Edited By James S. Corum, Olaf Mertelsmann and Kaarel Piirimäe
Between Aspiration and Adaptation: German War Propaganda in Occupied Estonia from 1941 till 1942
The National Socialist concept of war propaganda evolved out of the bitter defeat of Imperial Germany in the First World War. According to Adolf Hitler, the chief blame for Germany’s defeat lay not on the failure of German military power, but on its unsatisfactory propaganda, and, accordingly, on the triumph of the Allied and Communist propaganda in mobilizing the ‘enemy’ element in German society against the state and dividing the nation as a result.1 By the beginning of the Second World War, Germany had built up a sophisticated system of state and military level propaganda organizations,2 crafted to ensure that the mistakes of the First World War would not be repeated. This time the aim of propaganda had to be helping to bring about victory.
This chapter deals with the subject of German propaganda directed at the civilian population of German-occupied Estonia, referred to as Generalkommissariat Estland, the northernmost part of Reichskommissariat Ostland established on the previously Soviet occupied territory of the former Republic of Estonia. Although most studies concerning the history of German-occupied Estonia make some reference to German/Nazi propaganda, there is little written about its real aspirations, mechanisms and practice. Often the word propaganda is used to denote something the Nazi regime lied about, where it used an explicitly National Socialist terminology, or where it encountered resistance from the local population; thus, drawing parallels with Stalinist propaganda, rather than pointing out the differences.
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