Joseph Goebbels

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Joseph Goebbels

Paul Joseph Goebbels (October 29, 1897 – May 1, 1945), was a member of the German National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and propaganda minister during the era of the Third Reich.

Early career

He was a slightly built man with a deformed right leg (clubfoot). Goebbels had earned a PhD in 1921 and was a frustrated writer when he joined the Nazi Party in late 1924. He became an ardent admirer of Adolf Hitler and took national office when the Nazis seized power in January 1933. Known for his oratory skills, Goebbels spread Nazi propaganda to the masses. He molded German newspapers, radio, movies, art and culture into areas which followed and reflected Nazi doctrine. He was a noted anti-Semite and one of the most aggressive anti-Christian proponents in the Nazi leadership. Goebbels spoke out against the church and had members of the clergy persecuted. He had a particular hatred for the Catholic Church. And like Martin Bormann, Goebbels wanted to wipe out Christianity in the German Reich.[1][2] Despite acting as the propaganda minister for the National Socialists, Goebbels himself, alongside the rest of the Nazis, held absolutely no love for the concept of nations, citing that "the NSDAP [Nazi Party] is the German Left. We despise bourgeois nationalism." (Der Angriff, Dec 6th, 1931)

Minister of Propaganda

In the late 1930s, Goebbels was an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler's aggressive foreign policy of expansion. He orchestrated propaganda campaigns against Czechoslovakia and Poland from 1938, onward. Once the war in Europe started in September 1939, Goebbels controlled the news and information reported to the public in Germany and the occupied regions through his Propaganda Ministry. Thereafter as the war progressed, Hitler made fewer and fewer public appearances and speeches. Goebbels in turn increasingly became both the face and the voice of the Nazi regime. By 1943, Goebbels used his position as propaganda minister to exhort the German people to greater effort and efficiency through the concept of total war which he endorsed. During the latter stages of the war he was able to use the intrigues of the Nazi Party to bring himself closer to Hitler.[3]

Chancellor and Death

In April 1945 as the war in Europe drew to an end, Goebbels spent his last days with Hitler in Berlin. Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. Pursuant to Hitler's "Last will and testament", Goebbels was appointed the Chancellor of Germany. In his one act as Chancellor, Goebbels instructed General Hans Krebs to go and discuss cease-fire terms with Soviet Red Army General Vasily Chuikov in Berlin. He wrote a letter of authority allowing Krebs to act on his behalf. The Soviets rejected the conditional terms that were presented by Krebs. By then, Goebbels had decided that there would be no redemption for himself or his family after Hitler's death. On May 1, 1945 he and his wife, Magda had their six children poisoned. Late that afternoon in the Reich Chancellery garden, Goebbels shot himself and his wife took poison. The bodies were then burned, but not buried. On the afternoon of the following day, Soviet Red Army soldiers found the heavily charred remains of the couple.[4][5]

References

  1. Hamilton, Charles. Leaders and Personalities of the Third Reich (1984).
  2. Longerich, Peter. Goebbels: A Biography (2015).
  3. Snyder, Louis. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich (1994) [1976].
  4. Beevor, Antony. Berlin – The Downfall 1945 (2002).
  5. Hamilton, Charles. Leaders and Personalities of the Third Reich (1984).

External links