One of the most powerful weapons in an existential war is propaganda. It is, indeed, the most terrifying weapon in the hands of those who know how to use it. Obviously, propaganda is but a means to an end, and this end is the victory in German nation’s struggle for existence.
It must be remembered at all times that Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people, not the “intellectual classes”. The purpose of propaganda is not the “scientific instruction” of the individual, but rather to attract public attention to certain facts, events, urgent needs, and so on, the importance of which can be brought home to the masses only by this means.
Consequently, the art of propaganda consists in putting a matter so clearly and forcibly before the minds of the people as to create a general conviction regarding the reality of a certain fact, the necessity of certain things and the imperativeness of doing something that is absolutely essential. Therefore, it must appeal to the feelings of the public rather than to their reasoning powers.
All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those at whom it is directed. Thus, the larger the public to which its appeal is directed, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be.
And, obviously, every successful propaganda is based on a systematically one sided attitude towards every problem that has to be dealt with. In other words, the aim of propaganda is not to try to pass judgment on conflicting “rights”, giving each its due, but exclusively to emphasize the right which we’re asserting.
Propaganda is about victory in the war, not about science; hence, it must not investigate the truth objectively but present only that aspect of the truth which is favorable to its own side.
The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to its feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the broad masses.
The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their power of understanding is slight. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials, and these must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.
Successful propaganda must be based on an undisputable fact that broad masses of the people are but vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another.
The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. And this sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent.
It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood. Its notions are never partly this and partly that.
Hence propaganda must always be limited to a few simple themes and these must be presented again and again. Here, as in innumerable other cases, perseverance is the first and most important condition of success.
The fundamental purpose of propaganda is to convince the masses, whose slowness of understanding needs to be given time in order that they may absorb information; and only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on the memory of the crowd.
Any variation must not alter the main theme of the propaganda, but must always emphasize the same point. The slogan must, of course, be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end the stress must always be laid on the, slogan itself. In this way alone can propaganda be consistent and dynamic in its effects.
In other words, success of any advertisement, whether of a business or a political nature, depends on the consistency and perseverance with which it is employed.
[And that’s precisely how Nazis implemented their own propaganda machine. Making it probably the most powerful and efficient such system in human history]
More than once, I was tormented by the thought that, if Providence had put the conduct of German propaganda into my hands, instead of into the hands of those incompetent and even criminal ignoramuses and weaklings, the outcome of the struggle might have been different. For I would have been much more successful in managing the war propaganda business.
[Judging by what happened a decade later, very probably so]