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|Dr Otto Dietrich|
31 August 1897|
|Died||22 November 1952(aged 55)|
Otto Dietrich was born in August 1897, in Essen. After his military service as a soldier during World War I, he was awarded the Iron Cross (First Class). After this he studied at the universities of Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Freiburg, from which he graduated with a doctorate in political science in 1921.
Dietrich worked for newspapers in Essen and Munich. In 1929 he became a member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) as a Personal Press Referent. Here he was able to introduce Hitler to numerous important officials within different sects of the mining industry to help secure funding for the Nazi Party. On 1 August 1931 he was appointed Press Chief of the NSDAP, and the following year joined the SS. On February 28, 1934, Hitler raised Dietrich to the position of Reich Press Chief of the Nazi party. In November 1937, Dietrich became the Reich Press Chief of the Government. On April 20, 1941 he had risen to the rank of SS-Obergruppenführer.
In the decree from Hilter on February 28, 1934 the role of the Reich Press Chief was loosely explained: "He directs in my name the guiding principles for the entire editorial work of the Part Press. In addition, as my Press Chief he is the highest authority for all press publications of the Party and all its agencies." Dietrich, as the Press Chief of the Nazi Party and later as the Reich Press Chief of the Government, had control over the Nazi party's publications and newspapers. This included anything disseminated to the SS, SA, Hitler Youth, and the German Labor Front. The work done by Dietrich helped to secure the Nazis foothold in Germany. He aided party members to acquire positions of power and general acceptance within different communities and helped to spread Nazi ideology to the public.
His job as Press Chief overlapped with Joseph Goebbels's Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, and thus many anecdotes exist of their feuds. They were infamous for their disagreements, and both often felt obliged to "repair" the mistakes of the other. Dietrich believed himself to be the supreme commander over the German press and so sought to lessen Goebbels's influence within the Press Department.
Dietrich had a close relationship with Hitler. In some testimony from Hans Fritzsche, the head of the German Press Division from December 1938 to November 1942, who worked under Dietrich, he noted that: "For years he (Dietrich) also summarized the press telegrams, which constituted one of the most important sources of information for Hitler. Finally I could see for myself that he elaborated Hitler's speeches for publication. Thus Dr. Dietrich also functioned as the transmitter of Hitler's current directives to Dr. Goebbels."
Dietrich retained the confidence of the Führer throughout the regime until Hitler fired him after an argument towards the end of World War II. However, in the secrecy mandated by war, Dietrich, who was not in Hitler's "inner circle," often did not truly know of Hitler's whereabouts. In 1949, he was tried at the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, where he was convicted of crimes against humanity and being a member of a criminal organization, namely the SS and was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. He was released in 1950. At the age of 55 Dietrich died in November 1952 in Düsseldorf.
Memoir: The Hitler I Knew
In captivity in Landsberg Prison, Dietrich wrote The Hitler I Knew. Memoirs of the Third Reich's Press Chief, a book sharply critical of Hitler personally and strongly denouncing the crimes committed in the name of Nazism. The first part of the book contains assessments by Dietrich about his character, his reflections on Hitler as a politician and as a soldier, and his critique of his leadership. The second part (Scenes from Hitler's Life) describes Dietrich's first-hand oberservations of Hitler's daily activities before and during the war. The book was republished in 2010 by Skyhorse Publishing, with a new introduction by historian Roger Moorhouse, who indicates that "his (Dietrich) insights are sound and sincere, but the obvious question which arises is: when did they occur to him?".
- Dietrich O. The Hitler I Knew. Memoirs of the Third Reich's Press Chief. Skyhorse Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-1602399723
- Hardy (1967), pp. 50-51.
- Hitler Decree. Document NG-3477, Prosecution Exhibit 815, Document Book 10, Case No. 11, NWCT.
- Hardy (1967), p. 51.
- Hardy (1967), pp. 51-52.
- Hardy (1967), pp. 52-53
- Affidavit of Hans Fritzsche. Document NG-4351, Prosecution Exhibit 867, Document Book 11, Cased No. 11, NWCT.
- Hardy, Alexander G. (1967). Hitler's Secret Weapon: The "Managed" Press and Propaganda Machine of Nazi Germany. New York: Vantage Press.
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