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Making of the Modern World

Making of the Modern World

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Making of the Modern World

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  1. Making of the Modern World Lecture Fascism and Modern Propaganda

  2. Propaganda a specific type of message presentation, aimed at serving an agenda. Even if the message conveys true information, it may be partisan and fail to paint a complete picture. Appeal to the emotions. Mobilizing and influencing perceptions, behaviour and actions.

  3. ‘Propaganda is absolutely necessary, even if it is only a means to an end. Otherwise, the idea could never take over the state. I must be able to get what I think important across to many people. The task of a gifted propagandist is to take that which many have thought and put it in a way that reaches everyone from the educated to the common man.’ Joseph Goebbels, Knowledge and Propaganda (1928)

  4. “We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. … I do not enter the meeting hall to discover intellectual truths, but to persuade others of what I think to be right. I learn methods there that I can use to reach others with what I have found to be right. ” Joseph Goebbels, Knowledge and Propaganda (1928) “The task of propaganda is not to discover a theory or to develop a programme, but rather to translate that theory and programme into the language of the people, to make them comprehensible to the broad masses of the people. ” Joseph Goebbels, Will and Way (1931)

  5. Fascist propaganda before 1933

  6. Hypodermic model: small doses have incremental ‘drip-drip’ effect `The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, and their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.' Hitler (Mein Kampf, 1925)

  7. Nazi propaganda poster (1931-1932)

  8. Propaganda’s limitations • Least effective among those with counter-experience (older generation) or counter-ideology (Marxists or Christians) • Most effective when receiver’s defences are down (passive media, e.g. film & TV) versus active media (newspapers, books)

  9. Propaganda and the State

  10. Key themes of NS-Propaganda • Anti-Semitism • Militarism • Nationalism • Supremacy of the Aryan race • Economic recovery and welfare measures • Cult of the Führer • Traditional German ‘Volks’ culture • The Mass Spectacle

  11. Anti-Semitic propaganda Key themes of German propaganda ‘Where something is rotten, the Jew is the cause.’ Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer (1931) Propaganda can reinforce existing prejudices

  12. The headline reads (1934): Jewish Murder Plan against Gentile Humanity Revealed.

  13. Key themes of German propaganda Economic recovery and welfare measures No one shall go hungry! No one shall be cold!"

  14. Key themes of German propaganda: The Cult of the leader 1935 portrait by Heinrich Knirr.

  15. Radio (home front) • Cheap, mass produced medium wave radio • Goebbels described radio as ‘the spiritual weapon of the totalitarian state’ • All news broadcasts came through the Nazi Office of Propaganda • By 1939 Germany largest radio audience in world • Group-listening to Fuehrer speeches • Gendered scheduling for predominantly female listeners • High proportion of musical entertainment All Germany hears the Fuehrer with the People’s Receiver

  16. “If one wants the spoken and heard word of the radio to realise a common will, it cannot be done only through transmitters and receivers; instead, a real human connection between sender and receiver must be established. The radio warden is the living bridge between the two, and in a larger sense, also the grouping of radio listeners that occurs in radio listener organizations. On the one hand, radio is in a certain sense the ideal propaganda instrument because it brings the human voice to every ear. On the other hand, it is totally ineffective if these technical qualities are not supplemented by human organisational means. One of the most important ways of doing this is to bring many radio listeners together for community listening, which National Socialism has developed to a major degree...” Eugen Hadamovsky, "Die lebende Brücke: Vom Wesen der Funkwartarbeit," in Dein Rundfunk (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1934), pp. 22-26.

  17. Radio, the double-edged sword • Germany Calling: throughout WW2, infamously by William Joyce, aka Lord Haw-Haw • BBC overseas service counter-broadcast; by end of war perhaps half of all Germans listened in to Allied broadcasting for ‘real’ news • Cf. German triumphalism early in war (then Wagnerian self-sacrifice towards end), with British limited self-criticism • Attraction of dance music & jazz for younger generation; NS forced to sanction sanitised jazz, despite official condemnation as ‘degenerate music’

  18. Cinema & Film

  19. Historians’ interpretations • Siegfried Kracauer, 1943: German audiences brainwashed by propaganda • David S. Hull, 1969: cinema a ‘free space’ relatively devoid of overt propaganda (Hollywood rivalry, commercial pressures) • David Welch, 1983: analyses more obviously political films of Third Reich (self-sacrifice, anti-Semitism) • Linda Schulte-Sasse, 1996: psychoanalytic model; cinema creates illusion of ‘wholeness’, reconciling individual desire as part of mass will • Eric Rentschler, Ministry of Illusion, 1996: highlights entertainment films of Third Reich • Erica Carter, Dietrich’s Ghosts, 2005: star system cultivates an anti-modernist aesthetic of sublime beauty; Zarah Leander is not the same sort of star as Marlene Dietrich

  20. Dietrich vs. Leander

  21. Disagreed with Hitler on propaganda strategy Need to ‘sugarcoat bitter pill’ of propaganda with entertainment ‘It may be a good thing to possess power that rests on arms. But it is better and more gratifying to win and hold the heart of the people.’ (1934) ‘Our historic mission is to transform the very spirit itself to the extent that people and things are brought into a new relationship with one another.’ Propaganda as entertainment? Joseph Goebbels, 1897-1945, Nazi Minister of Propaganda

  22. Youth Dynamism • Biopic based on life of Herbert Norkus, ‘martyr’ to communists • Emphasis on flags & uniforms • Official viewing for youth groups Hitler Youth Quex (Steinhoff, 1933)

  23. Wartime sacrifice • Cameraderie & self-sacrifice of air squadron • Heavy use of singing • ‘The ultimate purpose of all National Socialist films is to show the test of an individual within the community – for the individual’s fate only has meaning when it can be placed at the service of the community, whereupon it becomes part of a people and nation.’ Goebbels Stukas (Ritter, 1941)

  24. Anti-Semitism • Historical ‘biopic’ of 1738 hanging of Jewish manipulative financier after raping ‘Aryan’ woman • Echoes Nuremberg race laws of 1935 • Highlights perceived danger of assimilated Jews Jew Suess (Harlan, 1940)

  25. Wunschkonzert (1940) • Centres on radio request show, uniting four corners of Reich • Goebbels personally worked on script

  26. Marika Rökk, 1913-2004 • Hungarian-born, athletic dancer • Cf. Ginger Rogers & Eleanor Powell in Busby Berkeley dance musicals • Escapism of highly ornate, Agfacolor films such as The Woman of My Dreams (1944) The Woman of My Dreams (Jacoby, 1944)

  27. The Fascist Historical Film • Identification of current regime and leaders with illustrious predecessors (Roman Empire; Frederick the Great) • Biopics favoured ‘great men’ • Scipio the African (Gallone, 1937): ‘When you see the battlefield at Zama and a soldier says, “Troops, we have conquered Cannae!” I thought about our Duce who said, “Let’s conquer Adua!” And a few months later he said, “We’ve conquered Adua!”’ (youth interviewed in Bianco e nero magazine)

  28. Star of pre-Nazi mountaineering epics Asked by Hitler to film 1934 Nuremberg rally (Triumph of the Will, 1935) Use of elaborate staging, moving cameras, night shots Long footage of marching past & political speeches put off audiences Always denied political content of her ‘documentaries’ Leni Riefenstahl, 1902-2003

  29. Triumph of the Will (Riefenstahl, 1935) Opening sequence: “September 4, 1934. 20 years after the outbreak of World War I, 16 years after German woe and sorrow began, 19 months after the beginning of Germany’s rebirth, Adolf Hitler flew again to Nuremberg to review the columns of his faithful admirers.”

  30. Juxtaposition of leader and masses

  31. How successful was Nazi propaganda? Difficult to find out • How the people responded • The impact of social, political, economic and religious context for attitudes • The effect of Nazi repression on attitudes and behaviour in comparison with propaganda • So – different opinions in historiography

  32. How successful was Nazi propaganda? • Mason (Nazism, Fascism, and the Working Class 1995), sceptical of effect of Nazi propaganda on all social groups (working class) • Welch (Third Reich. Politics and Propaganda 1993), argues Nazi propaganda was successful in reinforcing overall support for Hitler, but not its policies e.g. anti-Semitism and some propaganda was arguably counter-productive, e.g. anti-Church propaganda – and it was a relative failure in its role of indoctrinating Germans with Nazi world view • Geary (Hitler and Nazism 1993) and Evans (The Third Reich in Power 2005) believe Nazi propaganda was most successful when it played on traditional German prejudices, e.g. nationalism, fear of Bolshevism, etc. but when it opposed traditional loyalties, it was far less successful

  33. Appendix: Historians and Film: methodologies • Film as film: watch the films, don’t just read about them; take notes; watch again! • Note dialogue, but also camera movements for mise-en-scène (pan, tilt, point-of-view shots) • Note the cutting techniques (are juxtapositions significant?) • Is a linear narrative being told (classical Hollywood) or is the screen a painterly canvas (European arthouse)?

  34. Production Histories • Who was the director? (auteur theory) • How many people made the film (Hollywood production-line techniques involved hundreds) • Who financed the film (private companies, banks, state?) • Who censored the film (what was omitted?) • Did new technologies (mobile cameras, sound, deep-focus film stock) alter filmic possibilities?

  35. Reception Histories • How did the audience respond (what were the box office sales; readers’ letters to press; fan mail to stars?) • How did reviewers rate a film? (do you have a decent range of papers?) • Were certain sociological groups more likely to be viewers (women; families; teenagers) • How did competing technologies (TV in 1950s) change film audiences? • Reception theory: can we know the psychological response of an audience then compared with your viewing now?

  36. Intertextuality • Is the film based on a book which you should consider too? • How did the star’s off-screen persona interact with his/her fictional persona? (‘my character wouldn’t do that…’) • How are directors quoting from one another’s work? (e.g. is the end of Star Wars, 1977 a reference to Triumph of the Will, 1935?)