History: What contribution did Joseph Goebbels and/or Leni Riefenstahl make to Nazi propaganda?

#625Lab - History

There is very good use of factual information, which brings up the cumulative mark but overall, it's too short so the marks can't build up. At this standard it'd need 2 or 3 more paragraphs. In questions where two or more people are referenced, they need to be dealt with equally whereas this essay focuses more on Goebbels.

The introduction is good as it lays out the answer and key judgement clearly, but it might be better to include background information on Goebbels and Riefenstahl here rather than later on in the essay. 

For the content focused on Goebbels, I'd suggest more of a focus on his role in radio censorship as well as mentioning education and propaganda in order to bulk it out a bit but overall the paragraphs are clear and well laid-out. In order to link this part to the part about Riefenstahl, it might be a better idea to write about Goebbels contribution to film propaganda before leading into this. 

In the paragraphs dealing with Riefenstahl, the points need to be made clearer, so that marks can be awarded for judgements. Include sentences about her films' roles in the creation of a cult of Personality, and as international propaganda. 

The last two paragraphs should really be merged together to form a complete conclusion. There is one good use of quotation, more of this should be attempted, especially in the section dealing with Goebbels as there are plenty of quotations available (even in the text book). 

I'd give it somewhere in the 65 - 70 mark.

Goebbels and Riefenstahl had an immense effect on Nazi propaganda. Although Hitler came to power in 1933 through democratic means, he had to avail of many forms of propaganda in order to grip all aspects of people's lives: social, political, economical, and personal. Nazi propaganda involved the use of deception and falsehoods to convince people to support Adolf Hitler’s agenda and follow his commands. With the help of Goebbels and Riefenstahl, Hitler found a way to indoctrinate and brainwash most Germans into both following and agreeing with his policies. He used the Berlin Olympics 1936 and the Nuremberg Rally’s to spread Nazi beliefs. He also used newspapers, books, radio and symbols to spread such ideas. 

Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister, used all available means to ensure the loyalty of the German people. The Nazis controlled the publication of newspapers and books. In 1933, Goebbels organised a book burning to destroy any books with anti-Nazi-unGerman ideas. The Nazis also took control of newspapers with Goebbels creating one official German News Bureau. A daily press conference was held at which editors were told what view to take on various issues. Jewish editors were fired and anti-Nazi newspapers were closed down. People were encouraged to buy a ‘Peoples Radio’ which could only receive Nai radio stations. Loudspeakers were placed in streets and bars for those who were not within reach of a radio. The most effective propaganda weapon Goebbels could deploy was the ‘Cult of Personality’. Slogans such as ‘Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein F├╝hrer’ were used to get across the worship of Hitler. Goebbels created the image of Hitler through carefully staged photographs, portraits, posters and meetings. 

Goebbels used huge gatherings such as the Nuremberg Rally’s to influence public opinion. The medieval city of Nuremberg was chosen by Hitler because of its links with German history. It was regarded as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Nuremberg was also a strong Nazi base with ‘Der Strumer’ an anti-semitic newspaper being published there: It was a central location with seven railway lines converging there. Nuremberg was seen as representing all that was best in German culture . Albert Speer, a young architect became involved in the organisation of the rally. He was asked by Hitler to draw up an overall plan for the Nazi Party grounds. The area had a series of large open spaces such as the Zeppelin Field, the Luitpold Arena and the March Field. The plans also included a number of large buildings such as the Congress Hall, these were linked by the Great Road. Hitler and Speer wanted to create buildings which would last 1,00 years. These buildings were also a form of propaganda as they would demonstrate Nazi power and reflect the glory Hitler planned for Germany. 

Goebbels saw the Rallies as a way to glorify Hitler, spread Nazi ideology and celebrate Nazi achievements. One way of spreading Nazi propaganda was that each rally had a different theme, usually celebrating recent Nazi achievements. For example, the Rally of Freedom celebrated breaking the Treaty of Versailles with the introduction of conscription. Extensive use was made of symbols such as banners, flags and standards. The spectacular setting of the stadium, lit by bonfires and searchlights created a dramatic backdrop for Hitler’s speeches. They helped to reinforce his image as Germany’s saviour. Goebbels knew the importance of the rally as it sent thousands of Nazis home to all corners of Germany fired with new enthusiasm. At the 1935 Rally of Freedom, Hitler introduced the Nuremberg Laws which were a series of anti-semitic measures introduced by the Nazis to socially isolate Germany’s Jewish minority and deprive its members of their basic civil rights. 

Leni Riefenstahl, a German film actress and director was asked by Hitler to make a documentary film of the 1934 Nuremberg Rally. Entitled ‘Triumph of the Will’, this film chronologically followed the events of that Rally from its opening ceremonies to Hitlers closing address. At the beginning, Hitler is seen descending by plane from the clouds, a modern-day saviour coming to help his people. Riefenstahl was an unusual choice in that she was not a member of the Nazi party. Riefenstahl used elaborate staging, mobile cameras and filmed at night to capture the intense, feverish atmosphere at Nuremberg. However, the film was not a box office success. People were put off by its endless scenes of marching and speech-making. 

In 1936, Riefenstahl filmed the Berlin Olympics. The film was entitled ‘Olympia’ which she divided into two parts. She was the first to use many of today’s filmmaking techniques. In 1939, the International Olympic Committee honoured her for directing and producing that film. She was one of the first filmmakers to use tracking shots in a documentary. This involved placing a camera on rails to follow the athletes movement. The film is also noted for its slow motion shots. Riefenstahl played with the idea of under-water diving shots, extremely high and low shooting angles and panoramic aerial shots also. Riefenstahl filmed competitors of all races, including African-American Jesse Owens in what later would become famous footage. 

Goebbels and Riefenstahl were key people in promoting Nazi propaganda. Both suffered as a result. Goebbels remained loyal to the end. After Hitler’s suicide, Goebbels, his wife and six children also committed suicide. In Riefenstahl's case, she was cleared of being a Nazi. Riefenstahl claimed that she only directed films and was not a follower of Hitler’s ideas. However, ‘Triumph of the Will’ destroyed her career as a film director after the Second World War because of its association with the Nazis. Later in life she became well-known as a still photographer and an underwater photographer. Her life remained controversial, right up to her death in 2003, aged 101. 

To conclude, Goebbels was very successful in creating a cult of personality for Hitler through his carefully written speeches, German News Bureau and mass gatherings. It is still hotly debated whether Leni Riefenstahl was a Nazi or not. There was no commentary in her films but one cannot ignore the fact that she portrayed Hitler as a God-like figure.

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