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Joseph Goebbels: Two Speeches on the Tasks of the Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (March 15 / March 25, 1933)

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Propaganda is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. If the means achieves the end then the means is good. Whether it always satisfies stringent aesthetic criteria or not is immaterial. But if the end has not been achieved then this means has in fact been inadequate. The aim of our movement was to mobilize people, to organize people, to win them for the national revolutionary ideal. This aim—even the most hostile person cannot dispute this—has been achieved and that represents the verdict on our propaganda methods. The new Ministry has no other aim than to unite the nation behind the ideal of the national revolution. If the aim has been achieved then people can pronounce judgment on my methods if they wish; that would be a matter of complete indifference, for the Ministry would then by its efforts have achieved its goal. If, however, the aim is not achieved then although I might be able to prove that my propaganda methods satisfied all the laws of aesthetics I would have done better to become a theatre producer or the director of an Academy of Art not the Minister of a Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda.

[ . . . ]

The most important tasks of this Ministry must be the following: first, all propaganda ventures and all institutions of public information belonging to the Reich and the states must be centralized in one hand. Furthermore, it must be our task to instill into these propaganda facilities a modern feeling and bring them up to date. We must not allow technology to run ahead of the Reich but rather the Reich must keep pace with technology. Only the latest thing is good enough. We are living in an age when policies must have mass support [ . . . ] the leaders of today must be modern princes of the people, they must be able to understand the people but need not follow them slavishly. It is their duty to tell the masses what they want and put it across to the masses in such a way that they understand it too. [ . . . ]

Source of English translation: Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, eds., Nazism, 1919-1945, Vol. 2: State, Economy and Society 1933-1939. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000, pp. 186-87.

Source of original German text: Speech to the Press on the Establishment of a Reich Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (March 15, 1933), in Joseph Goebbels, Revolution der Deutschen: 14 Jahre Nationalsozialismus. Oldenburg, 1933, pp. 135-50.

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