What is propaganda, and what is it in WWI and WWII and how did Hitler use it?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ability of the government to guide and mold public opinion is the essence of propaganda.  In World War I and in World War II, it was used to ensure that public support would be for the governmental aims in fighting the war.  Both sides used it to maintain public zeal and morale.  The fact that both sides used it would prove how much of a lie propaganda actually is:  How can both sides be right in asserting their own valid claims?  This is to say, if both sides are asserting their moral claims and the morally invalid claims of the other, someone has to be lying.  Propaganda is essential to continuing the strength of the state and ensuring that dissent is not heard.  Hitler was fairly effective in utilizing propaganda in his scapegoating of individuals whom he deemed as "enemies of Germany."  Along with Goebbels and other aspects of the Reich Government, he was able to mobilizing public support and zeal for his aims and ensure this was done without a great deal of support.  In providing a template as to how centralized governments do not need to listen to their constituents, Hitler was sadly ahead of his time in his use of propaganda and "spin" in the advancement of his own personal and political agenda.

mkcapen1 | Student

Propaganda is the method which is used to sway the public's opinion in the direction that a government or party desires.  It was used during World War II by all political fractions.  In Germany it served as a means to create a common ideology that led to the war.  In America it served to convince young men why they were needed to join and serve in the military. When propaganda is used people are only told what their government wants them to believe instead of full truths.  In Britain propaganda was used to increase hatred against the Germans.  This enticed the young to be willing to take a stand against them.

During World War II America used propaganda to convince the American people of the inhumanity of the Germans and the Japanese.  Caricatures were found on posters and other items that presented negative stereotypes of the common enemies.  In Germany Adolph Hitler led a propaganda campaign against the Jews.  He sued propaganda to unite his country in hatred and anger towards the Jewish people and to create and sell his idea of the perfect race to the German people.

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