Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (born December 19, 1916 in Berlin ; † March 25, 2010 in Allensbach , officially last Elisabeth Noelle ) was professor of communication science at the University of Mainz and founder of the Institute for Demoscopy (IfD) in Allensbach. She is considered a pioneer of public opinion polls in Germany and was the founder of the theory of the spiral of silence .
Origin, education, career until 1945
Elisabeth Noelle was born in Berlin, the second of four children to Eva and Ernst Noelle, into an upper-class family. Her father had a doctorate in law and founded the Tobis film company . Her grandfathers were the manufacturer Ernst Noelle and the sculptor Fritz Schaper .
After Elisabeth Noelle first attended schools in Berlin, her parents later sent her to the reform pedagogical boarding school at Schule Schloss Salem . She left this after six months and passed the Abitur in Göttingen in 1935 . Your language qualifications in the subjects English and French were assessed as insufficient and insufficient. Nevertheless, two years later she received a language proficiency certificate, which was mandatory for studying abroad.
“On the other hand, a comparatively minor problem was that I couldn't speak English at all, but had to prove that I spoke English fluently if I wanted to get the scholarship to America. Somehow I managed to convince the examiner, his name was Galinski, to issue me with a certificate. That was enough. Then my papers were sent to America to the Sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma , a kind of student union for girls. "
She then studied philosophy , history , newspaper studies and American studies at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Berlin, the Albertina in Königsberg and the University of Missouri in the USA . During her student days, she was the cell leader in the National Socialist Student Union, a sub-organization of the National Socialist German Student Union . During a visit to Obersalzberg, she met Adolf Hitler . This was "one of the strongest and strangest experiences" of her life, she later noted. You have received "no warning". The meeting of the ANSt students with Adolf Hitler on Obersalzberg, however, was not a coincidental event, as a newspaper article in the National Socialist student newspaper "The Movement" shows. The doctoral student Petra Umlauf also came to this conclusion in her dissertation “The female students at the University of Munich 1926 to 1945”. The group photo shows an enthusiastic and friendly looking Elisabeth Noelle directly behind Adolf Hitler.
In the late summer of 1937, Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann took part in the eight-day “camp of German exchange students and teachers” at the “ Neustrelitz Driving School ”. The people scheduled to leave the country (80 for the USA) received final instructions there from the head of the DAAD , Wilhelm Burmeister , and a number of speakers who belonged to prominent National Socialists. Just three days after the camp began, the New York Times reported on August 27, 1937 about the “Neustrelitz Driving School” and warned that the German exchange students had a propaganda assignment to do.
From September 1937 to September 1938 she spent an exchange year in the USA as a DAAD scholarship holder , where she learned about the latest methods of demoscopy. During her study visit to the University of Missouri , she and her fellow student Heinrich Häring attracted attention through National Socialist propaganda, which was reported in great detail in US newspapers. According to Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann's own statements, she gave seventy lectures in the USA. The Dies Committee special investigator , John C. Metcalfe, reported on their activities in the US House of Representatives.
In a letter to Fred von Hoerschelmann , Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann commented on her studies at the University of Missouri:
“In addition, there is constant agitation against me: spread through newspapers and by haters of Germans in the university: that I am a National Socialist agent and that you have to be careful not to be with me or to believe anything. These things are going on behind the scenes and it is difficult for me to follow them. "
On September 6, 1938, she left the USA and went on a world tour (Japan, China and the Middle East). In 1940 she received her doctorate under Emil Dovifat in Berlin on opinion and mass research in the USA . She then completed a traineeship at the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung . From 1940 she wrote for the Nazi propaganda newspaper Das Reich , published by Joseph Goebbels , a weekly newspaper whose leading articles were often written by Goebbels. Some of her articles dealt with the subject of Jews and other "enemies" of the Hitler regime. After her dismissal from Das Reich she went to the Frankfurter Zeitung until she was hired in the summer of 1943 . She was a member of the National Socialist Student Working Group, but did not join the NSDAP.
In Noelle-Neumann's dissertation with the title “American mass surveys on politics and the press” from 1940 (written with the support of the RMVP ), she attributed Germany's poor reputation in the world primarily to the propaganda of the US media: “Since 1933, the Jews who have monopolized a large part of America's intellectual life, their demagogic abilities to incite Germany. ”In 2010, Die Zeit stated that her dissertation contained anti-Semitic statements. Goebbels wanted to make her his adjutant in 1942 because of her work on opinion research in the USA. However, a prolonged illness prevented her from taking up this office. In 2005, when asked indirectly, “Goebbels wanted you to be his adjutant”, she told Tagesspiegel : “I should work for him. Because he wanted me to do surveys for him. There were no systematic surveys in Germany until then. I was received at the Propaganda Ministry by a man, Schirrmeister, who told me that the Minister wanted you to work for him. I went home and wondered what now? And what happened? I got seriously ill. That was, of course, done with. Fortune. "
The Limburger Vereindruckerei published the first edition of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann's dissertation; In the same year, the second edition was published by the Moritz Diesterweg publishing house under the title “Opinion and mass research in the USA, surveys on politics and the press”. Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, however, faked a first conflict with Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry to the public, since they had called for changes to the content, without which a second edition could not appear. You did not agree to this request, which is why a second edition should not have been made.
In 1997 Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann intended to reissue her dissertation from 1940 in order to react to "identity-destroying campaigns" against her. This declaration of intent was preceded by a serious dispute about the American academic Christopher Simpson, in the course of which Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann was accused of a "staged campaign of revenge".
In 1946 she married the journalist and CDU politician Erich Peter Neumann . During her time at Das Reich, he had also edited articles there. In the Spiegel article of December 15, 1965, it says: “With 'Reich' editor and husband Erich Peter Neumann she founded the 'Society for the Study of Public Opinion' in 1946 (annual turnover today: two to three million marks) and from then on researched the political views and consumption habits of the German public. ”Noelle-Neumann's first husband died in 1973. In 1979 she married the nuclear physicist Heinz Maier-Leibnitz and was called Noelle-Neumann-Maier-Leibnitz. After his death in 2000 she took her maiden name Elisabeth Noelle again, but continued to publish under the name Noelle-Neumann.
Career after 1945
In the course of 1946 Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann moved from Tübingen to Allensbach. There she conducted surveys on behalf of Bernard Lahy , who headed the Institute for Psychological and Sociometric Research on the island of Reichenau ; this institute was under the control of the Sûreté nationale .
Erich Peter Neumann worked as an informant for the War Department in 1947, his commanding officer was the German-Jewish officer of the US occupation forces, Sig Hoxter alias Siegfried Höxter . The Noelle-Neumann couple met Siegfried Höxter through the mediation of Carl Zuckmayer , who worked for the OSS during his exile in the USA .
Frederick W. Williams , who headed the survey activities of the US occupation authorities in West Germany from 1945 to 1948, reported in 1991 that Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann presented himself in his office in Bad Homburg in the spring of 1946 and applied for a job with him. She was arrested by the CIC for illegally holding British documents that were classified as "secret".
On June 16, 1948 (Commercial Register District Court of Konstanz), Noelle-Neumann and her husband Erich Peter Neumann founded the Institute for Demoskopie Allensbach as the first German opinion research institute. The responsible OMGUS authorities discussed the closure of the institute until the end of 1949, partly because of "Nazi political tendencies". In 1950 Oscar W. Riegel traveled to West Germany on behalf of the Department of State to inspect the survey institutes there, which were founded after 1945. The following conclusion about Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann can be found in his extensive report:
"American policy, realistically speaking, has made the whole issue somewhat obsolete, as the present program is no longer interested in punishing Nazis but in enlisting Germans in the cold war against the Soviet Union. From the point of view of the architects of the present policy, Noelle-Neumann should be worth cultivating.
The doubts regarding Noelle-Neumann's political past have had this practical result: She was not cleared for an exchange fellowship sponsored by Reactions Analysis ( HICOG ) to study American polling techniques. The situation is somewhat ironical, that one of the leading German pollers, who has a good chance of dominating the field, is given no American assistance and practically no American attention. She is, in a fairly complete sense, self-made, having developed whatever skill she possesses by trial and error and from books. This may be healthy for German public opinion research, in the long view, but it does not seem particularly favorable for an enlargement of American influence or example in the field of German polling. "
In 1951 the Institute for Demoskopie was so heavily indebted that bankruptcy seemed inevitable. In this situation, the former Nazi and later Mayor of Konstanz, Bruno Helmle, worked out a restructuring plan that stipulated that half of the tax arrears had to be settled within five years. He also enforced against the Freiburg regional authority that the other half of the arrears were waived.
In 1963, the EMNID survey institute was suspected of actively supporting German intelligence operations that posed a potential threat to US interests in the Middle East. The CIA investigated this case in early summer and made an indirect request to the Institute for Demoscopy to determine the true role of EMNID. Shortly afterwards, in the fall of 1963, Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann was elected to the advisory committee of the Roper-Center with six other people .
Under the direction of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, the institute developed into a term for business, politics and journalism - above all thanks to the new method of representative surveys in Germany . Since 1989 Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann has shared the management of the IfD with Renate Köcher, a graduate economist .
From 1961 to 1964, Noelle-Neumann was a research assistant at the Free University of Berlin . In 1964, with the support of Helmut Kohl, she was appointed professor at the University of Mainz , where she set up the Institute for Journalism , which she headed as director until her retirement in 1983.
From 1968 to 1970 she was chairwoman of the German Society for Journalism and Communication Studies , from 1978 to 1980 president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), and from 1980 to 1991 she was a member of the board of trustees of the German National Academic Foundation . From 1978 to 1991 she read as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and in 1993/94 at the Eric Voegelin visiting professorship at the University of Munich . Since 1989 she has been co-editor of the International Journal of Public Opinion Research (IJPOR), published by WAPOR.
In scientific work, Noelle-Neumann was best known for her “Theory of the Spiral of Silence ” (1980): The representatives of the supposedly prevailing opinion advocate it aggressively; the representatives of the supposed minority opinion fell silent the more they believed they were in the minority. In short, the human being observes the distribution of political opinion as a “social skin” with a “quasi-statistical organ of perception” in order to then take the side of the winner.
The concept of the spiral of silence reserves the possibility of changing the prevailing opinion in society, for those who do not know or overcome the fear of isolation. This theory of public opinion is an internationally well received work of German-language communication research. To date, the book on the spiral of silence has been translated into over two dozen languages. However - especially in Germany - Noelle-Neumann's theorem was discussed controversially. One of the main points of criticism is the alleged lack of empirical foundation of the theory.
Influencing the election was also one of the repeated accusations against Noelle-Neumann. She has been referred to several times as the CDU's “house pollster”. She always denied such allegations.
“ Pythia vom Bodensee” is the nickname of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann; the survey researcher has never neglected the importance of intuition in science either. As a result, Noelle-Neumann also had herself photographed as Pythia in Delphi for the FAZ advertising campaign. There is always a clever head behind.
The Allensbach community and the Reichenau district savings bank donated the Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Noelle Prize on the occasion of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann's 90th birthday in 2006 . It is endowed with 5,000 euros and is awarded every three years to young scientists at the University of Konstanz in recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of social sciences.
Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann was a close friend of the sociologist and journalist Imogen Seger , whom she had met in 1935 while doing women's labor.
Confrontation with Leo Bogart and John J. Mearsheimer
The US newspaper "North Adams Transcript" reported in 1966 about a meeting between Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann and Leo Bogart in the Roper Center, which was then leading in survey research . In the same year the Jewish sociologist Leo Bogart published the article “Is there a World Opinion?” In the journal “Polls”, in which he quoted from Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann's dissertation from 1940. Leo Bogart wanted to show how Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann had understood and evaluated survey research in German National Socialism and in democracies. Three years later, Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann responded to this article with a personal letter to Bogart, in which she justified her career under National Socialism.
No further conflicts between Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann and Leo Bogart can be identified for the following years. But from the above-mentioned letter it emerges that the “ American Association for Public Opinion Research ” must have refused to continue working with Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann if they were unable to give a “satisfactory statement” about their work under National Socialism. For reasons unknown up to now, Leo Bogart broke an internationally perceptible dispute about Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann from the fence with his article "The Pollster and the Nazi" in the Jewish magazine " Commentary " in August 1991, about which even the " New York Times " reported in detail.
In her autobiography, Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann suggested that she only knew Leo Bogart by name: “I myself saw myself exposed to such campaigns several times, albeit almost exclusively in the United States. I was persecuted in a special way by a journalism professor named Leo Bogart, who obviously hated me abysmally for reasons I never understood. '"
In mid-October 1991, Noelle-Neumann at the University of Chicago got into a sharp controversy with the head of the department, John J. Mearsheimer, about the article "The Nazi and the Pollster" by Leo Bogart about her involvement in the time of National Socialism as the author and editor of the newspaper The realm . Noelle-Neumann considered it inappropriate, from today's perspective, to assess articles separately from their time of origin.
After talking to her, Mearsheimer publicly stated, "I believe Noelle-Neumann was an anti-Semite." He led a campaign asking her to apologize. With other members of the faculty he wrote an answer to Noelle-Neumann's attempt at justification. She gave rhetorical support for the exclusion of Jews from society, her words helped to make the shameful appear honorable, the immoral moral, the uncivilized civilized and the unthinkable conceivable. " Mearsheimer wrote: “With what we know about the Holocaust today, there is no reason for you not to apologize. It is not nonsensical to ask someone who contributed to the greatest crime of the 20th century to apologize. "
- 1976: Large Federal Cross of Merit
- 1977: Honorary citizen of the Allensbach community
- 1978: Honorary doctorate in economics, law and social sciences from the University of St. Gallen
- 1978: Alexander-Rustow badge
- 1987: Viktor Mataja Medal
- 1990: Medal of Merit of the State of Baden-Württemberg
- 1990: Helen Dinerman Award from the World Association for Public Opinion Research
- 1997: Margret Boveri Prize for Scientific Journalism
- 1999: Hanns Martin Schleyer Prize
- 2003: Siemens Life Award
- 2005: Honorary Award of the German Market Research ( BVM )
- 2006: Gerhard Löwenthal Prize for Journalism
- The public as a threat. Contributions to empirical communication research. Karl Alber, Freiburg / Munich 1977, ISBN 3-495-47352-1 .
- together with Burkhard Strümpel: Does work make you sick? Does work make you happy? A current controversy. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1984, ISBN 3-492-02897-7 .
- Public opinion. The discovery of the spiral of silence. Ullstein, Frankfurt / Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-550-06427-6 .
- The spiral of silence. Public opinion - our social skin. 6th edition. Langen Müller, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-7844-2835-5 .
- The memories. Herbig, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-7766-2485-X .
- with Hans Mathias Kepplinger and Winfried Schulz : Alber brochure communication. 20 volumes, Karl Alber, Freiburg / Munich 1975–1995.
- with Winfried Schulz and Jürgen Wilke : Fischer Lexikon Publizistik Massenkommunikation. 5th, updated, completely revised and supplemented edition. Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-596-18192-6 ; therein author of the article:
- with Thomas Petersen: Methods of Journalism and Communication Studies. Pp. 291-328.
- Public opinion. Pp. 427-442.
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- Hans Mathias Kepplinger : In memoriam Elisabeth Noelle (December 19, 1916– March 25, 2010). In: KZfSS . 62, 2010, pp. 583-587 (obituary).
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- Richard Albrecht : Demoscopy as demagogy: Critical issues from the eighties. Shaker, Aachen 2007, ISBN 978-3-8322-6324-9 (brochure with CD-ROM).
- Jörg Becker : "We felt like resistance fighters". Thoughts on the memoirs of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. In: Operations. Journal of Civil Rights and Social Policy. No. 180, 2007, pp. 124-133.
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- Otto Köhler : Weird Publicists. The repressed past of the media makers. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-426-80071-3 .
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- Richard Albrecht: Demoscopy as demagogy. SDR 2 radio, January 7, 1987, printed in: Medien Journal. 12, 1988, No. 1, pp. 41-48.
- Richard Albrecht: Review of Die Schweigespirale. In: Journalism. 29, 1984, No. 3-4, pp. 617-621.
- Literature by and about Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in the catalog of the German National Library
- Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely accessible)
- Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann Entry in the Biographical Lexicon of Communication Studies (BLexKom)
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- Municipal upper lyceum of the reformrealgymnasial direction in Göttingen: Certificate of maturity . March 13, 1935.
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- Markus Clauer: Between prognosis and power. On the death of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. In: The Rhine Palatinate . March 26, 2010.
- The Movement: 24 girls with the Führer . Special no. Supplement, Münchner Hochschulnachrichten, No. 25 . Munich June 1937, p. 15 .
- Petra circulation: The students at the University of Munich from 1926 to 1945. selection, limitation, enslavement, reactions . de Gruyter, Berlin 2016, p. 549 ff .
- Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann and Adolf Hitler. August 9, 2020, accessed on August 9, 2020 (German).
- Geist der Zeit (Ed.): This year's camp of exchange students and teachers in Neustrelitz . Issue 10, October 1937, p. 777-778 .
- New York Times (Ed.): NAZI STUDENTS DRILL ON CONVERTING WORLD . August 27, 1937, p. 4 .
- Esther Priwer: Nazi exchange students at the University of Missouri. (PDF) In: The Menorah Journal. 1938, accessed on May 2, 2016 (en.).
- Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann as Nazi propagandist in US newspapers, 1938. (PDF) Retrieved May 20, 2016 .
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- Investigation of un-American propaganda activities in the United States, Volume 2, pp. 1133-1134. (PDF) Retrieved June 26, 2016 (English, Dies Committee, Hearing September 28, 1938, John C. Metcalfe).
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- Thomas Eckert, Joachim Huber: “I've seen the angels.” Poll researcher Elisabeth Noelle on Fügungen, May 8, 1945, tall men and ugly photos . In: Der Tagesspiegel . April 17, 2005 (interview).
- Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann: Letters from Readers . Ed .: Commentary. October 1992, p. 10 .
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- Der Spiegel (ed.): Disturbed communication . No. 36, 1997 , September 1, 1997 ( spiegel.de ).
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|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Noelle-Neumann-Maier-Leibnitz, Elisabeth (married name); Noelle, Elisabeth (maiden name); Pythia vom Bodensee (nickname)|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German pollster, founder of the Allensbach Institute|
|DATE OF BIRTH||December 19, 1916|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Berlin|
|DATE OF DEATH||March 25, 2010|
|Place of death||Allensbach|