The High Style of Nazi Propaganda
1925-1930

 

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  • 1930
 

The Wi-Po President

In 1926. Joseph Goebbels was the business manager of the NSDAP in the Ruhr and principal collaborator with Gregor Strasser in the "leftist" wing of the party &emdash; the more socialist-oriented Nazi faction. Seizing an unexpected opportunity for personal advancement, in a crucial meeting in Hanover he switched to supporting Hitler and the "Munich" crowd. As a reward, in November 1926, he was named party leader of Berlin.

It was not much of a promotion for Germany's capital city was notorious as a strong-hold of Communist, Socialist and Democratic elements. Within two years, however, Goebbels had turned the conflict-ridden tiny Berlin branch of the NSDAP into a powerful political movement. He personally designed posters, published his own propaganda newspaper Angriff, Attack, organized impressive parades, and enthusiastically urged his SA units to engage in street battles, beer-hall brawls, and shooting matches with Communist and Socialist elements. A tireless and tenacious agitator, he bragged about his propaganda approach, which was a venemous campaign of slander and insinuation.

Fortunately for him, he was handed a nearly perfect victim. After only six months of his irresponsible slander and flagrant encouragement of violence and mayhem, Goebbels was arrested and then banned from ever speaking in public in Berlin. The charges were brought by the Police Chief [in German, the Police President] of Berlin, an old-line Socialist and Jew, Dr. Bernard Weiss.

From then on, Goebbels concentrated on destroying Weiss. Calling him "Isidor" Weiss, a made-up Jewish-sounding name, Goebbels singled him out for all that was vulgar, immoral, dangerous and even ludicrous in German Jewry.

This poster ridicules the social pretensions of Dr. Weiss. The title could be rendered as "the party-animal" Police Chief. The pictures were deliberately selected to emphasize his "Jewish" features and his social meetings with other Jews, or awkwardly posing for carnival. Only Goebbels would have employed in this campaign the avant-garde photo-montage approach pioneered by Communist and Socialist intellectuals, such as John Heartfield. Interestingly enough, art historians usually praise these "leftist" innovations, but remain silent about Goebbels' own mastery of the genre.

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