Hitler on propaganda (1924)


Adolf Hitler on propaganda and its role in National Socialism. An extract from his 1924 memoir, Mein Kampf:


“The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific training of the individual, but in calling the attention of the masses to certain facts, processes, necessities, whose significance is for the first time placed within their field of vision…

All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be… We must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be extended in this direction. The more modest its intellectual ballast, the more exclusively it exploits the emotions of the masses, the more effective it will be. And this is the best proof of the soundness or unsoundness of a propaganda campaign – not its success in impressing a few scholars.

The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses. The fact that our bright boys do not understand this merely shows how mentally lazy and conceited they are. Once understood how necessary it is for propaganda in be adjusted to the broad mass, the following rule results:

It is a mistake to make propaganda many-sided, like scientific instruction, for instance. The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous.

In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out. Thus we see that propaganda must follow a simple line and correspondingly the basic tactics must be psychologically sound.

What, for example, would we say about a poster that was supposed to advertise a new soap and that described other soaps as ‘good’? We would only shake our heads. Exactly the same applies to political advertising.

The function of propaganda is, for example, not to weigh and ponder the rights of different people, but exclusively to emphasize the one right it has set out to argue. Its task is not to make an objective study of the truth, in so far as it favors the enemy, and then set it before the masses with academic fairness. Its task is to serve our own right, always and unflinchingly.”