Chancellor of the Third Reich
April 30, 1945 – May 1, 1945
|Preceded by||Adolf Hitler|
|Succeeded by||Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk|
|Born|| October 29, 1897|
Rheydt, Prussia (now Germany)
|Died|| May 1, 1945|
Paul Joseph Goebbels (October 29, 1897 – May 1, 1945) was a member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) and propaganda minister during the era of the Third Reich who served as Chancellor for 1 day from Hitlers death until his death.
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. 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) He later elaborated on what he meant by that statement in his 1932 pro-Nazi pamphlet "Those Damned Nazis", citing that in his view, Nationalism is meant to be the organic union of a people, where the symbol does not come above the content, and not "bougeoise patriotism", which he claimed is the same as "battling windmills" and denouncing it as class privilege regarding the left and right squabbling against each other.
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.
Sportpalast speech, February 18, 1943
Goebbels delivered possibly his most famous speech on February 18, 1943 at the Berlin Sportpalast, two weeks after the surrender at Stalingrad in which he asked the German people if they wanted total war.
|...We face a serious military challenge in the East. The crisis is at the moment a broad one, similar but not identical in many ways to that of the previous winter. Later we will discuss the causes. Now, we must accept things as they are and discover and apply the ways and means to turn things again in our favor. There is no point in disputing the seriousness of the situation. I do not want to give you a false impression of the situation that could lead to false conclusions, perhaps giving the German people a false sense of security that is altogether inappropriate in the present situation.
The storm raging against our venerable continent from the steppes this winter overshadows all previous human and historical experience. The German army and its allies are the only possible defense. In his proclamation on 30 January, the Führer asked in a grave and compelling way what would have become of Germany and Europe if, on 30 January 1933, a bourgeois or democratic government had taken power instead of the National Socialists! What dangers would have followed, faster than we could then have suspected, and what powers of defense would we have had to meet them? Ten years of National Socialism have been enough to make plain to the German people the seriousness of the danger from the East....
It is understandable that, as a result of broad concealment and misleading actions by the Bolshevist government, we did not properly evaluate the Soviet Union’s war potential. Only now do we see its true scale. That is why the battle our soldiers face in the East exceeds in its hardness, dangers and difficulties all human imagining. It demands our full national strength. This is a threat to the Reich and to the European continent that casts all previous dangers into the shadows. If we fail, we will have failed our historic mission. Everything we have built and done in the past pales in the face of this gigantic task that the German army directly and the German people less directly face....
It bothers us not in the least that our enemies abroad claim that our total war measures resemble those of Bolshevism....The question is not whether the methods are good or bad, but whether they are successful. The National Socialist government is ready to use every means. We do not care if anyone objects....We do not need to imitate Bolshevist methods, because we have better people and leaders, which gives us a great advantage. But things have shown that we must do much more than we have done so far to turn the war in the East decisively in our favor....
I speak first to the world, and proclaim three theses regarding our fight against the Bolshevist danger in the East.
This first thesis: Were the German army not in a position to break the danger from the East, the Reich would fall to Bolshevism, and all Europe shortly afterwards.
Second: The German army, the German people and their allies alone have the strength to save Europe from this threat.
Third: Danger faces us. We must act quickly and decisively, or it will be too late.
The revolt of the steppes is readying itself at the front, and the storm from the East that breaks against our lines daily in increasing strength is nothing other than a repetition of the historical devastation that has so often in the past endangered our part of the world.
That is a direct threat to the existence of every European power. No one should believe that Bolshevism would stop at the borders of the Reich, were it to be victorious. The goal of its aggressive policies and wars is the Bolshevization of every land and people in the world. In the face of such undeniable intentions, we are not impressed by paper declarations from the Kremlin or guarantees from London or Washington. We know that we are dealing in the East with an infernal political devilishness that does not recognize the norms governing relations between people and nations. When for example the English Lord Beaverbrook says that Europe must be given over to the Soviets or when the leading American Jewish journalist Brown cynically adds that a Bolshevization of Europe might solve all of the continent’s problems, we know what they have in mind. The European powers are facing the most critical question. The West is in danger. It makes no difference whether or not their governments and intellectuals realize it or not....
There can be no doubt about the certainty of our victory....
Are you ready to follow the Führer as the phalanx of the homeland, standing behind the fighting army and to wage war with wild determination through all the turns of fate until victory is ours?...
I ask you: Do you want total war? If necessary, do you want a war more total and radical than anything that we can even imagine today?...
Even though for all intents and purposes the war had already been lost slightly more than two weeks earlier in February 1943 with the defeat at Stalingrad, Goebbels rallied the German people, Nazi and non-Nazi alike, to fight on in a Total War. By November, after more than 1500 days of war, total Wehrmacht permanent casualties (dead, disabled, or missing) amounted to roughly 3 million men. This makes for a loss rate of just under 2,000 men per day for over four years - a time period which includes the campaigns in Poland, France, the Balkans, North Africa, and the colossal eastern battles of Operation Barbarossa, Rzhev, Kharkov, Stalingrad, Kursk, and the Caucasus.
From November 1943 through the end of the war in May 1945 - a span of 527 days - Wehrmacht losses would be some 5 million men. Even after Germany had been effectively defeated on the battlefield at Stalingrad, German losses continued at an astonishing 9,400 per day over the final eighteen months in a losing cause. The outcome of the war in a strategic sense was now certain, but there was not a single soldier on the continent who could be certain that he would personally survive, and in that sense the world still hung in the balance for every man. And although this closing phase made up only a quarter of the war in chronological terms, it accounted for nearly two-thirds of Germany’s total combat losses.
By far, more deaths - millions - occurred after the war had already been lost at Stalingrad, and largely due to the stupidity, ignorance, and stubbornness of leaders and diplomats, not limited to Germany alone, as well as their brainwashed populations by a controlled media, on both the Axis Powers and Allied Powers sides.
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.
- Hamilton, Charles. Leaders and Personalities of the Third Reich (1984).
- Longerich, Peter. Goebbels: A Biography (2015).
- Snyder, Louis. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich (1994) .
- Beevor, Antony. Berlin – The Downfall 1945 (2002).
- Hamilton, Charles. Leaders and Personalities of the Third Reich (1984).