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The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda

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The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda
Second Edition. By David Welch. (London & New York, Routledge: 2002. Pg. xiii, 246. Illustrations.) ISBN: 0-415-27508-3.

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - January 13, 2003

In the right hands, propaganda can be a powerful weapon - both in war time and as a means of controlling a population. In Nazi Germany, propaganda was elevated to an art form. It was used with precision and with a great deal of success throughout most of World War II. In The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda, David Welch offers readers an in-depth look into the role that propaganda played in the rise of Nazism, and how it was used, both politically and socially by the Nazi Party (NSDAP - National Socialist German Workers' Party).

In this text Welch not only looks at the relationship between politics and propaganda, but also how the Nazi propaganda apparatus was organized and how it adapted to changing situations. Additionally, Welch also takes a thorough overview of the various approaches that historians have taken when studying the Third Reich and the various debates that have ensued within the academic community regarding how data about Nazism should be interpreted. In this regard, he illustrated how perspectives in the field have shifted over time, and the impact this has had in our understanding of the events, especially the atrocities, that transpired during the Nazi regime.

In addition to looking at the role that propaganda played in the Nazi political machine, Welch also offers some insights into the role played by the German people in the rise of Nazism. He also delves into the touchy topic as to whether or not their cultural and historical make-up contributed to the general acquiescent to Nazism, the ideals of racial purity, and the Nazi's attempt to annihilate the Jews. Welch also looks at how propaganda was used to garner support for specific Nazi programs such the euthanasia campaign, the campaign to dehumanize and kill the Jews, and the creation of the Volksgemeinschaft (National Community) and the 'Hitler' myth.

This work is heavily illustrated and includes copies of propaganda posters and advertisements. Welch takes great pains to explain how the Nazi propaganda message was disseminated - and the effectiveness of the message. This work includes a glossary and a list of abbreviations, as well as a detailed set of endnotes and a comprehensive bibliography. Also included are an assortment of documents relevant to the main text. One example is the inclusion of a speech given by Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, which explains why the government created the 'Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda'.

The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda offers readers a unique and unprecedented look at the role how the Nazi's used propaganda as a military and political tool, and the effectiveness of this tool. This work will be of interest not only to students and scholars in the fields of history and political science, but also for anyone interested in learning more about an important and often underestimated aspect of Nazism.

Related Reviews:

The Nazi Germany Sourcebook: An Anthology of Texts, by Roderick Stackelberg and Sally A. Winkle
This anthology contains 148 primary texts that offer readers a general overview of the origins and consequences of Nazism.

A Concise History of the Third Reich, by Wolfgang Benz.
A brief and academically authoritative, yet eminently readable account of the entire twelve-year existence of the Third Reich that covers political, social, cultural, and military aspects of this period.

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