Terror and persuasion

Terror and persuasion

The Role of the SS and the Gestapo

  • The SS (Schutzstaffel) served as Hitler’s personal bodyguard and later became an elite armed forces unit. They had the principal role of enforcing Nazi racial policies and rounding up Jews and other “undesirables”.

  • The Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei) was the Nazi secret police. They carried out surveillance on the German public, interrogated individuals, and brutally suppressed any opposition to Nazis.

  • Both the SS and Gestapo were instrumental in maintaining control through fear and intimidation, enforcing a state of terror among the public.

Propaganda and Censorship

  • Hitler appointed Joseph Goebbels as the Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment. His task was to ensure that the Nazi message was successfully communicated through art, music, theatre, films, books, radio, educational materials, and the press.

  • Propaganda aimed to build the image of Hitler as a strong and decisive leader, and demonise the enemies of the Reich, particularly the Jews.

  • All forms of communication were strictly controlled and censored. Any content that disagreed with Nazi beliefs or criticised the regime was suppressed.

The Hitler Youth and Education

  • The Hitler Youth was an organisation set up by the Nazis to indoctrinate the young generation in Nazi ideologies. Participation became compulsory in 1936.

  • Schools curriculum and textbooks were rewritten to push Nazi propaganda and ideologies. ‘Racial science’ was taught to propagate the idea of Aryan supremacy.

  • Teachers who did not conform to the Nazi ideals were removed, reinforcing a uniform perspective in education.

Forced Conformity

  • The Nazis introduced a policy of ‘Gleichschaltung’, meaning coordination or alignment. Through this, all aspects of German life were brought under control of the Nazi party.

  • The Reich Cultural Chamber was established to control and regulate culture, including literature, art, and music. Anything regarded as un-German or Jewish was banned.

  • Non-conformity or opposition to Nazi ideals was punished severely, with many ending up in concentration camps. This further perpetuated the internal terror within Germany and reinforced total obedience.