When propaganda works, it then flops at a cost


By Stelios Orphanides

Kolberg, a Nazi propaganda movie, was released simultaneously in Berlin, the capital of the Third Reich on January 30, 1945, and France’s Atlantic port town of La Rochelle in which a German garrison surrounded by allied troops held out until the end of the war.

The symbolism was apparent. The movie, named after Prussia’s small Baltic town, which Napoleon’s troops failed to take in 1807, aimed at boosting the morale of German defenders to fight to the death against the unstoppable allies.

Throughout the 12-year reign of Nazi terror, Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, understood the employment of propaganda in manipulating the masses well.

He personally ordered and oversaw the production of various propaganda movies, each one with a purpose; to either incite hatred against Jews, or strengthen confidence in his boss and his sick ideology.

Leni Riefenstahl’s The Triumph of the Will was, as the name suggests, a manifestation of what the Nazis continued to believe just weeks before Germany’s surrender — that emerging victorious from a war was merely a matter of believing in it.

Actually, Goebbels understood the art of propaganda almost well. He apparently failed to grasp that for propaganda to be effective, every time it required more effort and more resources than previously.

As a result, the Nazis funded the colour movie Kolberg with 8.8m Reichsmark. It was their most expensive propaganda movie and luckily was meant to be the last. Amid a shortage in manpower and material — and a general retreat on all fronts following the landing in Normandy and the launch of the Soviet offensive dubbed Operation Bagration in the summer of 1944 — the Nazis ordered 50,000 soldiers, badly needed elsewhere, to the set as walk-ons, part of a cast totalling 187,000 people. The producers even had 100 railway wagons loaded with salt hauled to the site to shoot the snow scenes.

The movie came too late to become a hit, at least commercially. The number of German cities in which it could be shown was dwindling as city after city fell in the hands of the advancing allies.

On top, bombing raids constantly reduced the number of suitable venues. Thanks to war exhaustion, the shows of Munchhausen, another 1943 movie, were always sold out, while Kolberg remained a picture less and less cinemagoers wanted to see.

Besides, Kolberg also came too late to have an effect on the war. All fronts, in east and west, had long crumbled and the soon to be victors were to meet in Yalta five days after its release to arrange the post-war order. By March 18, fifty days after its release, when Soviet and Polish troops captured the town, the Third Reich was drafting 15-year-old boys it could hardly afford to train and equip let alone lead to victory. By April, the month before Germany’s surrender, Kolberg’s showing was called off. The final defeat of Nazism was preceded by the defeat of Nazi propaganda.

Lessons of the limitations of propaganda, which by the way was neither invented nor applied exclusively by the Nazis, were apparently not learned. Some are blinded by the beneficial impact it can have in the short-term and wilfully ignore the effects and consequences in the long-run.

Not very long ago, we saw nations taking decisions about their fate, voting in a fashion that was against their interests, leaders failing to reach agreements beneficial to their nations. All these cases, had something in common. In all cases, the spread of biased misinformation was part of the game. Someone had to be vilified, someone found ways to deflect blame, some people managed to convince others that their blatant failure was a huge success.

Whether those who employ propaganda expecting to gain from it are aware that it is someone else who ultimately foots the bill -mostly those who buy it- is irrelevant.

What matters is that the “Gleichschaltung” exploits the lack of a strong tradition in free press and freedom of expression, or when they do exist, it aims at destroying them to be effective. But then it’s too late to react.


About Author

Stelios Orphanides is a journalist at CyprusBusinessMail.com. To contact Stelios Orphanides: [email protected]

  • Paranam Kid

    Actually, Goebbels understood the art of propaganda almost well. He apparently failed to grasp that for propaganda to be effective, every time it required more effort and more resources than previously.

    And that is the same mistake that Nazi Germany’s successor state, nazi-onist israel, and Goebbels’ successor Gilad Erdad, are making. israel having implemented & refined many of Germany’s policies (and those of apartheid South Africa), the country proceeded with trying to burnish its reputation, and justify its vile policies & its illegal appropriation of Palestinian territories & properties.

    As time wears on, the country, surviving only due to its benefactor the US & paymasters the US & EU, is having to spend increasing amounts of money to try to win that losing battle & war. Tough Mr. Erdad has not realised it.

    Nevertheless, a top anti-BDS strategist, former Israeli government advisor Gidi Grinstein said in April that “in 2016 our community probably invested 20 times … more resources in dealing with this problem compared to what we invested in 2010.”

    Yet despite these tens of millions of dollars spent combating BDS, Grinstein asked: “why are we not winning?”

    And the answer is so simple: the cause is not just. And when the cause is not just, like in the cases of Nazi Germany & apartheid South Africa, sooner or later you will end up capitulating.

    • Really?

      It was with the help of high level Nazis that a “Central Islamic Institute” (“Islamisches-Zentral Institute”) was opened in Berlin on December 18, 1942. The most prominent Nazi guest was Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. In his speech the Palestinian Mufti Al-Husseini referred to the Jews as “the bitterest enemies of the Muslims who since time immemorial have confronted Muslims with cunning and trickery.” World Jewry and their capital control the British. “This war has been unleashed by world Jewry.”

      Your cherished Mufti and Goebbels were good friends, and the former must have learned a thing or two from hos Nazi benefactors, including how to lie, bullshit and sow disinformation. A tradition you carry on to this day. RIH

      • Paranam Kid

        The Nazis hated the Jews, but the zionists, i.e. your comrades, exploited that and the Holocaust cynically for their own purposes. The zionists refused that countries like the UK, the US others offered safe haven to the Jews, because the zios wanted them diverted to Palestine.

        The zios made this sick Haavara agreement with the Nazis to force Jews to go to Palestine instead of elsewhere. And zionist Shamir forced the US to make entry for Jews extremely difficult when the Soviet Union allowed them out, and rather than choosing the nazi-onist “country” as their destination many chose the US. Shamir prevailed. No real Jew wants to go to the putrefying, cancerous, racist boil on the face of the earth.

        Your disguise as a Jew is a disgrace to real Jewry & their suffering throughout the ages, and is just a thin veil to “justify” your racist zionist stance & ideas. It is zionist filth that created israel fraudulently & turned it into a totalitarian-nazi/onist-antisemitic-landgrabbing-colonising-terrorising-terror/sponsoring-butchering-blackmailing-apartheid-genocidal-jew/master race/Herrenvolk-ethnotheocracy that is now the only true travesty of democracy in the Middle East precisely because it pretends to be a democracy

        • Really?

          I can’t find a single true sentence in all three paragraphs, haha, where to begin? Try selling your malarkey to someone else.

          • Paranam Kid

            Oh, it’ really very simple: everything that is aid about the nazi-oinst “country” is always denied by the nazi-oinists despite the facts on the ground.

            Let me tell you 1 truth, and remember it for the rest of your life: everything I say about israel is true. Period.

          • Plasma Dawn

            Most of what you say about Israel has nothing to do with the truth and everything to do with incoherent rants, slurs, name-calling, disgusting foaming at the mouth, and alternative facts gleaned from mysterious and secret news sources. One cannot sanely and logically argue with an individual who suffers from uncontrollable bouts of blinding rage, morbid obsessions, incurable hatred, and lets vile language get the best of him and preclude any civil discourse.

          • Really?

            …said the person who has never even been there.

          • Paranam Kid

            1. You don’t know if I never went to that cesspool – typical arrogant zionist assumption
            2. The US president who decided to attack Nazi Germany did not go there beforehand
            3.Apart from my own experience, I have friends there, and there are excellent reporters, as well as intellectuals who have exposed & keep exposing the filth of the nazi-onist Apartheid “country”.

            And, to get back to the topic of the article, propaganda of how to kill a Palestinian is now a money spinner for your fascist “country”, as reported on Carbonated TV in a 6 July 2017 article entitled Anti-Terrorism Fantasy Camps Become Tourist Attraction In Israel, repeated by Haaretz a few days later. Make sure you watch the video too, which clearly shows pictures that are used for target practice, and guess what people those pictures are of of: exactly, Palestinians, that “vermin”, Untermenschen as israel’s mentors called the ethnic group they tried to exterminate.

            So israel is now actually making propaganda for & making money from the extermination of an ethnic group, and even go as far as recommending it for kids, as if that recent israeli police demonstration in Ramat Hasharon for hundreds of 5th-graders in to kill of a suspected ‘terrorist’ was not enough. A Palestinian is a “terrorist” by definition, and if you suspect him of anything you kill him. Kill 1st, ask questions later, is what is taught to kids. No, I guess that demonstration was not enough, you cannot do enough to nurture hatred in school kids.

            Yep, israel is going a few notches further than Nazi Germany, its mentor, and zionists like yourself are lapping it up.

            And remember, everything I say, and have ever said about your putrefying cancerous boil of a “country” is true, fact-based. Enjoy !!

        • Plasma Dawn

          Forgot the medications again? You’re foaming at the mouth and uttering incoherent inanities.