From Triumph to Disaster: NS Propaganda from the Launch of ‘Barbarossa’ until Stalingrad

  • Aristotle A. Kallis

Abstract

With the launch of ‘Operation Barbarossa’, the NS propaganda machinery was presented with an opportunity to put behind both the Hess debacle and the embarrassment caused by the postponement of the operation against the British Isles. The ‘surprise’ factor — however, so successful in diplomatic and military terms — produced contradictory results inside the Reich. Hitler’s decision to impose (for the first time) a block of information for a week after the initial assault afforded time for the regime’s propaganda apparatus to adjust to the new political and military landscape, modifying its discourses in order to accommodate the new focus on anti-Bolhevism after almost two years of complete silence on the subject. Yet, the absence of information, in conjunction with the magnitude of the task itself, added to the atmosphere of nervousness.1 It is no coincidence that Goebbels instructed his press associates to emphasise that the military objective of the operation (total victory against Bolshevism) was not just realisable but attainable within a short period of time.2 Then, on 29 June — with the German forces having advanced an incredible distance towards Dvinsk, Minsk and Bialystok — the news block was eventually lifted. What followed was a supreme instance of polycratic confusion and lack of internal co-ordination that were endemic in the NS propaganda domain. At the same time that Goebbels counselled restraint with regard to the reporting of the military situation, Hitler and his press chief, Otto Dietrich, bypassed the RMVP and arranged the broadcast of twelve ‘Special Announcements’ (Sonderberichte) over the radio in hourly intervals. Goebbels was furious — not simply because he had seen his authority undercut by the ‘Dietrich network’ in association with the Führer and the OKW, but mainly because he considered ‘highly unfortunate’ the abuse of the Sonderberichte that he had so meticulously planned in the past as an extraordinary propaganda device.3

Keywords

Clay Depression Europe Propa Assure 

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Notes

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© Aristotle A. Kallis 2005

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