Joseph Goebbels Criticism - Essay

William Solzbacher (essay date 1948)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of The Goebbels Diaries: 1942-1943, in The Commonweal, Vol. XLVIII, No. 11, June 25, 1948, pp. 260-62.

[In the following review, Solzbacher contends that Goebbels's diaries from 1942 and 1943 were designed to further the Nazi cause upon their publication.]

A comparison of this volume with Vom Kaiserhof zur Reichskanzlei, the diary which Dr. Joseph Goebbels published in 1934, produces two conclusions: (1) It disperses any doubts regarding the authorship of these diaries; (2) it demonstrates the absurdity of the statement on the publisher's blurb. "As he fabricated his network of lies to the German people and to the world by day, he...

(The entire section is 1706 words.)

Helmut Heiber (essay date 1962)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Introduction," The Early Goebbels Diaries: The Journal of Joseph Goebbels from 1925-1926, edited by Helmut Heiber, translated by Oliver Watson, Weid enfeld and Nicolson, 1962, pp. 15-26.

[In the following essay, Heiber focuses on Goebbels's diaries for the years 1925 and 1926.]

Throughout his life—it is said, from the time he was twelve—Joseph Goebbels kept a diary. Later, when in power, he probably even kept two diaries—his private notes and also voluminous daily records, dictated to a stenographer and containing descriptions of events and comments; these, for all their candour, were clearly addressed to posterity that would judge his actions....

(The entire section is 4039 words.)

Werner J. Dannhauseer (essay date 1963)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Goebbels's Nature," in Commentary, Vol. 34, No. 3, March, 1963, pp. 272-76.

[In the following review of The Early Goebbels Diaries, Dannhauser details Goebbels's shortcomings as a diarist.]

To readers of history, [The Early Goebbels Diaries 1925-1926] will prove disappointing. There is little new historical information to be gained from them, and there are even occasional distortions of the facts we already have. We know, for instance, that during the period spanned by the diary entries—August 24, 1925, to October 30, 1926—the Nazi party was still small and disorganized. But the impression Goebbels gives is the opposite: the entire...

(The entire section is 2498 words.)

Joachim C. Fest (essay date 1970)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Joseph Goebbels: Man the Beast," in The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership, translated by Michael Bullock, Pantheon Books, 1970, pp. 93-7.

[In the following essay, Fest analyzes Goebbels's effectiveness as a propagandist for the Third Reich.]

Propaganda was the genius of National Socialism. Not only did it owe to propaganda its most important successes; propaganda was also its one and only original contribution to the conditions for its rise and was always more than a mere instrument of power: propaganda was part of its essence. What National Socialism meant is far less easily grasped from the contradictory and nebulous conglomerate of...

(The entire section is 8388 words.)

Viktor Reimann (essay date 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "From National Bolshevik to Hilterite" and "From Reich Minister to Reich Chancellor," in Goebbels, translated by Stephen Wendt, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1976, pp. 13-66, 210-26.

[In the following excerpt, Remain examines Goebbels's novel Michael and his diaries for the years 1942 and 1943.]


Goebbels' literary output from 1921-24 included several plays, most of them unfinished: one about Christ, Judas Iscariot; another, Heinrich Kämpfert; and plays called The Sowing and The Wanderer. The Wanderer was produced on November 6, 1927, by the National Socialist...

(The entire section is 3281 words.)

Dan Jacobson (essay date 1978)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The End of the Road," in Commentary, Vol. 66, No. 1, July, 1978, pp. 78-80.

[In the following review, Jacobson considers the historical value of Final Entries 1945: The Diaries of Joseph Goebbels.]

Not even the publishers of Final Entries 1945 claim that the diaries which Joseph Goebbels kept during the last two months of his life, and which have belatedly been made available by the East German government, contain new historical facts of any importance. How could they? By the time these entries begin, the Nazis were in effect defeated; nothing that Adolf Hitler's Minister of Propaganda could say—and little enough that his master could...

(The entire section is 1944 words.)

Peter L. Haratonik (essay date 1979)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Propagandist as Propagandee," in ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Vol. 36, No. 2, Summer, 1979, pp. 204-08.

[In the following essay, Haratonik considers the extent to which Goebbels himself believed in the principles and ideas that he fostered as propaganda minister for the Third Reich.]

Diaries are a curious form of literary endeavor. They are simultaneously both a private and public document; private in that the material is quite often initially meant for the use of the author exclusively; public in that, once committed to the page, by that very act, all information is accessible. "Diary"; the very word has always conjured up the image of a small...

(The entire section is 1917 words.)

Dieter Saalmann (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Fascism and Aesthetics: Joseph Goebbel's Novel Michael: A German Fate Through the Pages of a Diary (1929)," in Orbis Litterarum, Vol. 41, No. 3, 1986, pp. 213-28.

[In the following essay, Saalmann uses Goebbels's novel Michael to illustrate parallels between fascist social and political principles and theories of aesthetics.]

In a recent publication, Adolf Muschg, the Swiss author, literary critic, and Germanist, defines fascism as "the aesthetic façade of politics." He further elaborates by ascribing to 'aesthetic' fascism the phenomenon of "holistic phantasies foisted upon society." It is this attempt to artistically shape the masses...

(The entire section is 5352 words.)

Tom Clark (essay date 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Nazi Wrote a Novel," in Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 25, 1987, p. 7.

[In the following review of Michael, Clark discusses Goebbels's novel as a reflection of his Nazi principles and attitudes.]

Joseph Goebbels wrote [Michael] in 1923, at age 26, two years after he'd taken his Ph. D in literature. The book was originally—and rather appropriately, as things turned out—called Michael: Pages From a German Destiny, but the subtitle may have caused some queasy moments for the publishers of this first English edition, who have left it off. Variously rejected by German publishers before the author had made a name...

(The entire section is 639 words.)

John Lukacs (essay date 1988)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "In Love with Hitler," in The New York Review of Books, Vol. XXXV, No. 12, July 21, 1988, pp. 14-16.

[In the following essay, Lukacs analyzes Goebbels's characteristics as a man and writer.]

The diaries of Joseph Goebbels are an extraordinary find, for many reasons, including their size and their history. Goebbels was a truly compulsive writer as well as speaker—an unusual combination. He began to write a regular diary in July 1924 (there are indications of an irregular diary even earlier) at the age of twenty-six. The last entry is probably that of April 9, 1945, three weeks before his suicide along with his wife and children, and the complete collapse of...

(The entire section is 5929 words.)

Michael H. Kater (essay date 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Inside Nazis: The Goebbels Diaries, 1924-1941," in Canadian Journal of History, Vol. XXV, No. 2, August, 1990, pp. 233-43.

[In the following essay, Kater discusses the public and private aspects of Goebbels's life as reflected in his diaries.]

Elke Fröhlich of the Munich-based Institut für Zeitgeschichte has done historians of National Socialism and the Third Reich an immense service by transcribing, editing, and publishing all hitherto known fragments of Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels's surviving diary, which he kept from October 17, 1923, to the spring of 1945. The five volumes, including a register, are marketed by the K. G. Saur publishing company, with...

(The entire section is 4425 words.)

Ronald Smelser (essay date 1991)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels: Samtliche Fragmente, Part 1, in The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 63, No. 4, December, 1991, pp. 819-21.

[In the following essay, Smelser examines the scholarly importance of the 1987 German edition of Goebbels's diaries.]

The editor offers us here [in Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels: Sämtliche Fragmente, Part 1] the definitive edition of Goebbels's diaries—exhaustive, authoritative, well-edited, and user friendly. When the project is completed—six additional volumes are scheduled to complete the wartime period—it will replace all the various previously published fragments,...

(The entire section is 1180 words.)