Propaganda is a modern Latin word, the gerund form of propagare, meaning ‘to spread or to propagate’. More specifically, it is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.(Credits : Google Inc)
The term ‘propaganda’ first appeared in 1622 when Pope Gregory XV established the Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith. Propaganda was then, just as it is now, about convincing large numbers of people about the veracity of a given set of ideas (No surprise , how this vile weapon began in the inner chambers of the vatican catholic church).
Over the centuries, propaganda gained fame for being a dangerous weapon that didn’t require the pull of a trigger or operation of a missile. Misinformation was a big thing, to keep the spirits up of soldiers to fight wars they could not win, to hide terrible secrets and losses and to convince the population to side with inhuman acts that the government was responsible for.
In 1933, Hitler realized the potential of propaganda and appointed Joseph Goebbels as Minister for Propaganda. Goebbels was remarkably effective and much of the propaganda literature discusses in detail the methods they used. Hitler was a man well misunderstood; he was responsible for huge development changes in Germany that in the end were adopted by governments worldwide. Some examples are the use of highways and freeways (Autobahn in German) and his invention of the Volkswagen (Das Auto) so that any citizen, rich or poor, could afford an automobile. His ideas in today’s world would be considered visionary had he not let all of it be overshadowed by the massacre of 6 Million Jews.
Even now it’s not clear what drove him to murder so many (considering his first girlfriend was Jewish), but the main point to be taken out is that he was able to convince an entire generation of Europeans that his act was justified. From his perspective, he wished for the Aryan race and Germans to have more land in the motherland and this was the precedent for his argument (or rather, propaganda). The Jews, being bankers and land owners, had way too much land due to self preservation.
But unlike much of Europe, to the rest of the world, Hitler was a maniac.
It’s not about what he did, it’s about how he did it. How in the world did he convince millions that massacring these people was justified.
Propaganda and only Propaganda.
Joseph Stalin must have taken inspiration from the Fuhrer as he was a great believer in the ideas of Propaganda; the victory at Stalingrad by the Red Army was largely dependent on the strength of the propaganda to keep up the willpower of the soldiers to win a war that was clearly impossible.
In 1936 Boston merchant Edward Filene helped establish the short-lived Institute for Propaganda Analysis which sought to educate Americans to recognize propaganda techniques. Although it did not last long, it did produce a list of seven propaganda methods that have become something of a standard. They were as follows:
Bandwagon: Pump up the value of ‘joining the party’.
Card-stacking: Build a highly-biased case for your position.
Glittering Generalities: Use power words to evoke emotions.
Name-calling: Denigrating opponents.
Plain Folks: Making the leader seem ordinary increases trust and credibility.
Testimonial: The testimony of an independent person is seen as more trustworthy.
Transfer: Associate the leader with trusted others.
These methods are constantly used even now, everywhere around us. We are just prone to believing in something that many people around us believe; it’s a psychological effect that was often used by Hitler. This effect has a logical explanation. If something sounds incredulous, it may just be that no one can believe that someone will lie about something this big, which eventually leads to people believing it.
To simply state, if something sounds impossible, people tend to believe it if said many times, because, why would someone lie and attempt to sound stupid?