The Völkischer Beobachter (pronounced [ˈfœlkɪʃɐ bəˈʔoːbaχtɐ]; "Völkisch Observer", figuratively "National Observer") was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party) from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from 8 February 1923. For twenty-five years it formed part of the official public face of the Nazi party.
The "fighting paper of the National Socialist movement of Greater Germany" (Kampfblatt der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung Großdeutschlands) had its origin in the Münchner Beobachter ("Munich Observer"), which in 1918 was acquired by the Thule Society and in August 1919 was renamed Völkischer Beobachter. The NSDAP purchased it in December 1920 on the initiative of Chase Bauduin and Dietrich Eckart, who became the first editors. In 1921, Adolf Hitler acquired all shares in the company, making him the sole owner of the publication.
The circulation of the paper was initially about 8,000 but increased to 25,000 in autumn 1923 due to strong demand during the Occupation of the Ruhr. In that year Alfred Rosenberg became editor. With the prohibition of the NSDAP after the Beer Hall Putsch of 9 November 1923, the paper also had to cease publication, which resumed however on the party's refoundation on 26 February 1925. The circulation rose along with the success of the Nazi movement, reaching more than 120,000 in 1931 and 1.7 million by 1944.
During the rise to power, it reported general news but also party activities, presenting them as almost constant success. Guidelines for propagandists urged that all posters, insofar as the police allowed, contain propaganda for it, and all meetings should be announced in it, although reports should be sent to the Propaganda Department, which would then forward corrected versions to the paper. Posters did indeed urge reading it. When Hitler was banned from public speaking, it was the main vehicle to propagate his views.
Perhaps the most notorious article printed was an interview with Hans Frank, Governor-General of occupied Poland, on 6 June 1940. The occasion was a widely distributed proclamation in Czechoslovakia announcing the execution of seven Czech students. This is what he said:
|“||If I had to order a distribution of posters announcing such an event every time I order a shooting of seven Poles, there would not be enough trees in the Polish forests to supply the necessary paper.||”|
The final issues from April and May 1945 were not distributed.
- Schwarzwaller, Wulf (1988). The Unknown Hitler : His Private Life and Fortune. National Press Books. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-915765-63-8.
- Robert Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race: Alfred Rosenberg and Nazi Ideology p34 ISBN 0-396-06577-5
- "Holocaust Encyclopedia"
- "Nazis Battle for Harburg"
- "Early Nazi Posters"
- Robert Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race: Alfred Rosenberg and Nazi Ideology p. 51 ISBN 0-396-06577-5
- "What Does America Really Want?"
- "The Veil Falls"
- Czapski, Józef. (1987) The Inhuman Land. Polish Cultural Foundation, London. p. 306 ISBN 0-85065-164-6.
Also: Davies, Norman. (2003) Rising '44. Macmillan, London. p. 84 ISBN 978-0-333-90568-5, which gives a translation of the original quotation: In Prague, big red posters were put up on which one could read that seven Czechs had been shot today. I said to myself, 'If I had to put up a poster for every seven Poles shot, the forests of Poland would not be sufficient to manufacture the paper.'