Propaganda and terror were equally important for enabling Hitler and the nazis to keep control over Germany. How far do you agree?
I this essay I will explore the merits of both methods in keeping control and analyse the arguments for the different cases associated with the statement before concluding with my own personal opinion. There are some who believe terror was more important than the use of propaganda. Fear was a powerful tool and one that the nazis had no issue in exploiting. They understood that if people feared the nazis then they would not cross them. In 1934 Hitler planned to straighten out the SA who had turned from a faithful ally to a stumbling block to Hitlers plans, Hitler needed the support of the army, but the army officers didn’t trust the SA and refused to support Hitler and his SA. so in June 1934 Hitler ordered the butchering of hundreds of SA storm troopers including the SA leader Ernst Rohm in the night of the long knives.
This act of terror shocked the people which is exactly what the nazis needed to keep control. This is because it showed the people that the nazis were ruthless and had no issue in executing their own allies and even Rohm who appeared to be close to Hitler and faithful to him in his build up to power, and if members of the nazi party were not safe then what hope did the German population have? People were afraid to stand up against Hitler and this act of terror stomped out any thoughts of rebellion. This would be more important than propaganda as it showed the brute force of the nazis and showed the people the true power if the nazis in a way posters and rallies could not. Posters are not able to prevent a rebellion whereas brute force would be able to and this act of terror was capable of showing this. Another tactic of the nazis was the employment of nazi soldiers to overlook the voting valets -strictly speaking the extent of which this is an act of terror is debatable, however it was introduced in order to intimidate the German people into definitely voting nazi as the soldiers would pose as a threat to anyone who voted against nazis this act of intimidation is a scare tactic and thus potentially viewable as an act of terrorising the people.
This employment of soldiers to overlook the voting was important in keeping control as it potentially ensured the voting of nazis, it achieved something propaganda could not as propaganda was designed , especially in election dates, to show why nazis were the best option however that’s all they were as far as propaganda could do, an option. This act of oversight removed that choice as people were too afraid to vote against Nazi in fear of the consequences. This helped the nazis because in order to keep control they first had to get into a position of power and this ensured that the nazis would get substantial amounts of votes. However others can argue that in fact propaganda was more necessary in keeping control. They believe that propaganda was what got people on the nazis side, while terror would stamp out any rebellion propaganda would potentially prevent the need for rebellion. People were brainwashed with this pro nazi message one that said the nazis could do no wrong and were only doing good so why need to rebel? Joseph goebbels was in charge in ensuring all pro nazi messages boomed and gang any anti nazi propaganda or anything that was not nazi was suppressed. Propaganda was required to keep the darker side of the nazis hidden, journalists were under tight restrictions on what could or could not be written and what could be played on the radio by keeping the Germans in the dark goebbels ensured that no one would question the nazis and if no one questioned the nazis then there would be nothing to stand in their ways.
Furthermore all sort of “art” including music, literature and films had to follow nazi policies this was in order to prevent any foreign influences from “corrupting” the German people. This was all important as it ensures that the German people could only see or hear what the nazis wanted them to hear, and so the nazis had full control over the senses and influences of the people meaning they could manipulate the Germans to do what they wanted. Furthermore a key point, which is perhaps this sides strongest argument, is without propaganda there would be no mass scale terror. I order for this mass scale terror to take place Hitler needed to be in a position to order these attacks, the nazis got into power because they were the most popular, had the nazis not been popular they could have never got into power and this popularity came from the propaganda set about by the nazis, huge rallies were held to show the nazis prestige, order and power. People genuinely wanted the nazis as they were led to believe that they were the solution, huge posters of Hitler and swastikas were posted up claiming Hitler to be the “last hope” fear is strong method of control however hope is much more powerful and propaganda gave the Germans hope, it gave them hope in the form of Hitler.
Had the propaganda not been effective then people would not vote for nazis and Hitler would not be in a position to gain control over Germany, so one could argue no propaganda then there would be no control. Personally I can understand both views on the argument however I would disagree with both arguments and would fully support the statement because really the two methods complimented each other nicely. Propaganda would be used in order to get people on the nazis side which was important because the nazis needed a population who genuinely believe in Hitler and what he stands for, however the propaganda can’t get everyone on the nazis side and this is where the terror comes in, while not all agreed with Hitler and his nazis the terror meant they were too afraid to oppose the nazis and so potentially acted as a sheep dog rounding up the stragling sheep.
Another example is with the night of the long knives the act of terror was incredibly beneficial to the nazis as it eradicated many potential threats to Hitler meaning Hitler could be secure however the propaganda complimented the terror by sending a message to the people saying that the night of the long knives was a good thing and that those who were executed were a threat to Germany, people believed this and praised and thanked Hitler for his decision president Hindenburg even thanked Hitler. So as you can see neither was more important than the other however both were required to work with each other in harmony in order to collectively get everyone under their control whether it was through fear or hope, so that is why I agree totally with the statement that both were equally important for enabling Hitler and the nazis to keep control over Germany