HomeGER-383Module 3: Cultural Politics and Propaganda

Module 3: Cultural Politics and Propaganda

Culture in the Third Reich: Disseminating the Nazi Worldview

Read this overview from the Holocaust Encyclopedia:

Culture in the Third Reich

Your task: what strikes you as the most important takeaway from the article?


One of the most distinctive features of the Third Reich was its use of propaganda. During the early days of the Nazi party, when Adolf Hitler had decided that the route to power would not be through rebellion but by gaining control of democratic institutions through elections and other means, he and Joseph Goebbels became convinced that the party had to control its messaging in such a way as to attract followers and supporters. The Nazis wanted the party to be a mass movement, and in order for that to happen, they needed to control and influence the mass media.

Read Hitler’s and Goebbels’s opinions on propaganda 

Hitler on propaganda (from A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust)

Goebbels on propaganda (from German History in Documents and Images)

Your task: are there any differences between Hitler’s and Goebbels’s approaches to propaganda?

Joseph Goebbels

Goebbels was Minister of Propaganda in the Third Reich and one of Hitler’s closest aides. He was a complex character, as you can read in this review of a biography by Peter Longerich, a noted German scholar of the Third Reich and the holocaust: 

The Nazi Everyman” from the New Statesman

Your task: John Gray in his review writes that “the most striking aspect of the persona that Goebbels composes in the diaries is that it doesn’t try to conceal traits that any halfway decent morality would condemn.” What do you make of that statement?

Indoctrinating Youth

The Third Reich was a fascist totalitarian state. It was ruled by one party, and that party attempted to inculcate all members of society into its beliefs. The Nazi party targeted young people in the hopes of growing their movement. This meant providing them with role models that they would aspire to, and also anti-role models that they would despise.

Shaping the Future from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Your task: read the descriptions in each section, and look at the posters that are linked under the “related artifacts” sidebar in each section. How would you describe the German character that is being presented to the children?

Racial Propaganda

Some propaganda attempted to provide a rational, quasi-scientific explanation for the Nazi doctrine of racial bias. Sometimes, however, the propaganda was more vile (and disliked by Goebbels – he thought the racism had to be subtler so that more mainstream Germans would adopt and support it). Here are two examples:

The German National Catechism (excerpt on race)

The Toadstool  (read the section entitled “Inge’s visit to a Jewish doctor”)

Your task: compare the approaches to racial bigotry in the two excerpts. Which is more objectionable, and why?

Specific Instructions for this Review: Propaganda

Have a look at this ProfMoment, if you haven’t already:

Your task: you have access to all of the discussions in the propaganda module, both for your own groups and all the other groups. Review the discussions of at least two groups (one of which can be your own), and ascertain what level of consensus there is on the different issues raised in the module. After reviewing and analyzing these discussions, can you determine one key takeaway from the entire module?

Feel free to make use of the content items in the module and the postings of your classmates when composing your answer. (For example, perhaps someone else mentioned the point you’re making in a posting – you can cite that and expand on it.)

550-650 words

General Instructions for the Module Reviews

Please keep the following in mind:

  • your answer should be uploaded as a PDF document.
  • your answer should be double-spaced.
  • no title page, but there should be a title, your name should appear at the top, and there should be page numbers.
  • answers should be within the specified word range.
  • good essays have the following: grammatically-correct sentences; coherent paragraphs; no spelling mistakes; a clear argument or point.
  • if you refer to a reading in this unit, you don’t have to give full bibliographical information, but when you first mention it, give the full title and author’s name. If you refer to material not read in class, provide a full bibliographical citation at the end of your essay (it will not count as part of the word count).

Please note: the question may ask you to make use of the discussions that occurred in the module. There are two modes for viewing the discussion forums, GRID VIEW and READING VIEW. (You can change which you view by clicking on the settings – the gear icon – in the upper right-hand corner of your screen when you’re in the Discussions area of the course.) Play around with the two views to find the setting that works best for you. For example, when I’m reading your discussions during the week and commenting on some of them, I use the READING VIEW, but if I have to read and grade a lot of postings I use the GRID VIEW.