Summary : « The third Reich, Politics and Propaganda », David Welch, 1993, Routledge

27 juillet, 2015 | Commentaires fermés sur Summary : « The third Reich, Politics and Propaganda », David Welch, 1993, Routledge

The epistomoligical position when you must evaluate the purpose of propaganda and its articulation with a particular political regim is very well described in the first chapter of D. Welch’s book : « The third Reich, politics and propaganda ». Taking account the importance of today’s strategic communication on the world stage, I suggest a little reminder of such a posture features.


The purpose of this book is to explicit the features of the relationship between politics, public opinion and propaganda in the III Reich like the documentary « The triumph of the will » (1935).

The first chapter of this book describe how to proceed in order to provide an explanation of the popular base of National Socialism and its ability to sustain a consensus over a 12 years period.

The core of the explanation rest on propaganda as a means of mobilisation and control of the German public opinion. By analyzing the social base of the consent and resistance to National Socialism concepts, it offers a tool to evaluate the ability of the Nazi regim to build support. Propaganda intentions and the structure of the Nazi regim were combined as an intrusive and permanent process to sustain its legitimacy and survival. The study of the  sustaining function in the III Reich need to examine the respective role of State controlled propaganda and the differentiated reactions of public opinion with the help of the consent and resistance concepts in a closed society.

From this approach, the issues are « What were the respective roles of consent and coercion in sustaining the regim, and what was the nature of that consent ? » Behind the permanent illusion of national unity was there any dissent or even resistance and if so, was it terror and coercion alone that rendered it so ineffective ?

In addition to this conceptual framework, the Nazi regim is viewed today through a model based on the lack of clear direction and a sense of improvisation to take advantage of the circumstances. The degree of consensus about Nazi propaganda is quite revealing of the crucial role it played in mobilizing support for the Nazi. The growth of the NSDAP from insignificant beginnings to a truly mass movement was due to the skillful exploitation of propaganda techniques.


Such technics were : parades, the ceremonial blessing of banners, the marching columns of the SA, the uniforms, the bands, which captured the imagination of the masses. They are manipulative techniques which reinforce existing beliefs. Propaganda operates with many different kinds of truth, the outright lie, the half truth, the truth out of context. One component of propaganda appeases the irrational instincts of mand and another one adresses our rational decision making capacity through the appeal to factual and rational elements.

Propaganda techniques are required when public opinion is a critical variable for the success of a political actions. In all political systems, an actor’s policy must be justified. The public must be convinced of the efficiency of government decisions and reason is not a well performing tool in the age of mass man. E. H. Carr has written in his 1939 book « Twenty years’ crisis » that « the art of persuasion has always been a necessary part of the equipment of a political leader. »