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Reece Jordan

Reece Jordan

Email: reecejordan98@hotmail.co.uk

Total Article : 200

About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.

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How Popular was the Nazi Regime? pt.7

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 Gellately argues that this propaganda apparatus was set up to align Hitler with the seemingly positive aspects of the regime. We know that the Nazi party, Goebbels in particular, deliberately created an aura of mystique around Hitler in order to depict him as a somewhat Godly figure, but we also know they wished to propagandise him as a saviour of the people, particularly the workers. This is seen most vividly in the 1935 film by Leni Riefenstahl ‘Triumph of the Will’, which seeked to emphasise and publicise Hitler’s popularity by focusing on a 1934 Nuremburg rally. But Gellately provides very little evidence in ascertaining the effect such a propaganda exercise had on the German people, especially in trying to understand whether this created genuine popularity. Instead he relies on arguments by Ian Kershaw, who states that, “without Hitler’s massive personal popularity, the high level of plebiscitary acclamation which the regime could repeatedly call upon […] is unthinkable” [1]. However, as has already been established, this ‘high level of plebiscitary acclamation’, was in itself an instrument of propaganda, and used only to create a façade of popularity, as if the German people were giving consent to what Hitler thought was his destiny. This then begs the question as to why the Nazis felt the need to use such propaganda to the extent that they did. Arguably, it was such a significant facet of their rule because their popularity was not to their liking, that they had not succeeded in creating a popular regime and so had to uphold a false lamination.

This is a sentiment that Rees has inclined towards. He states that, “there is just one problem with this as an answer [to whether or why the Nazi party were popular] it’s wrong.”[2]. Although he concedes that he believes that the party was genuinely popular, he claims that, “the idea of Hitler having hypnotic or quasi-divine influence on the Germans regardless of circumstance is nonsense.”[3]. Rees uses logical reasoning to undercut the cult of Hitler argument to display the Nazis’ popularity: in May 1928 Hitler had been leader of the party for nearly seven years. “The German people had by now had ample opportunity to witness his superhuman qualities and to fall under his hypnotic spell. In that election the Nazi Party polled precisely 2.6 per cent of the popular vote”[4]. Whilst this evidence may appear more convincing than that of the use of plebiscites, due to the fact that the results were not imposed, it too has its flaws. We know that the cult of Hitler was instigated through propaganda, the bulk of which would have been at its most intense during the Nazis hold of power (i.e. 1933 onwards, at least five years after the 1928 election) as they were able to take control of the press as well as censor anything they deemed was against them. Therefore Rees’s use of evidence is sufficient in denouncing the effect of Hitler’s personal qualities, but it fails to undermine the supposed effect of the propagandised image of Hitler throughout the regime’s rule.

 

[1] Kershaw, I, ‘The Hitler Myth’, Oxford University Press, 2001 – pg.1

[2] Rees, L, ‘The Nazis’ – pg.14

[3] Rees, L, ‘The Nazis’ – pg.14

[4] Rees, L, ‘The Nazis’ – pg.14

 

Image Credits: rarehistoricalphotos.com

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