Joseph Goebbels: A Master of Hateful Propaganda (Book Review)

Joseph Goebbels was a master of propaganda of the most hateful kind, directed primarily against the Jewish people. He was also an unrepentant warmonger. It all came to fruition with the rise of Nazism in Germany in the early 1930s and the emergence of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, aka “DNVP.”

Adolf Hitler became the driving force of the DNVP. Goebbels’ job was to serve him as the party’s Minister of Propaganda. In that position, like many others in the early 1940s, he also ended up supporting the blood-stained “Holocaust.” (1)

When you review Goebbels’ bio it is hard to figure out just what was the source of his unbridled hatred of the Jews. He was born in 1897, in the small industrial town of Rheydt, located in the Rhineland. Some of his favorite teachers were Jewish, and one of his earliest girlfriends was – half-Jewish.

Goebbels had a club foot, so he was exempted from service in World War I (1914-1918). Like many Germans of his generation, including the demented Hitler, he, without a scintilla of evidence to support his position, blamed the Jews for Germany losing that war to the Allied Powers.

Goebbels came from a Catholic, middle-class working family. Early in his career, he abandoned the religion of his youth. He was unsuccessful in creating a business career for himself, even though he had a solid educational background that included a PhD in German philology from Heidelberg University. Goebbels was energetic – a prolific essayist and a better-than-average public speaker.

On April 4, 1924, the emerging propagandist shifted over to the right-wing of the political spectrum and to the extreme politics of the DNVP. “In the beginning, it was a small group of about a dozen mostly young people from Rheyt. It was an illegal organization,” Goebbels explained. “We basically talked about anti-Semitism,” according to “Goebbels, A Biography,” by Peter Longerich, (2016), 964 pages.

Hitler didn’t show up on Goebbels’ radar until July 12, 1925. It was at a political conference in the state of Weimar. Here is how he described that encounter: “Weimar was a resurrection in the truest sense of the word. What a voice. What gestures, what passion. Just as I wished him to be.”

Goebbels further explained the effect Hitler had on him: “I was shaken. I stood outside by the window and cried like a baby. He left with a handshake.” I said to Hitler, “‘Come again soon.’ Now, I know that the man who leads was born to be a leader. I’m ready to sacrifice everything for him.” Indeed, he did become a lackey for the Furher.

A couple of things are clear about Goebbels from the book. He was very political, and he was also a notorious lady’s man. To put it in common parlance, he had the women, coming and going. It’s a wonder, the often depressed Goebbels could remember their names.

Nevertheless, in December 1931, Goebbels married what he thought was the love of his life – Magda. The witness for the wedding? You guessed it – Hitler.

It was a shaky marriage, with a lot of ups and downs. It was normal for Hitler to act as the referee in the sometimes frequent family disputes. Goebbels had many flings and the often-stressed-out, Magda, had a few, too.

Hitler, right up to the end of the Nazi regime, spent a lot of time with the couple. Sometimes, it was with Magda alone, which raised a few eyebrows. They all even enjoyed vacations together. The Goebbels had six children.

Just before the advent of the “total war,” (WWII),  Goebbels wrote these sickening words in his diary: “The Jews are lice that live on civilized humanity. They must somehow be exterminated, otherwise, they will keep on tormenting and oppressing us.”

Just about every opportunity Goebbels had to bad-mouth the Jews, he took. As early as 1935, he was pushing to “de-jewrify” the Reich Culture Chamber. He was never completely successful with this scheme, since he feared it might “kick up too much dust, especially in artistic circles.”

In March of 1942, Goebbels’ evil thoughts came into being in the most frightful way possible. The Nazis had constructed the extermination camp of Belzec, in southeastern Poland. His response to the terrible crimes committed there against the Jews was recorded in his diary.

Goebbels’ wrote: “A judgment is being carried out on the Jews that is barbaric but thoroughly deserved. The prophecy that the Fuhrer gave them along the way…is beginning to come true in the most terrible fashion. There must be no sentimentality about these matters. If he (Hitler) didn’t ward them off, the Jews would annihilate us.”

When the end was near, on May 1, 1945, and Berlin surrounded by the Allied Powers, Hitler dictated his last Will and Testament. He appointed Goebbels, who was then 48-years of age as his Reich Chancellor. He, along with his family, were living in Hitler’s bunker in Berlin.

After Hitler killed himself, his fateful pawns soon followed. Magda and Goebbels, mindless true believers to the bitter end, gave their six innocent children injections of morphine and then killed each of them by administering cyanide to them.

The couple then shot themselves. Just in case, an SS soldier was ordered to fire into their bodies to make sure they were dead.

Longerich has done a very solid job getting to the essence of Goebbels. I’m giving his book four out of five stars. The author put it this way about the demise of the once-pompous head case and Propaganda Minister: “In the end, his self-delusions won out.”