Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda

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Reichs Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda
Agency overview
Formed March 13, 1933 (1933-03-13)
Dissolved May 1, 1945 (1945-05-01)
Headquarters Ordenspalais
8/9 Wilhelmplatz, Berlin-Mitte
52°30′45″N 13°23′1″E / 52.51250°N 13.38361°E / 52.51250; 13.38361
Employees 2000 (1939)
Annual budget 187 million Reichsmarks (1941)
Agency executive Joseph Goebbels, Werner Naumann (1945), Reich Minister
Child agencies Reichskulturkammer

The Reichs Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (German: Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, RMVP or Propagandaministerium) was a Nazi government agency to enforce Nazism ideology.

Founded upon the 1933 Machtergreifung by Adolf Hitler's government, it was headed by Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels and was responsible for controlling the German news media, literature, visual arts, filmmaking, theatre, music, and broadcasting. As the central office of Nazi propaganda, it comprehensively supervised and regulated the culture and mass media of Nazi Germany.

Goebbels, German Federal Archive photo

Role in the Nazi state[edit]

Propaganda Ministry building (1936)

When the Nazis took power the Propaganda Ministry was established almost immediately by decree of Reich President Paul von Hindenburg on 13 March 1933. The ministry took its seat at the Ordenspalais in Berlin on Wilhelmplatz, across from the Reich Chancellery, which already had been used by the press office of the German government. Goebbels himself defined the task of his ministry as a "mental mobilization" of the German people in view of the war(s) that the Nazis anticipated would eventually occur. Hitler charged Goebbels with sweeping powers to enforce Nazi doctrine on the people and controlling public opinion. However, the ministry became even more important after the outbreak of war.

World War II was conducted with a much greater level of propaganda than World War I, especially in the new media of film, newsreels and radio broadcasting. Because of practical experience and scientific occupation with propaganda in Europe and USA, propaganda was organised in a planned fashion. A new psychological warfare was born.


Annex on Mauerstrasse (1939), today part of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

The ministry grew steadily. It began in 1933 with five departments and 350 employees. By 1939, there were 2000 employees in 17 departments. Between 1933 and 1941, the ministry's budget grew from 14 million to 187 million Reichsmarks. Each department was headed by a state secretary directly subordinate Minister to Joseph Goebbels:

  • State Secretary I – Walther Funk (1933 – 1937), Otto Dietrich (1937 – 1945)
    • The German press
    • The foreign press
    • Newspapers
  • State Secretary II - Karl Hanke (1937 – 1940), Leopold Gutterer (1940 – 1944), Werner Naumann (1944 – 1945)
    • Budget
    • Law
    • Propaganda
    • Radio
    • Film
    • Personal
    • Defence
    • International
    • Theater
    • Music
    • Literature
    • Visual Arts
  • State Secretary III – Hermann Esser (1935 – 1945)
    • Tourism

The film department oversaw the Film Review Office and together with the Reichsfilmkammer became one of the most important institutions for Nazi film policy. Headed by Fritz Hippler from 1939 (from 1942 in the official rank of a Reichsfilmintendant) it supervised the German cinemas, film business and script departments as well as filming abroad, documentaries and Die Deutsche Wochenschau newsreels.


Call for perseverance: "it's all or nothing - after all we will make it", Berlin 1945

The Propaganda Ministry used many forms of media to further the National Socialist message. Posters, radio, newspapers, publishing, and the arts were all used and explicitly controlled by the ministry.

Speeches were also used to great effect by the German Government. Goebbels commented on Hitler's first speech as Chancellor: "It will have great propaganda used and viewed in cinemas for years to come...what an achievement." Just before Hitler delivered this speech Goebbels introduced him and used the opportunity to highlight the importance of propaganda. "It seems you cannot have a good government without good propaganda, but then, you can't have good propaganda without a good government. However, you cannot lie! We must never lie! It is the Jews who must be made to pay for their lies to our people!” However, perhaps the most iconic speech of the whole second World War was also a product of the German Propaganda Ministry. Dr. Goebbels’ Sportpalast speech which was delivered after the German defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad was intended to build popular support for "total war." Hitler did make speeches over the radio but his speeches in person played on the newsreels were considered more effective uses of his oratorical skills.

"I consider radio to be the most modern and the most crucial instrument for influencing the masses.." was a famous and important quote from Goebbels. Radio was exploited to its full potential by the Nazis. Radio manufacturers received grants from the government to build cheap receivers all Germans could afford. Criminal penalties were set in place for listening to non-German radio stations (particularly the BBC); by the height of World War II, persons in Nazi Germany or in lands under Nazi occupation could be executed or sent to a concentration camp for this act.

See also[edit]