Modern Political Propaganda, G. Stark, 1930
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The face of the city, as a center of production and consumption, is marked by advertising. The concentration of many companies leads to intense competition, which is won not necessarily by the firm with the best product, but rather with the best advertising. Poster pillars, newspapers, billboards and so on hammer incessantly on the victim, until finally he bends to the power of the advertising firm and buys.
This out-and-out commercial advertising is aimed exclusively at earning money, and appeals only to the billfold. But the most effective advertising is not necessarily for the best product.
Political propaganda is something entirely different. It uses indeed in part the same methods to reach its goals, but rests on entirely different assumptions. Propaganda is by no means simply commercial advertising applied to the political, or spiritual arena. They seek only momentary effect, whereas political propaganda seeks the systematic enlightenment necessary to win supporters to a worldview. We recall the many comrades who gave their lives for the movement. They were propagandists of the deed up to the last breath.
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The Methods of Propaganda
To carry out propaganda effectively in the cities, it is necessary to understand the proper use of the most important methods of propaganda. It is above all essential that the propaganda warden does not follow advice coming from a desktop, but rather that he is and remains in close contact with the people. Only he who understands everyday life, and who is familiar with events in political life, will be able to speak effectively to the people he wishes to persuade. Without that contact, advertising speaks in a dead language. To see with the eyes of the masses — that is the whole secret of effective propaganda.
There are four kinds of propaganda:
1. Propaganda through the written word,
2. Propaganda through the spoken word,
3. Propaganda through mass marches,
4. Propaganda through cultural gatherings.
1. Propaganda through the written word: flyers, leaflets, party newspapers and books, advertising circulars, apartment newspapers and factory papers, posters, stamps, other newspapers, N.S. stamps and postcards, banners and billboards, slides, and films. Remember that it is against the law to use walls, building facades, street surfaces, and so on. The following observations apply only to permitted forms of propaganda.
a) Not much needs to be said about the effectiveness of stickers. Their task is to be a constant reminder to the indifferent and to gradually unsettle them. Stickers in the wrong places are usually placed by the enemy to discredit us.
Identical stickers next to each other make a good effect. “Many drops wear away stone” applies here. Incessantly, repeatedly, people must see our stickers!
How should they look? They should be small enough so the person applying them will have enough saliva. They should be brief (few, but vivid words). The layout should be good, with no white space at the edges where graffiti can be written. Each party member should carry such stickers with him. One can apply them quickly and inconspicuously.
b) The flyer, with a few sentences, which is distributed on the street, has lost its effectiveness. It is soon thrown away, and its content, mostly only an announcement of a meeting, is hardly noticed.
Successful small leaflets (30 by 60 mm) that carry texts like this:
“National Socialists buy only in German shops. The middle class paper: the Völkischer Beobachter.”
These small leaflets can be left in shops.
Another promising innovation is flyers with caricatures.
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Leaflets, free newspapers and brochures should be distributed only in such places where it is likely that they will be read immediately. Good places are in train stations, for those going to a train, not coming from one. People will read on the train, but not on the street. Another example: distribute in the morning at factory gates (not at the end of the shift). Then the material can be read and discussed during the breakfast break. Our leaflets and newspapers are also good reading for those waiting in the unemployment offices, for travelers in long distance trains, etc., anywhere where time must be killed and people will read anything.
The best success comes through the systematic distribution of advertising material from door-to-door. This should be done only on Sunday mornings so that people can read them at their leisure with their morning coffee.
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h) Posters, despite their considerable cost, are the best form of propaganda, and in relation to their cost a cheap method of advertising.
Posters with text give a brief summary of a meeting and acquaint the reader with the goals of the speaker. It is well known that our textual posters have their own style, such that the attentive observer recognizes from a distance that it is something from the Nazis. Large posters in red must be designed so that they stand out on the poster pillar. A small poster is ineffective, and not in keeping with the significance of our movement. No one reads a poster stuffed with text. The top must be clear enough to draw attention. The bottom must also catch attention. The swastika should be used sparingly at first, particularly in middle class districts.
The headline must be large; it should dominate the poster. In general, only the name of the party should be emphasized in the text. The text should, as already mentioned, be short and make the meeting topic clear. A mention of our press is also appropriate.
Effective posters emphasize words that create a certain mood and can be noticed from a distance.
A good example was the familiar large poster of Gau Greater Berlin: Heil Kaiser Dir!, that had great success because it appeared at the right time (27. January) and at the right places in the proper size.
We are preparing examples of good posters and an article titled “Posters and leaflets from idea to reality.”
The text poster fulfills its purpose when, besides the already-mentioned clear content, there is sufficient time to read it. If not, the picture poster is better. The effect of the picture poster lies with its capacity to be understood at a glance, to get across the spiritual attitude instantly, whereas the text poster needs a certain time to read and a longer time to think about. The hurried city-dweller does not have much time. Mostly, he only catches a quick look at a poster while walking past. The picture has to instantly say at a glance everything that a longer text poster says. Herein lies the difficulty. It is hard to find a riveting picture with a few catchy words. There aren’t many Mjölnirs [a leading Nazi artist]. For us, the picture poster is simply a question of money. Here too we are limited by financial weakness.
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i) Stamps can be effective when used on letters, newspapers, etc. They should use very short slogans. It’s a good idea to carry a stamp with one, in order to be able to use it whenever possible. As already mentioned, other posters may not be stamped; such stamps will be produced by the propaganda offices and distributed to subordinate units.
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Postcards of the movement should be sent to friends and acquaintances at every opportunity. They may even have an impact on republican letter carriers.
m) A simple but still effective form of propaganda is the banners with short slogans that hang in our large meetings. They can be used in smaller versions on trucks and vans. In such cases, be sure to protect them. Bicycle columns too can be used for propaganda.
n) Another method is the so-called railway track advertising. With the permission of the property owner, signs can be erected. The “Völkischer Beobachter” has won a large number of new subscriptions in this way.
Rooftop advertising is also useful, Unfortunately, it is expensive when the approval of the owner is required.
o) The use of slide shows and film depends on the available means. The party’s first films have already been produced by the central office and Gau Berlin. A major film is in the works. We too should use the most modern advertising methods to serve our movement.
2. Propaganda through the spoken word
Propaganda by the spoken word — talking with the individual, study groups, discussion evenings, mass meetings, choruses — usually result from the written word. The two forms of propaganda are inseparable.
a) The most basic form of oral propaganda is the discussion with the individual. This form is still the most effective, since deep contact is established. It is easier to do that in this way than in study groups.
b) The study group deepens the idea and educates the party member, and encourages closer contact with citizens who are friendly or at least honestly uncertain about the movement. Through them we win supporters by give and take. Without doubt, the movement from its beginnings built the inner strength it needed and won its best fighters through study groups. Every local group should hold two study groups a month. If in a given month no public meeting is held, it should hold another study group.
A discussion evening is not a membership meeting, open only to a certain audience, but rather a public gathering to which party members may bring guests or truth-seeking racial comrades.
Securing a speaker is not as great a problem as in a public people’s meeting, Party members not rhetorically suited for a larger public meeting can do very well in a discussion evening, as long as they possess a firm grasp of the aims of the movement.
They will become increasingly better speakers, and the give-and-take with party members will help them become able to serve as discussion speakers at the meetings of other parties.
The speaker is the propagandist of the idea, who sacrifices his time, strength, health and material welfare for the movement. Recognizing his ability and caring for him provides support he needs.
It is a matter of honor for a speaker to meet his obligations insofar as it is humanly possible. Meetings should be held regardless of the attendance. The credibility of the party is at stake.
The speaker should keep in mind that although his activity in study evenings promises little fame, they often bring more success for the movement than a public meeting.
e) The public mass meeting is the place where an authoritative speaker proclaims the aims of our movement and the nature of our worldview with regard to domestic and international events to every class of the population. The meeting is therefore a matter of the prestige of the party and a source of strength. The manner of its preparation is the mark of a good local group or section. One should speak of a “mass meeting” only when the masses will really appear.
The theme of the meeting should always be chosen to reach the people, particularly the group that one wants to attract to the meeting. We distinguish between world view and current event themes.
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d) Choruses supported by a trumpet are effective. Several short, compelling sentences, repeated often, have a strong effect on a meeting. Be sure they have practiced, and are not in an awkward position.
3. Propaganda through mass marches:
The third type of propaganda includes Demonstrations, local S.A. marches, Gau and Reich party rallies. Here all that needs to be said is that good discipline is the best propaganda.
4. Propaganda through cultural gatherings:
Cultural gatherings are the fourth group. The influence of theater and movies on the masses is well known. One has to think only of Piscator or of Russian films like “Battleship Potemkin” and “The General Line.” We must try to use these institutions for our purposes, and to combat the destructive influence of cultural Bolshevism. The N.S. Volksbühne and the N.S.-Filmbühne have been established in some cities already and have done well. They are not only a recreational outlet for party members, but also promotional gatherings. Our theater presents only works displaying the German spirit. The N.S.-Filmbühne, which strives to produce our own films, also shows films that put heroic thoughts in the foreground.
In order to use our films every day, we should attempt to supplement political speeches with films in the suburbs. Even the smallest cell can be reached and informed in this way.
This has been only a survey of propaganda. It must be used in various ways, but will be successful only when it is conducted by fanatical fighters with unbreakable wills.