What is propaganda and how influential is it? In the most general terms, propaganda is biased information—appealing to one’s emotions, weaknesses, and sense of self—presented in a mesmerizing way to promote a particular political point of view that brings about a desired response. Modern history’s most notorious users of propaganda were Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. Hitler’s rapid reign sprouted from the anti-Semitic propaganda that was infused into the German culture, and thus into the daily lives of the German youth. This crucial instrument of persuasion led Hitler to gain enough support to rule over Nazi Germany and start World War II. Indeed, propaganda embedded in the student experience, visual images, written text, and political speeches fed to the students undoubtedly fueled Nazi Germany’s rise and reign.The German students’ everyday school experience in Nazi Germany was used as a tool for the Nazi party to infuse daily anti-Semitic propaganda into adolescents’ lives.
Teachers played a significant role in generating this atmosphere. According to Holocaust scholars Richard Rubenstein and John Roth, nearly 97% of educators belonged to the Nazi Teachers’ Association. Furthermore, German boys and girls learned only what the Nazi’s required them to know, which meant that hatred of the Jewish people was central in that curriculum (3). Also, teachers did not instruct, but commanded their students forcefully. The mentality at that time was strongly a sense that there was no room for weaklings. In fact, Ziemer’s book, Education for Death, which describes his own personal experiences visiting Nazi schools, claims those who betray any weakness of body or do not have the capacities for absolute obedience and submission must be expelled (3).
Along with the anti-Semitic materials and a commanding teaching style in the classroom , the children experienced and took part in a Big Brother atmosphere, as it was common for youngsters to turn against their parents in the name of supporting the Nazi party. It was required for the students to be loyal to the Nazi party. In the book School for Barbarians: Education Under the Nazis, Erika Mann shows the Nazis’ efforts to shape young people. Hitler strived to make the children feel that the German state was more important than anything else in their lives (3).
Members of Hitler’s Youth strove to become ideal to the Aryan race: young, strong, blond, and dedicated to their love for Hitler and the Party.Not only did the educators in German school’s corrupt the German school children, but visual images found in various mediums trained their outlooks. Posters seen by the children, newspaper images viewed by the children, and even children’s books exposed them to Nazi propaganda on a day-to-day basis, which meant there was practically no escape from the anti-Semitism and the forced image of an ideal Aryan student. The image on the left, as published by XXX, is a classic example of a propaganda poster that would be hung throughout schools’ hallways. The central character is the physical embodiment of the Nazi ideal for the Aryan race.
The image of Jewish people at this time was immensely different. And it was just as common to see negative images of Jewish people as to see ones such as the example to the left. (transition into next paragraph???)Not only were these negative propaganda images seen on posters, there were other visual forms that one can recognize. Including children’s books.
This illustration comes from Der Giftpilz, a children’s book from 1938, which was used in schools. Aiming to increase anti-Semitism by teaching youngsters negative myths about Jewish people. In the scene, a class is taught how to recognize the supposed physical characteristics of Jews. They are taught that the Jewish nose is hooked like the number six.
Other attributes mentioned in the story are puffy lips, fleshy eyelids, and a “deceitful” look. Towards the end of the book, it is also claimed that Jewish people were responsible for the murder of Jesus, who is called their greatest enemy. It was common for these ideal images of Aryan children to be compared to these negative images of Jews. Elvira Bauer discusses three anti-Semitic children’s books published by Julius Streicher’s Stürmer Publishing House. They are among the nastier productions of the Third Reich. An image found in one of the three children’s books, Trust No Fox on his Green Heath And No Jew on his Oath, to the left shows ugly depictions of Jewish students and teachers being forced out of schools. Around 100,000 copies were printed, and the book was used in many schools.
The author, Elvira Bauer, was an only 18-year-old art student. The awful depiction of Jews she drew which contrasted the healthy, able-bodied Germans was embedded into the student’s environments and was used to meddle with their naive outlooks. The picture shows the expulsion of Jewish students and teachers from German schools, which was required by the law due to the Nazi solution of the Jewish problem: the expulsion of all Jews from Germany. The sign in illustration reads “one-way street, hurry, hurry” stressing the grave danger that Jews pose to the wellbeing of German society and the urgency with which they must be removed from Germany. Almost all the illustrations of Jewish figures have the following characteristics: The body is stocky, the posture is crooked, the feet are flat, the hair is dark, and their bodies are covered with a mass amount of coarse body hair. The face usually has dark, bulging eyes, a crooked nose, hanging eyelids, a hanging under lip, and a heavy beard. Nazi racial ideology used the negative physical characteristics attributed to Jews as an indication of their inferior nature and evil character, which was pressed onto Aryan children, and citizens, heavily.
Not only images portrayed this propaganda to students, as educational books in schools were also used to manipulate children’s viewpoints on the Jewish population. Werner May translates the book commonly used in schools, Deutscher National-Katechismus: 2nd Edition, which taught German children about race. “Which race must the National Socialist race fight against? The Jewish race.
Why? The goal of the Jew is to make himself the ruler of humanity. Wherever he comes, he destroys works of culture. He is not a creative spirit, rather a destructive spirit.” Racial instruction was not limited to a single course or subject matter, as anti-semitism was included in all classes, even arithmetic. One book, titled Germany’s Fall and Rise—Illustrations Taken from Arithmetic Instruction in the Higher Grades of Elementary School, asks, “The Jews are aliens in Germany—in 1933 there were 66,060,000 inhabitants of the German Reich, of whom 499,682 were Jews.
What is the percentage of aliens?” (need a transition and more information / examples)Educational texts and other anti-semitic works were not limited to the page. Written word was also spoken, mainly by Hitler, and aimed toward the German youth. An excerpt from one of Hitler’s many speeches, XXX, shows his aspirations for the next generation. “I am beginning with the young….
With them I can make a new world. A violently active, dominating, intrepid, brutal youth—that is what I am after. Youth must be all those things.
It must be indifferent to pain. There must be no weakness or tenderness in it. I want to see once more in its eyes the gleam of pride and independence of the beast of prey….
I intend to have an athletic youth—that is the first and the chief thing…
.I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is ruin to my young men.” Another example is a direct quote from a man who experienced this propaganda firsthand. Alfons Heck’s primary source of Hitler Youth, XXX, shows the forcefulness of propaganda toward the Party’s youth.
“Unlike our elders, we children of the 1930s had never known a Germany without Nazis. From our very first year in the Volksschule or elementary school, we received daily doses of Nazism. These we swallowed as naturally as our morning milk. Never did we question what our teachers said. We simply believed what was crammed into us. And never for a moment did we doubt how fortunate we were to live in a country with such a promising future.” (something to wrap up this paragraph and lead into conclusion??)Anti-semitism became part of the daily student experience for German children, if you were being educated in schools, you were being educated with propaganda.
Hitler wanted to build a strong basis for his Aryan society, thus he made Jews seem toxic to their ideal society. Embedding these thoughts into young, impressionable Germans without any consent whatsoever caused this children’s viewpoints on equality and their overall humanity to be skewed. Hitler’s reign began so rapidly because of this anti-Semitic propaganda that was infused into lives of the German youth. Propaganda caused people to support Hitler and start World War II. Indeed, propaganda embedded in the student experience, visual images, written text, and political speeches fed to the students undoubtedly fueled Nazi Germany’s rise and reign.