[Editor’s note-When this was originally posted the short bio was not included along with an additional photo.]
On 16 November 1941, Joseph Goebbels publishes in the German magazine Das Reich that the “Jews wanted the war, and now they have it.” This was part of the Nazi propaganda scheme to shift blame for the war to Jews and thus rationalizing the Final Solution–the elimination of Jews. German soldiers and the SS were infused with this propaganda and anti-Communist rhetoric to carry out their task of eliminating the Jews with enthusiasm.
[T]he prophecy which the Fuhrer made…that should international finance Jewry succeed in plunging the nations into a world war once again, the result would not be the Bolshevization of the world…but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. We are in the midst of that process…Compassion or regret are entirely out of place here.
Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945)
Joseph Goebbels joined the Nazi Party in 1924. He had obtained a PhD in German literature from the University of Heidelberg in 1920. Prior to joining the party, he had worked as a writer, journalist, and clerk. The same year he joined the Nazi Party, he became editor of the Völkische Freiheit (Folkish Freedom) where he honed his propaganda skills for the party. Goebbels became an admirer of Hitler and became unfailingly loyal to him. He was also a rabid antisemite.
He came to Hitler’s attention in 1926 due to his organizational skills, devotion to the party, and his clever propaganda. He was made a regional Gauleiter (party chief) for Greater Berlin. He built up the Nazi Party organization and ran his own newspaper (Der Angriff or The Assault in English) until 1935 where he advanced the Nazi Party goals of anticommunism, antisemitism, and promoted Hitler becoming dictator of Germany. He would be elected to the Reichstag in 1928 representing the Nazi Party in Berlin.
Goebbels was a tireless agitator as the District Leader in Berlin. He railed against the Communist and Social Democratic party members, marched with the SA (Storm Troopers) into working class neighborhoods where support for those parties was strong. Bitter street fights would result, and Goebbels would call those who were injured or killed as suffering for the party. He made sure through his paper and other media of the heroism of those who suffered. Films were made to dramatize the events and led to the creation of the Horst Wessel Song, named for one of those who were killed in 1930. The song would become the party’s anthem.
The image he crafted was one of bloodied stormtrooper (and overly muscled as well) that would appear in Nazi propaganda for years to come. They died, the party said, fighting the Marxist enemy.
Hitler would appoint him as Reich leader of propaganda for the Nazi Party in 1929 and would hold that position until his death in 1945. Hitler relied on Goebbels in the critical elections of 1932. Goebbels was the first of that era to use radio and film for mass propaganda techniques. Films of Nazi rallies, speeches, and other important events were filmed and broadcast over the radio to inspire supporters and draw new ones in. Hitler was depicted by Goebbels as energetic and using all the modern modes of transport to get around Germany. Films showed him flying all over Germany on the same day holding events.
After Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, Goebbels would be instrumental in implementing the Nazi’s desire to control all aspects of German culture. Hitler established the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in March. At thirty-five years of age, he was the youngest member of the cabinet. Goebbels was tasked with decontamination of German culture, and nothing was considered outside of their control. Film, radio, and the press all fell under Goebbels control, and he used it to its fullest advantage. To make sure German’s accepted the anti-Jewish measures, Jews were cast into the worst possible light. Viewpoints unacceptable to the Nazi Party were silenced, books and publications were suppressed, and supported book burnings to cleanse the German spirit. Preaching national unity, Goebbels rallied people to support Hitler and the Nazi Party against those who had damaged Germany. And Jews were at the top of the list along with Communists, Socialists, certain religious groups, and others such as Roma. The doctrine of racial purity that party believed in excluded large swaths of people from German society.
Goebbels was the chief instigator for Kristallnacht in 1938. He convinced Hitler that the murder of the German diplomat in Paris was the perfect opportunity for a nationwide attack on Jews. And when Germany needed to invade other countries, he helped develop the Führer cult which glorified Hitler as both Germany’s war leader and savior. Mass propaganda was used to convince people that countries had to be invaded to save them from their mess created by Jews and Liberalism. Of course, during this whole time, the mass propaganda depicting the Jews and others negatively made it easier to target, imprison, and execute them. Right up until the end the near deification of Hitler and the rabid antisemitism would continue until the war ended in 1945. Goebbels was a complete supporter of the Final Solution-the Holocaust-the extermination of all Jews.
One of Goebbels last tasks in the final years was as Plenipotentiary for the War Economy which Hitler appointed him to in 1944. Goebbels had worked hard to keep morale up especially after the defeat at Stalingrad. In the new position, he was to help maximize manpower and arms production. He was not highly successful and ran into opposition with other ministers particularly Albert Speer who was in charge of armaments.
After Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, Goebbels became the new Reich Chancellor. He refused the idea of surrender and knew full well he would be put on trial and executed. He and his wife Magda poisoned their six children and then both committed suicide on 1 May 1945. The corpses were partly burned but never buried. There were repeated burials and exhumations, and they were finally buried in Magdeburg at the SMERSH facility in 1946. The remains were exhumed again in 1970 under orders from KGB director Yuri Andropov and destroyed. They were then dumped into the Biederitz river.
“Joseph Goebbels Publishes His Screed of Hate.” HISTORY, 16 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/goebbels-publishes-his-screed-of-hate.
Joseph Goebbels. encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/joseph-goebbels-1