Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda

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Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda

State level rich
position Supreme Reich authority
founding March 13, 1933
resolution June 5, 1945
Headquarters Berlin , Free State of Prussia
Authority management Joseph Goebbels , Reich Minister
Servants 2,000 (1939)
Budget volume 187 million RM (1941)
Mauerstraße 45-52 in Berlin-Mitte: East facade of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (1939)

The Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (RMVP) was responsible for controlling the content of the press , literature , the visual arts , film , theater , music and radio in the National Socialist German Reich .

The Ministry was shortly after the " seizure " of the Nazis as the central institution of propaganda Nazi created. In the Hitler cabinet it was under the direction of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels , who exercised control over all German mass media and cultural workers through his department and the Reich Chamber of Culture established in autumn 1933 .

Foundation and tasks

The Prinz-Karl-Palais on the north side of Wilhelmplatz , official seat of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels . In the foreground the monument to the Count of Schwerin , 1936

Shortly after the Reichstag elections in March 1933 , Hitler presented his cabinet on March 11 with a draft resolution for the establishment of the ministry. Despite the skepticism of some non-National Socialist ministers, he prevailed. On March 13, 1933, the Reich President Hindenburg ordered the establishment of a Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda . The term “propaganda” (from the Latin propagare , “further spread, spread, spread”) was used in a value-neutral manner at the time of its founding. The meaning of the ministry name can be understood today due to its competency cut (e.g. no cultural matters ) in the sense of "for culture, media and public relations", whereby the boundary between advertising ("advertising") and public relations was already fluid back then and Goebbels himself tried to delimit in his own sense. Nevertheless, the term implied the trivialization of the actually intended manipulation and censorship and only changed in a derogatory manner through the abuse under National Socialism , cf. Propaganda, section on the history of meaning . The Ministry moved into the Prinz-Karl-Palais at Wilhelmplatz 8/9 in Berlin, which was already used by the now incorporated "United Press Department of the Reich Government". On March 25, 1933, Joseph Goebbels explained the future function of the Propaganda Ministry to the directors and directors of the broadcasting companies with the words:

“The ministry has the task of carrying out a spiritual mobilization in Germany . So it is in the field of the spirit what the Ministry of Defense is in the field of the guard. [...] the spiritual mobilization [is] just as necessary, perhaps even more necessary than the material mobilization of the people. "

With this Goebbels had openly declared that his ministry served the psychological preparation of the German population for the planned war.

From the spring of 1933 the complex was expanded extensively. The neighboring US embassy in the Kleisthaus was built into the building. From 1937 the US ambassador and the ministers Goebbels and Todt moved into the joint complex of Goebbels' service villa - US embassy in the Palais Blücher at Pariser Platz 2 and 3.

The ministry was tailored entirely to the person of Joseph Goebbels, who had been Reich Propaganda Leader of the NSDAP since April 1930 . By ordinance of June 30, 1933, numerous business areas of other ministries were transferred to the area of ​​responsibility of the new ministry. The tasks of the ministry are described in a decree of Adolf Hitler of June 30, 1933 as follows:

"The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda is responsible for all tasks of intellectual influence on the nation , the promotion of the state, culture and economy, the information of the domestic and foreign public about them and the administration of all institutions serving these purposes."

Structure of the RMVP

The RMVP grew steadily. It started in 1933 with five departments and 350 employees. A first business distribution plan of October 1, 1933 named seven departments: Administration and Law (I), Propaganda (II), Broadcasting (III), Press (IV), Film (V), Theater, Music and Art (VI) and Defense ( VII, with the subtitle "Defense against lies at home and abroad"). In 1939 there were already 2000 employees in 17 departments. From 1933 to 1941 the budget of the RMVP rose from 14 to 187 million Reichsmarks . The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda , Joseph Goebbels, was ultimately subordinate to three State Secretaries and the departments they headed:

Blocking note on Austrian-Italian negotiations (1936)
  • State Secretary I - Walther Funk (1933–1937), Otto Dietrich (1937–1945)
    • German press
    • Foreign press
    • Magazine press
  • State Secretary II - Karl Hanke (1937–1940), Leopold Gutterer (1940–1944), Werner Naumann (1944–1945)
    • household
    • Law
    • propaganda
    • broadcast
    • Movie
    • staff
    • National defense
    • foreign countries
    • theatre
    • music
    • literature
    • Visual arts
  • State Secretary III - Hermann Esser (1935–1945)
    • tourism

Film department

With the incorporation of Department V (Film), the Propaganda Ministry became the most important body for German film alongside the Reich Chamber of Culture and the Reich Film Chamber . In 1933, Ernst Seeger took over the management of the department , who had headed the highest film censorship authority of the Weimar Republic , the film testing office , since 1924 . Fritz Hippler followed in 1939 and Hans Hinkel in April 1944 .

The department had five departments:

  • Film and Film Act
  • Film industry
  • Filmmaking abroad
  • Film newsreels
  • Film dramaturgy

In 1938 the German Film Academy Babelsberg was added as a further department .

Like Goebbels himself, the head of the film department was able to suggest ideas and topics, commission scripts and support films that served military or foreign policy interests with all available means. On the other hand, he and his employer were entitled to rectify mistakes of “taste” and “artistic errors” and to completely prevent unpopular film projects. The director of the film department also took on responsibility for the production of certain full-length documentaries . He was also responsible for the Deutsche Wochenschau , whose boss was initially Hans Weidemann and, from 1939, Fritz Hippler. The head of the film department monitored the completion of the newsreels and made sure that they were placed conveniently in the cinema programs.

Influence of the RMVP on the press, film and radio

Reich Press Conference

The main instrument for controlling the content of the press was the Reich Press Conference , which had been held daily at the RMVP since July 1, 1933. Selected press representatives often received very detailed instructions there as to which reports were to be published in which form. The instructions affected all parts of the reporting and sometimes dealt with quite banal events. Prohibitions and express language regulations were initially issued rather seldom, the complete uniformity of content in the daily press was to be avoided.

Rather, the press steering of the RMVP was based on a principle of indirect pre-censorship and direct post-censorship . After viewing the relevant articles, praise and criticism came from the ministry.

The number of press instructions between 1933 and 1945 was between 80,000 and 100,000. Most of the violations were found in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung , Berliner Tageblatt and Frankfurter Zeitung .

The participants in the Reich Press Conference were obliged to destroy the instructions issued after they had been implemented. Because he had forwarded the RMVP's instructions to the foreign press, the journalist Walter Schwerdtfeger was imprisoned for treason until 1945 .

But also employees of the Frankfurter Zeitung and the service of national daily newspapers resisted the command and hid their notes. They are still in the Federal Archives as ZSg. 102 and ZSg. 101; under the signature ZSg. 110 transcripts of the Metger special service, a correspondence subordinated to the German news office, have come down to us. Newspapers that had no correspondents in Berlin received the instructions in writing as “confidential information” (ZSg. 109 in the Federal Archives).

Further press conferences:

  • Culture press conference (once a week since July 1936)
  • Glossary Conference (irregular since October 1938)
  • Business press conference
  • Press conference for correspondents of the foreign press (twice a day since March 1938 by the RMVP, once a day by the Foreign Office )

Film censorship

On February 9, 1934, Goebbels described film as “one of the most modern and far-reaching means of influencing the masses” in a speech to the Reich Film School.

The practice of film censorship initially changed little after the RMVP was founded. The testing and supervisory testing centers that had existed since 1920 (especially the central film testing department) were integrated into the film department of the RMVP, which was headed by Ministerialrat Ernst Seeger , who had headed the Reichsfilmstelle in the Reich Ministry of the Interior since 1919 . Only in 1934 after the amendment of the Reichslichtspielgesetz did the testing practice change. On the one hand, "the violation of National Socialist, moral and artistic feelings" was included in the law as a reason for prohibition. On the other hand, every film project had to be approved before shooting began, after the Reichsfilmdramaturg had checked the scripts.

The German newsreel

The Film Department of the RMVP was also subordinate to Die Deutsche Wochenschau , which began in 1940 to replace the press in influencing public awareness and which developed into a first-rate propaganda tool during the Second World War . Over 300 film reporters, some as part of so-called propaganda companies , were on duty on behalf of the High Command of the Wehrmacht in the army , navy and air force as well as the Waffen-SS , whose material was edited and set to music centrally by the RMVP. In addition to war reporting, current political and cultural events were processed for propaganda purposes.

The carefully staged film reports met with great approval from the cinema audience and had a considerable propaganda effect. In 1942, Die deutsche Wochenschau , which was shown in almost all German cinemas as a 20-minute compilation of various film reports before the main film, already reached 20 million cinema viewers per week.


With an ordinance of June 30, 1933, the regional broadcasters were brought into line and incorporated into the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft, which was subordinate to the RMVP . At the instigation of Joseph Goebbels , the term Großdeutscher Rundfunk was introduced for the Reichsrundfunk on January 1, 1939 . From June 1940 he broadcast a standard program for the Reich.

Overlapping areas of competence

Numerous tasks of the Propaganda Ministry overlapped with the competence areas of other organizations, which were linked to one another by a complex network of personnel and in some cases were also under the direction of Joseph Goebbels. As a professional organization, the Reich Chamber of Culture controlled and monitored cultural workers in the theater, radio, film and press, among other things . At party level there were also three Reichsleiter with media competencies, whose areas of responsibility overlapped: the Reich Propaganda Head of the NSDAP , Joseph Goebbels, the Reichsleiter for the press of the NSDAP , Max Amann , and the Reich Press Chief of the NSDAP, Otto Dietrich . As Vice President of the Reich Press Chamber, the latter was in turn subordinate to the President of the Reich Chamber of Culture Joseph Goebbels. Sometimes, because of power struggles, personal enmities and mutual dependencies, contradicting instructions were issued by the various agencies. At the 1936 Summer Olympics , direct responsibility lay with the Reich Ministry of the Interior , which was responsible for sport . But since Goebbels had already met with Theodor Lewald , the President of the Organizing Committee, three days after taking up his duties , and made extensive agreements, he was able to contribute accordingly at all levels. The success of the propaganda is still visible through Leni Riefenstahl's Olympic film .

There were violent disputes over who was responsible for foreign propaganda, for which the Reich Foreign Ministry claimed general authority. For example, influencing internal reporting in Italy remained completely in the hands of the Foreign Office; Diplomatic sensitivity was required when dealing with the axis partner . Since regulations and prohibitions were inappropriate against a sovereign state, the Office flooded the Italian Ministry of Propaganda with ready-made news from around the world instead - news that was more detailed and timely than the material of the Italian correspondents, and was therefore often taken over by newspapers and radio. Although the Führer's order of September 8, 1939 clearly defined the leadership role of the Foreign Office in foreign propaganda, Goebbels and his ministry did not refrain from interfering in this area until the end of the war .

See also


  • Christian Härtel : Streamlines - Wilfrid Bade , a career in the Third Reich . be.bra-Wissenschaftsverlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-937233-10-5 .
  • Jürgen Hagemann: The press control in the Third Reich. Bouvier, Bonn 1970, ISBN 3-416-00665-8 (also dissertation at the University of Bonn ).
  • Lutz Hachmeister, Michael Kloft (ed.): The Goebbels experiment. Propaganda and politics. DVA, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-421-05879-2 .
  • Hilmar Hoffmann: "And the flag leads us into eternity". Propaganda in the Nazi film I. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-596-24404-8 .
  • Stefan Hartwig: Conflict and Communication. Media work, war reporting and propaganda. Lit, Münster u. a. 1999, ISBN 3-8258-4513-3 .
  • Erwin Leiser: Germany is awakening. Propaganda in Third Reich film. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1989, ISBN 3-499-12598-6 .
  • Peter Longerich : Goebbels. Biography . Siedler, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-88680-887-8 .
  • Hans Bohrmann, Gabriele Toepser-Ziegert (Hrsg.): NS press instructions of the pre-war period. Edition and documentation. Volume 1–7 (1933–1939), Saur, Munich 1984–2001, ISBN 3-598-10551-7 .
  • Nils Oschinski: Content and implementation of early National Socialist press instructions: Three Göttingen newspapers in comparison (1933–1935). Grin, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-638-74303-7 .
  • Jürgen Wilke : Press instructions in the twentieth century. First World War - Third Reich - GDR. Böhlau, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-10506-8 .
  • Andreas Nachama (ed.): Wilhelmstrasse 1933–1945 - the rise and fall of the NS government district. Topography of Terror Foundation, 2012, ISBN 978-3-941772-10-6 , p. 112 ff.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Benz : Handbook of Antisemitism . Volume 5: Organizations, Institutions, Movements. de Gruyter, Berlin 2012, p. 525.
  2. ^ Decree on the establishment of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda of March 13, 1933, in: Reichsgesetzblatt I, 1933, p. 104.
  3. Helmut Heiber: Joseph Goebbels. Colloqium, West Berlin 1965, p. 127 f. (Reprint: dtv, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-423-010957-2 )
  4. Jutta Sywottek: Mobilization for total war. The propaganda preparation of the German population for the Second World War. Opladen 1976, p. 23.
  5. ^ Daniel Mühlenfeld: From the commissariat to the ministry. On the founding history of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. In: Rüdiger Hachtmann, Winfried Suss (ed.): Hitler's commissioners. Wallstein, Göttingen 2006, pp. 72–92, here: p. 82 and Wolfgang Benz: Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Volume 5: Organizations, Institutions, Movements. de Gruyter, Berlin 2012, p. 525.
  6. ^ Hans Fritzsche : Broadcasting in total war. In: Reichsrundfunk 1944–1945, issue 13/14 October 1944 ( Memento from September 10, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  7. ^ Arnd Krüger : The Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda and the Nazi Olympics of 1936. In: R. K. Barney, K. B. Wamsley u. a. (Ed.): Global and Cultural Critique: Problematizing the Olympic Games. (4th International Symposium for Olympic Research). University of Western Ontario, London, Ont. 1998, pp. 33-48 (PDF)
  8. Peter Longerich: Propagandists in War. The press department of the Foreign Office under Ribbentrop. Munich 1987, pp. 126-148.
  9. Malte König: Cooperation as a power struggle. The fascist axis alliance Berlin-Rome in the war 1940/41. Cologne 2007, pp. 149–176.
  10. Peter Longerich: Propagandists in War. 1987, pp. 134-137.