HY20120 nationalist movement, Hitler relied heavily on the use

HY20120
Exam 2018

15. How far did Nazi uses of the past help generate support for
the Third Reich in Germany?

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                In Nazi Germany a great part of what Adolf Hitler
pledged and spoke of is the ideology that a volk (or person,) who does not
learn from their history is condemned to death. They had a strong idea of Volkstum which essentially described
history as the sum of all the knowledge gathered by a people, and gains its
roots from the strong living memory of the Volk. This movement sees history as
the strongest field of study, and an important part of the spirit of
nationalism.1 As a result of this strong
nationalist movement, Hitler relied heavily on the use of Germany’s history in
his forms of propaganda, both of ancient and medieval Germany, as well as the so-called
‘atrocities’ committed against the Germany people in the aftermath of the First
World War and the Treaty of Versailles. He essentially pledged that Germany was
a strong nation and deserved so much better, and that the Third Reich would
return Germany to it’s rightful glory. This was essential for their uses of
Propaganda. As Goebbels’ points out “Propaganda has no policy, it has a purpose”,
the purpose here being to win German’s over to the causes that they wanted to pursue.2 Hitler
himself even devoted two whole chapters of his book to the topic of dealing
with Propaganda.3 He regards the First World
War as the starting point for spreading propaganda, as well as recognising
taking a lot of ideas from the Marxist-Socialist’s of Vienna.

                The Nazi’s used a mixture of both contemporary and
medieval history to try to gain support for their actions from the people in
regards to Lebensraum, the expansion
of Germany into the rest of Eastern Europe to claim land. It was simple for
Hitler to blame the Treaty of Versailles as unfairly removing Germany’s
territory and land from them, and it is true he resented the terms of the
Treaty of Versailles, however there are alternative ways stemming from ‘deep
history’, to win over the people. As Goebbels himself states that there is a “German
past of two thousand years’ duration”.4 Indeed,
this living space had other motives, other than restoring the pre-1914 borders.
Instead it was seen as a resumption of the ancient struggle against the Slavic people
carried out by the Teutonic Knights of the Middle Ages.5 Obviously
through this ideology, the logical conclusion of the policy of Lebensraum was a
war with Poland and Russia, and expansion through conquest, expulsion,
enslavement, and extermination. Indeed, along the same lines, Heinrich Himmler
tried to pass off the Schutzstaffel or,
SS as the modern day reincarnation of the Teutonic Knights.6
This is quite interesting when you consider that the actual order itself was
abolished in 1938, as Hitler and Himmler believed Roman Catholic military
orders were a threat to the Nazi Regime, so indeed perhaps Hitler believed he
was the natural successor to the original actions of the Teutonic order, and as
such the order were used extensively in both pre war and wartime propaganda by
the Nazi regime to drum up support for expansion into Eastern Europe.

                The vast majority of this look at strengthening German
Nationalism through the use of the past can be referred to as ‘Nazi Archaeology’.
The theory initially gained providence, looking for an ‘Aryan-centric’ national
prehistory, and initially gained prominence in the aftermath of the Treaty of
Versailles, which led to economic crisis and financial ruin for Weimar Germany.
Shortly after the Weimar republic, Hitler funded pre-historical research. They
managed to present Germany as the place were civilisation began, and used this
theory to their advantage in their propaganda campaigns. Scholars such as
Gustaf Kossinna stated that through the theory of Kulturkreis, or ‘culture circles’ that any lands where artefacts labelled
as “Germanic” were found in ancient Germanic territory, and they used this to
justify the takeover of Poland and Czechoslovakia.7 As
such, organisations like the Ahnenerbe were
set up by Heinrich Himmler, with three main goals; to study the territory of
the original Germanic people, to present research findings to the German
populace, and to encourage the population to get involved. The organisation
claimed to therefore have a research goal, however Himmler was much more interested
in mythology and the occult, and wanted to try to focus on the pre-eminence of
the German people.8 Therefore this ideology
went a long way towards generating support for the Third Reich, as there were
now organisations specifically set up in order to show how the Aryan race and
the German people were the forefathers of modern civilisation.

                Nazi Archaeology was mostly designed as a propaganda tool
rather than an actual research means. The aims to the public were to generate
support for the Third Reich and nationalistic pride, as well as provide scientific
justifications for Nazi German conquest.  The German people therefore were targeted through
a variety of mediums. Films were produced by people such as Lothar Zotz, such
as “The Flames of Prehistory” and “Germany’s Bronze Age”, all using the appeal
of German mythology.9
They benefited from the sheer fact that these periods of history that they
publicised so heavily were rarely known to the German public, so were ripe to be
injected with elements of propaganda. The Nazi’s also appealed to the patriotic
nature of the Germans, looking to recruit them to the cause of researching
their German heritage. Through these and several other mediums, Germanic pride
was built upon to justify the nationalistic and fascist message that Adolf
Hitler was cultivating. For a nation who have recently undergone severe
economic depression, and the growing distrust of other races and religion, it
is easy to understand how the everyday German may get sucked into the ideology
that Hitler was pledging. Their nation was in a terrible state, and the
naturally charismatic leader seems to cultivate an image that he has risen from
nothing to controlling the German Reich. People gained hope from his rise to
power, and they made a lot of sense out of the propaganda peddled by himself
and Josef Goebbels. Germany has been a great nation in the past, they now
believed that Germany was the early pillar of modern civilisation, and they
wanted to ‘make Germany great again’.

                Nazi propaganda is an element of contemporary history
and therefore quite a recent topic of study, and historians of all
nationalities extol its highly effective nature.10 However
there are some limitations to how much it effected the support of the Third
Reich and the general opinion of the German population. There is thought into
whether it completely shaped opinion, or whether it took advantage of the
thoughts already present in German society, meaning that the support for the Third
Reich relied on a certain social consensus to already be apparent.11

                In conclusion, it was of vital importance not only
for the propaganda campaign of the Nazi leadership to generate support of the Third
Reich through the use of History, but also played a lot into their own personal
ideology. Himmler for example, was very much a firm believer of all things
mythical and of the occult, and devoted exceeding amounts of research into the
topic, encouraging the German people to do the same in order to highlight the pre-eminence
of the German race.

               

Bibliography

Primary Sources

·        
Das
Schwarze Korps, (10/12/1936) Page 6

·        
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Germany, 1925

·        
Goebbels, Diary Entry for 13/4/1942 Elke
Frolich (ed.), Die Tagebucher von Joseph
Goebbels 1987

Secondary Literature

·        
Arnold, Bettina “The past as propaganda: totalitarian archaeology in Nazi
Germany.” Antiquity Sept/Dec 1990

·        
Arnold, Bettina. “The past as propaganda: How Hitler’s archaeologists distorted European
prehistory to justify racist and territorial goals.” Archaeology,
July/Aug 1992

·        
Erik Christiansen, The Northern Crusades 1997

·        
Heim, Susanne. Autarkie und Ostexpansion.
Pflanzenzucht und Agrarforschung im Nationalsozialismus. 2002

·        
Jean-Denis G. G. Lepage, An Illustrated Dictionary of the Third Reich 2014

·        
Z. A. B. Zerman, Nazi Propaganda, London, 1973

·        
Welch, David The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda 1993

 

21. Account for the emergence of media history as a field of study

In the
past the study of media history has always been confined to the field of Media
Studies, with Kolstrup and Brugger describing the field as “the neglected child
of media studies”.12 However
it is important to acknowledge that the historiography of the subject has as
much relevance in the field of History as any other. It allows one to study not
only the political history and events of a period with methods we gain through
old media, but allows us to judge the thinking of communities and thus expand
on social history. Especially new media, which creates, and stores its own information
which in turn influences the outlook people have on life and events.13 It
is this emergence of new media, that has in effect allowed for the study of
Media history to make its way to the forefront. The significance of the media
has been around a lot longer than just the emergence of the internet. The term is
in fact very broad in the communications medium, and have always been a part of
human history. Gestures, speeches and recording of events through other means
have been around since cave paintings.14
And since the emergence of the Printing Press in the 15th century
and the newspaper boom of the 17th century, many people have had access
to varying different sources of news and communications, and as such each
different medium has also impacted people in different ways, whether it be
written down, or presented in a more visual means.

Essentially
there are three main ways that media has affected the culture of a society, and
thus all three elements have played a part in accounting for the emergence of
media history as a modern day field of study. It has been quite noticeable the
effect mass media has had on uniting a population. There were three specific
examples of these in the United States at certain times for example, with Swedish
Singer Jenny Lind in the 1850s being heavily advertised through newspapers, the
‘Beatlemania’ invasion of the United States, which actually resulted in 40% of
the population watching them live on The
Ed Sullivan Show and crime rates actually dropping to their lowest point in
50 years,15
and the very wide reception of American
Idol, which renewed mobile and internet technology allowed the populace to
interact in new ways.16
Mass media essentially helps to cultivate particular crazes and themes in a nations
society, and deems what is popular. This is important to consider when
accounting for the emergence of media history as a field of study. To study a
population and their motives and moods, one must study the media surrounding the
time.

 

                Papers
show an interesting method of historiography within themselves and are
something that one must consider when accounting the emergence of media history
as a field of study, and are of course the first main method of mass media
communication, coming about in the 17th century, centuries before
the invention of the telegram, television, or any other media communication we
use. A rapid part of the newspaper industry and its influence comes in the form
of control. Papers are often criticized for the way in which they wrest this
control, yet they are still printed, and the public still read the papers.17 Papers
have often claimed that they do not indeed have ulterior motives for the
stories in which they print, however many papers have indeed faced criticism
for wanting to print certain articles based purely on financial or political
gains.18 Editors
and indeed newspaper proprietors have full reign over what exactly constitutes
the news and how it is presented. Indeed, this has always been noticeable in
the past, the founder of the Daily Express for example once being quoted as
saying “My purpose originally was
to set up a propaganda paper, and I have never departed from that”.19
This of course says a lot about the attitude some in the newspaper industry had
during the ‘golden age’ of Fleet Street, arguably when the British public was
most perceptible to the influences of the newspapers. It is relevant to the field
of media history because it is also a constantly evolving medium. As journalist
writing styles have updated, as have the way in which news is presented, with
television in the 50s and nowadays the ease of internet news. Television as a
medium of history also tends to reflect the cultural morals and values of the
times. Escapist dramas of the second half of the twentieth century, avoiding
controversial topics to reality TV shows today where more controversial issues
are encouraged in discussions, television has always seemed to mirror the popular
opinion of a society.20
It is the television culture that even exists in todays society that has led to
the emergence of media history as a field of study.

                In today’s society, it is no
surprise that media history has and continues to have a significant impact on
the field of historiography. Obviously through what we define as old media,
being newspapers and the broadcasting industry it is very easy to gauge how and
what people were thinking at a certain point in time. But similarly new media
has served to almost amplify this effect. With things like television, the
internet and social media, it is even easier to see how people react to certain
events. What use to at least be done overnight, which was reactions and reports
on news events, now takes seconds for someone to post on the internet and
social media. In many years time I am sure historians will make full use of
this resource.

In conclusion, media history has indeed emerged in recent
years as a field of study, and can often be linked to the study of media
systems. Despite being a somewhat new field of academic research, which still
strives to find its place in the world of modern historiography, it is also an
important aspect of history, before confined to the studies of media and film
and television, it has rightly emerged as a field of study within it’s own
right. It is the study of the relationship between media systems such as the
press, the television industry and companies related around the fact, and this
relationship is integral to the field.21
Anyone looking at papers from the 17th Century, to the early 20th
Century to even today will be able to gauge public opinion and culture. Similarly
anyone who studies television from the 1950s, or the use of the internet in 2018
will be able to paint a very accurate picture of the things people liked to do
and discuss, as well as their opinions and how they interacted with one
another. But the field of study is also much more than that. It is a study of
how varying media systems and individuals have been able to influence a
specific culture, and show them the ‘ideal way of living’ in cases such as
drama television shows from the 1950s, showing the stereotypical ‘nuclear
family’ in the United States, which reflected a lot of the socio-economic
population in that time period as well as in the United Kingdom, where we had
television programmes like Coronation Street, which idolised British culture, showed
how things were perceived to be which for the most part they were.22
This is a symbiotic relationship between the consumers and the producers. As
cultures changed and ideas of what was socially acceptable changed throughout
the time period, that was beginning to be reflected on what people watched on
television, and similarly the producers were able to gauge public opinions from
mediums such as newspapers and see the current thinking of the population, and
were able to adapt their product thusly. For example, on television shows, more
‘taboo’ subjects became normalised like homosexual couples and single parent
families. This relationship is made even easier today by the rise of social media.
The easiest way to account for the emergence of media history as it’s own field
of study is simply that it is completely relevant to a nations cultural and
social history, and that has been picked up on.

 

Word Count: 1485

Bibliography

Secondary
Literature

·        
Frank Bosch, Mass Media and Historical Change 2015

·        
Niels Brugger & Soren Kolstrup, Media History: Theories, Methods, Analysis Aarhus
Denmark, 2002

·        
Ehrenreich, Barbara, Elizabeth Hess, and
Gloria Jacobs, “Beatlemania: Girls Just
Want to Have Fun,” in The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media
(New York: Routledge, 1992)

·        
Herman, Edward S. “All the News Fit to Print: Structure and Background of the New York
Times,” Z Magazine, April 1998,

·        
Lule, Jack, Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication
2012, University of Minnesota

·        
Ralph Negrine, Television and the Press since 1945 1999

·        
Quint Randle, A Historical Overview of the Effects of New Mass Media Introductions on
Magazine Publishing During the 20th Century from First Monday,
Volume 6, Number 9, 3rd September 2001

Websites

·        
Henrik Bastiansen, Media History and the Study of Media Systems 14th March 2008,
accessed January 24th 2018 from http://www.tandfonline.com/

1 Das Schwarze Korps, (10/12/1936) Page 6

2 Z.
A. B. Zerman, Nazi Propaganda Page
xiv

3
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Page 156

4 Goebbels,
Diary Entry for 13/4/1942 Elke Frolich (ed.), Die Tagebucher von Joseph Goebbels Part II vol.4 p.92

5 Jean-Denis
G. G. Lepage, An Illustrated Dictionary
of the Third Reich page 100

6 Christiansen,
Erik, The Northern Crusades Page 5

7 Arnold,
Bettina “The past as propaganda: How
Hitler’s archaeologists distorted European prehistory to justify racist and
territorial goals.” Archaeology, July/Aug 1992: 30-37

8 Arnold,
Bettina “The past as propaganda:
totalitarian archaeology in Nazi Germany.” Antiquity Sept/Dec 1990:
464-478

9Heim,
Susanne. Autarkie und Ostexpansion.
Pflanzenzucht und Agrarforschung im Nationalsozialismus

10 Welch,
David The Third Reich: Politics and
Propaganda Page 4

11 Welch,
The Third Reich PP 3-5

12
Niels Brugger & Soren Kolstrup, Media
History: Theories, Methods, Analysis Page 7  

13
Bosch, Mass Media and Historical Change
Page 1

14
Bosch, Mass Media Page 2

15 Ehrenreich,
Barbara, “Beatlemania: Girls Just Want to
Have Fun,” in The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media pp84–106.

16 Lule,
Jack, Understanding Media and Culture: An
Introduction to Mass Communication, Section 1.1

17 Lule
Jack, Understanding Media and Culture,
Section 4.4

18 Herman,
Edward S. “All the News Fit to Print:
Structure and Background of the New York Times,” April 1998

19 Ralph
Negrine, Television and the Press since
1945 Page 164

20 Lule
Jack, Understanding Media and Culture,
Section 9.2

21
Henrik Bastiansen, Media History and the
Study of Media Systems 14th March 2008, accessed January 24th
2018

22 Lule
Jack, Understanding Media and Culture,
Section 9.2