Newspapers in the Third Reich

Pre-TV and internet made newspapers a primary vehicle to control information in the 1930s.
Propaganda Minister Goebbels had to make sure there were no contradictions…all news had to give the same message.

In October, 1933, the Nazis passed the “Reichs Press Law,” which declared that all journalists and editors had to be Aryans, with no Jewish spouses. While Jewish-owned newspapers were not banned, per se, they went into bankruptcy through subtle means. This was done so that the general population would not be suspicious of the controlling intentions of the Nazis.

There were several national Nazi-approved newspapers—all blatantly anti-semitic and anti-communist.  The most well-known was the “Völkische Beobachter,” which began as a weekly in 1920 in Munich.  In 1923, when Alfred Rosenberg took over as editor, it became a daily morning paper. Readership, however, dropped steadily in the 1930s.

Another, less well-known Nazi newspaper, “Der Angriff” had a daily afternoon edition published in Berlin, with Goebbels as editor.  He also published a weekly paper called, “Das Reich,” which appealed to intellectuals and had a steadily increasing readership. Its tone was much more subdued than other Nazi papers.

Germany’s business paper, “Boersen Zeitung,” was run by a Nazi sympathizer, Walter Funk.

Hitler’s favorite newspaper was a tabloid published by Julius Streicher. “Der Stürmer” was graphic, lewd and appealed to the uneducated. Displayed in newspaper cases where anyone could read it, only increased its popularity. The paper was banned by the Hitler Jugend because of its sexually explicit content.  Some Nazi elite (like Göring and Goebbels) hated it, while others (like Himmler and Hitler himself) loved its crassness.

The SS had their own paper, “Das Schwarze Korps” which was free to SS members and came out every Wednesday. Not only was it anti-semitic and anti-communist, it was also anti-Catholic. A morale-booster for the SS, it supported the war effort and worshipped Hitler.

Thousands of smaller, regional newspapers were published and Goebbels’ office censored all their content. Editors quickly learned to publish only content that the Nazis would approve.

As the war went on, severe paper shortages forced German newspapers to shrink to a mere two pages by 1945.

A Berlin tabloid, “Der Panzerbär,” was published seven times during the last week of April, 1945. It was a final desperate propaganda attempt to keep spirits up in the fight against the Soviet Army as they destroyed Berlin…and thus, the heart of the Third Reich.

It’s been such a thrill researching the history as I wrote and rewrote Amber Stone, my third book in the series, Katya’s Stones. The research is akin to an iceberg. You see only the tip, but beneath there is a mountain of ice. I’ve read dozens and dozens of books trying to understand Katya’s world…a dangerous, but fascinating place.

Movies and the Third Reich

Movies during the Third Reich were created under the UFA (Universum Film Aktionsgesellschaft …or Universal Film Company)

- More than 1000 movies were released between 1933 and 1945
- All were first viewed and censored by Goebbels
- All had a political agenda…some more subtle than others
- Most tried to be of a high artistic quality
- Weekly trailers, or newsreels, preceded the main movie
- About 40 Nazi movies were so manipulative that they’re still considered dangerous and should only be watched in an educational setting. These include Ich klage an (I Accuse) about a woman with MS who choses death, thus promoting euthanasia; and Jud Süss (Süss the Jew) which demonizes Jews. In 1940, Jud Süss was a box office hit, both in Germany and abroad.
- Male actors included: Hans Albers, (one of my favourites because he had the same low German dialect as my dad), Ferdinand Marian, (who reluctantly took the main role in Jud Süss, Emil Jannings (honored as Artist of the State, by Goebbels), and Willi Frisch (who played light-hearted roles with comedy, dance and song).
- Among the many female stars were: Zarah Leanders, Kristina Söderbaum, Lilian Harvey and Renate Müller. Their off-screen lives were more fascinating than many of the films they starred in.

I assume that my father (in 1940, a yong Luftwaffe pilot) probably saw many of these Nazi movies, but I doubt that my mother saw too many because she lived in more rural areas. However, in my upcoming novel, Amber Stone, my protagonist, Katya, will see Zarah Leanders on the big screen, along with an uncomfortable newsreel about Aryans and genetics.

I’d love to see the documenatary, Hitler's Hollywood, by Rüdiger Suchsland, which came out in 2017 and has received critical success in Germany.  It’ll be released in the States in the spring of 2018. I’ll be watching for it.

Music in the Third Reich

All German radio stations were under Goebbels’ control. Later, as they invaded Europe, capturing foreign radio stations was a military’s priority. There were several battles for the airwaves.

Goebbels said, “Music affects the heart and emotions more than the intellect.” Only Aryan music was considered respectable and many talented musicians were replaced by Nazi-sympathizers.

Nazis loved their classical musicians. Wagner, Beethoven and Strauss, among others, were played in the most incongruous settings: concentration camps, battles, ghettos, and even during mass shootings.

Zarah Leanders
But it was the popular music that flourished. Many of the stars were connected to the cinema. Popular singers from the Nazi years included: Rosita Serano, also known as the Chilean Nightingale, who I posted about before. (Dec, 2010) and Zarah Leanders from Sweden.  Lale Anderson did the original version of Lili Marlene, under the title “Girl under the Lantern,” in 1938. It was so popular that even an English version was released done by Vera Lynn. Lili Marlene is still one of my personal favorites along with Rosita Serrano’s Roter Mohn.  Both were in my dad’s 78 record collection.  Most of his records got damaged over the years, but I might still have half a dozen left.  Fortunately, YouTube has rescued those losses from obscurity.

These were the songs of my father’s youth…back when he was a young man in love with life, with a woman, and with his new career in the German Luftwaffe. 

Dangerous times. Insane times. Times we shouldn't forget because the past forms our present.  Marlene Dietrich says it best in this song—Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind. (Where have all the flowers gone?)

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