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Adolf Hitler and the Marketing of National Socialism

Dec 31, 2010 Eric Brothers Before 1933, Hitler built Nazism through a sophisticated advertising campaign. He wrote that, "all effective propaganda must be limited to...slogans." Hitler was an avid student of propaganda, who borrowed techniques from...his socialist and communist rivals...as well as modern advertising, says Steven Luckert, curator of State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda exhibition at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. ...he successfully marketed the Nazi Party, its ideology, and himself to the German people. Advertising campaign presents "benefits" and "message" of National Socialism A massive advertising campaign--covering the entire political, social and cultural life of National Socialism--was developed to present the "benefits" of Nazism. The overall target market was the German people, but depending upon the message, specific segments of the market--for example, farmers, working class, petite bourgeoisie, women, etc.--would have specific advertising "targeted" to them. Marketing National Socialism to KPD and SPD The marketing of National Socialism was based upon the immediate needs of the party in the period before taking power in 1933. The short-term goals of the 1920s were practical: getting people to attend meetings and join the party. They wanted to attract the working class members of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany) and SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany). We chose the red color of our posters, writes Hitler, in order to provoke the Left, to drive them to indignation and lead them to attend our meetings. When reading quotes from Hitler or Joseph Goebbels, replacing the word propaganda with advertising will provide insight into the marketing of Nazism. All quotes from Hitler are from his book, Mein Kampf (1923). Hitler on propaganda The art of propaganda, writes Hitler, lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding...the way to the attention and...hearts of the broad masses. One example that Hitler used was the concept of Arbeit und Brot (Work and Bread). Borrowing the idea from the propaganda of the KPD, the Nazis made it a slogan to market their party to the working class. Hitler wrote that, all effective propaganda must be limited to...slogans... Thus Arbeit und Brot was promoted to the workers on election posters in 1932: vote for the Nazis and you'll get jobs and food. Its similarity to the propaganda of the KPD was no accident. The color red--the color of Communism--was often employed in Nazi posters and other propaganda. "Arbeit und Brot" (Work and Bread) slogan campaign

One poster has a modern design of a factory with a billowing smokestack. The colors of the factory are black and white. Hanging in the sky is a white moon with the Nazi swastika within it. The slogan Arbeit und Brot is in yellow to make it stand out. This poster targets the entire working class--no matter their political persuasion--promising them a bright future and Arbeit und Brot under the swastika of National Socialism (see poster below). KPD-style Nazi election poster This poster is striking--it easily could be the work of the KPD. The background is red. From above, we see two strong arms stretching downwards, sleeves rolled up and the hands holding tools. From below, we see four pairs of hands stretching desperately upward to get the tools. In the right-hand corner is the slogan, Arbeit und Brot Only the swastika armband on the right arm of the man holding the tools tells us this is a Nazi poster. The market for this poster is the workers of the KPD and SPD (see poster below). Goebbels on propaganda "Winning people over to something that I have recognized as right, that is what we call propaganda," said Joseph Goebbels at a meeting of party members in Berlin in 1928. "Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths." "Germany's liberation" An example of effective Nazi propaganda from 1924 is the concept of "Germany's liberation." The motif is an eagle with its wings spread on a rocky cliff facing a red sun with a white swastika within it (see poster below). From the red sun are rays spreading out to light up the land and the sky. Every other element in the poster is gray and dreary. There is a broken chain below the eagle. The message is clear. National Socialism will break the chains of reparations and occupation, lighting up the path for Germany to reach its former greatness (see poster below). "Germany awake!" The slogan "Germany awake!"--one of the most famous slogans of Nazi Germany--is adapted from the "Germany's liberation" poster of 1924. Used in the 1932 election campaign, "Germany awake!" features a proud and defiant eagle perched upon a swastika. The eagle is Germany, now strong and ready to attack. Below the eagle is a mass of people with their arms raised in the "Seig Heil!" Nazi salute. The eagle is dark brown with the words "Germany awake!" and "National Socialist 2" are dark red. The sky behind the eagle is red which sets off the eagle and makes it stand out. Sources Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. Houghton Mifflin Company. (1976) Copyright Eric Brothers. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.