29 Selling Hitler

“Hitler was one of the few politicians who understood that persuasion was everything, deployed to anchor an entire regime in the confections of imagery, rhetoric and dramaturgy. The Nazis pursued propaganda not just as a tool, an instrument of government, but also as the totality, the raison d’etre, the medium through which power itself was exercised.”

Selling Hitler: Propaganda and the Nazi Brand
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Hitler was one of the few politicians who understood that persuasion was everything, deployed to anchor an entire regime in the confections of imagery, rhetoric and dramaturgy. The Nazis pursued propaganda not just as a tool, an instrument of government, but also as the totality, the raison d'être, the medium through which power itself was exercised. Moreover, Nicholas O'Shaughnessy argues, Hitler, not Goebbels, was the prime mover in the propaganda regime of the Third Reich - its editor and first author.

Under the Reich everything was a propaganda medium, a building-block of public consciousness, from typography to communiqués, to architecture, to weapons design. There were groups to initiate rumours and groups to spread graffiti. Everything could be interrogated for its propaganda potential, every surface inscribed with polemical meaning, whether an enemy city's name, an historical epic or the poster on a neighbourhood wall. But Hitler was in no sense an innovator - his ideas were always second-hand. Rather his expertise was as a packager, fashioning from the accumulated mass of icons and ideas, the historic debris, the labyrinths and byways of the German mind, a modern and brilliant political show articulated through deftly managed symbols and rituals. The Reich would have been unthinkable without propaganda - it would not have been the Reich.

In this episode I’m talking to Nicholas O’Shaughnessy.

Nicholas is is currently Visiting Professor in the Centre for Strategic Communication at King’s College London. His new book Selling Hitler examines the Nazi’s use of propaganda and argues Hitler was one of the few politicians who understood that persuasion was everything and was the central to creating an all encompassing strategy…