Pre-TV and internet made newspapers a primary vehicle to control information in the 1930s.
Propaganda Minister Goebbels had to make sure there were no contradictions…all news had to give the same message.
In October, 1933, the Nazis passed the “Reichs Press Law,” which declared that all journalists and editors had to be Aryans, with no Jewish spouses. While Jewish-owned newspapers were not banned, per se, they went into bankruptcy through subtle means. This was done so that the general population would not be suspicious of the controlling intentions of the Nazis.
There were several national Nazi-approved newspapers—all blatantly anti-semitic and anti-communist. The most well-known was the “Völkische Beobachter,” which began as a weekly in 1920 in Munich. In 1923, when Alfred Rosenberg took over as editor, it became a daily morning paper. Readership, however, dropped steadily in the 1930s.
Another, less well-known Nazi newspaper, “Der Angriff” had a daily afternoon edition published in Berlin, with Goebbels as editor. He also published a weekly paper called, “Das Reich,” which appealed to intellectuals and had a steadily increasing readership. Its tone was much more subdued than other Nazi papers.
Germany’s business paper, “Boersen Zeitung,” was run by a Nazi sympathizer, Walter Funk.
Hitler’s favorite newspaper was a tabloid published by Julius Streicher. “Der Stürmer” was graphic, lewd and appealed to the uneducated. Displayed in newspaper cases where anyone could read it, only increased its popularity. The paper was banned by the Hitler Jugend because of its sexually explicit content. Some Nazi elite (like Göring and Goebbels) hated it, while others (like Himmler and Hitler himself) loved its crassness.
The SS had their own paper, “Das Schwarze Korps” which was free to SS members and came out every Wednesday. Not only was it anti-semitic and anti-communist, it was also anti-Catholic. A morale-booster for the SS, it supported the war effort and worshipped Hitler.
Thousands of smaller, regional newspapers were published and Goebbels’ office censored all their content. Editors quickly learned to publish only content that the Nazis would approve.
As the war went on, severe paper shortages forced German newspapers to shrink to a mere two pages by 1945.
A Berlin tabloid, “Der Panzerbär,” was published seven times during the last week of April, 1945. It was a final desperate propaganda attempt to keep spirits up in the fight against the Soviet Army as they destroyed Berlin…and thus, the heart of the Third Reich.
It’s been such a thrill researching the history as I wrote and rewrote Amber Stone, my third book in the series, Katya’s Stones. The research is akin to an iceberg. You see only the tip, but beneath there is a mountain of ice. I’ve read dozens and dozens of books trying to understand Katya’s world…a dangerous, but fascinating place.