|What contribution did Joseph Goebbels and/or Leni Riefenstahl make to Nazi propaganda?
The Nazis utilsed propaganda to promote the idea that the political might of Hitler and the Nazis was too powerful to be challenged in Germany and the military might of Nazi Germany was too powerful to be challenged internationally. The basis of Nazi propaganda was racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Bolshevism. They utilised every aspect of the state to promote fascist ideology while they were in power and found willing participants in the propaganda activities.
After the Nazis came to power Josef Goebbels was placed in charge of the Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda. Goebbels tasks were to ensure nobody in Germany could read or see anything that was hostile or damaging to the Nazi Party and to ensure that the views of the Nazis were put across in the most persuasive manner possible. The SS and Gestapo hunted out those who might produce articles defamatory to the Nazis and Hitler. All journalists, writers, and artists were required to register with the propaganda ministry.
The Nazis used the education system to indoctrinate young people. The history could was altered to glorify Germany and the Nazi Party. Biology classes taught students that the Aryan race was superior to all other human races. The Nazis sacked teachers who didn't conform to Nazi ideology. Hitler Youth and the League of German Maidens were established to continue the indoctrination of the youth of Germany.
In May 1933 Goebbels organised the first of the infamous book burning episodes. Books that did not match the Nazi ideal were burnt in public. The Nazis ransacked libraries to remove any books that they considered offended the Nazi ideal. When Gobbels began his book burning campaign Bertolt Brecht reiterated the prophetic quote "Where one burns books, one eventually burns people" .
Nazi architect Albert Speer helped Goebbels with public displays of propaganda. The highpoint of Nazi propaganda were the Nurmburg Rallies. The rallies were held every year and were the highpoint of Nazi propaganda. Each rally had a theme and were used to infuse Nazi party members with enthusiasm for Nazi ideology and re-inforce Nazi power. The rallies propmoted the idea that German society and the Nazi state were indivisable. In order to further promote Nazi ideology Gobbels used Leni Riefenstahl to make propaganda films about the rallies.
Leni Riefenstahl's most famous film was 'Triumph of the Will' filmed during the 1934 Nuremburg Rally. Riefenstahl used innovative techniques in the production of the film and gained international recognition for her efforts. Despite consistent denials by Riefenstahl, 'Triumph of the Will' was widely regarded as a Nazi propaganda film.She continued to work for the Nazis producing a film for the 1935 Nuremburg Rally. In 1936 Riefenstahl made two films about the Olympics in Berlin which were used as propaganda to fostered a sense of national pride in the Nazi regime.
Films in Nazi Germany played an important role in disseminating anti-semitism, portraying Jews as "subhuman" creatures infiltrating Aryan society. Anti-Semitism was a constant feature of the Nazi controlled film industry. Idolisation of Hitler and the perfect nature of the Nazi way of life were other themes. As World War Two approached Nazi films focussed on propaganda claiming that Germans living in Eastern European countries were being badly threated. These films played an important role in preparing the German population for war.
Nazi propaganda focussed on promoting Nazi ideology amongst the German population. It also targetted Germans living in Eastern Europe emphasising their bood ties to Germany rather than their new countries. Goebbels also targetted potential enemies like Britain and France by promoting the greatness of German cultural, scientific and military achievements. With the assistance of Riefenstahl, Goebbels played the key role in promoting Nazi propaganda.
The thousand year Reich survived twelve years before being defeated in 1945. Like his leader, Goebbels committed suicide with his wife as the Russians conquered Berlin, but not before he murdered his children. The chief Nazi propagandist couldn't allow his children to live in a Germany that wasn't under Nazi control. Leni Riefenstahl lived until she was over 100 years old but her association with Hitler and the Nazis would destroy her film career after World War two. Everytime she attempted to make a film it would be met with resistance including public protests. Riefenstahl was unable to shake the claim that her films were nothing more than Nazi propaganda.