Nov 192010

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Success is the important thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I say in the Pharus Hall. That is a matter of practice, not of theory.We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.

There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would anyways always yield to the stronger, and this will always be ‘the man in the street.’ Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth was unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology.

Intellectual activity is a danger to the building of character.

The rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitive. In the long run basic results in influencing public opinion will be achieved only by the man who is able to reduce problems to the simplest terms and who has the courage to keep forever repeating them in this simplified form, despite the objections of the intellectuals.

What you want in a media system is ostensible diversity that conceals an actual uniformity.

It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.

We enter parliament in order to supply ourselves, in the arsenal of democracy, with its own weapons. If democracy is so stupid as to give us free tickets and salaries for this bear’s work, that is its affair. We do not come as friends, nor even as neutrals. We come as enemies. As the wolf bursts into the flock, so we come.

We have made the Reich by propaganda.

Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.

Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose.

Whoever can conquer the street will one day conquer the state, for every form of power politics and any dictatorship-run state has its roots in the street.

Faith moves mountains, but only knowledge moves them to the right place.

That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one’s secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

If we are attacked we can only defend ourselves with guns not with butter.

The war made possible for us the solution of a whole series of problems that could never have been solved in normal times.

During a war, news should be given out for instruction rather than information.

When today a clique accuses us of having anti-Christian opinions, I believe that the first Christian, Christ himself, would discover more of his teaching in our actions than in this theological hair-splitting.

A verbal confession cannot suffice; we require an active confession. Christianity to us is no empty form, but rather a continual action.

In the interpretation of the Gospel one may hold the command of God higher than human commands. In the interpretation of political realities, we consider ourselves to be God’s instrument.

If the day should ever come when we [the Nazis] must go, if some day we are compelled to leave the scene of history, we will slam the door so hard that the universe will shake and mankind will stand back in stupefaction.

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” [this is NOT a quote by Goebbels but is actually from Hitler’s Mein Kampf and often misattributed.]


Based upon “Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda” by Leonard W. Doob, published in Public Opinion and Propaganda: A Book of Readings edited for The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

1. Propagandist must have access to intelligence concerning events and public opinion.

2. Propaganda must be planned and executed by only one authority.

a. It must issue all the propaganda directives.
b. It must explain propaganda directives to important officials and maintain their morale.
c. It must oversee other agencies’ activities which have propaganda consequences

3. The propaganda consequences of an action must be considered in planning that action.

4. Propaganda must affect the enemy’s policy and action.

a. By suppressing propagandistically desirable material which can provide the enemy with useful intelligence
b. By openly disseminating propaganda whose content or tone causes the enemy to draw the desired conclusions
c. By goading the enemy into revealing vital information about himself
d. By making no reference to a desired enemy activity when any reference would discredit that activity

5. Declassified, operational information must be available to implement a propaganda campaign

6. To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of an audience and must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium.

7. Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.

8. The purpose, content and effectiveness of enemy propaganda; the strength and effects of an expose; and the nature of current propaganda campaigns determine whether enemy propaganda should be ignored or refuted.

9. Credibility, intelligence, and the possible effects of communicating determine whether propaganda materials should be censored.

10. Material from enemy propaganda may be utilized in operations when it helps diminish that enemy’s prestige or lends support to the propagandist’s own objective.

11. Black rather than white propaganda may be employed when the latter is less credible or produces undesirable effects.

12. Propaganda may be facilitated by leaders with prestige.

13. Propaganda must be carefully timed.

a. The communication must reach the audience ahead of competing propaganda.
b. A propaganda campaign must begin at the optimum moment
c. A propaganda theme must be repeated, but not beyond some point of diminishing effectiveness

14. Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans.

a. They must evoke desired responses which the audience previously possesses
b. They must be capable of being easily learned
c. They must be utilized again and again, but only in appropriate situations
d. They must be boomerang-proof

15. Propaganda to the home front must prevent the raising of false hopes which can be blasted by future events.

16. Propaganda to the home front must create an optimum anxiety level.

a. Propaganda must reinforce anxiety concerning the consequences of defeat
b. Propaganda must diminish anxiety (other than concerning the consequences of defeat) which is too high and which cannot be reduced by people themselves

17. Propaganda to the home front must diminish the impact of frustration.

a. Inevitable frustrations must be anticipated
b. Inevitable frustrations must be placed in perspective

18. Propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred.

19. Propaganda cannot immediately affect strong counter-tendencies; instead it must offer some form of action or diversion, or both.

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