What is successful propaganda? - 1

Posted by Tory Historian Sunday, February 11, 2007 , ,

Here is an interesting question for all our readers? Who burnt down the Reichstag in 1933? Can you recall the name of Marinus Van der Lubbe, the somewhat crazed Dutchman, who actually set it on fire? And even if you can, do you not think that there was somebody behind it all? After all, it could not be just a lone lunatic?

It would be interesting to know how many of those who read the above paragraph nodded and said: “Of course, Hitler ordered and manipulated Van der Lubbe (assuming you can recall the name) and then used the fire to get rid of the opposition and to blame the Communists.”

I am willing to bet that nobody said: “Oh yes, it was the Communists and they managed to get away with it because Dimitrov’s trial was unsuccessful. Hitler merely took advantage of the event.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between good and bad propaganda.

The truth is that Van der Lubbe [pictured here] did act on his own. This has been investigated and proved by a number of historians. No evidence has been found of anybody else’s involvement. (And, please, do not remind me of such things as Kirov’s murder, in December 1934. The evidence for Stalin’s involvement is everywhere.)

Further, Hitler did take advantage of the fire to do what he had always planned to do and destroy the remnants of German democratic parliament. All of that is true.

Now we come to the battle of the propagandists. Everyone, but everyone, quotes Dr Göbbels’s comment about the big lie and compares every would-be spin doctor with him. But who actually believed Göbbels? A large proportion of the German people for a time and some supporters in other countries who wanted to believe him.

As opposed to that, millions of people across the world repeat certain “truths” for which there is “full agreement” without once realizing that it is propaganda first started by that genius of spin doctoring and promoter of the Comintern, Willi Münzenberg [pictured above], without even knowing his name or comparing any tuppenny-ha’penny press officer to him. Now that is propaganda. Sheer genius.

Back to the Reichstag fire. It occurred on the night of February 27, 1933 and the perpetrator was not hard to find. Van der Lubbe, a supposed Communist and an unemployed bricklayer, clearly mentally retarded, was found inside the building.

The following day the recently elected Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, went to see the President, Hindenburg, who signed an order that closed down all non-Nazi parties and banned the Communist one.

A few days later the Gestapo arrested four Communists, intending to try them with Van der Lubbe. Ernst Togler was a senior member of the KPD (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, German Communist Party), one of those who had not managed to escape. An arrest warrant was issued for him immediately and he surrendered himself to the police, something the KPD would later hold against him.

The other three were Bulgarians: Georgi Dimitrov, Vasil Tanev and Blagoi Popov, members of the Comintern.

What the Gestapo had not realized that Dimitrov was the head of the West European section of the Comintern and, thus, a close adviser of Stalin’s, one of the few people the latter would make an effort for. Normally Communist parties and their members would be sacrificed without a blink of an eyelid.

In addition, the man who had been charged to promote the cause of the Soviet Union and the Communist International through apparently innocuous publications, Willi Münzenberg was reasonably anxious to become involved.

Münzenberg was a German Communist, one of the few from a working class background. He was a deputy in the Reichstag and the owner of two newspapers and a publishing firm. He was also the most skilled propagandist the Soviet Union and its cause ever had. He did not write propaganda, he organized it, setting up hundreds of committees, using front organizations to run other front organizations, inspiring intellectuals to become fellow travellers and to manipulate other, innocent and ignorant intellectuals. In other words, he was the man who created the atmosphere in which it is considered to be normal to be on the left of the spectrum and intensely moral to support some of the worst tyrants in the world, as long as they seem to be a left-wing cause.

As Stephen Koch, author of “Double Lives” wrote in the New Criterion:

He wanted to instill the feeling, like a truth of nature, that seriously to criticize or challenge Soviet policy was the unfailing mark of a bad, bigoted, and probably stupid person, while support was equally infallible proof of a forward-looking mind committed to all that was best for humanity and marked by an uplifting refinement of sensibility.
Before 1933 he had been enormously successful in his organizational activity. His biggest achievement was the Sacco-Vanzetti case. He took the case of two obscure Italian anarchists who had been accused of robbery and murder (of which Sacco was almost certainly guilty and Vanzetti possibly innocent) and turned it into a left-wing cause célèbre, achieving two things.

The campaign pulled together disparate left-wing and well-meaning individuals and organizations under covert Communist control, in the process destroying the anarchist movement in the United States.

It countered the potent myth of the Open Door and the American Dream for immigrants, a rival myth to that of the Soviet utopia, by creating an image of America of a murderous, xenophobic society that destroys innocent immigrants if they happen to have the wrong political view.

We can date the irrational anti-Americanism so prevalent in Britain, Europe and the American left from that campaign. Münzenberg’s work lives on.

In the months leading up to Hitler taking power the entire KPD behaved with exemplary foolishness, underestimating the Nazis and concentrating on internal dissent, purges and the fight with the Social-Democrats. Münzenberg was part of that mess.

Immediately after the Hindenburg decree he fled to Paris where he began to organize a counter-offensive.

[To be continued]

1 Responses to What is successful propaganda? - 1

  1. Goebbles acknowledged his respect and admiration for Sigmund Freud's nephew Edward Bernays as a master propagandist. The BBC made a marvelous documentary on Bernays and his pioneering influence on advertising, propaganda and controlling the masses. Century of the Self is the title. Adam Curtis was the writer, but he conveniently failed to mention the fact that Lt. Col. Murray C. Bernays (ne Cohen), Edward's ex-brother-in-law, was the lawyer tasked by the US to come up with ex post facto laws ("crimes against the peace" and "crimes against humanity") with which to hang the Germans at Nuremburg.

Powered by Blogger.




Blog Archive