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History Essay: Goebbels work was more important to Nazi success than that of Himmler

Both Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler were two men whose presence was key to the
success of the Nazi Party in Germany, however they had different roles: while Himmlers duty was
to carry out the orders of the heads of the Nazi Party, Goebbels aim was to present these actions to
the German population in a way they couldnt be questioned or opposed in any way. He was a
master of propaganda: His [Goebbels] work was sophisticated and insidious, the most effective
propagandist of the twentieth century[1].
Goebbels joined the Nazi Party in 1925 and he immediately proved himself useful to Hitler
for his speech and propaganda skills. He was assigned the duty to manage the Party in Berlin and
made his reputation as a propagandist and political terrorist, a man with the power to move an
audience almost as remarkable as Hitler[2]. One of his most important acts during Hitlers rise to
power was how he managed to portray the Reichstag Fire to the public: Goebbels was able to
portray the Reichstag Fire as a lone act part of a communist uprising[3]. Like this he urged the
electorate to vote by fear and choose the option more likely to fight the communists effectively: the
Nazis.
Both Himmler and Goebbels were also key to Hitlers success in maintaining the fragile
power gained after winning the 1932 elections, especially in the event of the Night of the Long
Knives, which was carried out to remove all possible opposition to the regime, such as Ernst Rohm
and his SA. Although Himmlers SS were ordered to carry out the actual event, Goebbels was able
to present it to the press as a popular uprising, with no intervention of the regime, all of this to
Hitlers great advantage: Goebbels rapid propaganda spin on the Night of the Long Knives only
1- AUSCHWITZ, Lawrence Rees, BBC Books, pg. 16
2,6,11,12- THE DICTATORS, Richard Overy,
Penguin Books, pg. 81, pg. 507-508, pg. 377, pg.
378, pg. 378
3,4- THE THIRD REICH IN POWER, Richard J. Evans,
Penguin Books, pg. 123
9,10- THE NAZIS, Lawrence Rees, BBC Books, pg.
70, pg. 14
5- DOCTOR GOEBBELS,Roger Manvell and Heinrich
Fraenkel, Frontline Books, pg.127

won the Leader [Hitler]more backing[4]. So, Goebbels was again biasing Himmlers actions, not
only benefitting the power of the regime, but also the public opinion towards it.
Goebbels also made a wide and brilliant use of the radio, which he thought it was the
instrument to destroy the spirit of rebellion[5] in the German people and heavily reformed the
attitude of the Government towards the radio stations: By 1933 there existed a plethora of small
local stations loosely supervised by the Reich Radio Society. Goebbels centralized the all of the
system under the control of his Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightment[6] , making the radio his
most important and efficient propaganda method. He had installed speakers in bars and organized
the mass production of a cheap peoples radio.[7] . The radio became so important that in 1933
there were 4.5 million registered radio sets, by 1941, 15 million were present[8] , airing only
propaganda, speeches by leaders of the party and Nazi-devised news broadcasts, feeding the
German population carefully selected continent.
Himmler and his SS and Goebbels propaganda, were also key the actuation of the antiSemite laws of the Regime, the first one running concentration camps and purging Eastern Europe
during the Second World War and the second one developing and expanding the haste for Jews and
other minorities in the German population and to justify any action against them. This is shown in
the event of Kristallnacht, once again carried out by the SS, but put forward and justified by
Goebbels as a manifestation of popular haste and retaliation for the death of Von Rath, the German
ambassador in France which was killed by a Jew in Paris. (Joseph Goebbels heard the news of Von
Raths death and, when the Nazi hierarchy met in Munich to commemorate the anniversary of the
Putsch, asked Hitler to let loose the Nazi Storm Troopers.)[9]
1- AUSCHWITZ, Lawrence Rees, BBC Books, pg. 16
2,6,11,12- THE DICTATORS, Richard Overy,
Penguin Books, pg. 81, pg. 507-508, pg. 377, pg.
378, pg. 378
3,4- THE THIRD REICH IN POWER, Richard J. Evans,
Penguin Books, pg. 123
9,10- THE NAZIS, Lawrence Rees, BBC Books, pg.
70, pg. 14
5- DOCTOR GOEBBELS,Roger Manvell and Heinrich
Fraenkel, Frontline Books, pg.127

The two were two important figures also during World War Two, Himmler being the
commander of the elite division of the Wermacht, the SS, and Goebbels, when the tide was turning
against Germany, managed to maintain on the people the idea that Hitler was the God-like figure he
believed he was: Hitler, the man of destiny came to power in Germany in much the same way as
Christ came to save the world 2000 years ago[10] . Because of this, in 1944, when the war was about
to catastrophically end for Germany, he was appointed by Hitler Plenipotentiary for Total War, but
he played his role more propagandistically than practically, implementing few active measures, so
dooming Germany towards defeat (In the summer of 1944 Joseph Goebbels was appointed
plenipotentiary for Total War, but Goebbels saw his task principally in propaganda terms)[11] .
Finally, I believe Goebbels was more important than Himmler regarding Nazi success and
maintenance of power in Germany, because he managed to portray Hitler as a God-like figure to the
people and to bias or hide the horrors of the Regime to the public, so playing a vital role in keeping
up the German peoples faith in the Nazi Regime. He was also described by Sir Neville Henderson
(British Ambassador to Germany from 1937-1939) as probably the most intelligent, from a purely
brain point of view, of all the Nazi leaders. He never speechified; he always saw and stuck to the
point; he was also an able debater and in private conversations astonishingly fair-minded and
reasonable., and was esteemed for his subtlety and an understanding of psychology, which he
now associated with advertising agencies[12] and so taken heavily into consideration by its
contemporaries inside and outside Germany.

1- AUSCHWITZ, Lawrence Rees, BBC Books, pg. 16


2,6,11,12- THE DICTATORS, Richard Overy,
Penguin Books, pg. 81, pg. 507-508, pg. 377, pg.
378, pg. 378
3,4- THE THIRD REICH IN POWER, Richard J. Evans,
Penguin Books, pg. 123
9,10- THE NAZIS, Lawrence Rees, BBC Books, pg.
70, pg. 14
5- DOCTOR GOEBBELS,Roger Manvell and Heinrich
Fraenkel, Frontline Books, pg.127