Advertisement

From ‘Short Campaign’ to ‘Gigantic Confrontation’: NS Propaganda and the Justification of War, 1939–41

  • Aristotle A. Kallis

Abstract

The decision of the NS leadership to launch war in September 1939 constituted a watershed for the regime’s propaganda operation and output. The shift of German foreign policy towards a more ambitious expansionist programme and a more aggressive posture had already become evident to the Germans and the outside world, a year earlier. Even if the forceful annexation of Austria in March (the result of a systematic bullying of the country’s government, and of the Austrian chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg personally) constituted an outright violation of one of the most fundamental conditions of the Versailles Treaty,1 international reactions to the coup ranged from indifferent to mildly but passively disapproving. Annexing Austria, however, was one thing; threatening Czechoslovakia was another. The most successful of the successor states to the Habsburg monarchy, integrated into an alliance network sponsored by France, resisting the wider European trend of trading democracy for stability and anti-socialist hysteria, contained a sizeable ethnic German minority (inhabiting the area called Sudetenland, bordering south-eastern Germany), but was otherwise inhabited by an overwhelmingly Slav majority element. In this respect, it lent itself neither to the irredentist theme of NS foreign policy propaganda, nor to the revisionist/anti-Versailles sub-theme.2

Keywords

Foreign Policy Western Power Alliance Network Peaceful Intention Home Front 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    For the Versailles Treaty’s provisions for Austria see G L Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler’s Germany. Starting World War II, 1937–1939 (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1980), 170 ffGoogle Scholar
  2. A Sharp, The Versailles Settlement (New York: Macmillan, 1991).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. For a background to the Anschluß issue see K S Stadler, The Birth of the Austrian Republic, 1918–1921 (Leyden: A W Sijthoff, 1966)Google Scholar
  4. A P Low, The Anschluss Movement 1918–1919 and the Paris Peace Conference (Philadelphia: APS, 1974).Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    R Douglas, ‘Chamberlain and Appeasement’, in Mommsen, Kettenacker (eds), Fascist Challenge, 83 ff; Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler’s Germany, chs 10–11; M Geyer, ‘The Dynamics of Military Revisionism in the Interwar Years. Military Policy between Rearmament and Diplomacy’, in W Deist (ed.), The German Military in the Age of Total War (Leamington Spa: Berg, 1985), 100–51 (here 114 ff); Kallis, Fascist Ideology, ch. 4.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    S Reichman, A Golan, ‘Irredentism and Boundary Adjustments in Post-World War I Europe’, in N Chazan (ed.), Irredentism and International Politics (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1991), 51–68.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Kershaw, The ‘Hitler-Myth’, 132–9; and, for a contemporary account, L Hill (ed.), Die Weizsäcker-Papiere, 1933–1950 (Frankfurt: Propyläen, 1974), 157–8.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Hitler, Speech at the Reichstag, 28.4.1939, in Domarus, Hitler, II, 1177–9.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    E Hadamovsky, Weltgeschichte im Sturmschritt (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1939), 340 ff.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War, 69 f, 177 ff; R Boyce, ‘Introduction’, in R Boyce, E M Robertson (eds), Paths to War. New Essays on the Origins of the Second World War (Basingstoke/London: Macmillan, 1989), 1–32.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    J Goebbels, ‘Krieg in Sicht’, 25 February 1939, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 47.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Goebbels, ‘Danzig vor der Entscheidung: Rede vor der Danziger Bevölkerung’, 17 June 1939, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 179–80.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Goebbels, ‘Quo vadis, Polonia’, 5.5.1939, 127–34.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    R Eatwell, Fascism: A History (London: Vintage, 1995), 136–7.Google Scholar
  15. Note that Tim Mason maintained that Ribbentrop and Hitler were perfectly aware of the high-risk strategy that they were following: T Mason, Sozialpolitik im Dritten Reich (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1977), 40 ffCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. T Mason, R Overy, ‘Debate: Germany, “domestic crisis” and war in 1939’, Past and Present, 122 (1989), 205–40 (here 219 ff)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. T Mason, ‘Intention and explanation. A current controversy about the interpretation of National Socialism’, in G Hirschfeld, L Kettenacker (eds), Der ‘Führerstaat’. Mythos und Realität. Studien zur Struktur und Politik des Dritten Reiches (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1981), 23–42.Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    Goebbels, ‘Bajonette als Wegweiser’, 13.5.1939, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 139–40.Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    M Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Berlin, Doc. 197, 17.8.1939, in French Yellow Book, ed. by Ministere Des Affaires Estrangeres (Paris, 1940).Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    Goebbels, ‘Die Einkreiser’, 20.5.1939, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 144 ff.Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    A Hitler, Speech to the Reichstag, 1.9.1939, in Domarus, Hitler, II, 1312–17.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    H P von Strandmann, ‘Imperialism and revisionism in interwar Germany’, in Mommsen, W J, Osterhammel (eds), Imperialism and After. Continuities and Discontinuities (London/Boston/Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1986), 93 ff.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    T Mason, ‘The legacy of 1918’, in A Nicholls, E Matthias (eds), German Democracy and the Triumph of Hitler — Essays in Recent German History (London: George Allen, 1971), 215–40Google Scholar
  24. cf. G G Bruntz, Allied Propaganda and the Collapse of the German Empire in 1918 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1938).Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    M R Lepsius, ‘Charismatic Leadership’; Kershaw, ‘Hitler-Myth’; and his ‘How effective was Nazi propaganda?’, in D Welch (ed.), Nazi Propaganda: The Power and the Limitations (London: Croom Helm, 1983), 180–205.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Orlow, The History of the Nazi Party 1933–1945, 2 vols; M Kater, The Nazi Party. A Social Profile of Members and Leaders, 1919–45 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983)Google Scholar
  27. A L Unger, The Totalitarian Party. Party and People in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia (London: Cambridge University Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  28. 27.
    Boberach, Meldungen aus dem Reich. Auswahl aus den geheimen Lageberichten des Sicherheitsdienstes der SS, No. 1 (9.10.1939), 34 ff; No. 5 (18.10.1939), 39–40. On ‘Operation White’ see H Rohde, ‘Hitlers Erster “Blitzkrieg” und seine Auswirkungen auf Nordosteuropa’, DRZW, Vol. 2: Die Errichtung der Hegemonie auf dem europäischen Kontinent (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1979), 111–36.Google Scholar
  29. 28.
    Boberach, Meldungen aus dem Reich. Auswahl aus den geheimen Lageberichten des Sicherheitsdienstes der SS, No. 1 (9.10.1939), 33.Google Scholar
  30. 29.
    Cf. A Speer, Inside the Third Reich (New York: MacMillan, 1970), 229 ff.Google Scholar
  31. 33.
    W D Smith, The Ideological Origins of Nazi Imperialism (Oxford: University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  32. 34.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 6.5.1940, 38–9 and 30.5.1940, 47; cf. J Goebbels, ‘Gelobt sei, was hart macht’, 28.2.1940, in Die Zeit ohne Beispeil, 243 ff.Google Scholar
  33. 38.
    Goebbels, ‘Zeit ohne Beispiel’, 26.5.1940, in his Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 289 ff.Google Scholar
  34. 39.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 23.6.1940, 59 ff Google Scholar
  35. H Umbreit, ‘Der Kampf um die Vormachtstellung in Westeuropa’, DRZW, Vol. 2: Die Errichtung der Hegemonie auf dem europäischen Kontinent (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1979), 260–4.Google Scholar
  36. 40.
    Benno Wundshammer, ‘Zerstörer kämpfen über London’, in Bomben auf England. Kleine Kriegshefte No. 8 (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1940), 1–5.Google Scholar
  37. 41.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 7.9.1940, 87.Google Scholar
  38. 42.
    See, for example, ‘Der Vernichtungsbefehl Churchills’, Hamburger Illustrierte, no. 40 (28.9.1940), 2–3; H W Koch, ‘The Strategie Air Offensive against Germany’, Historical Journal 34 (1991): 117–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 43.
    J Goebbels, ‘Die Zeit ohne Beispiel’, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 26.5.1940, 289–95.Google Scholar
  40. 44.
    H Boog, ‘Luftwaffe und unterschiedsloser Bombenkrieg bis 1942’, in H Boog (ed.), Luftkriegführung im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Ein internationaler Vergleich (Bonn: Herford, 1993), 435–68.Google Scholar
  41. 45.
    Boberach, Meldungen aus dem Reich. Auswahl aus den geheimen Lageberichten des Sicherheitsdienstes der SS, No. 114 (12.8.1940), 108 ff.Google Scholar
  42. 46.
    K A Maier, ‘Der operative Luftkrieg bis zur Luftschlacht um England’, DRZW, Vol. 2: Die Errichtung der Hegemonie auf dem europäischen Kontinent (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1979), 329–44.Google Scholar
  43. 47.
    J Goebbels, ‘Jahreswechsel 1940/41’, 31.12.1940, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 351–8.Google Scholar
  44. 48.
    B Stegemann, ‘Die Erste Phase Der Seekriegführung bis Zum Frühjahr 1940’, DRZW, Vol. 2: Die Errichtung der Hegemonie auf dem europäischen Kontinent (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1979), 182 ff; and his ‘Die zweite Phase der Seekriegführung bis zum Frühjahr 1941’, DRZW, Vol. 2: Die Errichtung der Hegemonie auf dem europäischen Kontinent (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1979), 345–9.Google Scholar
  45. 49.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 28.10.1940, 107.Google Scholar
  46. 50.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 11.10.1940, 102 ff.Google Scholar
  47. 51.
    Boberach, Meldungen aus dem Reich. Auswahl aus den geheimen Lageberichten des Sicherheitsdienstes der SS, No. 130, 7.10.1940, 114–9.Google Scholar
  48. 52.
    A Fredborg, Behind the Steel Wall: A Swedish Journalist in Berlin 1941–43 (New York: Viking, 1944), 60–1.Google Scholar
  49. ‘Joachim von Ribbentrop: from wine merchant to foreign minister’, in R Smelser, R Zitelmann (eds), The Nazi Elite (Houndmills/London: Longmann, 1993), 165–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. ‘Die nationalsozialistische Aussenpolitik im Zeichen eines “Konzeptionen-Pluralismus” — Fragestellungen und Forschungsaufgaben’, in M Funke (ed.), Hitler, Deutschland und die Mächte. Materialien zur Außenpolitik des Dritten Reiches (Düsseldorf: Droste-Verlag, 1977), 59–63.Google Scholar
  51. 56.
    M Knox, Mussolini Unleashed, 1939–1941. Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy’s Last War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 251 ff; Uffizio Storico del Esercito, La prima offensiva britannica in Africa settentrionale, Vol. I (Rome: USE, 1979); J J Sadkovich, ‘The Italo-Greek war in context: Italian priorities and Axis diplomacy’, Journal of Contemporary History, 28 (1993): 493–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Uffizio Storico del Esercito, La prima offensiva britannica in Africa settentrionale, Vol. I (Rome: USE, 1979)Google Scholar
  53. J J Sadkovich, ‘The Italo-Greek war in context: Italian priorities and Axis diplomacy’, Journal of Contemporary History, 28 (1993): 493–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 58.
    D Vogel, ‘Das Eingreifen Deutschlands auf dem Balkan’, DRZW, Vol. 3: Der Mittelmeerraum und Südosteuropa. Von der ‘non belligeranza’ Italiens bis zum Kriegseintritt der Vereinigten Staaten (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1984), 448–85.Google Scholar
  55. 59.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 6.4.1941, 131–2.Google Scholar
  56. 60.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 4.4.1941, 131.Google Scholar
  57. 61.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 6.4.1941, 132.Google Scholar
  58. 63.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 30.5.1941, 170–1. See Goebbels, ‘Aus dem Lande der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten’, Das Reich, 25.5.1941, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 486–91; cf. ‘Winston Churchill’, Das Reich, 2.2.1941, 1, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 380–4; and W Diewerge, Das Kriegsziel der Weltplutokratie. Dokumentarische Veröffentlichung zu dem Buch des Präsidenten der amerikanischen Friedensgesellschaft Theodore Nathan Kaufman ‘Deutschland muβ sterben’ (Berlin: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1941).Google Scholar
  59. See Goebbels, ‘Aus dem Lande der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten’, Das Reich, 25.5.1941, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 486–91Google Scholar
  60. W Diewerge, Das Kriegsziel der Weltplutokratie. Dokumentarische Veröffentlichung zu dem Buch des Präsidenten der amerikanischen Friedensgesellschaft Theodore Nathan Kaufman ‘Deutschland muβ sterben’ (Berlin: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1941).Google Scholar
  61. 64.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 5.6.1941, 174.Google Scholar
  62. 65.
    Semmler, Goebbels, 14.5.1941; Goebbels Diary, 14.5.1941Google Scholar
  63. Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 13/15.5.1941, 162–5.Google Scholar
  64. 67.
    D Irving, Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich (London: Parforce, 1996), 640–1, where Goebbels’ similar comments at the Ministerial Conference of 15.5.1941 are also quoted.Google Scholar
  65. 70.
    BA, NS 18/195, 125 (Tiessler to Gauleiter Trautmann, 26.7.1941). On the V-campaign see R Seth, The Truth-Benders. Psychological Warfare in the Second World War (London: Leslie Frewin, 1969), 125–38.Google Scholar
  66. 71.
    See, for example, Boberach, Meldungen aus dem Reich. Auswahl aus den geheimen Lageberichten des Sicherheitsdienstes der SS, No. 194 (16.6.1941), 149 ff.Google Scholar
  67. 74.
    Boelcke, The Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels, 5.6.1941, 174–5.Google Scholar
  68. 75.
    Domarus, Hitler, II, 1672–3 (Directive 24 regarding Operation ‘Barbarossa’, March 1941).Google Scholar
  69. 76.
    E Klink and others, ‘Der Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion bis zur Jahreswende 1941/42’, DRZW, Vol. 4: Der Angriff auf die Sowjetunion (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1987), 713 ff.Google Scholar
  70. 78.
    J Goebbels, ‘Die alte Front’, Das Reich, 26.6.1941, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 508–13.Google Scholar
  71. 79.
    J Goebbels, ‘Die alte Front’, 26.6.1941, in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, 508–13.Google Scholar
  72. 82.
    DGFP, D, 12, 660; M Muggeridge (ed.), Ciano’s Diary, 1939–1943 (London: Heinemann, 1947), 22.6.1941.Google Scholar
  73. 83.
    See, for example, Jacobsen (ed.), Generaloberst Halder, II, 257–61; G L Weinberg, A World at Arms. A Global History of World War II (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 193; Michalka, ‘From the Anti-Comintem Pact to the Euro-Asiatic Bloc’; 281–4; ‘Die nationalsozialistische Außenpolitik’, 55–62; R J Overy, Goering: The Iron Man (London: Routledge, 1984), ch. 5, esp. 190–1.Google Scholar
  74. R J Overy, Goering: The Iron Man (London: Routledge, 1984), ch. 5, esp. 190–1.Google Scholar
  75. 84.
    See Rosenberg’s plans for the administration of the eastern provinces in DGFP, D, 12, 649; E Hancock, The National Socialist Leadership and Total War, 1941–1945 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 29 ff; B Wegner, ‘ “My honour is loyalty”: the SS as a military factor in Hitler’s Germany’, in W Deist (ed.), The German Military in the Age of Total War (Leamington Spa: Berg, 1985), 220–39; J Fest, The Face of the Third Reich (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), 171–90; J Ackermann, Himmler als Ideologe (Göttingen: Musterschmidt, 1970); J Ackermann, ‘Heinrich Himmler: Reichsführer — SS’, in R Smelser, R Zitelmann (eds), The Nazi Elite (Houndmills/London: Macmillan, 1993), 98–112; P Padfield, Himmler: Reichsführer-SS (New York: Holt, 1991).Google Scholar
  76. B Wegner, ‘ “My honour is loyalty”: the SS as a military factor in Hitler’s Germany’, in W Deist (ed.), The German Military in the Age of Total War (Leamington Spa: Berg, 1985), 220–39Google Scholar
  77. J Fest, The Face of the Third Reich (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), 171–90Google Scholar
  78. J Ackermann, Himmler als Ideologe (Göttingen: Musterschmidt, 1970)Google Scholar
  79. J Ackermann, ‘Heinrich Himmler: Reichsführer — SS’, in R Smelser, R Zitelmann (eds), The Nazi Elite (Houndmills/London: Macmillan, 1993), 98–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. P Padfield, Himmler: Reichsführer-SS (New York: Holt, 1991).Google Scholar
  81. 85.
    Seraphin, Das Politische Tagesbuch Alfred Rosenbergs, 29.5/21.6.1941; Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race, 187 ff. See, in general, D Welch, The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda (London: Routledge, 2002), 130–4.Google Scholar
  82. See, in general, D Welch, The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda (London: Routledge, 2002), 130–4.Google Scholar
  83. 86.
    The Directive is discussed in R Manvell, H Fränkel, Heinrich Himmler (London: Heinemann, 1965), 113 ff.Google Scholar
  84. 87.
    Quoted in J M Rhodes, The Hitler Movement (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 1980), 119.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Aristotle A. Kallis 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aristotle A. Kallis

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations