters were also used in schools.
The National Socialists produced many films to promote their views.
Themes included the virtues of the Nordic or Aryan type, German military and industrial strength, and the evils of Germany’s enemies.
On March 13, 1933, the Third Reich established a Ministry of Propaganda, appointing Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels as its Minister.

Reichskulturkammer (RKK)

On September 22, 1933, a ‘Department of Film’ was incorporated into the ‘Chamber of Culture’.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels

The Reichskulturkammer (RKK) (“Reich Chamber of Culture”) was an institution in Nazi Germany. It was established by law on 22 September 1933 in the course of the ‘Gleichschaltung’ process at the instigation of Reich Minister Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels as a professional organization of all German creative artists. It was intended to control the entire cultural life in Germany, promoting art created by “Aryans” and seen as consistent with National Socialist ideals.
Every artist had to apply for membership on presentation of an Aryan certificate. A rejected inscription de facto resulted in a profession ban.
The RKK was affiliated with the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment with its seat in Berlin. Headed by Dr Goebbels, a state secretary of his ministry served as vice president:

The department controlled the licensing of every film prior to its production.
Sometimes, the government would select the actors for a film, financing the production partially or totally, and would grant tax breaks to the producers.
Awards for “valuable” films would decrease taxes, thus encouraging self-censorship among movie makers.
Under Dr Goebbels and Hitler, the German film industry became entirely nationalised.

‘Triumph des Willens’  – Final Scene
Leni Riefenstahl 

The National Socialist Propaganda Directorate, which Dr Goebbels oversaw, had at its disposal nearly all film agencies in Germany by 1936.

Schools were also provided with motion pictures projectors because film was regarded as particularly appropriate for propagandizing children.
Newsreels were explicitly intended to portray such of the truth as was in the interest of Germany to spread.
‘Triumph des Willens’ (Triumph of the Will, 1934) by film-maker Leni Riefenstahl chronicles the Reich Partietag.
It features footage of uniformed party members (though relatively few German soldiers), who are marching and drilling to classical melodies.
The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various leaders of the NSDAP at the Congress, including speeches by Adolf Hitler.

Triumph des Willens
Der Sieg des Glaubens

‘Triumph des Willens’ is a 1935 film made by Leni Riefenstahl. It chronicles the 1934 Reichsparteitag in Nürnberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Germans. Hitler commissioned the film and served as an unofficial executive producer; his name appears in the opening titles. The overriding theme of the film is the return of Germany as a great power, with Hitler as the leader who will bring glory to the nation. An earlier, less successful film ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ (Victory if Faith) had also been made of  the Fifth Party Rally, which occurred in Nürnberg from 30 August to 3 September 1933.
‘Triumph des Willens’ was released in 1935.
Riefenstahl’s techniques, such as moving cameras, the use of long focus lenses to create a distorted perspective, aerial photography, and revolutionary approach to the use of music and cinematography, have earned ‘Triumph’ recognition as one of the greatest films in history. Riefenstahl won several awards, not only in Germany but also in the United States, France, Sweden, and other countries. The film was popular in the Third Reich, and has continued to influence movies, documentaries, and commercials to this day.

‘Der ewige Jude’ (The Eternal Jew, 1940) was directed by Fritz Hippler at the insistence of Dr Goebbels, though the writing is credited to Eberhard Taubert.

‘Der ewige Jude’

The Eternal Jew (1940) is an anti-Semitic propaganda film, presented as a documentary. The film’s title in German is ‘Der ewige Jude’, the German term for the character of the “Wandering Jew” in medieval folklore. At the insistence of the Minister of Propaganda, Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, the film was directed by Fritz Hippler. The screenplay is credited to Eberhard Taubert. The film consists of feature and documentary footage combined with materials filmed shortly after the Nazi occupation of Poland. At this time Poland’s Jewish population was about three million, roughly ten percent of the total population. Actor Harry Giese (1903–1991) narrated.

The movie is done in the style of a documentary, the central thesis being the immutable racial personality traits that characterize the Jew as a wandering cultural parasite.
Throughout the film, these traits are contrasted to the National Socialist ideal: while Aryan men find satisfaction in physical labour and the creation of value, Jews only find pleasure in money and a hedonist lifestyle.
The National Socialists and sympathizers published many books.
Most of the beliefs that would become associated with the National Socialism, such as German nationalism, eugenics and anti-Semitism had been in circulation since the 19th century, and the National Socialists seized on this body of existing work in their own publications.
The most notable is Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ detailing his beliefs.
The book outlines Hitler’s major ideas.

Hans F. K. Günther
Gustave Le Bon

It is heavily influenced by Gustave Le Bon’s 1895 ‘The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind’, which theorized propaganda as a way to control the seemingly irrational behaviour of crowds.

Particularly prominent is the anti-Semitism of Hitler and his associates.
Other books such as ‘Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes’ (Ethnology of German People) by Hans F. K. Günther and ‘Rasse und Seele’ (Race and Soul) by Dr. Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss (de) identify and classify the differences between the German, Nordic, or Aryan type and other supposedly inferior peoples.

Karl May
Dr. Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss

These books were used as texts in German schools during the Third Reich.

The pre-existing and popular genre of ‘Schollen-roman’, or ‘novel of the soil’, also known as ‘Blut und Boden’ (blood and soil) novels, was given a boost by the acceptability of its themes to National Socialists and developed a mysticism of unity.
The immensely popular “Red Indian” stories by Karl May were permitted despite the heroic treatment of the hero Winnetou and “colored” races; instead, the argument was made that the stories demonstrated the fall of the Red Indians was caused by a lack of racial consciousness, to encourage it in the Germans.
Other fictional works were also adapted; Heidi was stripped of its Christian elements, and Robinson Crusoe’s relationship to Friday was made a master-slave one.
Text Books
“Geopolitical atlases” emphasized National Socialist theories, demonstrating the “encirclement” of Germany, depicting how the prolific Slav nations would cause the German people to be overrun, and (in contrast) showing the relative population density of Germany was much higher than that of the Eastern regions (where they would seek Lebensraum).
Geography text books stated how crowded Germany had become.
Math books discussed military applications and used military word problems, physics and chemistry concentrated on military applications, and grammar classes were devoted to propaganda sentences.
Other textbooks dealt with the history of the NSDAP.

Elementary school reading text included large amounts of propaganda.

Children were taught through textbooks that they were the Aryan master race (Herrenvolk) while the Jews were untrustworthy, parasitic and Untermenschen (inferior subhumans).
Even fairy tales were put to use, with Cinderella being presented as a tale of how the prince’s racial instincts lead him to reject the stepmother’s alien blood for the racially pure maiden.
Nordic sagas were likewise presented as the illustration of ‘Führerprinzip’, which was developed with such heroes as Frederick the Great and Otto von Bismarck.
Literature was to be chosen within the “German spirit” rather than a fixed list of forbidden and required, although Jewish authors were not permitted in the classroom.
While only William Shakespeare’s MacBeth and The Merchant of Venice were actually recommended, none of the plays were actually forbidden.
Biology texts, however, were put the most use in presenting eugenic principles and racial theories; this included explanations of the Nuremberg Laws, which were shown to allow the German and Jewish peoples to co-exist without the danger of mixing.
Science was to be presented as the most natural area for introducing the “Jewish Question”, once teachers took care to point out that in nature, animals associated with those of their own species.
Despite their many photographs glamorizing the “Nordic” type, the texts also claimed that visual inspection was insufficient, and genealogical analysis was required to determine their types, and report any hereditary problems, however, the National Socialist Teachers League (NSLB) stressed that at primary schools in particular they had to work on only the Nordic racial core of the German Volk and have to contrast this with the racial composition of foreign populations and the Jews.

Nationalsozialistische Lehrerbund (NSLB)

The Nationalsozialistische Lehrerbund (NSLB), (National Socialist Teachers League), was established on 21 April 1929. This organization lasted until 1943. Its seat was in Bayreuth. The founder and first “Reichswalter” of the organization was Hans Schemm. Its organ was the Nationalsozialistische Lehrerzeitung (NS Teachers’ News). Its goal was to make the National Socialist world-view the foundation of all education and especially of schooling. In order to achieve this it sought to have an effect on the political viewpoint of educators, insisting on the further development of their spirit along National Socialist lines. 
After 1933 the NSDAP validated the NSLB as the sole organization of teachers in the German Reich. In July 1935 the NSLB was merged with the existing organization of lecturers to form the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Dozentenbund (NSDDB) (National Socialist German University Lecturers League).

National Socialist publications also carried various forms of propaganda.
‘Neues Volk’, the monthly publication of the Office of Racial Policy, carried racial propaganda.
While chiefly aimed at fomenting ethnic pride through ideal Aryan types, it also included articles aimed at Jews.
The ‘NS-Frauen-Warte’, aimed at women, included such topics as the role of women in the Nazi state. 
Despite its propaganda elements, it was predominately a woman’s magazine.
It defended certain aspects of anti-intellectualism, urged women to have children, even in wartime, put forth what the NSDAP had done for women, discusses bridal schools, and urged women to greater efforts in total war.

Gertrud Scholtz-Klink


The NS-Frauen-Warte was the magazine for women.Put out by the NS-Frauenschaft, it had the status of the only party approved magazine for women, and served propaganda purposes, particularly supporting the role of housewife and mother as exemplary.
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink née Treusch (9 February 1902 – 24 March 1999) was a fervent member of the NSDAP, and leader of the National Socialist Women’s League (NS-Frauenschaft) in Nazi Germany.
The NS-Frauen-Warte had articles on a wide range of topics of interest to women and included sewing patterns.
Its articles included such topics as the role of women in the state, Germanization in Poland, the education of youth, the importance of play for children, claims that Great Britain was responsible for the war, and the Bolshevist threat with the need to annihilate the Soviet Regime. It highlighted the achievements of National Socialist women, and how the system had benefited females, and discussed bridal schools. Poetry exulted in a child as a form of immortality. During wartime it urged women to have children, to join in the war effort either in employment or in Frauenschaft from the very beginning, and to greater efforts in total war. 
It was predominately a woman’s magazine despite containing propaganda; this contrasts sharply with ‘Das deutsche Mädel’, which lay emphasis on the strong and active German woman.

‘Der Pimpf’ was aimed at boys and contained both adventure and propaganda.

‘Der Pimpf’
‘Morgen’ – First Issue

‘Der Pimpf’was the National Socialist magazine for boys, particularly those in the ‘Deutsches Jungvolk’, with adventure and propaganda.
The Deutsches Jungvolk (German: “German Youth”) was a youth organization in for boys aged 10 to 14, and was a section of the Hitler Youth movement. Through a programme of outdoor activities, parades and sports, it aimed to indoctrinate its young members in the tenets of Nazi ideology. Membership became fully compulsory for eligible boys in 1939. By the end of World War II, some had become child soldiers.
The magazine ‘Der Pimpf’ first appeared in 1935 as ‘Morgen’ (Morning), changing its name to ‘Der Pimpf’ in 1937.
It included adventures of troops of Hitler Youth. Its last issue urged the boys to model themselves on the SS, and spoke of the SS Division “Hitler Jugend”.

The female counterpart, ‘Das deutsche Mädel’, lacked this emphasis on adventure.

Das deutsche Mädel

‘Das deutsche Mädel’ (The German Girl or Maiden) was a magazine aimed at German girls, particularly members of Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls).
Unlike the adventure orientation of ‘Der Pimpf’, intended for Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth), ‘Das deutsche Mädel’ urged hiking, tending the wounded, hard work in factories, and preparing for motherhood. On the other hand, in contrast to the woman’s magazine with some propaganda, ‘NS-Frauen-Warte’, it lay far more emphasis on the strong and active German woman; health, education, service, and sports were all featured, and famous women depicted included doctors, athletes, poets, and pilots.
Articles in it included describing a speech by Jutta Rüdiger when she was appointed to lead Bund Deutscher Mädel, telling the girls of their duties to Germany, and a story of how Young Girls had ensured that a dead father’s promise to his son was fulfilled.

‘Das deutsche Mädel’, in contrast, recommended for girls hiking, tending the wounded, and preparing for care for children.
It lay far more emphasis than ‘NS-Frauen-Warte’ on the strong and active German woman.
Signal was a propaganda magazine published by the Wehrmacht during World War II.
It was distributed throughout occupied Europe and neutral countries.

Signal Magazine

Signal was a modern, glossy, illustrated photo journal and army propaganda tool, meant specifically for audiences in neutral, allied, and occupied countries. A German edition was distributed in Switzerland and to various other countries with a strong German military presence, but Signal was never distributed in Germany proper. Signal was published fortnightly (plus some special issues) in as many as 25 editions and 30 languages, and at its height had a circulation of 2,500,000 copies. It was available in the United States in English until December 1941. The last number was 6/45, only known in one sample from the Swedish edition.
Signal described the combat conditions of the German troops and their allies in all fronts, together with high quality photos, including a central double page full colour picture. Many of the most famous photos of World War II to be seen today are taken from Signal. The magazine also included articles about economics, science, arts, and advertising for the most well-known German companies (BMW, Agfa, Audi, Siemens …). 
The magazine kept its independence from the Propaganda Ministry, remaining under control of the army. Still, there is a political message, one of a unified Europe (under the so-called ‘New Order’) fighting together against the Bolshevism, this idea was symbolized by the different foreign units and volunteers fighting for the Third Reich.

“Signal” was published from April 1940 to March 1945, and had the highest sales of any magazine published in Europe during the period 1940 to 1945 – circulation peaked at two and one half million in 1943.
At various times, it was published in at least twenty languages.
There was an English edition distributed in the British Channel Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark –  these islands were occupied by the Wehrmacht during World War II.
The promoter of the magazine was the chief of the Wehrmacht propaganda office, Colonel Hasso von Wedel.
Its annual budget was 10 million Reichmarks, roughly $2.5 million at the pre-war exchange rate.
The image that ‘Signal’ hoped to create was that of the Third Reich and its New Order as the great benefactor of European peoples, and of Western civilization in general.
Germany and its allies were shown to be the humane liberators of the occupied nations.
Some articles displayed colour photographs of dramatic battle scenes.
The magazine contained little anti-Semitic propaganda, and the Jews were hardly mentioned.
Adolf Hitler – Radio Speech

Before Hitler came to power, he rarely used the radio as forms of connection with the public, and when he did so non-party newspapers were allowed publish his speeches.

This soon changed after he came to power in 1933, Hitler’s speeches became famous all over Germany and were often major events for the Germans, the speeches were broadcast on the national radio, every newspaper published his speeches, they were shown in the weekly newsreels and reprinted in large editions in books and pamphlets all across Germany.
The speeches made by Hitler became so significant to the National Socialists that that even restaurants and pubs were expected have their radios on whenever Hitler was delivering one of his speeches and in some cities even public speakers were used so passers-by could hear him deliver one of his speeches.
The extent that National Socialist propaganda emphasized and portrayed his speeches was done in so the main points of his speeches appeared in the weekly posters and were all over Germany by the hundreds of thousands.
The radio was an important tool in National Socialist propaganda, and it has been argued that it was the National Socialists who pioneered the use of what was still a relatively new technology.
Internal Broadcasts

Certainly the National Socialists recognised the importance of radio in disseminating their message, and to that end Dr Goebbels approved a scheme whereby millions of cheap radio sets (the Volksempfänger) were subsidised by the government.

The Volksempfänger (German for “people’s receiver”) was a range of radio receivers developed by engineer Otto Griessing at the request of Propaganda Minister Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.
The purpose of the Volksempfänger-program was to make radio reception technology affordable to the general public. Joseph Goebbels realized the great propaganda potential of this relatively new medium and thus considered widespread availability of receivers highly important. The original Volksempfänger VE301 model was presented on August 18, 1933 at the Große Deutsche Funkausstellung in Berlin. The VE301 was available at a readily affordable price of 76 German Reichsmark (equivalent to two weeks’ average salary), and a cheaper 35 Reichsmark model, the DKE38  fitted with a multisection tube, was also later produced, along with a series of other models under the Volksempfänger, Gemeinschaftsempfänger, KdF (Kraft durch Freude), DKE (Deutscher Kleinempfänger) and other brands.

Volksempfänger Poster

1936 Nazi propaganda poster, promoting the use of the Volksempfänger. The translated text reads, “All Germany hears the Führer with the Volksempfänger.

Dr Goebbels claimed the radio was the “eighth great power“, and he, along with the NSDAP, recognized the power of the radio in the propaganda machine of the Third Reich.
In that “Radio as the Eighth Great Power” speech, Dr Goebbels proclaimed: ‘
It would not have been possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio.
It is no exaggeration to say that the German revolution, at least in the form it took, would have been impossible without the air-plane and the radio.
Radio reached the entire nation, regardless of class, standing, or religion.
That was primarily the result of the tight centralization, the strong reporting, and the up-to-date nature of the German radio.
Above all it is necessary to clearly centralize all radio activities, to place spiritual tasks ahead of technical ones, to provide a clear world-view.’
By the start of the Second World War over 70% of German households had one of these radios.
Radio broadcasts were also played over loudspeakers in public places and workplaces.
In private homes, however, people could easily turn off the radio when bored, and did so once the novelty of hearing the voice from a box wore off; this caused the National Socialists to introduce many non-propaganda elements, such as music, advice and tips, serials and other entertainment.
This was accelerated in the war to prevent people from tuning in enemy propaganda broadcasts.
Fine Art
Adolf Ziegler – ‘The Four Elements’

By National Socialist standards, fine art was not propaganda.

Its purpose was to create ideals, for ‘eternity’.
This produced a call for heroic and romantic art, which reflected the ideal rather than the real.
Explicitly political paintings were very rare.
Still more rare were anti-Semitic paintings, because the art was supposed to be on a higher plane. 
Nevertheless, selected themes, common in propaganda, were the most common topics of art.
Sculpture was used as an expression of National Socialist racial theories.
The most common image was of the nude male, expressing the ideal of the Aryan race.
Nudes were required to be physically perfect.
At the Paris Exposition of 1937, Josef Thorak’s ‘Comradeship’ stood outside the German pavilion, depicting two enormous nude males, clasping hands and standing defiantly side by side, in a pose of defence and racial camaraderie.

Haus der Deutschen Kunst
Tag der Deutschen Kunst

On 15 and 16 October 1939, the ‘Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung’ inside the ‘Haus der Deutschen Kunst‘ was complemented by the monumental ‘Tag der Deutschen Kunst’ (Day of German Art) celebration of “2,000 years of Germanic culture” where luxuriously draped floats (one of them carrying a 5 meter tall golden Reichsadler) and thousands of actors in historical costumes paraded down Prinzregentenstraße for hours in the presence of Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Albert Speer, Robert Ley, Reinhard Heydrich, and many other high-ranking members of the government of the Third Reich, with minor events taking place in the Englischer Garten nearby. 

Landscape painting featured mostly heavily in ‘Die Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung‘ (Greater German Art Exhibition), in accordance with themes of ‘Blut und Boden’ (blood and soil).
Peasants were also popular images, reflecting a simple life in harmony with nature, frequently with large families.
With the advent of war, war art came to be a significant though still not predominating proportion.
The continuing of  ‘Die Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung‘ throughout the war was put forth as a manifestation of German Culture.
Death and Sacrifice – ‘Und ihr habt doch gesiegt’

Heroic death was often portrayed in National Socialist propaganda as glorious.
It was glorified in such films as ‘Flüchtlinge’, ‘Hans Westmar’, and ‘Kolber’.

Hans Westmar- ‘Einer von vielen’
Hanns Heinz Ewers
‘Hans Westmar. Einer von vielen. Ein deutsches Schicksal aus dem Jahre 1929’ (Hans Westmar. One of many. A German Fate from the Year 1929) was the last of an unofficial trilogy of films commissioned by the Third Reich shortly after coming to power in January 1933, celebrating the ‘Kampfzeit’ – a ‘mythologised’ history of their period in opposition, struggling to gain power. The film is a fictionalized life of the famous National Socialist martyr Horst Wessel.
The film was based on a novel, personally commissioned by Adolf Hitler from his close friend Hanns Heinz Ewers. It was among the first films to depict dying for Hitler as a glorious death for Germany, resulting in his spirit inspiring his comrades. His decision to go to the streets is presented as fighting “the real battle.”

‘Wunschkonzert’, though chiefly about the home-front, features one character who dies playing the organ in a church in order to guide his comrades, though he knows the enemy forces will also find him.

Wunschkonzert – Poster
Wunschkonzert (“Request Concert”) is a 1940 German drama propaganda film by Eduard von Borsody. After ‘Die grosse Liebe’, it was the most popular film of wartime Germany, reaching the second highest gross. The popular music show “Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht” (“Request Concert for the Wehrmacht”) was broadcast on the German radio network every Sunday afternoon. Its popularity was based on the fact that it broadcast music requested by men in the armed forces, thus uniting the armed forces and the homefront in Volksgemeinschaft. Reich Minister Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels insisted that all German performers contribute to it and concluded that a film based on it would be even more successful. Starring roles were played by Ilse Werner as Inge Wagner, Carl Raddatz as Herbert Koch and Joachim Brennecke as Helmut Winkler. Wunschkonzert was officially classified as “Politically valuable”, “Artistically valuable”, “Valuable for the people” and “Valuable for youth”. By the end of World War II the film had been seen by almost 26 million people and taken 7.6 million Reichsmarks.
‘Heroic Head’ – Arno Breker
‘Und ihr habt doch gesiegt ‘
And you are also victorious
The dead of World War I were also portrayed as heroic; in a film of ‘Operation Michael’, the general tells a major that they will be measured by the greatness of their sacrifice, not by that of their victory, and in ‘Leave on Parole’, the people are portrayed as being corrupted by pacifist slogans while soldiers stand their ground unflinching.

Even the film ‘Morgenrot’, predating the National Socialist seizure of power, and containing such matters as a woman refusing to rejoice because of the sufferings on the other side, praised such deaths and found favour among NSDAP officials.


‘Morgenrot’ is a 1933 German submarine film set during World War I.

Released three days after Adolf Hitler became Reichskanzler, it was the first film to have its screening in the Third Reich. It became a symbol of the new times. The title, literally “morning-red”, is German for Dawn) 
It was filmed in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, the first German submarine movie made after World War I.
The film offered a heroization of death, with the captain explicitly stating that Germans may not know how to live, but they know how to die.
Propaganda about the Volk depicted it as a greater entity to which the individual belonged, and one worth dying for.
Several dead Storm-troopers were singled out for glorification by Dr Goebbels, especially Horst Wessel (see above).

Hitlerjunge Quex

The films ‘Hitlerjunge Quex’ and ‘S.A.-Mann Brand’ also glorified those had died in the struggle to seize power; ‘Quex’ was based on a novel that sold over 200,000 copies over two years.

Hitlerjunge Quex is a 1932 German propaganda novel based on the life of Herbert “Quex” Norkus. The 1933 movie ‘Hitlerjunge Quex: Ein Film vom Opfergeist der deutschen Jugend’ was based on the novel, and was described by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels as the “first large-scale” transmission of National Socialist ideology using the medium of cinema.

Hitlerjunge Quex

Both the book and the movie, like ‘S.A.-Mann Brand’ and ‘Hans Westmar’ (see above), both released the same year, fictionalized and glorified death in the service of the NSDAP and Hitler. The novel Der Hitlerjunge Quex was written by Karl Aloys Schenzinger between May and September 1932. It was first published in Nazi party outlet Völkischer Beobachter, and as a book in December 1932.

Hitlerjungen marschieren
von Herbert Norkus ‘Grab der
NSDAP Kongress in Nürnberg

Both novel and movie are based on the real story of Herbert Norkus’ life. Norkus, a Hitler Youth member, died from injuries suffered when chased and confronted by Communist youths in the night of 23 / 24 January 1932 in the Beusselkietz neighbourhood of Moabit, Berlin. While the murder was condemned by the press, the Communists started a counter-propaganda offensive, describing the incident as an accidental result of Communist self-defense during a NSDAP attack. By January 1934 the film had been viewed by a million people.

Soldiers and street fighters were the heroes of the NSDAP – those who had died or might die.
Even the 1936 anthem for “Olympic youth” celebrated not sports but sacrificial death.
This continued in the war.
In 1942-3, the Winter Relief booklets recounted the stories of 20 decorated war heroes.
The dead of Stalingrad were portrayed as heroes of Valhalla.
A 1944 Mother’s Day Card, particularly intended for the wives and mothers of the war dead, presented a mystical view that the dead continued in the life that followed them.
Similarly, ‘Die grosse Liebe‘ depicted its self-centred heroine learning to bravely send the air force lieutenant she loves back to his squadron.
Zarah Leander 

Die große Liebe‘ (The Great Love) is a German drama film of the National Socialist period, made by Rolf Hansen, starring Zarah Leander and Viktor Staal.

It premièred in Berlin in 1942 and went on to become the most commercially successful film in the history of the Third Reich. The film included one of the most popular songs of the Third Reich – ‘Davon geht die Welt nicht unter‘ (“It’s Not the End of the World”). After 1942, as the military situation became more and more unfavourable to Germany, the song became a staple element of the prevalent informal propaganda geared to “seeing it through“. 
Deutscher Volkssturm Armband
The creation of the Volkssturm had propagandists make full use of themes of death, transcendence, and commemoration to encourage the fight. Dr Goebbels and other propagandists depicted the ‘Volkssturm’ as an outburst of enthusiasm and will to resist. National Socialist themes of death, transcendence, and commemoration were given full play to encourage the fight, however, many also realized that this was a desperate attempt to turn the course of the war.

Deutscher Volkssturm
The Volkssturm (“people’s army” or “national militia”) was a German national militia of the last months of World War II. It was set up, not by the traditional German Army, but by the NSDAP on the orders of Adolf Hitler on October 18, 1944. It conscripted males between the ages of 16 to 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit as part of a German Home Guard. ‘Volkssturm’ units were placed under direct command of the local NSDAP, meaning local Gau- and Kreisleiters. The ‘Volkssturm’ was also to become a nation-wide organization, with Heinrich Himmler as Replacement Army Commander, responsible for armament and training. Though normally under party control, ‘Volkssturm’ units were placed under Wehrmacht command when engaging in action.

Leopold Schmutzler – ‘Arbeiten Jungfrauen’ 1940

While men were the ones depicted as dying for Germany, women were also presented as needing to sacrifice.

Exercise was praised as making young women strong, able to do hard physical labour for their country at need, particularly in agriculture, where the ‘blood and soil’ ideology glamorized hard labour at the farm.
This was not, however, translated in strong propaganda for women to join the workforce during the war; NS-Frauenschaft, in its magazine ‘NS-Frauen-Warte’ and the speeches of Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, urged such behaviour, and collections of essays praised heroic German women of the past, but the propaganda was weak and not widespread or repeated.
Part of the problem may have been that the German government had called for sacrifice incessantly since 1931, and could bring no new appeal to it with the outbreak of war.
Women, and other civilians, were also called on by Dr Goebbels to reduce their standard of living to that of soldiers and civilians living in bombed areas, so as to sacrifice that material for total mobilization.
Many propaganda films developed the importance of the ‘Führerprinzip’ or leader principle.
‘Flüchtlinge’ depicted Volga German refugees being saved from persecution by a leader, who demands their unquestioning obedience.
‘Der Herrscher’ depicts its hero, Clausen, as the unwavering leader of his munitions firm, who, faced with his children’s machinations, disowns them and bestows the firm on the state, confident that a worker will arise capable of continuing his work and, as a true leader, needing no instruction.
Otto von Bismark
Frederick the Great

In schools, adolescent boys were presented with Nordic sagas as the illustration of ‘Führerprinzip’, which was developed with such heroes as Frederick the Great and Otto von Bismarck.

Hitler Youth in particular indoctrinated for blind obedience and “Führer worship.”
This combined with the glorification of the one, central Führer.
At the time of the Munich Putsch, Hitler used his trial to present himself, claiming it had been his sole responsibility and inspiring the title Fuhrer.
Booklets given out for the Winter Relief donations included ‘The Führer Makes History’, a collection of Hitler photographs, and ‘The Führer’s Battle in the East’.
Films such as ‘Der Marsch zum Führer’ and ‘Triumph of the Will’ glorified him.
Carl Schmitt, drawn to the Nazi party by his admiration for a decisive leader, praised Hitler in his pamphlet ‘State, Volk and Movement’, because only the ruthless will of such a leader could save Germany and its people from the “asphalt culture” of modernity, to bring about unity and authenticity.
The Volksgemeinschaft or people’s community received a great deal of propaganda support.
The Volk were not just a people; a mystical soul united them, and propaganda continually portrayed individuals as part of a great whole, worth dying for.
This was portrayed as overcoming distinctions of party and social class.
A common Party mantra declared they must put “collective need ahead of individual greed” – a widespread sentiment in this era.
The commonality this created across classes was among the great appeals of National Socialism.
After the failure of the Munich Putsch, Hitler, on the trial, centred his defence on his selfless devotion to the good of the Volk, and the need for bold action to save them.
The Versailles settlement had betrayed Germany, which they had tried to save.
Thereafter, his speeches concentrated on his boundless devotion to the Volk, though not entirely eliminating the antisemitism.
Even once in power, his immediate speeches spoke of serving Germany.
The Volksgemeinschaft was also used for war support.
Film on the home-front during World War II, depicted the war uniting all levels of society, as in the two most popular films of the war era, ‘Die grosse Liebe’ and ‘Wunschkonzert’ (see above).
Failure to support the war was an anti-social act; this propaganda managed to bring arms production to a peak in 1944.
Blut und Boden’ – Blood and Soil
Blut und Boden

Closely related to the community was the notion of ‘blood and soil‘, a mystical bond between the German people and Germanic lands.

A true Volkish life was rural and agrarian, rather than urban, a theme pre-dating National Socialism.
It was foundational to the concept of ‘Lebensraum’ (Living-space).
Prior to their ascension to power, NSAP called for a movement back to the rural areas, from the cities.
Blood and soil” novels and theatre celebrated the farmer’s life and human fertility, often mystically linking them.
Adolf Wissel – ‘Bauernfamilie’
Erbhofbauer – Farmstead Peasant
Hans Toepper
‘Neues Volk’ displayed demographic charts to deplore the destruction of the generous Aryan families’ farmland, and how the Jews were eradicating traditional German peasantry.
Posters for school depicted and deplored the flight of people from the countryside to the city.
‘Der Giftpilz’, a children’s book, included an account of a Jewish financier forcing a German to sell his farm.
Carl Schmitt argued that a people would develop laws appropriate to its “blood and soil because authenticity required loyalty to the Volk over abstract so-called ‘universals’.
The charge laid against degenerate art was that it had been cut off from ‘blood and soil‘.
Landscape paintings were featured most heavily in the ‘Greater German Art Exhibitions’, to depict the German people’s Lebensraum.
Peasants were also popular images, promoting a simple life in harmony with nature.
Blud und Boden‘ films likewise stressed the commonality of Germaness and the countryside.
‘Die goldene Stadt’ has the heroine running away to the city; after becoming pregnant, she drowns herself.
Her last words beg her father to forgive her for not loving the countryside as he did.
Nazi propaganda promoted Nazi ideology by demonizing the enemies of the Nazi Party, especially Jews and communists, but also capitalists and intellectuals.
It promoted the values asserted by National Socialists, including heroic death, Führerprinzip (leader principle), Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community), Blut und Boden (blood and soil) and the youth were taught early to take pride in the Germanic Master Race (Herrenvolk).
Propaganda was also used to maintain the cult of personality around Adolf Hitler, and to promote campaigns for eugenics and the annexation of German-speaking areas.
After the outbreak of World War II, National Socialist propaganda vilified Germany’s enemies, notably the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States, and exhorted the population to partake in total war in defence of European Civilisation.

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Propaganda Posters of the Third Reich

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The National Socialists possessed a highly refined æsthetic sensibility, and they enacted their æsthetic at every level of politics and policy including propaganda.
Adolf Hitler, and many of his associates, not only believed themselves to be artists, but were regarded by others, at the time, as artists, whose very ideology was founded in an essentially æsthetic logic.
This is generally referred to as the  ‘æstheticization’ of politics.
Alpine Landscape
Adolf Hitler
The artistic ambitions of Adolf Hitler, Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, Alfred Rosenberg, Baldur von Schirach, Walther Funk and others were originally deeper than their political ambitions, and were essential elements of their personalities.
There were two conceptual cornerstones of National Socialist ideology – redemption and monumentality – which found their expression in National Socialist æsthetic productions, which were not only means by which to deliver a political message, but very much part of the message itself.
Without recognizing the central role aesthetics actually played in the regime of the Third Reich, we cannot ignore the basic historical fact that Art, beauty and æsthetics were not benign by-products of the Third Reich, but part and parcel of its coherent, internal logic.
Propaganda was skilfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler’s leadership of Germany (1933–1945).
National Socialist propaganda provided a crucial instrument for acquiring and maintaining power, and for the implementation of their policies, including the pursuit of total war.
‘Mein Kampf’
Adolf Hitler – circa 1920s
Adolf Hitler devoted three chapters of his 1925/26 book ‘Mein Kampf‘, itself a propaganda tool, to the study and practice of propaganda.
He claimed to have learnt the value of propaganda as a World War I infantryman exposed to very effective British and ineffectual German propaganda.
The argument that Germany lost the war largely because of British propaganda efforts, expounded at length in ‘Mein Kampf’, reflected then common German nationalist claims.
Although untrue – German propaganda during World War I was mostly more advanced than that of the British – it became the official truth of Nazi Germany thanks to its reception by Hitler.
The propaganda of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party regime that governed Germany from 1933 to 1945 promoted National Socialist ideology by demonizing the enemies of the NSDAP, notably Jews and communists, but also capitalists and intellectuals.
It promoted the values of National Socialism, including heroic death, Führerprinzip (leader principle), Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community), Blut und Boden (blood and soil) and pride in the Germanic Herrenvolk (master race).
Propaganda was also used to maintain the cult of personality around Adolf Hitler, and to promote campaigns for eugenics and the annexation of German-speaking areas.
After the outbreak of World War II, Nazi propaganda vilified Germany’s enemies, notably the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States, and in 1943 exhorted the population to total war.
Heroic ‘Eternal’ Art
Arno Breker
Poster art was a mainstay of the NSDAP propaganda effort, aimed both at Germany itself, and at occupied territories.
It had several advantages.
The visual effect, being striking, would reach the viewer easily.
Posters were also, unlike other forms of propaganda, difficult to avoid.
Imagery frequently drew on heroic realism.
National Socialist Youth and the SS were depicted monumentally, with lighting posed to produce grandeur.
The artistic standard of National Socialist graphic design was remarkably high, but it must be remembered that in accordance with National Socialist theory poster art was not ‘high art’.
‘High art’ – in National Socialist theory – was considered to be ‘eternal’, whereas poster art was temporal and utilitarian.
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Nürnberg Reichsparteitag 1936
Triumph des Willens

Triumph des Willens
Dem Führer die Treue

Kdf Volkswagen
National Socialism is the guarantor of victory
Mother’s Day – God has blessed the hearts of mothers as vessels of sacrifice in a time of greatness.

Hard and without pity as we have been in our struggle for power, so will we also be in the struggle for the preservation of our nation.

Adolf Hitler


From The Duties of the German Soldier – Great achievements in war and peace can only be accomplished through an unshakable unity of Führer and Army.


National Socialism is highest soldierly bearing in all ways of life.


Sacrifices created the great German Empire. Through sacrifices it will be made everlasting !


5 years-Strength through Joy- Strength through Joy’ is not simply a recreational organization-rather it is a national socialistic community that contributes to the realization of a new way of life and establishes a new social order.



Art is the highest expression of the creative powers of a nation. The artist is blessed with the task to give it meaning.

Dr. Josef Goebbels

Deutschen Jugend
Reichsparteitag Nürnberg 1937
Weimar Gau Tag 1936
Hitler Jugend – Reichsparteitag Nürnberg
1943 Paper Drive
Deutsche Reichsport
I gave my vote to the Führer

Election Poster

Austria Comes Home !



Germany is victorious on all fronts

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Arthur Schopenhauer – The Philosophy of the Will

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his book, ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’ – (The World as Will and Representation) , in which he claimed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction.
Influenced to some degree by Eastern thought, his faith in “transcendental ideality” led him to accept the possibility of atheism.
At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, ‘Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde’ – (On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason), which examined the four distinct aspects of experience in the phenomenal world; consequently, he has been influential in the history of phenomenology.

Four classes of explanation fall under the principle’s rubric. Hence, four classes of objects occur always and already only in relation to a knowing subject, according to a correlative capacity within the subject. These classes are summarized as follows: becoming, knowing, being and willing.

Richard Wagner
Alfred Rosenberg

He has influenced a long list of individuals, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Otto Weininger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thomas Mann, Adolf Hitler and Alfred Rosenberg.
Schopenhauer’s theory of music, along with his emphasis upon artistic genius and the world-as-suffering, was also influential among composers such as Johannes Brahms, Hans Pfitzner, Sergei Prokofiev, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakoff, and Richard Wagner.
Richard Wagner, writing in his autobiography, remembered his first impression that Schopenhauer left on him (when he read  ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’):
Schopenhauer’s book was never completely out of my mind, and by the following summer I had studied it from cover to cover four times. It had a radical influence on my whole life.’

‘Tristan und Isolde’

Wagner also commented that “serious mood, which was trying to find ecstatic expression” created by Schopenhauer inspired the conception of ‘Tristan und Isolde’.
Schopenhauer’s influence on ‘Tristan und Isolde’ is most evident in the second and third acts. The second act, in which the lovers meet, and the third act, during which Tristan longs for release from the passions that torment him, have often proved puzzling to opera-goers unfamiliar with Schopenhauer’s work.


The world-view of Schopenhauer dictates that the only way for man to achieve inner peace is to renounce his desires: a theme that Wagner explored fully in his last and greatest opera, ‘Parsifal’.
In fact Wagner even considered having the character of Parsifal meet Tristan during his sufferings in Act 3, but later rejected the idea.
Friedrich Nietzsche owed the awakening of his philosophical interest to reading ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’, and admitted that he was one of the few philosophers that he respected, dedicating to him his essay ‘Schopenhauer als Erzieher’ one of his ‘Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen’ (Untimely Meditations).

Untimely Meditations (German: Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen), also translated as Unfashionable Observations[1] and Thoughts Out Of Season) consists of four works by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, started in 1873 and completed in 1876.

Jorge Luis Borges remarked that the reason he had never attempted to write a systematic account of his world view, despite his penchant for philosophy and metaphysics in particular, was because Schopenhauer had already written it for him.

Adolf Hitler and Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein

As a teenager, Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was a school-fellow of Adolf Hitler, was strongly influenced by Schopenhauer’s epistemological idealism.

Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein had a profound effect on Adolf Hitler when they were both pupils at the Realschule (lower secondary school) in Linz, Austria, in the early 1900s. Interestingly, a few days before the invasion of Poland in 1939, Hitler personally granted Mischling status to the Wittgenstein siblings – which included Ludwig.

Schopenhauer’s 19th century historical profile is frequently obscured by the shadows of Kant, Hegel,  Mill, Darwin and Nietzsche, but more than is usually recognized, in his rejection of rationalistic conceptions of the world as early as 1818, he perceived the shape of things to come.

Adolf Hitler

As a consequence of his monistic philosophy, Schopenhauer, like Adolf Hitler, was very concerned about the welfare of animals.

For him, all individual animals, including humans, are essentially the same, being phenomenal manifestations of the one underlying Will.
The word “will” designated, for him, force, power, impulse, energy, and desire; it is the closest word we have that can signify both the real essence of all external things, and also our own direct, inner experience.
Since everything is basically Will, then humans and animals are fundamentally the same, and can recognize themselves in each other.
For this reason, he claimed that a good person would have sympathy for animals, who are our fellow sufferers. 
Schopenhauer was also one of the first philosophers since the days of Greek philosophy to address the subject of male homosexuality.
In the third, expanded edition of ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’ (1859), Schopenhauer added an appendix to his chapter on the “Metaphysics of Sexual Love”.
He also wrote that homosexuality did have the benefit of preventing ill-begotten children.
Concerning this, he stated, “… the activity we are considering appears to work directly against the aims and ends of nature, and that in a matter that is all important and of the greatest concern to her, it must in fact serve these very aims, although only indirectly, as a means for preventing greater evils.”


Arthur Schopenhauer – a Brief Biography

Arthur Schopenhauer was born in the city of Danzig (Gdańsk), on Heiligegeistgasse, the son of Johanna Schopenhauer (née Trosiener) and Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, both descendants of wealthy German Patrician families.
When the Königreich Preußen annexed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth city of Danzig in 1793, Schopenhauer’s family moved to Hamburg.

Königreich Preußen
Arthur Schopenhauer as a Boy

In 1805, Schopenhauer’s father may have committed suicide.

Shortly thereafter, Schopenhauer’s mother Johanna moved to Weimar, then the centre of German literature, to pursue her writing career.
After one year, Schopenhauer left the family business in Hamburg to join her.
He became a student at the University of Göttingen in 1809.
There he studied metaphysics and psychology.
There, he wrote his first book, ‘Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde’.

In Berlin, from 1811 to 1812, he had attended lectures by the prominent post-Kantian philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte and the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher.
In 1814, Schopenhauer began his seminal work ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’.
He finished it in 1818 and published it the following year.
In 1820, Schopenhauer became a lecturer at the University of Berlin, however, only five students turned up to Schopenhauer’s lectures, and he dropped out of academia.
In 1821, he fell in love with nineteen-year old opera singer, Caroline Richter (called Medon), and had a relationship with her for several years.
He discarded marriage plans, however, writing, “Marrying means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties,” and “Marrying means to grasp blindfolded into a sack hoping to find an eel amongst an assembly of snakes.

Arthur Schopenhauer as a Young Man

Schopenhauer had a strained relationship with his mother Johanna Schopenhauer.
After his father’s death, Arthur Schopenhauer endured two years of drudgery as a merchant, in honour of his dead father.
Then his mother retired to Weimar, and Arthur Schopenhauer dedicated himself wholly to studies in the gymnasium of Gotha.
Later he went to live with his mother, but by that time she had already opened her famous salon, and Arthur was not compatible with the ways of the salon.
Consequently, he attempted university life.

Arthur Schopenhauer in Old Age

In 1831, a cholera epidemic broke out in Berlin and Schopenhauer left the city.
Schopenhauer settled permanently in Frankfurt in 1833, where he remained for the next twenty-seven years, living alone except for a succession of pet poodles named Atman and Butz.
The numerous notes that he made during these years, amongst others on ageing,  were published posthumously under the title ‘Senilia’.
Schopenhauer had a robust constitution, but in 1860 his health began to deteriorate.
He died of heart failure on 21 September 1860 while sitting at home on his couch with his cat. He was 72.


‘Honour means that a man is not exceptional; fame, that he is.
Fame is something which must be won; honour, only something which must not be lost.’

Arthur Schopenhauer

The Philosophy of the Will

A key focus of Schopenhauer was his investigation of individual motivation.
Before Schopenhauer, Hegel had popularized the concept of ‘Zeitgeist’.

The Zeitgeist (spirit of the age or spirit of the time) is the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time.
The German word Zeitgeist is often attributed to the philosopher Georg Hegel, but he never actually used the word. In his works such as ‘Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte’, he uses the phrase ‘der Geist seiner Zeit’ (the spirit of his time) – for example, “no man can surpass his own time, for the spirit of his time is also his own spiritOther philosophers who were associated with such ideas include Herder and Voltaire. Hegel believed that art reflected, by its very nature, the time of the culture in which it is created. Culture and art are inextricable because an individual artist is a product of his or her time and therefore brings that culture to any given work of art.

Emanuel Kant

Schopenhauer, a reader of both Kant and Hegel, criticized their logical optimism, and the belief that individual morality could be determined by society and reason.
Schopenhauer believed that humans were motivated by only their own basic desires, or Wille zum Leben (“Will to Live”), which directed all of mankind.

For Schopenhauer, human desire was futile, illogical, directionless, and, by extension, so was all human action in the world.
He wrote “Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants“.
In this sense, he adhered to the Fichtean principle of idealism: “the world is for a subject“.


This idealism so presented, immediately commits it to an ethical attitude, unlike the purely epistemological concerns of Descartes and Berkeley.

To Schopenhauer, the Will is a malignant, metaphysical existence which controls not only the actions of individual, intelligent agents, but ultimately all observable phenomena; an evil to be terminated via mankind’s duties: asceticism and chastity.
He is credited with one of the most famous opening lines of philosophy: “The world is my representation“.
Will, for Schopenhauer, is what Kant called the ‘Ding-an-sich‘ – (thing-in-itself).”
Nietzsche was greatly influenced by this idea of Will, while developing it in a different direction.

Art and Aesthetics

Arthur Schopenhauer’s aesthetics result from his doctrine of the primacy of the Will as the ‘thing in itself’, the ground of life and all being; and from his judgement that individuation of the Will is evil.
Schopenhauer held that art offers a way for people to temporarily escape the suffering that results from willing.
Basing his doctrine on the dual aspect of the world as will and the world as representation, he taught that if consciousness or attention is fully engrossed, absorbed, or occupied with the world as painless representations or images, then there is no consciousness of the world as painful willing.
Aesthetic pleasure results from being a spectator of “the world as representation” [mental image or idea] without any experience of “the world as will” [need, craving, urge].
Art, according to Schopenhauer, also provides essential knowledge of the world’s objects in a way that is more profound than science or everyday experience.
For Schopenhauer, the Will is an aimless desire to perpetuate itself, the basis of life.
Desire engendered by the Will is the source of all the sorrow in the world; each satisfied desire leaves us either with boredom, or with some new desire to take its place.
A world in thrall to Will is necessarily a world of suffering. Since the Will is the source of life, and our very bodies are stamped with its image and designed to serve its purpose, the human intellect is, in Schopenhauer’s simile, like a lame man who can see, but who rides on the shoulders of a blind giant.
Schopenhauer’s aesthetics is an attempt to break out of the pessimism that naturally comes from this world view.
Schopenhauer believed that what distinguished aesthetic experiences from other experiences is that contemplation of the object of aesthetic appreciation temporarily allowed the subject a respite from the strife of desire, and allowed the subject to enter a realm of purely mental enjoyment, the world purely as representation or mental image.
The more a person’s mind is concerned with the world as representation, the less it feels the suffering of the world as will.
Schopenhauer analysed art from its effects, both on the personality of the artist, and the personality of the viewer.
Schopenhauer believed that while all people were in thrall to the Will, the quality and intensity of their subjection differed:
Only through the pure contemplation . . . which becomes absorbed entirely in the object, are the Ideas comprehended; and the nature of genius consists precisely in the preëminent ability for such contemplation. . . . This demands a complete forgetting of our own person.
The aesthetic experience temporarily emancipates the subject from the Will’s domination and raises them to a level of pure perception.
On the occurrence of an aesthetic appreciation, the will thereby vanishes entirely from consciousness.”
Genuine art cannot be created by anyone who merely follows standard artistic rules.
A genius is required, that is, a person who creates original art without concern for rules.
The personality of the artist was also supposed to be less subject to Will than most: such a person was a Schopenhauerian genius, a person whose exceptional predominance of intellect over Will made them relatively aloof from earthly cares and concerns.
The poet living in a garret, the absent-minded professor, are (at least in the popular mind) examples of Schopenhauer’s geniuses: so fixed on their art that they neglect the “business of life” that in Schopenhauer’s mind meant only the domination of the evil and painful Will.
For Schopenhauer, the relative lack of competence of the artist and the thinker for practical pursuits was no mere stereotype: it was cause and effect.
Schopenhauer believed that what gives arts such as literature and sculpture their value was the extent to which they incorporated pure perceptions.
But, being concerned with human forms and human emotions, these art forms were inferior to music, which being a direct manifestation of will, was to Schopenhauer’s mind the highest form of art.

Richard Wagner

Schopenhauer’s philosophy of music was influential in the works of Richard Wagner.
Wagner was an enthusiastic reader of Schopenhauer, and recommended the reading of Schopenhauer to his friends.
His published works on music theory changed over time, and became more aligned with Schopenhauer’s thought, over the course of his life.
Schopenhauer had stated that music was more important than libretto in opera.
Music is, according to Schopenhauer, an immediate expression of will, the basic reality of the experienced world.
Libretto is merely a linguistic representation of transient phenomena.
Wagner emphasized music over libretto in his later works, after reading Schopenhauer’s aesthetic doctrine.
In proposing that art could offer deliverance from the Will, Schopenhauer elevated art from mere decoration, and held that art potentially offered temporary deliverance from the aimless strife of the Will in nature.
In effect, Schopenhauer turned art into a substitute religion by offering a doctrine of salvation through aesthetic experiences.
Artists were not merely skilled hands; they were the priests or prophets of this doctrine.
This teaching goes far to explain Schopenhauer’s appeal to members of the creative communities over the second half of the nineteenth century.
His doctrine of aesthetics justified artistic work as a matter of highest importance in human society.
Schopenhauer’s aesthetics remain influential today, and are one of the most lasting parts of his philosophy.
Their appeal to later generations of Romantics, and to all schools of bohemianism, is demonstrated.
Wagner sent Schopenhauer a note expressing deep gratitude for Schopenhauer’s discussion of music.

Thomas Mann

Schopenhauer’s philosophy in general left a deep impression on a number of important writers, especially Thomas Hardy, Marcel Proust, Stéphane Mallarmé, Thomas Mann, and Ivan Turgenev.
Schopenhauer’s aesthetics were directly responsible for the rise of the ‘Symbolists’ and their allied movements, and to the general development of the concept of ‘art for art’s sake’.

Friedrich Nietzsche

It deeply influenced the aesthetics of Friedrich Nietzsche, although he ultimately rejected Schopenhauer’s conception of Will as evil, whose famous opposition of the Apollonian and Dionysian is a translation of Schopenhauer’s opposition of intellect against will in terms of Greek mythology.
Santayana praised Schopenhauer’s doctrine that tragedy benefited audiences because it helped them to deny the will–to–live and to turn away from life. “Schopenhauer thought tragedy beautiful because it detached us from a troubled world and did not think a troubled world good, as those unspeakable optimists did, because it made such a fine tragedy. It is pleasant to find that among all these philosophers one at least was a gentleman.”

In Retrospect

There is a danger in interpreting the text of some long gone author, let alone of some heavyweight philosopher, such as Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860).

The interpreter tends to look at parts of the author’s prose that may best suit his own conclusions, while avoiding parts that other critics may find more relevant, and which the interpreter may consider either incomprehensible or irrelevant.
This is true for Schopenhauer in so far as he deals in his multi-layered work with diverse subject matters, ranging from the theories of knowledge, to the role of women, sex, eugenics, religion, etc., while offering aphoristic formulas on how to live a more or less liveable life. 

Moreover, in his entire work Schopenhauer deals extensively with the perception of objective reality, our self-perception, and how our self-perception reflects itself in the perception of the Other, for instance in the mind of my political foe or friend.

Sigmund Freud

It’s no wonder that when Schopenhauer is read along with some post-modern authors, his work can retrospectively yield some ground-breaking insights, of which even he was not aware.

The devil is often in the details, but harping on the details alone may often overshadow the whole.
Just because Schopenhauer was critical of Jewish monotheism, or made some critical remarks about women, should not lead us to the conclusion that he was a standard-bearer of anti-Semitism or a hater of women.
The fact that Adolf Hitler was one of his avid readers should not overshadow the fact that the father of modern psychoanalysis, the Jewish-born Austrian Sigmund Freud, learned a great deal from him on the how irrational will is expressed in sexual drive.

An Apolitical Meta-Politician

Der Mensch kann tun was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will.’

(Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.)
Arthur Schopenhauer

How relevant is Arthur Schopenhauer ?
Friedrich Nietzsche

At first sight Schopenhauer’s prose may be dated for our understanding of the world today.
Schopenhauer can be catalogued as a thinker of the so-called intellectual conservative revolution in so far as many thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Vilfredo Pareto, Julius Evola and others, one hundred years later, were heavily influenced by his writings.

Neither can these authors be properly understood unless the reader becomes familiar with Schopenhauer’s writings first.
Secondly, Schopenhauer’s teachings about the primacy of the will spearheading our perception of reality can also be of help in grasping the political hype-rreality of the modern liberal system.
Schopenhauer’s name is usually associated with cultural pessimism.
Nevertheless, he is far from the caricature of a suicidal author harping ceaselessly on the culture of death, as was the case with many of his 20th-century successors, including the magisterial Emile Cioran.
In his aphorisms Schopenhauer provides some handy recipes as to how to minimize a life of pain and sorrow, and how to discard the dangerous illusion of happiness.
As a fine connoisseur of human psychology, Schopenhauer justly remarks that where there is a violent outburst of joy, a disaster looms just around the corner.
It is therefore with maximum efforts that we need to curb shifts in our mood: anxiety is just the other side of ecstasy.
One must not give vent to great jubilation or to great sorrow as the changeability of all things can transfigure those at any moment.
By contrast, one must enjoy the “here and now,” possibly in a cheerful manner — this is the wisdom of life. (Die Kunst glücklich zu sein. C.H. Beck 1999, p. 56).
Schopenhauer does not deal with political treatises in his work, nor does he discuss the political sociology of the rapidly industrializing Europe, or governmental institutions of his time.
The political changes he witnessed, however dramatic they were, such as the Napoleonic wars in Europe, the rise to power of America, and the post-Napoleonic era, were of no interest to him.
Quite consistent with his misanthropic views about human nature, he stayed above the political and historical fray to the point of total disinterestedness.
Schopenhauer refuses any formula for any ontological, political, or ethical system whatsoever. Instead, he demolishes all doctrines and all systems, be they religious or political.
He resented politics, and he can be justly depicted as an “anti–intellectual” in a modern sense of the word.
For Schopenhauer, the world is fundamentally absurd, and no political philosophy can alter its absurdity.
A French theoretician of post-modernity  the philosopher Clément Rosset, is probably one of the best authors who summarized the significance of Schopenhauer for our times.

“Man has forever been successful in passing off past events for new events.
He has been thought to be able to act within free and regenerating time.
In reality, though, he has been in the arms of the cadaver.
A retrospective horror extends to his past, in which he has lived ever since, although, just like his future, that time had lapsed for good.
This time-illness, a profound source of intuition about the absence of all finality, expresses itself in the obsessive theme of repetition.” (Clément Rosset, Schopenhauer, Philosophe de l’Absurde, 1967, p. 97).

In other words, however much we may yearn to affect the flow of time, or assign it some goal or purpose, its merciless cyclical nature always bring us to further delusions and the inevitable status quo.
Nowhere is this absurd repetitive will of living visible as in man’s sexual desire – which Schopenhauer describes in his famous chapter and essay “The Metaphysics of Sex.”
Once a sexual appetite is assuaged, the will continues to manifest itself again and again in ceaseless sameness of sexual desire.
It follows from this absurd repetitiveness that the entire history of the human species is the entanglement of re-enactments.
World affairs and political decision-making are manifestations of a self-inflicted desire for something new.
Based on such perceptions of repetitive reality, Schopenhauer shows no interest in history, noting that it is always the same people who take the world stage, with the same ideas, albeit framed in a different rhetoric.
In short, his target of criticism is the philosophy of optimism, and the idea of progress which lay embedded in the eighteenth century teaching of the Enlightenment.
For Schopenhauer there is nothing new under the sun, as with every fleeting second the new becomes the old and the old becomes the new; the wheel of time turns forever.
Time for Schopenhauer is devoid of historicity, therefore, a study of some historical event, or of some political drama, is totally irrelevant.
Schopenhauer advocates the abandoning of the illusory will to create a better world..
Despite his static philosophy that rejected human and political betterment, Schopenhauer ventures often in his lengthy work into interesting and well-founded analyses, such as his brief study on the importance of heredity.
But one must be careful not to extrapolate his scattered comments on race and heredity and assume that they make up the bulk of his work.
He believed in the hereditary improvement of mankind, and some of his remarks about biological betterment are highly relevant.
Irrespective of the fact that he does not delve much into the subject of heredity, one must agree that Schopenhauer could be easily used as a weapon by modern sociobiologists or race realists.

“If we could castrate all scoundrels, and shut up all stupid geese in monasteries and give persons of noble character a whole harem and provide men, and indeed complete men, for all maidens of mind and understanding, a generation would soon arise what would produce a better age than that of Pericles” (The World as Will and Idea, p. 331, “Heredity.”)

In another context, Schopenhauer reiterated his antidemocratic-eugenic thesis:

If you want Utopian plans, I would say: the only solution to the problem is the despotism of the wise and noble members of a genuine aristocracy, a genuine nobility, achieved by mating the most magnanimous men with the cleverest and most gifted women. This proposal constitutes my Utopia and my Platonic Republic“.

Analysts have suggested that Schopenhauer’s advocacy of anti-egalitarianism and eugenics influenced the neo-aristocratic philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, who initially considered Schopenhauer his mentor.
Schopenhauer’s remarks on heredity are perfectly compatible with his teachings on the independence of the will.
Just as we can never change the predetermined nature of our genes and our genealogy, we cannot change the predetermined nature of the will:

“The only freedom that exists is of a metaphysical character. In the physical world freedom is an impossibility. .. The will itself, as something that lies beyond time, and so long as it exists at all, never changes…  Hence it is that every man achieves only that which is irrevocably established in his nature, or is born with him. (Free Will and Fatalism).

The Will vs. the Deceptive Reality

The main driving force of the entire university is the will.
Ideas, concepts and images are merely the objectification of our will at different levels of perception. 
The will is a blind force; it is subject neither to time nor to space, neither does it obey the principles of causality, nor is it subject to accidents.
In this sense Schopenhauer represents a big break with the teachings of rationalists and idealists of his time, who were enamoured with the principles of causality, and henceforth viewed necessity as a cornerstone of life on Earth.
Schopenhauer stood out as an oddity in his times which were imbued with the heritage of the Enlightenment.
The will is more important than the thought, however, at the conceptual level, as some scholars pointed out, one must carefully distinguish between the will and the instinct, as his later critical admirer and commentator, the National-Socialist Minister, Alfred Rosenberg, noted in his chapter “Will and Instinct” in his now famous book, ‘The Myth of the 20th Century’. 

“Will is always the opposite of instinct (“Trieb”), and not identical with it, as Schopenhauer seemed to teach.”

In other words contrary to Schopenhauer, Rosenberg objects that Schopenhauer uses the term “will” in an overly general manner.
Similar to Nietzsche and his followers, Rosenberg argues for the “implementation” of the free will for Promethean and political goals, while contrasting it to the primeval biological impulses which he calls the “instinct.” (Trieb).
Man is originally not a being of knowledge but a creature of instinct and will – a will that comes alive in cyclical time and in a non-linear way.
Will is the fundamental reality of the world, the ‘thing-in-itself’, and its objectification is what is visible in external phenomena, such as objects or political events that we witness daily.
In practical life the antagonism between the will and reason arises from the fact that the will is a metaphysical substance, whereas the reason is something accidental and secondary: an “appendage” to the will.
The will is an autonomous desire, that is to say, an irrational need to act or to do something.
The will is free in every single thought process and action, but it need not and generally does not follow the precepts of reason.
Unlike the majority of philosophers of his time, including Hegel, Schopenhauer does not hold reason in high regard.
Our illusions, based on self-serving perceptions, remain so entrenched despite the most sophisticated appeals to reason.
Therefore, Schopenhauer can be justly labelled as the greatest anti-rationalist philosopher of all time. Only the genius has some capacity for objectivity in so far as he can harness his will and become the pure knowing subject.
The absurdity of Schopenhauer’s “free” will is that man is enslaved by it without ever knowing its origin and reason.
Humans act but do not know why they act the way they do: apart from a few geniuses, their self perceptions are nothing more than illusions.
This leads us to a dreadful life, full of anguish on the one hand and ecstatic expectations on the other. 
The absurdity of our will is not how to reach the river and quench our thirst: the absurdity consists in the will for being thirsty !
The will has no cause and, given that it excludes causality, it does not have any necessity or purpose.
That the being is without any necessity is already a dreadful problem.
But that this very being is in addition unhappy and miserable only emphasizes the absence of a raison d’être. (Rosset, p. 16)
Schopenhauer’s theories of representation and perception can easily rank him today in the category of the founding fathers of post-modern theory of the Double and the Hyperreal.
Everything that we see is fleeting “representations” and not the actual physical phenomena.
We dream even when we are awake. 
Well, how then tell the difference between the real political truth and the fabricated political truth?
Schopenhauer is a crucial source in understanding the psychopathological impact of religions, myths and the systems of beliefs.
At times he labels them “allegories” whereas in other places he describes them as the “metaphysics of the masses” or “people’s metaphysics” (Volksmetaphysik).
Just as people have popular poetry and the popular wisdoms or proverbs, they also need popular metaphysics.
They need an interpretation of life; and this interpretation must be suited for their comprehension.
The great majority of humans have at best a weak faculty for weighing reasons and discriminating between the fact and the fiction.  Does this sound familiar?
No belief system, no ideology, no religion is immune from self-serving delusional tenets linked to false perceptions of reality, although, in due time, each of them will undergo the process of demythologization and eventually become a laughing stock for those who see the illusions underlying these delusional myths.
We can illustrate this changing masquerade of history repeating itself when observing the mindset of modern opinion makers.
People have always wished, by means of different allegories, to transcend their cursed reality and make frequent excursions into the spheres of the hyper-real  the unreal, or the surreal – in order to offset the absurdity of their existence.
It is natural that they resort to religious and ideological devices, however aberrant or criminal these allegorical devices may subsequently turn out to be.
Accordingly, the motor of religious mass mimicry, which Schopenhauer describes, is again our objectified will.
Consequently, the whole course of human life is patterned along the principle of imitation, where even the smallest thing in our perception is borrowed from that role model who is viewed now as a path-breaking innovator or a new messiah.
Mimicry is the powerful motor of the will, the theme which was later expanded by Schopenhauer’s disciples, such as Gustave Le Bon.
Intelligent individuals amidst our modern rootless masses realize that some beliefs are fraudulent and harmful, but for the sake of social conformity they accept them.
They will rather listen to others than trust their own head.
As Schopenhauer writes, the bad thing about all religions is that instead of being able to admit their allegorical nature, they conceal it.
Absurdities form an essential part of popular beliefs.
Schopenhauer’s teaching on religions, including his denunciation of the will to political power, was borrowed from the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.
He has good words for Catholicism though, which for him is a religion of pessimism (The World as Will and Idea, p. 372).
But it would be a serious error, based on a fragmentary reading of his work, to conclude that he was rejecting one religion at the expense of the other.
Although Schopenhauer may be described as an atheist or agnostic, his sense of spirituality was very strong.
Of all religions Judaism is the worst religion, notes Schopenhauer in his famous book ‘Parerga und Paralipomena’.

“The genuine religion of the Jews … is the crudest of all religions (die roheste aller Religionen.) The ongoing contempt for Jews, amidst their contemporary peoples, may have been to a large degree due to the squalid (armsälig) qualities of their religion. … In any case the essence of any religion consists, as such, in its persuasion that it provides for us, namely that our actual existence is not only limited to our life, but that it remains timeless. The appalling (erbärmlich) Jewish region does not fulfil this; indeed, it does not even try to. … Therefore, this is the crudest and the worst of all religions consisting only in an absurd and outrageous (empörend) theism. … While all other religions endeavour to explain to the people by symbols and parables the metaphysical significance of life, the religion of the Jews is entirely immanent and furnishes nothing but a mere war-cry (Kriegsgeschrei) in the struggle with other nations” (pp. 136–137).

Some of Schopenhauer’s words about the power of the blind will can easily be applied to our post-modern times – for example, how the will to believe in something has been hijacked by liberal political elites.

The Hyperreal: The Denial and its Double

We can now jump over to the 20th and 21st century and observe how Schopenhauer’s ideas provide a good fit to the mass illusions accompanying the rising tide of the democratic mystique.
How does the will objectify itself in the political arena today ?
Politicians are inclined to project their perception of the real world into its embellished Double. Example: None of us is entirely happy with his looks; no political theorist is happy with the world as it is.
We all strive to be someone else; we all wish to project either our physique or the present political order into its loftier, distant, and more romantic substitute.
As a result, the masses, but also our politicians, assess values and objective reality not as they are, but rather as they’d like to see them.
Our passionate need for a change, as a rule, results in inevitable disappointments and feelings of betrayal.
Following Schopenhauer’s logic, it is a serious error to assume that some contemporary politician is a liar or a crook just because we feel or think that we are being cheated or oppressed by him.
More likely, such wicked political leaders are themselves the victims of self-delusions.
Their manic desire for world improvement is based on honest and self-proclaimed “scientific”, “reasonable,” and “truthful” wishful thinking, which they benevolently wish to share with us or with their subjects or constituents.
To illustrate the will for self-delusion, one may observe contemporary leftists and antifascist militants within Schopenhauer’s framework of analysis.
What they say is already based on their prior self-persuasions, which are the reflections of the prevailing beliefs of their time.
Pareto, as a valiant disciple of Schopenhauer’s methods, notes that ”many people are not socialists because they have been persuaded by reasoning. Quite the contrary; these people acquiesce to such reasoning because they are (already) socialists.”
Their will, however aberrantly it may objectify itself in the ravings for some communistic mystique, defies any empirical argument.
Schopenhauer is of paramount importance in understanding our perception of postmodern reality, or our hyperreality, as some authors call it.
The surreal world of the liberal dogma – that is, the world in which we live – fits perfectly Schopenhauer’s teaching on the flawed perception of the real.
Moreover, Schopenhauer’s work is a useful tool for deciphering liberal mendacity, which has become today the cornerstone of the new world order.
The postmodern West is enveloped in the virtual reality of the electronic age (the “video sphere”) and media make-believe, which incessantly turn every real political event into a virtual image.
How does the liberal mystique or, to use Schopenhauer’s word, ‘allegory’, operate today ?
The process that started with the abstraction of the objective, as a result of the mass media, has ended now in integral reality, as the post-modern author Jean Baudrillard writes. “The virtual itself is “negationist,” or denial-prone. The virtual takes away the substance of the real. “We are living in a society of historical denial by virtue of its virtuality.”
Disbelief reigns everywhere, even if there are solid and empirical proofs of the opposite.
No longer is some historical or political event perceived as “real” or truthful.
For instance the memory of the ‘so-called’ Holocaust functions today as the largest civic religion of the West.
This idea of a Holocaust is a system of belief serving not only a commemorative goal; it is also a cognitive paradigm for interpreting all aspects of our contemporary society.
The issue, however, is no longer the body count of people who it is suggested had died; rather, the issue is the fact that the post-modern virtual world by definition minimizes or maximizes the hyperreal at the expense of the real.
This rule of the hyper-real or the double applies now to all grand narratives, especially those teeming with victimological themes.
Even honest historians or social theorists can no longer be taken as real.  Why ?
The big post-modern question will immediately start hovering over their heads: What if that person is telling the lies ? What if he does not tell the truth ?
Victimologies, and victim-hoods no longer sound persuasive as they have found their media hyper-substitutes, which either re-enact, or deactivate the real past crime.
Therefore, the modern media and politicians must make post-prophylactic political decisions in a desperate attempt to dismantle the previous real, i.e., the previous bad decision, the previous inaction by making it up to the real victim with an overkill of repenting rhetoric and post-prophylactic decision making (massive security checks at airports, always new mass commemorations, etc.).
If the lives of the masses of people who perished cannot be restored, let us restore their memory by the hyper-real media !
Why resuscitate the living, when the resuscitation of the dead is a far better business ?
One can analyse the post-modern wars, the so-called Gulf War in 1991 and the war in Bosnia in 1995 using the concepts of the hyper-real and the double.
When these wars were televised and commented on by talking heads on TV screens, their real and horrible reality was cancelled out.
Spectators were therefore much more likely to support these wars.
Neither can our history writing be a matter of academic discussion any more.
Historical narratives about real or surreal ‘fascist crimes’ or ‘White man crimes’ or the current mantra on ‘White man guilt’ have attained a grotesque level of psychological saturation, to the point that for politically conscious Whites they soon sink into oblivion – and laughter – as they are de-constructed. 
Even if some past mass crimes are empirically verifiable, the masses will start reconstructing its negative Double — after first deconstructing its Real antecedent.
The ‘Age of Post-modernity  is basically the age of deconstruction, where no single verity can hold sway for a long time.
Here is the vicious circle of the hyper-real.
If one is encouraged to de-construct the real world and denounce political beliefs as a passing allegory, as Schopenhauer did, why not de-construct new contemporary civic religions, such the monotheism of the capitalist market or the civic religion of victim-hood ?
Spectral Verities, Viral Lies

We all live the hyper-real  as the French philosopher Rosset writes; we all crave for the Double – be it in its negative or the positive form. 
We all wish to be something we are not; the duplicate of ourselves.  “In place of the world as it is, we invent a ‘duplicate’ or a ‘double,’ a parallel universe which functions as a phantom rival to the existing world.”
The disadvantage of living in the real world is that life in it is drab, frightening, or boring; the advantage of the “doubled” life lies not only in the fact that such life does not exist, but that such life doesn’t even have to exist in order for us to believe it to be true and real! In other words, this desire for a spectral world is not so much a desire for something different, as it is a desire to get rid of the real world.
Who are the new paradigms or role models of our hyper-real post-modernity ?
Once upon a time the role model for Western man was a rugged individual, a Prometheus unbound, a war hero, a conqueror.
Today the will for the hyper-real requires his double or his denial, or better yet the “doubled denial.” 
As a result, the new role models for the West are the degenerates, the retards, the ‘non-Whites’, the pederasts, the pathetic and the perverts.
Baudrillard: “The Courtier was the most remarkable figure of the aristocratic order. The Militant was the most remarkable figure of the social and revolutionary order. The Penitent is the most remarkable figure of our advanced post-modern democratic politicians.”
But these degenerate role models are in turn subject to deconstruction, especially by proud, psychologically healthy White people who are being victimized by the legitimization of these role models.
Granted, we are witnessing the end of the big narratives, such as ‘antifascist victimology’, however, the unresolved work of mourning the real (or hyper-real  victims of fascism or racism is in full swing.
In other words, the antifascist, anti-racist war (with all its political, media and legal prohibition) continues unabated.
Even if real racism and fascism are dead and gone, they need to be resurrected in a negative doubled manner in order to give the mourners an opportunity to repent for the failed duty to prevent it from happening. Never again, never again ! — this is a  new war cry of our hyperreal discourse.
This strategy of the hyper-real “never again”, is directed not only at preventing similar events from happening again in the future – as expressed in the forms of a myriad of  memorial centers commemorating the Holocaust.
It is also meant to be a tool of unravelling  in a vicarious and imaginary way, of the real past historical disaster that befell the Jews or the non-Whites.
Likewise, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are waged today as the post-prophylactic double; indeed, they are not just the wars for stopping the terror; they are the wars for removing the past sins of the political class, which led to the real terror of the dreadful 9/11 !
The goal is now to retroactively cancel out the inflicted national disgrace and humiliation of the ruling elites.
This is why the actual wars and our public discourse all over the West are “non-events”. Never again, never again!
And this is why the hyperreal or the double are pure illusions.
They cannot last.
The violent and the objective real is waiting in the wings and it will soon take the upper hand.
Is it for real ?