Joseph Goebbels

Joseph Goebbels

Overview
Paul Joseph Goebbels (ˈɡœbəls; 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda
Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was Nazi Germany's ministry that enforced Nazi Party ideology in Germany and regulated its culture and society. Founded on March 13, 1933, by Adolf Hitler's new National Socialist government, the Ministry was headed by Dr...

 in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory
Oratory
Oratory is a type of public speaking.Oratory may also refer to:* Oratory , a power metal band* Oratory , a place of worship* a religious order such as** Oratory of Saint Philip Neri ** Oratory of Jesus...

 and anti-Semitism. He played a hand in the Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

 attack on the German Jews
History of the Jews in Germany
The presence of Jews in Germany has been established since the early 4th century. The community prospered under Charlemagne, but suffered during the Crusades...

, which many historians consider to be the beginning of the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

, leading to the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

.

Goebbels earned a Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 from Heidelberg University in 1921, writing his doctoral thesis on 19th century romantic drama; he then went on to work as a journalist and later a bank clerk and caller on the stock exchange.
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Quotations

A mother who is not everything for her children: a friend, a teacher, a confidant, a source of joy and founded pride, inducement and soothing, reconciliator, judge and forgiver, that mother obviously chose the wrong job.

Eine Mutter, die ihren Kindern nicht alles: Freund, Lehrer, Vertraute, Quell der Freude und des gefestigten Stolzes, Ansporn, Dämpfer, Ankläger, Versöhner, Richter und Vergeber ist, die Mutter hat offenbar ihren Beruf verfehlt.

I'm looking for the teacher who is unaffected enough to be great, and great enough to be unaffected.

Ich suche den Lehrer, der einfach genug ist, um groß zu sein und groß genug, um einfach zu sein.

Everything is what you make of it, even yourself.

Alles ist das, was du daraus machst, auch du selbst.

Man only honors what he conquers or defends.

Man schätzt überhaupt nur das, was man erobert oder verteidigt.

When I sit near the ocean in the morning and write my verses and breathe the salty wind which is coming from the water, I rejoice in God and I am blissful, like I was as a child.

Wenn ich morgens am Meere sitze und Verse dichte und atme dabei den salzigen Wind, der vom Wasser herüberspringt, dann gehe ich auf in Gott und bin glücklich, wie ich es nur noch in der Kinderzeit war.
Encyclopedia
Paul Joseph Goebbels (ˈɡœbəls; 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda
Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was Nazi Germany's ministry that enforced Nazi Party ideology in Germany and regulated its culture and society. Founded on March 13, 1933, by Adolf Hitler's new National Socialist government, the Ministry was headed by Dr...

 in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory
Oratory
Oratory is a type of public speaking.Oratory may also refer to:* Oratory , a power metal band* Oratory , a place of worship* a religious order such as** Oratory of Saint Philip Neri ** Oratory of Jesus...

 and anti-Semitism. He played a hand in the Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

 attack on the German Jews
History of the Jews in Germany
The presence of Jews in Germany has been established since the early 4th century. The community prospered under Charlemagne, but suffered during the Crusades...

, which many historians consider to be the beginning of the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

, leading to the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

.

Goebbels earned a Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 from Heidelberg University in 1921, writing his doctoral thesis on 19th century romantic drama; he then went on to work as a journalist and later a bank clerk and caller on the stock exchange. He also wrote novels and plays, but they were rejected by publishers. Goebbels came into contact with the Nazi Party in 1923 during the French occupation of the Ruhr
Occupation of the Ruhr
The Occupation of the Ruhr between 1923 and 1925, by troops from France and Belgium, was a response to the failure of the German Weimar Republic under Chancellor Cuno to pay reparations in the aftermath of World War I.-Background:...

 and became a member in 1924. He was appointed Gauleiter
Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

 (regional party leader) of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. In this position, he put his propaganda skills to full use, combating the local socialist
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 and communist parties with the help of Nazi papers and the paramilitary Stormtroopers, aka, Brownshirts, SA
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

. By 1928, he had risen in the party ranks to become one of its most prominent members.

Goebbels rose to power in 1933 along with Hitler and the Nazi Party and he was appointed Propaganda Minister. One of his first acts was the burning of books
Nazi book burnings
The Nazi book burnings were a campaign conducted by the authorities of Nazi Germany to ceremonially burn all books in Germany which did not correspond with Nazi ideology.-The book-burning campaign:...

 rejected by the Nazis. He exerted totalitarian control over the media, arts and information in Germany.

From the beginning of his tenure, Goebbels organized attacks on German Jews, commencing with the one-day boycott of Jewish businessmen, doctors, and lawyers on April 1, 1933. His attacks on the Jewish population culminated in the Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

assault of 1938, an open and unrestrained pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

 unleashed by the Nazis all across Germany, in which scores of synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s were burned and hundreds of Jews were assaulted and murdered. Further, he produced a series of anti-Semitic films (most notably Jud Süß
Jud Süß (1940 film)
Jud Süß is an antisemitic propaganda film produced in 1940 by Terra Filmkunst at the behest of Joseph Goebbels. The movie was directed by Veit Harlan, who wrote the screenplay with Eberhard Wolfgang Möller and Ludwig Metzger, and starred Ferdinand Marian and Harlan's wife Kristina Söderbaum.The...

). Goebbels used modern propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 techniques to psychologically prepare the German people for aggressive warfare.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Goebbels increased his power and influence through shifting alliances with other Nazi leaders. By late 1943, the tide of the war was turning against the Axis powers, but this only spurred Goebbels to intensify the propaganda by urging the Germans to accept the idea of total war
Total war
Total war is a war in which a belligerent engages in the complete mobilization of fully available resources and population.In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare...

 and mobilization. Goebbels remained with Hitler in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 to the end; just hours after Hitler's suicide, Goebbels and his wife Magda
Magda Goebbels
Johanna Maria Magdalena "Magda" Goebbels was the wife of Nazi Germany's Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels...

 killed their six young children
Goebbels children
The Goebbels children were the five daughters and one son born to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda Goebbels. The children, born between 1932 and 1940, were murdered by their parents in Berlin on May 1, 1945, the day both parents committed suicide.Magda Goebbels had an...

 and then committed suicide.

Early life


Goebbels was born in Rheydt
Rheydt
Rheydt is a borough of the German city Mönchengladbach, located in the west of North Rhine-Westphalia. Until 1918 and then again from 1933 through 1975 it was an independent city....

, an industrial town south of Mönchengladbach
Mönchengladbach
Mönchengladbach , formerly known as Münchengladbach, is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located west of the Rhine half way between Düsseldorf and the Dutch border....

 on the edge of the Ruhr
Ruhr
The Ruhr is a medium-size river in western Germany , a right tributary of the Rhine.-Description:The source of the Ruhr is near the town of Winterberg in the mountainous Sauerland region, at an elevation of approximately 2,200 feet...

 district. His family were Catholics; his father was a factory clerk, his mother originally a farmhand. Goebbels had four siblings: Hans (1893–1947), Konrad (1895–1949), Elisabeth (1901–1915) and Maria (born 1910, later married to the German filmmaker Max W. Kimmich
Max W. Kimmich
Max Wilhelm Kimmich was a German film director and screenwriter during the first half of the 20th century...

). He was educated at a Christian Gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

, where he completed his Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

 (university entrance examination) in 1916. He had a deformed right leg, the result either of club foot
Club foot
A club foot, or congenital talipes equinovarus , is a congenital deformity involving one foot or both. The affected foot appears rotated internally at the ankle. TEV is classified into 2 groups: Postural TEV or Structural TEV....

 or osteomyelitis
Osteomyelitis
Osteomyelitis simply means an infection of the bone or bone marrow...

. William L. Shirer
William L. Shirer
William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist, war correspondent, and historian, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany read and cited in scholarly works for more than 50 years...

, who worked in Berlin as a journalist in the 1930s and was acquainted with Goebbels, wrote in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a 1960 non-fiction book by William L. Shirer chronicling the general history of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945...

(1960) that the deformity was from a childhood attack of osteomyelitis
Osteomyelitis
Osteomyelitis simply means an infection of the bone or bone marrow...

 and a failed operation to correct it. Goebbels wore a metal brace and special shoe because of his shortened leg, but nevertheless walked with a limp. He was rejected for military service in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, which he bitterly resented. He later sometimes misrepresented himself as a war veteran and his disability as a war wound. He did act as an "office soldier" from June to October 1917 in Rheydt's "Patriotic Help Unit".

Goebbels attended the boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 of German Franciscan brothers in Bleijerheide, Kerkrade
Kerkrade
Kerkrade is a town and a municipality in the southeastern Netherlands.It is the western half of the divided region and de facto city, taken together with the eastern half, the German town of Herzogenrath...

 in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. Gradually losing his Catholic faith he studied literature and philosophy at the universities of Bonn
University of Bonn
The University of Bonn is a public research university located in Bonn, Germany. Founded in its present form in 1818, as the linear successor of earlier academic institutions, the University of Bonn is today one of the leading universities in Germany. The University of Bonn offers a large number...

, Würzburg
University of Würzburg
The University of Würzburg is a university in Würzburg, Germany, founded in 1402. The university is a member of the distinguished Coimbra Group.-Name:...

, Freiburg
University of Freiburg
The University of Freiburg , sometimes referred to in English as the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, is a public research university located in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.The university was founded in 1457 by the Habsburg dynasty as the...

 and Heidelberg, where he wrote his doctoral thesis on a minor 19th century romantic dramatist Wilhelm von Schütz
Wilhelm von Schütz
Christian Wilhelm von Schütz, was a German author.-Biography:Schütz was, among other things, a minor romantic writer, who first became famous as a playwright . A friend of Ludwig Tieck, he translated from 1822 Casanova's Histoire de ma vie for the 12-volume German edition of the famous memoirs...

. His two most influential teachers, Friedrich Gundolf
Friedrich Gundolf
Friedrich Gundolf, born Friedrich Leopold Gundelfinger was a German-Jewish literary scholar and poet and one of the most famous academics of the Weimar Republic.- Education :...

 and his doctoral supervisor at Heidelberg, Max Freiherr von Waldberg
Max Freiherr von Waldberg
Max Freiherr von Waldberg was a professor of modern literature at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. After World War I, one of his students was future Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels...

, were Jews. His intelligence and political astuteness were generally acknowledged even by his enemies.

After completing his doctorate in 1921, Goebbels worked as a journalist and tried for several years to become a published author. He wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Michael
Michael (autobiography)
Michael was a semi-autobiographical novel authored by the German propagandist Dr. Joseph Goebbels and published in 1929. The novel is a combination of Goebbels' own thoughts and the life of his best friend Richard Flisges who had actually fought in the war, and later ended his college studies to...

, two verse
Verse (poetry)
A verse is formally a single line in a metrical composition, e.g. poetry. However, the word has come to represent any division or grouping of words in such a composition, which traditionally had been referred to as a stanza....

 plays, and quantities of romantic poetry. In these works, he revealed the psychological damage his physical limitations (having a clubbed foot, and, in a lesser sense being so far from the Aryan ideal, he had brown eyes and dark brown hair and stood at just 5'5) had caused. "The very name of the hero, Michael, to whom he gave many autobiographical features, suggests the way his self-identification was pointing: a figure of light, radiant, tall, unconquerable," and above all "'To be a soldier! To stand sentinel! One ought always to be a soldier,' wrote Michael-Goebbels." Goebbels found another form of compensation in the pursuit of women, a lifelong compulsion he indulged "with extraordinary vigor and a surprising degree of success." His diaries reveal a long succession of affairs, before and after his marriage before a Protestant pastor in 1931 to Magda Quandt
Magda Goebbels
Johanna Maria Magdalena "Magda" Goebbels was the wife of Nazi Germany's Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels...

, with whom he had six children
Goebbels children
The Goebbels children were the five daughters and one son born to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda Goebbels. The children, born between 1932 and 1940, were murdered by their parents in Berlin on May 1, 1945, the day both parents committed suicide.Magda Goebbels had an...

.

Goebbels was embittered by the frustration of his literary career; his novel did not find a publisher until 1929 and his plays were never staged. He found an outlet for his desire to write in his diaries
Goebbels Diaries
Joseph Goebbels, a leading member of the German National Socialist Party and Propaganda Minister in Adolf Hitler's government from 1933 to 1945, kept a diary from 1923, when he was an unemployed ex-student with no interest in politics, until shortly before his death by suicide in Berlin on 1 May 1945...

, which he began in 1923 and continued for the rest of his life. He later worked as a bank clerk and a caller on the stock exchange. During this period, he read avidly and formed his political views. Major influences were Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

, Oswald Spengler
Oswald Spengler
Oswald Manuel Arnold Gottfried Spengler was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book The Decline of the West , published in 1918, which puts forth a cyclical theory of the rise and decline of civilizations...

 and, most importantly, Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Houston Stewart Chamberlain was a British-born German author of books on political philosophy, natural science and the German composer Richard Wagner. He later became a German citizen. Chamberlain married Wagner's daughter, Eva, some years after Wagner's death...

, the British-born German writer who was one of the founders of "scientific" anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

, and whose book The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century
The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century
The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century was the best-selling work by Houston Stewart Chamberlain...

(1899) was one of the standard works of the extreme right in Germany. Goebbels spent the winter of 1919–20 in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, where he witnessed and admired the violent nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 reaction against the attempted communist revolution in Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

. His first political hero was Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley
Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley
Anton von Padua Alfred Emil Hubert Georg Graf von Arco auf Valley , commonly known as Anton Arco-Valley, German political activist, is best remembered as the assassin of Kurt Eisner, the first republican premier of Bavaria, in February 1919.Arco-Valley was born in Sankt Martin im Innkreis in Upper...

, the man who assassinated the Bavarian prime minister Kurt Eisner
Kurt Eisner
Kurt Eisner was a Bavarian politician and journalist. As a German socialist journalist and statesman, he organized the Socialist Revolution that overthrew the Wittelsbach monarchy in Bavaria in November 1918....

. Hitler was in Munich at the same time and entered politics as a result of similar experiences.

The culture of the German extreme right was violent and anti-intellectual, which posed a challenge to the physically frail University graduate. Joachim Fest
Joachim Fest
Joachim Clemens Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance...

 writes:

This was the source of his hatred of the intellect, which was a form of self-hatred, his longing to degrade himself, to submerge himself in the ranks of the masses, which ran curiously parallel with his ambition and his tormenting need to distinguish himself. He was incessantly tortured by the fear of being regarded as a ‘bourgeois intellectual’… It always seemed as if he were offering blind devotion (to Nazism) to make up for his lack of all those characteristics of the racial elite which nature had denied him.

Nazi activist


Like others who were later prominent in the Third Reich, Goebbels came into contact with the Nazi Party in 1923, during the campaign of resistance to the French occupation of the Ruhr
Occupation of the Ruhr
The Occupation of the Ruhr between 1923 and 1925, by troops from France and Belgium, was a response to the failure of the German Weimar Republic under Chancellor Cuno to pay reparations in the aftermath of World War I.-Background:...

. Hitler’s imprisonment following the failed November 1923 "Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

" left the party temporarily leaderless, and when the 27-year-old Goebbels joined the party in late 1924 the most important influence on his political development was Gregor Strasser
Gregor Strasser
Gregor Strasser was a politician of the National Socialist German Workers Party...

, who became Nazi organizer in northern Germany in March 1924. Strasser ("the most able of the leading Nazis" of this period) took the "socialist" component of National Socialism far more seriously than did Hitler and other members of the Bavarian leadership of the party.


"National and socialist! What goes first, and what comes afterwards?" Goebbels asked rhetorically in a debate with Theodor Vahlen
Theodor Vahlen
Karl Theodor Vahlen was an Austrian-born mathematician who was an ardent supporter of the Nazi Party. He was a member of both the SA and SS.- Career :...

, Gauleiter
Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

(regional party head) of Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

, in the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

 party newspaper National-sozialistische Briefe (National-Socialist Letters), of which he was editor, in mid-1925. "With us in the west, there can be no doubt. First socialist redemption, then comes national liberation like a whirlwind… Hitler stands between both opinions, but he is on his way to coming over to us completely." Goebbels, with his journalistic skills, thus soon became a key ally of Strasser in his struggle with the Bavarians over the party program. The conflict was not, so they thought, with Hitler, but with his lieutenants, Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Walter Richard Hess was a prominent Nazi politician who was Adolf Hitler's deputy in the Nazi Party during the 1930s and early 1940s...

, Julius Streicher
Julius Streicher
Julius Streicher was a prominent Nazi prior to World War II. He was the founder and publisher of Der Stürmer newspaper, which became a central element of the Nazi propaganda machine...

 and Hermann Esser
Hermann Esser
Hermann Esser entered the Nazi party with Adolf Hitler in 1920, became the editor of the Nazi paper, Völkischer Beobachter, and a Nazi member of the Reichstag. In the early history of the party, he was Hitler's de facto deputy.Esser was born in Röhrmoos, Kingdom of Bavaria...

, who, they said, were mismanaging the party in Hitler’s absence. In 1925, Goebbels published an open letter to "my friends of the left," urging unity between socialists and Nazis against the capitalists
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

. "You and I," he wrote, "we are fighting one another although we are not really enemies."

In February 1926, Hitler, having finished working on Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

, made a sudden return to party affairs and soon disabused the northerners of any illusions about where he stood. He summoned about 60 gauleiters and other activists, including Goebbels, to a meeting at Bamberg
Bamberg Conference
The Bamberg Conference included some sixty members of the leadership of the Nazi Party, and was specially convened by Adolf Hitler in Bamberg, in Upper Franconia, Germany on Sunday 14 February 1926 during the "wilderness years" of the party....

, in Streicher’s Gau of Franconia
Franconia
Franconia is a region of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria, a small part of southern Thuringia, and a region in northeastern Baden-Württemberg called Tauberfranken...

, where he gave a two-hour speech repudiating the political program of the "socialist" wing of the party. For Hitler, the real enemy of the German people was always the Jews, not the capitalists
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

. Goebbels was bitterly disillusioned. "I feel devastated," he wrote. "What sort of Hitler? A reactionary
Reactionary
The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society. The term is meant to describe one end of a political spectrum whose opposite pole is "radical". While it has not been generally considered a term of praise it has been adopted as a self-description by...

?" He was horrified by Hitler’s characterization of socialism as "a Jewish creation", his declaration that the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 must be destroyed, and his assertion that private property would not be expropriated by a Nazi government. "I no longer fully believe in Hitler. That’s the terrible thing: my inner support has been taken away."

Hitler, however, recognized Goebbels’ talents. In April, he brought Goebbels to Munich, sending his own car to meet him at the railway station, and gave him a long private audience. Hitler berated Goebbels over his support for the "socialist" line, but offered to "wipe the slate clean" if Goebbels would now accept his leadership. Goebbels capitulated completely, offering Hitler his total loyalty – a pledge that was clearly sincere, and that he adhered to until the end of his life. "I love him ... He has thought through everything," Goebbels wrote. "Such a sparkling mind can be my leader. I bow to the greater one, the political genius
Genius
Genius is something or someone embodying exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of unprecedented insight....

". Later he wrote: "Adolf Hitler, I love you because you are both great and simple at the same time. What one calls a genius." Fest writes:

From this point on he submitted himself, his whole existence, to his attachment to the person of the Führer, consciously eliminating all inhibitions springing from intellect, free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 and self-respect. Since this submission was an act less of faith than of insight, it stood firm through all vicissitudes to the end. ‘He who forsakes the Führer withers away,’ he would later write.

Propagandist in Berlin


In October 1926, Hitler rewarded Goebbels for his new loyalty by making him the party "Gauleiter
Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

" for the Berlin section of the National Socialists. Goebbels was then able to use the new position to indulge his literary aspirations in the German capital, which he perceived to be a stronghold of the socialists and communists. Here, Goebbels discovered his talent as a propagandist, writing such tracts as 1926's The Second Revolution and Lenin or Hitler.

Here, he was also able to indulge his heretofore latent taste for violence, if only vicariously through the actions of the street fighters under his command. History, he said, "is made in the street," and he was determined to challenge the dominant parties of the left – the Social Democrats and Communists
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 – in the streets of Berlin. Working with the local S.A.
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 (stormtrooper) leaders, he deliberately provoked beer-hall battles and street brawls, frequently involving firearms. "Beware, you dogs," he wrote to his former "friends of the left": "When the Devil is loose in me you will not curb him again." When the inevitable deaths occurred, he exploited them for the maximum effect, turning the street fighter Horst Wessel
Horst Wessel
Horst Ludwig Wessel was a German Nazi activist who was made a posthumous hero of the Nazi movement following his violent death in 1930...

, who was killed at his home by enemy political activists, into a martyr and hero.

In Berlin, Goebbels was able to give full expression to his genius for propaganda, as editor of the Berlin Nazi newspaper Der Angriff
Der Angriff
Der Angriff was a German language newspaper founded in 1927 by the Berlin Gau of the Nazi Party.The newspaper was set up by Joseph Goebbels, who in 1926 had become the Nazi Party leader in Berlin, and the party provided most of the money needed to ensure publication...

(The Attack) and as the author of a steady stream of Nazi posters and handbills. "He rose within a few months to be the city’s most feared agitator." His propaganda techniques were totally cynical: "That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result," he wrote. "It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success."

Among his favorite targets were socialist leaders such as Hermann Müller
Hermann Müller (politician)
' , born in Mannheim, was a German Social Democratic politician who served as Foreign Minister , and twice as Chancellor of Germany under the Weimar Republic...

 and Carl Severing
Carl Severing
Carl Wilhelm Severing was a German Social Democrat politician during the Weimar era.He was Interior Minister of Prussia from 1920 to 1926, Minister of the Interior from 1928 to 1930 and Interior Minister of Prussia again from 1930 to 1932...

, and the Jewish Berlin Police President, Bernhard Weiß
Bernhard Weiß (police executive)
Bernhard Isidor Weiß [Weiss] was a German lawyer and Vice President of the Berlin police during the Weimar Republic....

 (1880–1951), whom he subjected to a relentless campaign of Jew-baiting in the hope of provoking a crackdown he could then exploit. The Social Democrat city government obliged in 1927 with an eight-month ban on the party, which Goebbels exploited to the limit. When a friend criticized him for denigrating Weiss, a man with an exemplary military record, "he explained cynically that he wasn’t in the least interested in Weiss, only in the propaganda effect."

Goebbels also discovered a talent for oratory
Oratory
Oratory is a type of public speaking.Oratory may also refer to:* Oratory , a power metal band* Oratory , a place of worship* a religious order such as** Oratory of Saint Philip Neri ** Oratory of Jesus...

, and was soon second in the Nazi movement only to Hitler as a public speaker. Where Hitler’s style was hoarse and passionate, Goebbels’ was cool, sarcastic and often humorous: he was a master of biting invective and insinuation, although he could whip himself into a rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

al frenzy if the occasion demanded. Unlike Hitler, however, he retained a cynical detachment from his own rhetoric. He openly acknowledged that he was exploiting the lowest instincts of the German people – racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

, xenophobia
Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek words ξένος , meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος , meaning "fear."...

, class envy and insecurity. He could, he said, play the popular will like a piano, leading the masses wherever he wanted them to go. "He drove his listeners into ecstasy, making them stand up, sing songs, raise their arms, repeat oaths – and he did it, not through the passionate inspiration of the moment, but as the result of sober psychological
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 calculation."

Goebbels' words and actions made little impact on the political loyalties of Berlin. At the 1928 Reichstag
Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

elections, the Nazis polled less than 2% of the vote in Berlin compared with 33% for the Social Democrats and 25% for the Communists. At this election Goebbels was one of the 10 Nazis elected to the Reichstag, which brought him a salary of 750 Reichsmarks a month and immunity from prosecution
Parliamentary immunity
Parliamentary immunity, also known as legislative immunity, is a system in which members of the parliament or legislature are granted partial immunity from prosecution. Before prosecuting, it is necessary that the immunity be removed, usually by a superior court of justice or by the parliament itself...

. Even when the impact of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 led to an enormous surge in support for the Nazis across Germany, Berlin resisted the party’s appeal more than any other part of Germany: at its peak in 1932, the Nazi Party polled 28% in Berlin to the combined left’s 55%. But his outstanding talents, and the obvious fact that he stood high in Hitler’s regard, earned Goebbels the grudging respect of the anti-intellectual brawlers of the Nazi movement, who called him "our little doctor" with a mixture of affection and amusement. By 1928, still aged only 31, he was acknowledged to be one of the inner circle of Nazi leaders. "The S.A.
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 would have let itself be hacked to bits for him," wrote Horst Wessel in 1929.

The Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 led to a new resurgence of "left" sentiment in some sections of the Nazi Party, led by Gregor Strasser’s brother Otto
Otto Strasser
Otto Johann Maximilian Strasser was a German politician and 'left-wing' member of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Strasser was part of the ‘left-wing’ faction of the party, along with his brother Gregor Strasser, and broke from the party due to disputes with the ‘Hitlerite’ faction...

, who argued that the party ought to be competing with the Communists for the loyalties of the unemployed and the industrial workers by promising to expropriate the capitalists. Hitler, whose dislike of working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 militancy reflected his social origins in the small-town lower middle class
Lower middle class
In developed nations across the world, the lower middle class is a sub-division of the greater middle class. Universally the term refers to the group of middle class households or individuals who have not attained the status of the upper middle class associated with the higher realms of the middle...

, was thoroughly opposed to this line. He recognized that the growth in Nazi support at the 1930 elections had mainly come from the middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 and from farmers, and he was now busy building bridges to the upper middle class
Upper middle class
The upper middle class is a sociological concept referring to the social group constituted by higher-status members of the middle class. This is in contrast to the term "lower middle class", which is used for the group at the opposite end of the middle class stratum, and to the broader term "middle...

es and to German business. In April 1930, he fired Strasser as head of the Nazi Party national propaganda apparatus and appointed Goebbels to replace him, giving him control of the party’s national newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter
Völkischer Beobachter
The Völkischer Beobachter was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers' Party from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from February 8, 1923...

(People’s Observer), as well as other Nazi papers across the country. Goebbels, although he continued to show "leftish" tendencies in some of his actions (such as co-operating with the Communists in supporting the Berlin transport workers' strike in November 1932), was totally loyal to Hitler in his struggle with the Strassers, which culminated in Otto’s expulsion from the party in July 1930.

Despite his revolutionary
Revolutionary
A revolutionary is a person who either actively participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.-Definition:...

 rhetoric, Goebbels’ most important contribution to the Nazi cause between 1930 and 1933 was as the organizer of successive election campaigns: The Reichstag elections of September 1930, July and November 1932 and March 1933, and Hitler’s presidential campaign of March–April 1932. He proved to be an organizer of genius, choreographing Hitler’s dramatic airplane tours of Germany and pioneering the use of radio and cinema for electoral campaigning. The Nazi Party’s use of torchlight parades, brass bands, massed choirs, and similar techniques caught the imagination of many voters, particularly young people. "His propaganda headquarters in Munich sent out a constant stream of directives to local and regional party sections, often providing fresh slogans and fresh material for the campaign." Although the spectacular rise in the Nazi vote in 1930 and July 1932 was caused mainly by the effects of the Depression, Goebbels as party campaign manager was naturally given much of the credit.

Propaganda Minister



When Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933, Goebbels was initially given no office: the coalition cabinet Hitler headed contained only a minority of Nazis as part of the deal he had negotiated with President Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 and the conservative parties. However, as the propaganda head of the ruling party, a party with no great respect for the law, he immediately behaved as though he were in power. He commandeered the state radio to produce a live broadcast of the torchlight parade that celebrated Hitler’s assumption of office. On 13 March, Goebbels had his reward for his part in bringing the Nazis to power by being appointed Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was Nazi Germany's ministry that enforced Nazi Party ideology in Germany and regulated its culture and society. Founded on March 13, 1933, by Adolf Hitler's new National Socialist government, the Ministry was headed by Dr...

 (Volksaufklärung und Propaganda), with a seat in the Cabinet.

The role of the new ministry, which took over palatial accommodation in the 18th-century Leopold Palace on Wilhelmstrasse, just across from Hitler’s offices in the Reich Chancellery
Reich Chancellery
The Reich Chancellery was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany in the period of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945...

, was to centralize Nazi control of all aspects of German cultural and intellectual life, particularly the press, radio and the visual and performing arts. On 1 May, Goebbels organised the massive demonstrations and parades to mark the "Day of National Labor," which preceded the Nazi takeover and destruction of the German trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 movement. By 3 May, he was able to boast in his diary: "We are the masters of Germany." On 10 May, he supervised an even more symbolic event in the establishment of Nazi cultural power: the burning of up to 20,000 books by Jewish or anti-Nazi authors in the Opernplatz
Bebelplatz
The Bebelplatz is a public square in the central Mitte district of Berlin, the capital of Germany.The square is located on the south side of the Unter den Linden boulevard, a major east-west thoroughfare in the city centre...

next to the university.


The hegemonic
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 ambitions of the Propaganda Ministry were shown by the divisions Goebbels soon established: Press, radio, film, theater, music, literature, and publishing. In each of these, a Reichskammer (Reich Chamber) was established, co-opting leading figures from the field (usually not known Nazis) to head each Chamber, and requiring them to supervise the purge of Jews, socialists and liberals, as well as practitioners of "degenerate" art forms such as abstract art
Abstract art
Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an...

 and atonal music
Atonality
Atonality in its broadest sense describes music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality in this sense usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale...

. The respected composer Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

, for example, became head of the Reich Music Chamber. Goebbels’ orders were backed by the threat of force. The many prominent Jews in the arts and the mass media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 emigrated in large numbers rather than risk the fists of the SA and the gates of the concentration camp, as did many socialists and liberals. Some non-Jewish anti-Nazis with good connections or international reputations survived until the mid-1930s, but most were forced out sooner or later.

Control of the arts and media was not just a matter of personnel. Soon the content of every newspaper, book, novel, play, film, broadcast and concert, from the level of nationally-known publishers and orchestras to local newspapers and village choirs, was subject to supervision by the Propaganda Ministry, although a process of self-censorship
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 was soon effectively operating in all these fields, leaving the Ministry in Berlin free to concentrate on the most politically sensitive areas such as major newspapers and the state radio. In his 1933 speech, "Radio as the Eighth Great Power" he said:
No author could publish, no painter could exhibit, no singer could broadcast, no critic could criticize, unless they were a member of the appropriate Reich Chamber, and membership was conditional on good behavior. Goebbels could bribe
Bribery
Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or...

 as well as threaten: he secured a large budget for his Ministry, with which he was able to offer generous salaries and subsidies
Subsidy
A subsidy is an assistance paid to a business or economic sector. Most subsidies are made by the government to producers or distributors in an industry to prevent the decline of that industry or an increase in the prices of its products or simply to encourage it to hire more labor A subsidy (also...

 to those in the arts who co-operated with him. Most artists, theaters, and orchestras—after struggling to survive the Depression—found these inducements hard to refuse.

As one of the most highly educated members of the Nazi leadership, and the one with the most authentic pretensions to high culture, Goebbels was sensitive to charges that he was dragging German culture down to the level of mere propaganda. He responded by saying that the purpose of both art and propaganda was to bring about a spiritual mobilization of the German people.

Goebbels insisted that German high culture must be allowed to carry on, both for reasons of international prestige and to win the loyalty of the upper middle classes, who valued art forms such as opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 and the symphony
Symphony
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

. He thus became to some extent the protector of the arts as well as their regulator. In this, he had the support of Hitler, a passionate devotee of Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

. But Goebbels always had to bow to Hitler’s views. Hitler loathed modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 of all kinds, and Goebbels (whose own tastes were sympathetic to modernism) was forced to acquiesce in imposing very tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

alist forms on the artistic and musical worlds. The music of Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

, for example, was banned simply because Hitler did not like it.

Goebbels also resisted the complete Nazification of the arts because he knew that the masses must be allowed some respite from slogans and propaganda. He ensured that film studios such as UFA
Universum Film AG
Universum Film AG, better known as UFA or Ufa, is 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...

 at Babelsberg near Berlin continued to produce a stream of comedies and light romances, which drew mass audiences to the cinema where they would also watch propaganda newsreels
Propaganda film
The term propaganda can be defined as the ability to produce and spread fertile messages that, once sown, will germinate in large human cultures.” However, in the 20th century, a “new” propaganda emerged, which revolved around political organizations and their need to communicate messages that...

 and Nazi epics. His abuse of his position as Propaganda Minister and the reputation that built up around his use of the casting couch
Casting couch
The casting couch, casting couch syndrome or casting couch mentality is a term which involves the trading of sexual favors by an aspirant, apprentice employee, or subordinate to a superior, in return for entry into an occupation, or for other career advancement within an organization...

 was well known. Many actresses wrote later of how Goebbels had tried to lure them to his home. He acquired the nickname "Bock von Babelsberg" lit: "Babelsberg Stud". He resisted considerable pressure to ban all foreign films – helped by the fact that Hitler sometimes watched foreign films. For the same reason, Goebbels worked to bring culture to the masses – promoting the sale of cheap radios
Volksempfänger
The Volksempfänger was a range of radio receivers developed by engineer Otto Griessing at the request of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels....

, organizing free concerts in factories, staging art exhibitions in small towns and establishing mobile cinemas to bring the movies to every village. All of this served short-term propaganda ends, but also served to reconcile the German people, particularly the working class, to the regime.

In October 1941 Goebbels organized the "Weimarer Dichtertreffen" (Weimar Convention of Poets) inviting collaborating writers from all of Europe. Under Goebbels auspices the participating members (e.g. Pierre Drieu La Rochelle
Pierre Drieu La Rochelle
Pierre Eugène Drieu La Rochelle was a French writer of novels, short stories and political essays, who lived and died in Paris...

 and Robert Brasillach
Robert Brasillach
Robert Brasillach was a French author and journalist. Brasillach is best known as the editor of Je suis partout, a nationalist newspaper which came to advocate various fascist movements and supported Jacques Doriot...

) founded the "Europäische Schriftstellervereinigung" (European Writers' League), officially in March 1942. Hans Carossa
Hans Carossa
Hans Carossa was a German novelist and poet, known mostly for his autobiographical novels, and his innere Emigration during the Nazi era....

 was president, Giovanni Papini
Giovanni Papini
Giovanni Papini was an Italian journalist, essayist, literary critic, poet, and novelist.-Early life:...

 vice president.

Goebbels and the Jews


Despite the enormous power of the Propaganda Ministry over German cultural life, Goebbels’ status began to decline once the Nazi regime was firmly established in power. This was because the real business of the Nazi regime was preparation for war, and although propaganda was a part of this, it was not the primary objective. By the mid-1930s, Hitler’s most powerful subordinates were Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, as head of the Four Year Plan
Four year plan
The Four Year Plan was a series of economic reforms created by the Nazi Party. The main aim of the four year plan was to prepare Germany for war in four years...

 for crash rearmament, and Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, head of the SS and police
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 apparatus. Once the internal enemies of the Nazi Party were destroyed, as they effectively were by 1935, Goebbels’ propaganda efforts began to lose their point, and without an enemy to fight, his rhetoric began to sound hollow and unconvincing.

As a man of education and culture, Goebbels had once mocked the "primitive" anti-Semitism of Nazis such as Julius Streicher
Julius Streicher
Julius Streicher was a prominent Nazi prior to World War II. He was the founder and publisher of Der Stürmer newspaper, which became a central element of the Nazi propaganda machine...

. But as Joachim Fest observes: "Goebbels [found] in the increasingly unrestrained practice of anti-Semitism by the state new possibilities into which he threw himself with all the zeal of an ambitious man worried by a constant diminution of his power." Fest also suggests a psychological motive: "A man who conformed so little to the National Socialist image of the elite ... may have had his reason, in the struggles for power at Hitler’s court, for offering keen anti-Semitism as a counterweight to his failure to conform to a type." Whatever his motives, Goebbels took every opportunity to attack the Jews. From 1933 onwards, he was bracketed with Streicher among the regime’s most virulent anti-Semites. "Some people think," he told a Berlin rally in June 1935, "that we haven’t noticed how the Jews are trying once again to spread themselves over all our streets. The Jews ought to please observe the laws of hospitality and not behave as if they were the same as us."

The sarcastic "humor" of Goebbels’ speeches did not conceal the reality of his threat to the Jews. In his capacity as Gauleiter of Berlin, and thus as de facto ruler of the capital (although there was still officially an Oberbürgermeister and city council), Goebbels maintained constant pressure on the city’s large Jewish community, forcing them out of business and professional life and placing obstacles in the way of their being able to live normal lives, such as banning them from public transport and city facilities. There was some respite during 1936, while Berlin hosted the Olympic Games
1936 Summer Olympics
The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was held in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. Berlin won the bid to host the Games over Barcelona, Spain on April 26, 1931, at the 29th IOC Session in Barcelona...

, but from 1937 the intensity of his anti-Semitic words and actions began to increase again. "The Jews must get out of Germany, indeed out of Europe altogether," he wrote in his diary in November 1937. "That will take some time, but it must and will happen." By mid-1938 Goebbels was investigating the possibility of requiring all Jews to wear an identifying mark and of confining them to a ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

, but these were ideas whose time had not yet come. "Aim – drive the Jews out of Berlin," he wrote in his diary in June 1938, "and without any sentimentality."

In November 1938, Goebbels got the chance to take decisive action against the Jews for which he had been waiting when a Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan
Herschel Grynszpan
Herschel Feibel Grynszpan was a Polish Jew and political assassin. Grynszpan's assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath on November 7, 1938, after the deportation of his family, provided the excuse for the Nazi Kristallnacht, the antisemitic pogrom of November 9–10, 1938...

, shot a German diplomat in Paris, Ernst vom Rath
Ernst vom Rath
Ernst Eduard vom Rath was a German diplomat, remembered for his assassination in Paris in 1938 by a Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan. The assassination triggered Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass"....

, in revenge for the deportation of his family to Poland and the persecution of German Jews generally. On 9 November, the evening vom Rath died of his wounds, Goebbels was at the Bürgerbräu Keller in Munich with Hitler, celebrating the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch with a large crowd of veteran Nazis. Goebbels told Hitler that "spontaneous" anti-Jewish violence had already broken out in German cities, although in fact this was not true: this was a clear case of Goebbels manipulating Hitler for his own ends. When Hitler said he approved of what was happening, Goebbels took this as authorization to organize a massive, nationwide pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

 against the Jews. He wrote in his diary:

[Hitler] decides: demonstrations should be allowed to continue. The police should be withdrawn. For once the Jews should get the feel of popular anger ... I immediately gave the necessary instructions to the police and the Party. Then I briefly spoke in that vein to the Party leadership. Stormy applause. All are instantly at the phones. Now people will act.


The result of Goebbels’ incitement was Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

, the "Night of Broken Glass," during which the S.A. and Nazi Party went on a rampage of anti-Jewish violence and destruction, killing at least 90 and maybe as many as 200 people, destroying over a thousand synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s and hundreds of Jewish businesses and homes, and dragging some 30,000 Jews off to concentration camps, where at least another thousand died before the remainder were released after several months of brutal treatment. The longer-term effect was to drive 80,000 Jews to emigrate, most leaving behind all their property in their desperation to escape. Foreign opinion reacted with horror, bringing to a sudden end the climate of appeasement
Appeasement
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

 of Nazi Germany in the western democracies. Goebbels’ pogrom thus moved Germany significantly closer to war, at a time when rearmament was still far from complete. Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 and some other Nazi leaders were furious at Goebbels’ actions, about which they had not been consulted. Goebbels, however, was delighted. "As was to be expected, the entire nation is in uproar," he wrote. "This is one dead man who is costing the Jews dear. Our darling Jews will think twice in future before gunning down German diplomats." In 1942 Goebbels was involved in the deportation of Berlin's Jews.

Man of power


These events were well-timed from the point of view of Goebbels’ relations with Hitler. In 1937, he had begun an intense affair with the Czech actress Lída Baarová
Lída Baarová
Lída Baarová was a Czech actress and mistress of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister.-Biography:...

, causing the break-up of her marriage. When Magda Goebbels learned of this affair in October 1938, she complained to Hitler, a conservative in sexual matters who was fond of Magda and the Goebbels' young children. He ordered Goebbels to break off his affair, whereupon Goebbels offered his resignation, which Hitler refused. On 15 October, Goebbels attempted suicide. A furious Hitler then ordered Himmler to remove Baarová from Germany, and she was deported to Czechoslovakia, from where she later left for Italy. These events damaged Goebbels’ standing with Hitler, and his zeal in furthering Hitler’s anti-Semitic agenda was in part an effort to restore his reputation. The Baarová affair, however, did nothing to dampen Goebbels' enthusiasm for womanizing. As late as 1943, the Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

 leader Artur Axmann
Artur Axmann
Artur Axmann was the German Nazi leader of the Hitler Youth from 1940 through war's end in 1945.-Early life:Axmann was born in Hagen on 18 February 1913...

 was ingratiating himself with Goebbels by procuring young women for him.

Goebbels, like all the Nazi leaders, could not afford to defy Hitler’s will in matters of this kind. By 1938, they had all become wealthy men, but their wealth was dependent on Hitler’s continuing goodwill and willingness to turn a blind eye to their corruption. Until the Nazis came to power, Goebbels had been a relatively poor man, and his main income was the salary of 750 Reichsmarks a month he had gained by election to the Reichstag in 1928. By 1936, although he was not nearly as corrupt as some other senior Nazis, such as Göring and Robert Ley
Robert Ley
Robert Ley was a Nazi politician and head of the German Labour Front from 1933 to 1945. He committed suicide while awaiting trial for war crimes.- Early life :...

, Goebbels was earning 300,000 Reichsmarks a year in "fees" for writing in his own newspaper, Der Angriff
Der Angriff
Der Angriff was a German language newspaper founded in 1927 by the Berlin Gau of the Nazi Party.The newspaper was set up by Joseph Goebbels, who in 1926 had become the Nazi Party leader in Berlin, and the party provided most of the money needed to ensure publication...

(The Attack), as well as his ministerial salary and many other sources of income. These payments were in effect bribes from the papers’ publisher Max Amann
Max Amann
Max Aman was a German Nazi official with the honorary rank of SS-Obergruppenführer, politician and journalist.-Biography:Amann was born in Munich on November 24, 1891...

. He owned a villa on Schwanenwerder
Schwanenwerder
Schwanenwerder is an island in the Havel river in Berlin, Germany. It is in the locality of Nikolassee in the borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, and is located in a wider stretch of the river, close to the eastern shore...

 island and another at Bogensee near Wandlitz
Wandlitz
Wandlitz is a municipality in the district of Barnim, in Brandenburg, Germany. It is situated 25 km north of Berlin, and 15 km east of Oranienburg...

 in Brandenburg, which he spent 2.3 million Reichsmarks refurbishing. The tax office, as it did for all the Nazi leaders, gave him generous exemptions.

Whatever the loss of real power suffered by Goebbels during the middle years of the Nazi regime, he remained one of Hitler’s intimates. Since his offices were close to the Chancellery, he was a frequent guest for lunch, during which he became adept at listening to Hitler’s monologues and agreeing with his opinions. In the months leading up to the war, his influence began to increase again. He ranked along with Joachim von Ribbentrop
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life:...

, Göring, Himmler, and Martin Bormann
Martin Bormann
Martin Ludwig Bormann was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler...

 as the senior Nazi with the most access to Hitler, which in an autocratic regime meant access to power. The fact that Hitler was fond of Magda Goebbels and the children also gave Goebbels entrée to Hitler’s inner circle. The Goebbels family regularly visited Hitler’s Bavarian mountain retreat, the Berghof
Berghof (Hitler)
The Berghof was Adolf Hitler's home in the Obersalzberg of the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany. Other than the Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, Hitler spent more time at the Berghof than anywhere else during World War II. It was also one of the most widely known of Hitler's...

. But he was not kept directly informed of military and diplomatic developments, relying on second-hand accounts to hear what Hitler was doing.

Goebbels at war


In the years 1936 to 1939, Hitler, while professing his desire for peace, led Germany firmly and deliberately towards a confrontation. Goebbels was one of the most enthusiastic proponents of aggressively pursuing Germany's territorial claims sooner rather than later, along with Himmler and Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop. He saw it as his job to make the German people accept this and if possible welcome it. At the time of the Sudetenland crisis
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

 in 1938, Goebbels was well aware that the great majority of Germans did not want a war, and used every propaganda resource at his disposal to overcome what he called this "war psychosis," by whipping up sympathy for the Sudeten Germans
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

 and hatred of the Czechs.
After the western powers acceded to Hitler's demands concerning Czechoslovakia in 1938, Goebbels soon redirected his propaganda machine against Poland. From May onwards, he orchestrated a "hate campaign" against Poland, fabricating stories about atrocities against ethnic Germans in Danzig and other cities. Even so, he was unable to persuade the majority of Germans to welcome the prospect of war.

Once war began in September 1939, Goebbels began a steady process of extending his influence over domestic policy. After 1940, Hitler made few public appearances, and even his broadcasts became less frequent, so Goebbels increasingly became the face and the voice of the Nazi regime for the German people. With Hitler preoccupied with the war, Himmler focusing on the "final solution to the Jewish question" in eastern Europe, and with Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

’s position declining with the failure of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

), Goebbels sensed a power vacuum in domestic policy and moved to fill it. Since civilian morale was his responsibility, he increasingly concerned himself with matters such as wages, rationing and housing, which affected morale and therefore productivity. He came to see the lethargic and demoralized Göring, still Germany’s economic supremo as head of the Four Year Plan Ministry, as his main enemy. To undermine Göring, he forged an alliance with Himmler, although the SS chief remained wary of him. A more useful ally was Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

, a Hitler favorite who was appointed Armaments Minister in February 1942. Goebbels and Speer worked through 1942 to persuade Hitler to dismiss Göring as economic head and allow the domestic economy to be run by a revived Cabinet headed by themselves.

However, in February 1943, the crushing German defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 produced a crisis in the regime. Goebbels was forced to ally himself with Göring to thwart a bid for power by Bormann, head of the Nazi Party Chancellery and Secretary to the Führer. Bormann exploited the disaster at Stalingrad, and his daily access to Hitler, to persuade him to create a three-man junta representing the State, the Army, and the Party, represented respectively by Hans Lammers
Hans Lammers
Dr.jur. Hans Heinrich Lammers was a German jurist and prominent Nazi politician. From 1933 until 1945 he served as head of the Reich Chancellery under Adolf Hitler....

, head of the Reich Chancellery, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel was a German field marshal . As head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and de facto war minister, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during World War II...

, chief of the OKW
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

 (armed forces high command), and Bormann, who controlled the Party and access to the Führer. This Committee of Three would exercise dictatorial powers over the home front. Goebbels, Speer, Göring and Himmler all saw this proposal as a power grab by Bormann and a threat to their power, and combined to block it.

However, their alliance was shaky at best. This was mainly because during this period Himmler was still cooperating with Bormann to gain more power at the expense of Göring and most of the traditional Reich administration; Göring's loss of power had resulted in an overindulgence in the trappings of power and his strained relations with Goebbels made it difficult for a unified coalition to be formed, despite the attempts of Speer and Göring's Luftwaffe deputy Field Marshal Erhard Milch
Erhard Milch
Erhard Milch was a German Field Marshal who oversaw the development of the Luftwaffe as part of the re-armament of Germany following World War I, and served as founding Director of Deutsche Luft Hansa...

, to reconcile the two Party comrades.

Goebbels instead tried to persuade Hitler to appoint Göring as head of the government. His proposal had a certain logic, as Göring – despite the failures of the Luftwaffe and his own corruption – was still very popular among the German people, whose morale was waning since Hitler barely appeared in public since the defeat at Stalingrad. However, this proposal was increasingly unworkable given Göring’s increasing incapacity and, more importantly, Hitler’s increasing contempt for him due to his blaming of Göring for Germany's defeats. This was a measure by Hitler designed to deflect criticism from himself.

The result was that nothing was done – the Committee of Three declined into irrelevance due to the loss of power by Keitel and Lammers and the ascension of Bormann and the situation continued to drift, with administrative chaos increasingly undermining the war effort. The ultimate responsibility for this lay with Hitler, as Goebbels well knew, referring in his diary to a "crisis of leadership," but Goebbels was too much under Hitler’s spell ever to challenge his power.
Goebbels launched a new offensive to place himself at the center of policy-making. On 18 February, he delivered a passionate "Total War Speech
Sportpalast speech
The Sportpalast or total war speech was a speech delivered by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the Berlin Sportpalast to a large but carefully selected audience on 18 February 1943 calling for a total war, as the tide of World War II had turned against Nazi Germany and its Axis allies.It is...

" at the Sports Palace
Berlin Sportpalast
The Berliner Sportpalast was a multi-purpose winter sport venue and meeting hall in the Schöneberg section of Berlin. Depending on the type of event and seating configuration, the Sportpalast could hold up to 14,000 people and was for a time the biggest meeting hall in the German capital...

 in Berlin. Goebbels demanded from his audience a commitment to "total war," the complete mobilization of the German economy and German society for the war effort. To motivate the German people to continue the struggle, he cited three theses as the basis of this argument:
  1. If the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht
    Wehrmacht
    The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

    ) were not in a position to break the danger from the Eastern front
    Eastern Front (World War II)
    The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

    , then Nazi Germany
    Nazi Germany
    Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

     would fall to Bolshevism, and all of Europe would fall shortly afterward;
  2. The German Armed Forces, the German people
    Germans
    The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

    , and the Axis Powers
    Axis Powers
    The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

     alone had the strength to save Europe from this threat;
  3. Danger was a motivating force. Germany had to act quickly and decisively, or it would be too late.


Goebbels concluded that "Two thousand years of Western history are in danger," and he blamed Germany's failures on the Jews.

Goebbels hoped in this way to persuade Hitler to give him and his ally Speer control of domestic policy for a program of total commitment to arms production and full labor conscription, including women. But Hitler, supported by Göring, resisted these demands, which he feared would weaken civilian morale and lead to a repetition of the debacle of 1918, when the German army had been undermined (in Hitler's view) by a collapse of the home front. Nor was Hitler willing to allow Goebbels or anyone else to usurp his own power as the ultimate source of all decisions. Goebbels privately lamented "a complete lack of direction in German domestic policy," but of course he could not directly criticize Hitler or go against his wishes.

Goebbels and the Holocaust



Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, one of the main architects of the Holocaust, preferred that the matter not be discussed in public. Despite this, in an editorial in his newspaper "Das Reich" in November 1941 Goebbels quoted Hitler’s 1939 "prophecy" that the Jews would be the loser in the coming world war. Now, he said, Hitler’s prophecy was coming true: "Jewry," he said, "is now suffering the gradual process of annihilation which it intended for us ... It now perishes according to its own precept of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’!"

In 1939, in a speech to the Reichstag, Hitler had said:

If international finance Jewry in and outside Europe should succeed in thrusting the nations once again into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevisation of the earth and with it the victory of Jewry, but the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe.


The view of most historians is that the decision to proceed with the extermination of the Jews was taken at some point in late 1941, and Goebbels’ comments make it clear that he knew in general terms, if not in detail, what was planned.

The decision in principle to deport the German and Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n Jews to unspecified destinations "in the east" was made in September. Goebbels immediately pressed for the Berlin Jews to be deported first. He traveled to Hitler’s headquarters on the eastern front, meeting both Hitler and Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

 to lobby for his demands. He got the assurances he wanted: "The Führer is of the opinion," he wrote, "that the Jews eventually have to be removed from the whole of Germany. The first cities to be made Jew-free are Berlin, Vienna and Prague. Berlin is first in the queue, and I have the hope that we’ll succeed in the course of this year."

Deportations of Berlin Jews to the Łódź ghetto began in October, but transport and other difficulties made the process much slower than Goebbels desired. His November article in Das Reich was part of his campaign to have the pace of deportation accelerated.

In December, he was present when Hitler addressed a meeting of Gauleiters and other senior Nazis
Reich Chancellery meeting of 12 December 1941
The Reich Chancellery meeting of 12 December 1941 was a meeting between Adolf Hitler and the highest ranking officials of the Nazi party. Almost all important party leaders were present, to hear Hitler declare the imminent destruction of the Jewish race; yet it remains less known than the later...

, discussing among other things the "Jewish question." He wrote in his diary afterward:

With regard to the Jewish Question, the Führer is determined to make a clean sweep of it. He prophesied that, if they brought about another world war, they would experience their annihilation. That was no empty talk. The world war is here [this was the week Germany declared war on the United States]. The annihilation of Jewry must be the necessary consequence. The question is to be viewed without any sentimentality. We’re not there to have sympathy with the Jews, but only sympathy with our own German people. If the German people has again now sacrificed around 160,000 dead in the eastern campaign, the originators of this bloody conflict will have to pay for it with their lives.


During 1942, Goebbels continued to press for the "final solution to the Jewish question" to be carried forward as quickly as possible now that Germany had occupied a huge swathe of Soviet territory into which all the Jews of German-controlled Europe could be deported. There they could be worked into extinction in accordance with the plan agreed on at the Wannsee Conference
Wannsee Conference
The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich...

 convened by Heydrich in January. It was a constant annoyance to Goebbels that, at a time when Germany was fighting for its life on the eastern front, there were still 40,000 Jews in Berlin. They should be "carted off to Russia," he wrote in his diary. "It would be best to kill them altogether." Although the Propaganda Ministry was not invited to the Wannsee Conference, Goebbels knew by March what had been decided there. He wrote:

The Jews are now being deported to the east. A fairly barbaric procedure, not to be described in any greater detail, is being used here, and not much more remains of the Jews themselves. In general, it can probably be established that 60 percent of them must be liquidated, while only 40 percent can be put to work […] A judgment is being carried out on the Jews which is barbaric, but fully deserved.

Plenipotentiary for Total War


Goebbels struggled in 1943 and 1944 to rally the German people behind a regime that faced increasingly obvious military defeat. The German people’s faith in Hitler was shaken by the disaster at Stalingrad, and never fully recovered. During 1943, as the Soviet armies advanced towards the borders of the Reich, the western Allies developed the ability to launch devastating air raids on most German cities, including Berlin. At the same time, there were increasingly critical shortages of food, raw materials, fuel and housing. Goebbels and Speer were among the few Nazi leaders who were under no illusions about Germany’s dire situation. Their solution was to seize control of the home front from the indecisive Hitler and the incompetent Göring. This was the agenda of Goebbels’s "total war" speech
Sportpalast speech
The Sportpalast or total war speech was a speech delivered by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the Berlin Sportpalast to a large but carefully selected audience on 18 February 1943 calling for a total war, as the tide of World War II had turned against Nazi Germany and its Axis allies.It is...

 of February 1943. But they were thwarted by their inability to challenge Hitler, who could neither make decisions himself nor trust anyone else to do so.

After Stalingrad, Hitler increasingly withdrew from public view, almost never appearing in public and rarely even broadcasting. By July, Goebbels was lamenting that Hitler had cut himself off from the people – it was noted, for example, that he never visited the bomb-ravaged cities of the Ruhr
Ruhr
The Ruhr is a medium-size river in western Germany , a right tributary of the Rhine.-Description:The source of the Ruhr is near the town of Winterberg in the mountainous Sauerland region, at an elevation of approximately 2,200 feet...

. "One can’t neglect the people too long," he wrote. "They are the heart of our war effort." Goebbels himself became the public voice of the Nazi regime, both in his regular broadcasts and his weekly editorials in Das Reich. As Joachim Fest notes, Goebbels seemed to take a grim pleasure in the destruction of Germany’s cities by the Allied bombing offensive: "It was, as one of his colleagues confirmed, almost a happy day for him when famous buildings were destroyed, because at such time he put into his speeches that ecstatic hatred which aroused the fanaticism of the tiring workers and spurred them to fresh efforts."

In public, Goebbels remained confident of German victory: "We live at the most critical period in the history of the Occident," he wrote in Das Reich in February 1943. "Any weakening of the spiritual and military defensive strength of our continent in its struggle with eastern Bolshevism brings with it the danger of a rapidly nearing decline in its will to resist ... Our soldiers in the East will do their part. They will stop the storm from the steppes, and ultimately break it. They fight under unimaginable conditions. But they are fighting a good fight. They are fighting not only for our own security, but also for Europe's future."

In private, he was discouraged by the failure of his and Speer’s campaign to gain control of the home front. In 1944 he made a now infamous list with "irreplaceable artists" called the Gottbegnadeten list
Gottbegnadeten list
The Gottbegnadeten list was a 36-page list of artists considered crucial to Nazi culture. The list was assembled in September 1944 by Joseph Goebbels, the head of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, and Germany's dictator Adolf Hitler.The list exempted the designated artists from...

 with people such as Arno Breker
Arno Breker
Arno Breker was a German sculptor, best known for his public works in Nazi Germany, which were endorsed by the authorities as the antithesis of degenerate art....

, Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

 and Johannes Heesters
Johannes Heesters
Johan Marius Nicolaas "Johannes" Heesters is a Dutch actor, singer and entertainer with a -year career, almost exclusively in the German-speaking world. In Germany and Austria, Heesters is mainly known for his acting career...

.

Goebbels remained preoccupied with the annihilation of the Jews, which was now reaching its climax in the extermination camps of eastern Poland. As in 1942, he was more outspoken about what was happening than Himmler would have liked: "Our state’s security requires that we take whatever measures seem necessary to protect the German community from [the Jewish] threat," he wrote in May. "That leads to some difficult decisions, but they are unavoidable if we are to deal with the threat… None of the Führers prophetic words has come so inevitably true as his prediction that if Jewry succeeded in provoking a second world war, the result would be not the destruction of the Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

 race, but rather the wiping out of the Jewish race. This process is of vast importance."

Following the Allied invasion of Italy and the fall of Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 in September, he and Joachim von Ribbentrop
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life:...

 raised with Hitler the possibility of secretly approaching Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 and negotiating a separate peace behind the backs of the western Allies. Hitler, surprisingly, did not reject the idea of a separate peace with either side, but he told Goebbels that he should not negotiate from a position of weakness. A great German victory must occur before any negotiations should be undertaken, he reasoned. The German defeat at Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

 in July had, however, ended any possibility of this. Goebbels knew by this stage that the war was lost.

As Germany’s military and economic situation grew steadily worse during 1944, Goebbels renewed his push, in alliance with Speer, to wrest control of the home front away from Göring. In July, following the Allied landings in France and the huge Soviet advances in Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Hitler finally agreed to grant both of them increased powers. Speer took control of all economic and production matters away from Göring, and Goebbels took the title Reich Plenipotentiary
Plenipotentiary
The word plenipotentiary has two meanings. As a noun, it refers to a person who has "full powers." In particular, the term commonly refers to a diplomat fully authorized to represent his government as a prerogative...

 for "Total War" (Reichsbevollmächtigter für den totalen Kriegseinsatz an der Heimatfront). At the same time, Himmler took over the Interior Ministry.

This trio – Goebbels, Himmler and Speer – became the real center of German government in the last year of the war, although Bormann used his privileged access to Hitler to thwart them when he could. In this Bormann was very successful, as the party gauleiters gained more and more powers, becoming Reich Defense Commissars (Reichsverteidigungskommissare) in their respective districts and overseeing all civilian administration. The fact that Himmler was Interior Minister only increased the power of Bormann, as the Gauleiters feared that Himmler, who was General Plenipotentiary for the Administration of the Reich, would curb their power and set up his higher SS and police leaders as their replacement.

Goebbels saw Himmler as a potential ally against Bormann and in 1944 is supposed to have voiced the opinion that if the Reichsführer SS was granted control over the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

and he, Goebbels, granted control over the domestic politics, the war would soon be ended in a victorious manner. However, the inability of Himmler to persuade Hitler to cease his support of Bormann, the defection of SS generals such as Obergruppenführer
Obergruppenführer
Obergruppenführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was first created in 1932 as a rank of the SA and until 1942 it was the highest SS rank inferior only to Reichsführer-SS...

Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner was an Austrian-born senior official of Nazi Germany during World War II. Between January 1943 and May 1945, he held the offices of Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt , President of Interpol and, as a Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS, he was the...

, the Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and his powerful subordinate Gruppenführer
Gruppenführer
Gruppenführer was an early paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party, first created in 1925 as a senior rank of the SA.-SS rank:...

Heinrich Müller, the head of the Gestapo, to Bormann, soon persuaded Goebbels to align himself with the Secretary to the Führer at the end of 1944, thus accepting his subordinate position.

When elements of the army leadership tried to assassinate Hitler in the July 20 plot
July 20 Plot
On 20 July 1944, an attempt was made to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Führer of the Third Reich, inside his Wolf's Lair field headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia. The plot was the culmination of the efforts of several groups in the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi-led German government...

 shortly thereafter, it was this trio that rallied the resistance to the plotters. It was Goebbels, besieged in his Berlin flat with Speer and secretary Wilfred von Oven
Wilfred von Oven
Wilfred von Oven was between 1943 and the German capitulation in 1945 the personal Press adjutant of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels....

 beside him but with his phone lines intact, who brought Otto Ernst Remer
Otto Ernst Remer
Otto-Ernst Remer was a German Wehrmacht officer who played a decisive role in stopping the 1944 20 July Plot against Adolf Hitler. During the war he was wounded nine times in combat...

, the wavering commander of the Berlin garrison, to the phone to speak to Hitler in East Prussia, thus demonstrating that the Führer was alive and that the garrison should oppose the attempted coup.

Goebbels promised Hitler that he could raise a million new soldiers by means of a reorganisation of the Army, transferring personnel from the Navy and Luftwaffe, and purging the bloated Reich Ministries, which satraps like Göring had hitherto protected. As it turned out, the inertia of the state bureaucracy was too great even for the energetic Goebbels to overcome. Bormann and his puppet Lammers, keen to retain their control over the Party and State administrations respectively, placed endless obstacles in Goebbels’s way. Another problem was that although Speer and Goebbels were allies, their agendas in fact conflicted: Speer wanted absolute priority in the allocation of labor to be given to arms production, while Goebbels sought to press every able-bodied male into the army. Speer, allied with Fritz Sauckel
Fritz Sauckel
Ernst Friedrich Christoph "Fritz" Sauckel was a Nazi war criminal, who organized the systematic enslavement of millions from lands occupied by Nazi Germany...

, the General Plenipotentiary for the Employment of Labour from 1942, generally won these battles.

By July 1944, it was in any case too late for Goebbels and Speer’s internal coup to make any real difference to the outcome of the war. The combined economic and military power of the western Allies and the Soviet Union, now fully mobilized, was simply too great for Germany to overcome. A crucial economic indicator, the ratio of steel output, was running at 4.5:1 against Germany. The final blow was the loss of the Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n oil fields as the Soviet Army advanced through the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 in September. This, combined with the U.S. air campaign against Germany’s synthetic oil production, finally broke the back of the German economy and thus its capacity for further resistance. By this time, the best Goebbels could do to reassure the German people that victory was still possible was to make vague promises that "miracle weapons" such as the Me 262
Messerschmitt Me 262
The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe was the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft. Design work started before World War II began, but engine problems prevented the aircraft from attaining operational status with the Luftwaffe until mid-1944...

 jet airplane, the Type XXI U-boat
German Type XXI submarine
Type XXI U-boats, also known as "Elektroboote", were the first submarines designed to operate primarily submerged, rather than as surface ships that could submerge as a means to escape detection or launch an attack.-Description:...

, and the V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 could somehow retrieve the military situation.

Defeat and death


In the last months of the war, Goebbels’ speeches and articles took on an increasingly apocalyptic
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

 tone:
By the beginning of 1945, with the Soviets on the Oder and the Western Allies preparing to cross the Rhine, Goebbels could no longer disguise the fact that defeat was inevitable. He knew what that would mean for himself: "For us," he had written in 1943, "we have burnt our bridges. We cannot go back, but neither do we want to go back. We are forced to extremes and therefore resolved to proceed to extremes." In his diaries, he expressed the belief that German diplomacy should find a way to exploit the emerging tensions between Stalin and the West, but he proclaimed foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life:...

, whom Hitler would not abandon, incapable of such a feat.

When other Nazi leaders urged Hitler to leave Berlin and establish a new center of resistance in the National Redoubt
National Redoubt
A national redoubt is a general term for an area to which the forces of a nation can be withdrawn if the main battle has been lost—or even beforehand if defeat is considered inevitable...

 in Bavaria, Goebbels opposed this, arguing for a last stand in the ruins of the Reich capital.

By this time, Goebbels had gained the position he had wanted so long – at the side of Hitler, albeit only because of his subservience to Bormann, who was the Führers de facto deputy. Göring was utterly discredited, though Hitler refused to dismiss him until 25 April. Himmler, whose appointment as commander of Army Group Vistula
Army Group Vistula
Army Group Vistula was an Army Group of the Wehrmacht, formed on January 24, 1945. It was put together from elements of Army Group A , Army Group Centre , and a variety of new or ad-hoc formations...

 had led to disaster on the Oder, was also in disgrace, and Hitler rightly suspected that he was secretly trying to negotiate with the western Allies. Only Goebbels and Bormann remained totally loyal to Hitler. Goebbels knew how to play on Hitler's fantasies, encouraging him to see the hand of providence in the death of United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 on 12 April. On 22 April, largely as a result of Goebbels' influence, Hitler announced that he would not leave Berlin, but would stay and fight, and if necessary die, in defence of the capital.

On 23 April, Goebbels made the following proclamation to the people of Berlin:
Unlike many other leading Nazis at this juncture, Goebbels proved to have strong convictions, moving himself and his family into the Vorbunker
Vorbunker
The Vorbunker or "forward bunker" was located behind the large reception hall that was added onto the old Reich Chancellery, in Berlin, Germany. It was meant to be a temporary air-raid shelter for Adolf Hitler, his guards, and servants...

, that was connected to the lower Führerbunker
Führerbunker
The Führerbunker was located beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. It was part of a subterranean bunker complex which was constructed in two major phases, one part in 1936 and the other in 1943...

under the Reich Chancellery gardens in central Berlin. He told Vice-Admiral Hans-Erich Voss
Hans-Erich Voss
Hans-Erich Voss was a German Vice Admiral and one of the final occupants of the Führerbunker during the battle of Berlin in 1945....

 that he would not entertain the idea of either surrender or escape: "I was the Reich Minister of Propaganda and led the fiercest activity against the Soviet Union, for which they would never pardon me," Voss quoted him as saying. "He couldn't escape also because he was Berlin's Defence Commissioner and he considered it would be disgraceful for him to abandon his post," Voss added.

After midnight on 29 April, with the Soviets advancing ever closer to the bunker complex, Hitler dictated his last will and testament
Last will and testament of Adolf Hitler
The last will and testament of Adolf Hitler was dictated by Hitler to his secretary Traudl Junge in his Berlin Führerbunker on April 29, 1945, the day he and Eva Braun married. They committed suicide the next day , two days before the surrender of Berlin to the Soviets on May 2, and just over a...

. Goebbels was one of four witnesses. In the mid-afternoon of 30 April, Hitler shot himself. Of Hitler's death, Goebbels commented: "The heart of Germany has ceased to beat. The Führer is dead."

In his last will and testament, Hitler named no successor as Führer or leader of the Nazi Party. Instead, Hitler appointed Goebbels Reich Chancellor; Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz was a German naval commander during World War II. He started his career in the German Navy during World War I. In 1918, while he was in command of , the submarine was sunk by British forces and Dönitz was taken prisoner...

, who was at Flensburg
Flensburg
Flensburg is an independent town in the north of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Flensburg is the centre of the region of Southern Schleswig...

 near the Danish border, Reich President; and Martin Bormann, Hitler's long-time chief of staff, Party Minister. Goebbels knew that this was an empty title. Even if he was willing and able to escape Berlin and reach the north, it was unlikely that Dönitz, whose only concern was to negotiate a settlement with the western Allies that would save Germany from Soviet occupation, would want such a notorious figure as Goebbels heading his government.

As it was, Goebbels had no intention of trying to escape. Voss later recounted: "When Goebbels learned that Hitler had committed suicide, he was very depressed and said: 'It is a great pity that such a man is not with us any longer. But there is nothing to be done. For us, everything is lost now and the only way left for us is the one which Hitler chose. I shall follow his example'."

On 1 May, Goebbels completed his sole official act as Chancellor of Germany (Reichskanzler). He dictated a letter and ordered German General Hans Krebs, under a white flag
White flag
White flags have had different meanings throughout history and depending on the locale.-Flag of temporary truce in order to parley :...

, to meet with General Vasily Chuikov
Vasily Chuikov
Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was a Russian lieutenant general in the Red Army during World War II, twice Hero of the Soviet Union , who after the war became a Marshal of the Soviet Union.-Early life and career:Born into a peasant family in the village of Serebryanye Prudy, he joined the Red Army during...

 and to deliver his letter. Chuikov, as commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army
Soviet 8th Guards Army
The Soviet 8th Guards Army was an army of the Soviet Union's Red Army/Soviet Army, disbanded in the early 1990s.Activated in October 1941 as the 7th Reserve Army, the Army was redesignated the 62nd Army at Stalingrad in July 1942...

, commanded the Soviet forces in central Berlin. Goebbels' letter informed Chuikov of Hitler's death and requested a ceasefire, hinting that the establishment of a National Socialist government hostile to Western plutocracy
Plutocracy
Plutocracy is rule by the wealthy, or power provided by wealth. The combination of both plutocracy and oligarchy is called plutarchy. The word plutocracy is derived from the Ancient Greek root ploutos, meaning wealth and kratos, meaning to rule or to govern.-Usage:The term plutocracy is generally...

 would be beneficial to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, as the betrayal of Himmler and Göring indicated that otherwise anti-Soviet National Socialist elements might align themselves with the West. When this was rejected, Goebbels decided that further efforts were futile. Shortly afterward he dictated a postscript to Hitler's testament:
Later on 1 May, Vice-Admiral Hans-Erich Voss
Hans-Erich Voss
Hans-Erich Voss was a German Vice Admiral and one of the final occupants of the Führerbunker during the battle of Berlin in 1945....

 saw Goebbels for the last time: "Before the breakout [from the bunker] began, about ten generals and officers, including myself, went down individually to Goebbels's shelter to say goodbye. While saying goodbye I asked Goebbels to join us. But he replied: 'The captain must not leave his sinking ship. I have thought about it all and decided to stay here. I have nowhere to go because with little children I will not be able to make it'."

At 8 pm on the evening of 1 May, Goebbels arranged for an SS dentist, Helmut Kunz
Helmut Kunz
Helmut Kunz was an SS dentist who, after the suicide of Adolf Hitler, was ordered to administer anesthetic to the six children of Joseph Goebbels before they were killed.-Early years:...

, to kill his six children
Goebbels children
The Goebbels children were the five daughters and one son born to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda Goebbels. The children, born between 1932 and 1940, were murdered by their parents in Berlin on May 1, 1945, the day both parents committed suicide.Magda Goebbels had an...

 by injecting them with morphine
Morphine
Morphine is a potent opiate analgesic medication and is considered to be the prototypical opioid. It was first isolated in 1804 by Friedrich Sertürner, first distributed by same in 1817, and first commercially sold by Merck in 1827, which at the time was a single small chemists' shop. It was more...

 and then, when they were unconscious, crushing an ampule of cyanide
Cyanide
A cyanide is a chemical compound that contains the cyano group, -C≡N, which consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Cyanides most commonly refer to salts of the anion CN−. Most cyanides are highly toxic....

 in each of their mouths. According to Kunz's testimony, he gave the children morphine injections but it was Magda Goebbels and Stumpfegger, Hitler's personal doctor, who then administered the cyanide. Shortly afterward, Goebbels and his wife went up to the garden of the Chancellery, where they killed themselves. The details of their suicides are uncertain. After the war, Rear-Admiral Michael Musmanno
Michael Musmanno
Michael Angelo Musmanno was an American jurist, politician, and naval officer of Italian heritage.Musmanno was born in Stowe Township, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, an industrial neighborhood a few miles west of Pittsburgh.Musmanno rose to the rank of Rear Admiral in the United States Navy...

, a U.S. naval officer and judge, published an account apparently based on eye-witness testimony: "At about 8:15 pm, Goebbels arose from the table, put on his hat, coat and gloves and, taking his wife's arm, went upstairs to the garden." They were followed by Goebbels's adjutant, SS-Hauptsturmführer Günther Schwägermann
Günther Schwägermann
Günther Schwägermann was born in Uelzen and served in the Nazi government of German dictator Adolf Hitler. From approximately late 1941, Schwägermann served as the adjutant for Dr. Joseph Goebbels. He reached the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer...

. "While Schwägermann was preparing the petrol, he heard a shot. Goebbels had shot himself and his wife took poison. Schwägermann ordered one of the soldiers to shoot Goebbels again because he was unable to do it himself." One SS officer later said they each took cyanide and were shot by an SS trooper. According to another account, Goebbels shot his wife and then himself. This version is portrayed in the movie Downfall
Downfall (film)
Downfall is a 2004 German/Italian/Austrian epic war film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's life in his Berlin bunker and Nazi Germany in 1945....

.

The bodies of Goebbels and his wife were then burned in a shell crater, but owing to the lack of petrol the burning was only partly effective, and their bodies were easily identifiable. A few days later, Voss was brought back to the bunker by the Soviets to identify the partly burned bodies of Joseph and Magda Goebbels and the bodies of their children. "Vice-Admiral Voss, being asked how he identified the people as Goebbels, his wife and children, explained that he recognized the burnt body of the man as former Reichsminister Goebbels by the following signs: the shape of the head, the line of the mouth, the metal brace that Goebbels had on his right leg, his gold NSDAP badge and the burnt remains of his party uniform." The remains of the Goebbels family were repeatedly buried and exhumed, along with the remains of Hitler, Eva Braun, General Hans Krebs
Hans Krebs (general)
Hans Krebs was a German Army general of infantry who served during World War II.-Early life:Krebs was born in Helmstedt. He volunteered for service in the Imperial German Army in 1914, was promoted to lieutenant in 1915, and to first lieutenant in 1925...

 and Hitler's dogs. The last burial had been at the SMERSH
SMERSH
SMERSH was the counter-intelligence agency in the Red Army formed in late 1942 or even earlier, but officially founded on April 14, 1943. The name SMERSH was coined by Joseph Stalin...

 facility in Magdeburg on 21 February 1946. In 1970, KGB director Yuri Andropov
Yuri Andropov
Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov was a Soviet politician and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 12 November 1982 until his death fifteen months later.-Early life:...

 authorised an operation to destroy the remains. On 4 April 1970, a Soviet KGB team with detailed burial charts secretly exhumed five wooden boxes. The remains from the boxes were thoroughly burned and crushed, after which the ashes were thrown into the Biederitz river, a tributary of the nearby Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

.

Joachim Fest writes: "What he seemed to fear more than anything else was a death devoid of dramatic effects. To the end he was what he had always been: the propagandist for himself. Whatever he thought or did was always based on this one agonizing wish for self-exaltation, and this same object was served by the murder of his children ... They were the last victims of an egomania extending beyond the grave. However, this deed, too, failed to make him the figure of tragic destiny he had hoped to become; it merely gave his end a touch of repulsive irony."

See also

  • Glossary of Nazi Germany
  • Gottbegnadeten list
    Gottbegnadeten list
    The Gottbegnadeten list was a 36-page list of artists considered crucial to Nazi culture. The list was assembled in September 1944 by Joseph Goebbels, the head of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, and Germany's dictator Adolf Hitler.The list exempted the designated artists from...

  • List of Nazi Party leaders and officials

External links