How far did Nazi uses of the past help generate support forthe Third Reich in Germany? In Nazi Germany a great part of what Adolf Hitlerpledged and spoke of is the ideology that a volk (or person,) who does notlearn from their history is condemned to death. They had a strong idea of Volkstum which essentially describedhistory as the sum of all the knowledge gathered by a people, and gains itsroots from the strong living memory of the Volk. This movement sees history asthe strongest field of study, and an important part of the spirit ofnationalism.1 As a result of this strongnationalist movement, Hitler relied heavily on the use of Germany’s history inhis 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 FirstWorld War and the Treaty of Versailles. He essentially pledged that Germany wasa strong nation and deserved so much better, and that the Third Reich wouldreturn Germany to it’s rightful glory. This was essential for their uses ofPropaganda. 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 Hitlerhimself even devoted two whole chapters of his book to the topic of dealingwith Propaganda.3 He regards the First WorldWar as the starting point for spreading propaganda, as well as recognisingtaking a lot of ideas from the Marxist-Socialist’s of Vienna. The Nazi’s used a mixture of both contemporary andmedieval history to try to gain support for their actions from the people inregards to Lebensraum, the expansionof Germany into the rest of Eastern Europe to claim land. It was simple forHitler to blame the Treaty of Versailles as unfairly removing Germany’sterritory and land from them, and it is true he resented the terms of theTreaty of Versailles, however there are alternative ways stemming from ‘deephistory’, to win over the people. As Goebbels himself states that there is a “Germanpast 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 peoplecarried out by the Teutonic Knights of the Middle Ages.5 Obviouslythrough this ideology, the logical conclusion of the policy of Lebensraum was awar with Poland and Russia, and expansion through conquest, expulsion,enslavement, and extermination. Indeed, along the same lines, Heinrich Himmlertried to pass off the Schutzstaffel or,SS as the modern day reincarnation of the Teutonic Knights.6This is quite interesting when you consider that the actual order itself wasabolished in 1938, as Hitler and Himmler believed Roman Catholic militaryorders were a threat to the Nazi Regime, so indeed perhaps Hitler believed hewas the natural successor to the original actions of the Teutonic order, and assuch the order were used extensively in both pre war and wartime propaganda bythe Nazi regime to drum up support for expansion into Eastern Europe. The vast majority of this look at strengthening GermanNationalism through the use of the past can be referred to as ‘Nazi Archaeology’.
The theory initially gained providence, looking for an ‘Aryan-centric’ nationalprehistory, and initially gained prominence in the aftermath of the Treaty ofVersailles, which led to economic crisis and financial ruin for Weimar Germany.Shortly after the Weimar republic, Hitler funded pre-historical research. Theymanaged to present Germany as the place were civilisation began, and used thistheory to their advantage in their propaganda campaigns. Scholars such asGustaf Kossinna stated that through the theory of Kulturkreis, or ‘culture circles’ that any lands where artefacts labelledas “Germanic” were found in ancient Germanic territory, and they used this tojustify the takeover of Poland and Czechoslovakia.7 Assuch, organisations like the Ahnenerbe wereset up by Heinrich Himmler, with three main goals; to study the territory ofthe original Germanic people, to present research findings to the Germanpopulace, and to encourage the population to get involved. The organisationclaimed to therefore have a research goal, however Himmler was much more interestedin mythology and the occult, and wanted to try to focus on the pre-eminence ofthe German people.8 Therefore this ideologywent a long way towards generating support for the Third Reich, as there werenow organisations specifically set up in order to show how the Aryan race andthe German people were the forefathers of modern civilisation.
Nazi Archaeology was mostly designed as a propaganda toolrather than an actual research means. The aims to the public were to generatesupport for the Third Reich and nationalistic pride, as well as provide scientificjustifications for Nazi German conquest. The German people therefore were targeted througha variety of mediums. Films were produced by people such as Lothar Zotz, suchas “The Flames of Prehistory” and “Germany’s Bronze Age”, all using the appealof German mythology.9They benefited from the sheer fact that these periods of history that theypublicised so heavily were rarely known to the German public, so were ripe to beinjected with elements of propaganda. The Nazi’s also appealed to the patrioticnature of the Germans, looking to recruit them to the cause of researchingtheir German heritage.
Through these and several other mediums, Germanic pridewas built upon to justify the nationalistic and fascist message that AdolfHitler was cultivating. For a nation who have recently undergone severeeconomic depression, and the growing distrust of other races and religion, itis easy to understand how the everyday German may get sucked into the ideologythat Hitler was pledging. Their nation was in a terrible state, and thenaturally charismatic leader seems to cultivate an image that he has risen fromnothing to controlling the German Reich. People gained hope from his rise topower, and they made a lot of sense out of the propaganda peddled by himselfand Josef Goebbels. Germany has been a great nation in the past, they nowbelieved that Germany was the early pillar of modern civilisation, and theywanted to ‘make Germany great again’. Nazi propaganda is an element of contemporary historyand therefore quite a recent topic of study, and historians of allnationalities extol its highly effective nature.
10 Howeverthere are some limitations to how much it effected the support of the ThirdReich and the general opinion of the German population. There is thought intowhether it completely shaped opinion, or whether it took advantage of thethoughts already present in German society, meaning that the support for the ThirdReich relied on a certain social consensus to already be apparent.11 In conclusion, it was of vital importance not onlyfor the propaganda campaign of the Nazi leadership to generate support of the ThirdReich through the use of History, but also played a lot into their own personalideology.
Himmler for example, was very much a firm believer of all thingsmythical and of the occult, and devoted exceeding amounts of research into thetopic, encouraging the German people to do the same in order to highlight the pre-eminenceof the German race. BibliographyPrimary Sources· DasSchwarze Korps, (10/12/1936) Page 6· Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Germany, 1925· Goebbels, Diary Entry for 13/4/1942 ElkeFrolich (ed.), Die Tagebucher von JosephGoebbels 1987Secondary Literature· Arnold, Bettina “The past as propaganda: totalitarian archaeology in NaziGermany.” Antiquity Sept/Dec 1990· Arnold, Bettina.
“The past as propaganda: How Hitler’s archaeologists distorted Europeanprehistory 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 studyIn thepast the study of media history has always been confined to the field of MediaStudies, with Kolstrup and Brugger describing the field as “the neglected childof media studies”.12 Howeverit is important to acknowledge that the historiography of the subject has asmuch relevance in the field of History as any other.
It allows one to study notonly the political history and events of a period with methods we gain throughold media, but allows us to judge the thinking of communities and thus expandon social history. Especially new media, which creates, and stores its own informationwhich in turn influences the outlook people have on life and events.13 Itis this emergence of new media, that has in effect allowed for the study ofMedia history to make its way to the forefront.
The significance of the mediahas been around a lot longer than just the emergence of the internet. The term isin fact very broad in the communications medium, and have always been a part ofhuman history. Gestures, speeches and recording of events through other meanshave been around since cave paintings.
14And since the emergence of the Printing Press in the 15th centuryand the newspaper boom of the 17th century, many people have had accessto varying different sources of news and communications, and as such eachdifferent medium has also impacted people in different ways, whether it bewritten down, or presented in a more visual means.Essentiallythere are three main ways that media has affected the culture of a society, andthus all three elements have played a part in accounting for the emergence ofmedia history as a modern day field of study. It has been quite noticeable theeffect mass media has had on uniting a population. There were three specificexamples of these in the United States at certain times for example, with SwedishSinger Jenny Lind in the 1850s being heavily advertised through newspapers, the’Beatlemania’ invasion of the United States, which actually resulted in 40% ofthe population watching them live on TheEd Sullivan Show and crime rates actually dropping to their lowest point in50 years,15and the very wide reception of AmericanIdol, which renewed mobile and internet technology allowed the populace tointeract in new ways.16Mass media essentially helps to cultivate particular crazes and themes in a nationssociety, and deems what is popular.
This is important to consider whenaccounting for the emergence of media history as a field of study. To study apopulation and their motives and moods, one must study the media surrounding thetime. Papersshow an interesting method of historiography within themselves and aresomething that one must consider when accounting the emergence of media historyas a field of study, and are of course the first main method of mass mediacommunication, coming about in the 17th century, centuries beforethe invention of the telegram, television, or any other media communication weuse. A rapid part of the newspaper industry and its influence comes in the formof control. Papers are often criticized for the way in which they wrest thiscontrol, yet they are still printed, and the public still read the papers.
17 Papershave often claimed that they do not indeed have ulterior motives for thestories in which they print, however many papers have indeed faced criticismfor wanting to print certain articles based purely on financial or politicalgains.18 Editorsand indeed newspaper proprietors have full reign over what exactly constitutesthe news and how it is presented. Indeed, this has always been noticeable inthe past, the founder of the Daily Express for example once being quoted assaying “My purpose originally wasto set up a propaganda paper, and I have never departed from that”.
19This of course says a lot about the attitude some in the newspaper industry hadduring the ‘golden age’ of Fleet Street, arguably when the British public wasmost perceptible to the influences of the newspapers. It is relevant to the fieldof media history because it is also a constantly evolving medium. As journalistwriting styles have updated, as have the way in which news is presented, withtelevision in the 50s and nowadays the ease of internet news. Television as amedium of history also tends to reflect the cultural morals and values of thetimes. Escapist dramas of the second half of the twentieth century, avoidingcontroversial topics to reality TV shows today where more controversial issuesare encouraged in discussions, television has always seemed to mirror the popularopinion of a society.
20It is the television culture that even exists in todays society that has led tothe emergence of media history as a field of study. In today’s society, it is nosurprise that media history has and continues to have a significant impact onthe field of historiography. Obviously through what we define as old media,being newspapers and the broadcasting industry it is very easy to gauge how andwhat people were thinking at a certain point in time. But similarly new mediahas served to almost amplify this effect.
With things like television, theinternet and social media, it is even easier to see how people react to certainevents. What use to at least be done overnight, which was reactions and reportson news events, now takes seconds for someone to post on the internet andsocial media. In many years time I am sure historians will make full use ofthis resource. In conclusion, media history has indeed emerged in recentyears as a field of study, and can often be linked to the study of mediasystems. Despite being a somewhat new field of academic research, which stillstrives to find its place in the world of modern historiography, it is also animportant aspect of history, before confined to the studies of media and filmand television, it has rightly emerged as a field of study within it’s ownright.
It is the study of the relationship between media systems such as thepress, the television industry and companies related around the fact, and thisrelationship is integral to the field.21Anyone looking at papers from the 17th Century, to the early 20thCentury to even today will be able to gauge public opinion and culture. Similarlyanyone who studies television from the 1950s, or the use of the internet in 2018will be able to paint a very accurate picture of the things people liked to doand discuss, as well as their opinions and how they interacted with oneanother. But the field of study is also much more than that.
It is a study ofhow varying media systems and individuals have been able to influence aspecific culture, and show them the ‘ideal way of living’ in cases such asdrama television shows from the 1950s, showing the stereotypical ‘nuclearfamily’ in the United States, which reflected a lot of the socio-economicpopulation in that time period as well as in the United Kingdom, where we hadtelevision programmes like Coronation Street, which idolised British culture, showedhow things were perceived to be which for the most part they were.22This is a symbiotic relationship between the consumers and the producers. Ascultures changed and ideas of what was socially acceptable changed throughoutthe time period, that was beginning to be reflected on what people watched ontelevision, and similarly the producers were able to gauge public opinions frommediums such as newspapers and see the current thinking of the population, andwere able to adapt their product thusly. For example, on television shows, more’taboo’ subjects became normalised like homosexual couples and single parentfamilies. 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 fieldof study is simply that it is completely relevant to a nations cultural andsocial history, and that has been picked up on. Word Count: 1485BibliographySecondaryLiterature· Frank Bosch, Mass Media and Historical Change 2015· Niels Brugger & Soren Kolstrup, Media History: Theories, Methods, Analysis AarhusDenmark, 2002· Ehrenreich, Barbara, Elizabeth Hess, andGloria Jacobs, “Beatlemania: Girls JustWant 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 YorkTimes,” Z Magazine, April 1998,· Lule, Jack, Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication2012, 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 onMagazine Publishing During the 20th Century from First Monday,Volume 6, Number 9, 3rd September 2001Websites· 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 62 Z.A. B. Zerman, Nazi Propaganda Pagexiv3Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Page 1564 Goebbels,Diary Entry for 13/4/1942 Elke Frolich (ed.), Die Tagebucher von Joseph Goebbels Part II vol.
4 p.925 Jean-DenisG. G. Lepage, An Illustrated Dictionaryof the Third Reich page 1006 Christiansen,Erik, The Northern Crusades Page 57 Arnold,Bettina “The past as propaganda: HowHitler’s archaeologists distorted European prehistory to justify racist andterritorial goals.
” Archaeology, July/Aug 1992: 30-378 Arnold,Bettina “The past as propaganda:totalitarian archaeology in Nazi Germany.” Antiquity Sept/Dec 1990:464-4789Heim,Susanne. Autarkie und Ostexpansion.Pflanzenzucht und Agrarforschung im Nationalsozialismus10 Welch,David The Third Reich: Politics andPropaganda Page 411 Welch,The Third Reich PP 3-512Niels Brugger & Soren Kolstrup, MediaHistory: Theories, Methods, Analysis Page 7 13Bosch, Mass Media and Historical ChangePage 114Bosch, Mass Media Page 215 Ehrenreich,Barbara, “Beatlemania: Girls Just Want toHave Fun,” in The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media pp84–106.
16 Lule,Jack, Understanding Media and Culture: AnIntroduction to Mass Communication, Section 1.117 LuleJack, Understanding Media and Culture,Section 4.418 Herman,Edward S. “All the News Fit to Print:Structure and Background of the New York Times,” April 199819 RalphNegrine, Television and the Press since1945 Page 16420 LuleJack, Understanding Media and Culture,Section 9.221Henrik Bastiansen, Media History and theStudy of Media Systems 14th March 2008, accessed January 24th201822 LuleJack, Understanding Media and Culture,Section 9.2