What were some of Hitler's powerful speeches

Hitler as a symbol politician

On the occasion of the publication of the volume Hitler as a symbol politician by Christoph Raichle, we conducted the following written interview:

The term symbol politician is unfamiliar, what does it mean and why was Hitler a “symbol politician”?

A symbol politician knows how to draw political power from symbolic capital. Not only offices or money can give power, but also the communicative ability to make oneself a “mouthpiece” - a symbol - of political hopes, wishes and longings. Just like individuals, societies are also looking for personal and political meaning; Especially in times of crisis, when old values, traditions and systems are called into question, there is a growing demand for politicians who are more than administrators, doers or technocratic crisis managers - for politicians who are responsible for the crisis itself and the sacrifices it demands of the people. can give a collectively understandable meaning.

Hitler's rise came during such a period of ongoing crises: the 1918 defeat was followed by revolution, street fights, hyperinflation, and finally the Great Depression. Many people were deeply scared, insecure, angry, hopeless. Hitler knew how to accept people's wishes and to bundle them into a concept of the “Volksgemeinschaft”, which he ultimately embodied through himself: in contrast to the ruling politicians, who for the most part still appeared in a somewhat dusty, stiff dignitary style, articulated Hitler in his speeches directly and powerfully the feelings of the people and thus became their "mouthpiece". As the “Führer”, Hitler symbolized a “mission” that was emotionally close to his followers. Hitler's popularity, his charisma, was therefore not a propaganda product from the “House of Goebbels”: much more it had grown through years of intensive communication between Hitler and the masses and thus a joint product between “Führer” and “Followers”. Under the closely interlinked analysis grids of charisma and symbolic politics, in addition to the responsibility of the regime and its henchmen, the shared responsibility of many Germans who supported the regime is crystal clear.

Hitler likes to be portrayed as a madman, as a “non-human”, so is there such a thing as planned public relations work or did the leadership imbus develop by chance?

Hitler was not crazy in the strict sense, he had a rigid self-image and worldview; He was just as fixated on his strategic goals, the living space war and the extermination of the Jews. On the way there, however, he proceeded purposefully and according to plan, especially when it came to self-portrayal, even if in individual cases he was often guided by spontaneous inspiration. His public relations work had a strongly process-like character: Between 1919 and 1933, Hitler had many years to learn and to receive suggestions from a wide variety of sources. It is therefore wrong to only look at “Mein Kampf” when analyzing the propagandist Hitler. Even after 1925 Hitler tried out many things, often spontaneously and intuitively, and then stuck to what he saw as proven itself.

Hitler proceeded in a similar way when selecting his helpers, a number of whom, unfortunately, are still overshadowed by Goebbels, who often greatly exaggerated his importance as the sole propaganda guru of National Socialism in his extremely self-absorbed diaries. In fact, many people contributed to Hitler's nimbus as a “Führer” alongside Hitler; in particular those men whom Hitler met daily or recurring played an important role in conveying the Führer myth to the party and the media: Hitler staged himself in front of them and “inoculated” them every time they encountered the latest content, such as the "Führer" was to be portrayed in the media. The result was a multi-part concert in which Goebbels played the first violin, but he had important competitors, such as Heinrich Hoffmann, who - independently of Goebbels - played a major role in shaping Hitler's image and thus, incidentally, became extremely rich; or Otto Dietrich, Hitler's Reich Press Chief, who accompanied him daily on his travels between 1932 and 1945, to Obersalzberg and later to the “Führer Headquarters”. Dietrich wrote articles at regular intervals that were particularly interesting because of their proximity to the "Führer" and after the Poland campaign he published a book on Hitler's direct order that bundled Hitler's self-portrayal for the first year of the war like a magnifying glass. Of course, the book became a bestseller. Also to be mentioned are Leni Riefenstahl and Walter Frentz, who filmed Hitler for film and newsreel, the Reich set designer Benno von Arent, Philipp Bouhler, among others “Head of the Führer Chancellery”, Albert Speer, who created Hitler's big arenas, and Max Amann , who expanded the party-owned Eher publishing house into a monstrous press trust. The series could be continued for a long time with the less prominent helpers through to servants and chauffeurs who, on occasion, also contributed to the cult of the “Führer” through articles or radio reports.

In this multifaceted network, of course, all threads came together with Hitler: he was the highest authority in all questions of the Führer staging. Hitler himself determined, through a multitude of internal orders, often down to the very last detail, how he should be perceived in public - because he knew: this was the real source of his power.

Is symbol politics to be equated with public relations?

Not necessarily. Every symbolic policy is public relations, but not the other way around. Symbolic politics is particularly concerned with the political culture of a society: with those experiences and worldviews, desires and expectations of people that have political significance. Ordinarily, day-to-day public relations work does not go that deep. Current political projects are to be given a favorable light in the short term or politicians are given superficial attributions that can change quickly. There is seldom intensive communication with society that results in a politician actually embodying the content of political culture in his person. This requires staying power than the short-lived modern image work often allows. One must also bear in mind that the expectations of politics and politicians are fundamentally different today than they were 80 or 90 years ago: the people are - precisely because of their experiences with the two German dictatorships - much more serene; The search for meaning and the creation of meaning now take place much more in the private than in the collective framework. The general conditions have also changed a lot. A politician like Hitler could hardly be successful today.

Was Hitler in his understanding the first “modern” politician with charismatic mass enthusiasm or was it just the much-cited demagogue?

Hitler's methods were modern, but he had only copied a lot of things. In research, mostly Italian fascism and Mussolini's self-portrayal, but also forms of the Catholic liturgy, are cited as models; not infrequently also the methods of modern advertising and election campaigning from the USA. It is often overlooked that Hitler also made extensive use of elements of military ceremonies, which was due to the immense influence of the First World War on the political culture of the post-war period. Hitler was astonishingly capable of learning and also, at least temporarily, willing to seek advice from Hoffmann and Goebbels, for example, who wanted to supplement Hitler's heroic self-portrayal more with elements of closeness to the people. In addition to his talent as a speaker and propagandist, Hitler had above all a sense of politics and a great deal of tactical sophistication. He was skillful in dealing with his counterpart and could be downright enticingly charming. Hitler was by no means the mere upstart from the Vienna men's home, the man without qualities, who was washed to power by chance and through the actions of others: he was also a demagogue, but his political and communicative skills, especially his symbolic political skills, went far beyond that limited field of activity of a propaganda speaker. There were many demagogues and skilled rhetoricians, such as Goebbels. But Hitler had a decisive advantage over them: he was a gifted self-promoter, he knew how to make himself the center of events and the fixed point of expectations and longings, to acquire charisma. This talent - and the devotion of many Germans to their "Führer" - made Hitler so dangerous that in the end almost all of humanity had to stand up to overthrow his reign of terror.

Thank you for your time and effort.

The interview was conducted by Dr. Daniel Kuhn.

Department (s): History. Keyword (s) Third Reich, Max Weber, National Socialism, public relations, propaganda. Bookmark this page.