Hitler was one of the few politicians who understood that persuasion was everything, deployed to anchor an entire regime in the confections of imagery, rhetoric and dramaturgy. The Nazis pursued propaganda not just as a tool, an instrument of government, but also as the totality, the raison
d' tre, the medium through which power itself was exercised. Moreover, Nicholas O'Shaughnessy argues, Hitler, not Goebbels, was the prime mover in the propaganda regime of the Third Reich - its editor and first author. Under the Reich everything was a propaganda medium, a building-block of public consciousness, from typography to communiqu's, to architecture, to weapons design. There were groups to initiate rumours and groups to spread graffiti. Everything could be interrogated for its propaganda potential, every
surface inscribed with polemical meaning, whether an enemy city's name, an historical epic or the poster on a neighbourhood wall. But Hitler was in no sense an innovator - his ideas were always second-hand. Rather his expertise was as a packager, fashioning from the accumulated mass of icons and
ideas, the historic debris, the labyrinths and byways of the German mind, a modern and brilliant political show articulated through deftly managed symbols and rituals. The Reich would have been unthinkable without propaganda - it would not have been the Reich.
About the Author
Nicholas O'Shaughnessy (PhD) is Professor of Communication at Queen Mary, University of London. He studied at Cambridge, Oxford and Columbia universities and among his many publications are The Marketing Power Of Emotion (OUP) and The Phenomenon of Political Marketing (Macmillan).