What techniques did the Nazis use to appeal to the public?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The use of propaganda and silencing dissent were two techniques that the Nazis used to appeal to the public.

"Propaganda" is biased or skewed information intended to advance a particular political cause.  In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazis, wrote about the power of propaganda.   He wrote that "Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people... Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea." Hitler understood that being able to "work on the general public" to embrace his ideas had to be an essential part of Nazism's appeal.  

With the help of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, Hitler was able to spread a variety of messages that the German public found appealing. Films, posters, and speeches were all aimed at the public's dissatisfaction with the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, and the presence of "outsiders" in Germany.  The message was that these "outsiders" wanted to see Germany fail.  It appealed to national identity, a vision of the past, and the belief that German future could be better if the public mobilized behind the strength of Nazism.  These were essential components of the public's attraction to the Nazi propaganda message.

Another way that the Nazis appealed to the public was through their display of strength in silencing dissenting voices.  For example, in the early 1930s, Hitler and the Nazis used tactics such as physical intimidation and violence to silence Communists.  Later on in the decade, Hitler and the Nazis focused their attempts to marginalize the Jewish population.  For example, in 1935, Hitler issued a decree to forbid the selling of Jewish newspapers in public. A year later, Jewish people were not allowed to vote in parliamentary elections. In 1938, the Nazis orchestrated the Kristallnacht demonstrations to attack Jewish businesses and homes.  These techniques sought to silence Jewish voices that would have disagreed with the Nazis.  As a result, many members of the German public believed in the strength and authority of the Nazis because they were not able or allowed to hear alternative points of view.  In this way, the silencing of dissenting voices helped to increase the appeal of the Nazis to the public.

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