Goebbels, Paul Josef°

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GOEBBELS, PAUL JOSEF ° (1897–1945), Nazi leader and propaganda minister. Exempted from military service during World War i because of his clubfoot, Goebbels received a Ph.D. in literature and history in 1920. After some political searching, he made several unsuccessful attempts to write for liberal papers, most of which happened to be owned by Jews. He joined the Nazi Party in 1922. He never forgot his failure with liberal newspapers. After some soul-searching, Goebbels resolutely backed Hitler in the party's factional intrigues. In 1926 he was appointed Gauleiter ("district head") of Berlin, where he succeeded in building a strong party organization out of insignificant beginnings. The Nazi success at the polls in the early 1930s was due to a considerable extent to the propagandist genius of Goebbels, who had become chief of the party's propaganda department at the beginning of 1929. Appointed minister for people's information and propaganda after the Nazi accession to power, he became virtual dictator of Germany's communications media and artistic life. Goebbels' Manichean philosophy of a charismatic hero-leader opposed by powers of darkness (the latter personified by the Jew) was reflected in his propaganda. He was one of the instigators of the anti-Jewish boycott of April 1, 1933, and of *Kristallnacht (1938), organizing the latter in Berlin and participating in the Nazi conference dealing with the aftermath of the pogrom, in which heavy sanctions were imposed on the Jews. Continually demanding new oppressive measures against the Jews, he was among the initiators of the *Final Solution (see *Holocaust, General Survey), doing his best to incite the killers by various propaganda methods. As Gauleiter of Berlin he strove to make it judenrein, i.e., "cleanse" it of its Jewish population. Goebbels stayed with Hitler to the end, killing himself and his family after Hitler's suicide.


L.P. Lochner, Goebbels' Diaries 1942–1943 (1948); H. Heiber, Josef Goebbels (Ger., 1962); R. Manvell and H. Fraenkel, Doctor Goebbels (1960); E.K. Bramstead, Goebbels and National Socialist Propaganda 1925–1945 (1965).

[Yehuda Reshef]