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Who was Joseph Goebbels, Nazi leader quoted by Secretary of Culture

by Ace Damon
Who was Joseph Goebbels, Nazi leader quoted by Secretary of Culture

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(Reproduction / Wikimedia Commons)

Considered Adolf Hitler's right-hand man, Joseph Goebbels became one of the most prominent figures in Germany's Nazi government, which lasted between 1933 and 1945. He was appointed Minister of Propaganda and was the main articulator of the regime's information sector, fostering anti-Semitic ideas and party support. At dawn today (17), Goebbels returned to the news after a video published by the Special Secretariat for Culture of the Brazilian government, in which Secretary Roberto Alvim makes a speech with allusions to a Nazi statement.

In the video, Alvim announces the plans for financing the culture of his management and says that “the Brazilian art of the next decade will be heroic and national. It will be endowed with a great capacity for emotional involvement and equally imperative, since it is deeply linked to the urgent aspirations of our people, or else it will be nothing ”.

The phrase is very similar to one spoken by Hitler's lackey in the 1930s: “German art for the next decade will be heroic, romantic, objective and free of sentimentality, it will be national with great standards and imperative and binding, or else it will be nothing. ”.

The secretary later denied that he had copied Goebbels and said that it was all an "unfortunate coincidence", but that the phrase used was "perfect". Other elements of the video, such as rhetoric, aesthetics and background music – an opera by Richard Wagner, considered Hitler's favorite – have led Internet users, politicians and activists to expand the comparison with the Nazi regime. The repercussion was so great that the Secretary of Culture was fired by President Jair Bolsonaro in the early afternoon today. On Twitter, Bolsonaro classified the pronouncement as "unhappy".

Who was Goebbels

Born in 1897 in a small industrial town in the interior of Germany, Goebbels was raised in a Catholic family in the lower bourgeoisie, who paid for his studies until college. He obtained a doctorate in philology (that is, the analysis of ancient texts) at the University of Heidelberg and tried to pursue a career as a writer and journalist, without much success. A curious fact is that Goebbels did not fight in World War I for health reasons – he was lame, possibly because he contracted polio in childhood.

Despite not being directly involved in politics, Goebbels already had a strong nationalist and revanchist feeling, something common in Germany after the defeat in the First World War and the political and economic instability that established itself in the country. His trajectory in the regime itself began in 1924, when he approached influential people from the National Socialist Party of German Workers – the Nazi party. He joined the group that same year, and it wasn't long before he became a close friend of the organization's leader, Austrian Adolf Hitler.

Recognized for his excellent rhetoric and oratory, Goebbels grew in influence in the party and was even appointed by Hitler as regional party administrator in Berlin in 1926 – an important post, since Nazism was born in the Bavarian region and, until then, it had little representation in the German capital. In 1928, he was elected to the Reichstag, the German parliament, and became the propaganda coordinator for the Nazi party.

Mass Propagandist

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Goebbels was chosen as Minister of Public Education and Propaganda and head of the Chamber of Culture. It was there that he began his national project to garner popular support for the Nazi regime – something that, for a long time, worked. The minister's strategy was to appeal to German nationalism and create a heroic figure around the “Führer”. In this way, Hitler was seen as the supreme German leader capable of saving the country from the crisis and leading the way to prosperity.

The figure of the savior, in turn, was contrasted with the figure of villains – the main ones were the Jews. With anti-Semitic and conspiratorial ideas, Goebbels convinced the German people to support the Holocaust, which resulted in the systematic persecution and death of about six million Jews, as well as other groups, such as gypsies, homosexuals, communists and union members.

These ideas were reflected in the government's cultural projects and in the media, which was censored and equipped. Goebbels was also responsible for the common practice of stalking and burning books considered subversive by the regime. In the field of art, the minister was known to use mainly cinema and radio to propagate the regime's ideals and spread hatred against Jews among the population.

Its influence increased even more during the 1940s, with World War II and the intensification of anti-Semitic persecution. When things started to get worse for the Nazis, with defeats in major battles and a weakening of the regime, Goebbels was responsible for maintaining popular support in the midst of the crisis, intensifying propaganda, falsifying victories and increasingly appealing to populism. In 1943, he was responsible for spreading the concept of “total war” – a radical idea that preached that all the efforts of the country should focus only on the war conflict.

In 1945, with the Soviet invasion and total Nazi defeat, Hitler appointed Goebbels as his successor before committing suicide. The new chancellor of the Third Reich ruled only one day: he also committed suicide, along with his wife Magda Ritschel, but not before killing his six children with poison. The couple did not want the family to live in a world without Nazism.

The minister went down in history as one of the main articulators of the Nazi regime and one of the greatest propagandists of all time, able to convince an entire country to support a fascist regime. Many of his phrases became famous, such as: "A lie told a thousand times becomes true".

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