Canadian Journal of History/Annale. canadiennes d'histoire XXV, August 1990, pp.

233-243, ISSN 000&4107 e Canadian Journal at TIlStOry

Inside Nazis

The Goebbels Diaries, 1924-1941

EIke Frohlich of the Munich-based Institut fUr Zeitgeschichte has done historians of National Socialism and the Third Reich an immense service by transcribing, editing, and publishing all hitherto known fragments of Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels's surviving diary, which he kept from October 17, 1923, to the spring of 1945. The five volumes, including a register, are marketed by the K.G. Saur publishing company, with offices in Munich, New York, London, and Paris. In this case, Dr. Frohlich has been able to publish hand-written diaries dating from July 1924 to July 1941. As Frohlich explains in her introduction, because of the fullness of the events during the war Goebbels decided to dictate his diary after that date, a process that resulted in type-written text for the balance of the dictatorship. I Frohlich's basis for her edition were twentytwo thick binders, constituting anywhere from two-thirds to three quarters of Goebbels's hand-written notes. The rest so far is missing. Parts of the diary from summer 1941 to spring 1945 may also turn out to be absent, depending on the final availability of either originals or copies, but so far Frohlich is hopeful that she will be able to complete the edition not too long from now, meaning that six more volumes would be added on to the present four (not counting an extant register volume and other registers to follow).

The editor narrates the adventurous fate of the diaries for the benefit of the readers who can consider themselves fortunate to have these sterling transcriptions at their disposal. This story reads like a tall tale, yet undoubtedly is true; it involves Germans, Russians, Swiss, Americans and Britons. After perusing it for the first time shortly after the appearance of the volumes, this reviewer was wondering how the remaining sequels could possibly see print. He was then told that progress had indeed been impeded by the obstinacy of East Germans, who, contrary to prior agreements, were reluctant to send the follow-up material to Munich. The latest in this development is that the current circumstances in Eastern Europe have led to progress: Frohlich's subsequent editions should come onto the market shortly,"

EIke Frohlich has spent years deciphering Goebbels's extremely difficult handwritten accounts and gives tantalizing examples of how dozens of expressions in the source could quite easily be mistaken for something radically different. Frohlich was commissioned to do this work by the Munich institute,

JDie Tagebiicher VOl! Joseph Goebbets: Sdmtliche Fragmente: Teil 1: Aufzeicnnungen 1924- 1941, ed. Bike Frohlich. Vol. 1: 27.6.1924-31.12.1930, CYlIl, 654 pp,; vol. 2: 1.1.1931-31.12.1936, V, 764 pp.; vol. 3: 1.1.1937-31.12.1939, V, 682 pp.; vol, 4: 1.1.1940-8.7.1941, V, 741 pp.; [vol, 5]:

Interimsregister, 351 pp. (Munich, K.G. Saur, 1987). Here see Elke Frohlich, "Einleitung," vol. 1, pp. VII-CYlII. See also Frohlich, "Joseph Goebbels und sein Tagebuch: Zu den handschriftlichen Aufzeichnungen von 1924 bis 1941," Vierteljahrshefte for Zcitgeschichte, 35 (1987), 489-522.

2Written communication to me by Hellmuth Auerbach of the Munich Institut fiir Zeitgeschichte, January 1990. Elke Frohlich, "Hitler and Goebbels im Krisenjahr 1944: Aus den Tagebiichern des Reichspropagandaministers," Vierteljahrshefte for Zeitgeschichte, 38 (1990), 195-224.

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in official conjunction with the Federal Archive of Koblenz. The text was computer-typeset and printed in such a way that a very readable, if not exactly glossy edition resulted, For the benefit of libraries and the researcher, this procedure has kept the price of the five volumes (including the lexical register) down to an affordable minimum.

Frohlich explains convincingly why Gocbbels's text has not beer. annotated and why only the barest of editing has been done: with the aim of establishing as much authenticity of script as possible. But even this modest-sounding task was hazardous, for apart from the difficulty of Goebbels's capricious hand there often was physical damage to the originals to be overcome, there were nonpaginated pieces to be linked, and dates and spellings to be corrected,

The outcome of this labour amounts to a gold mine for the diligent researcher, for this now is by far the most complete personal record we have by any of the major figures of Hitler's movement, and certainly the most voluminous one. The editor is right in pointing out that not even the second largest diary available in print, that of Polish Generalgouvernement chid HaDS Frank, approximates the Goebbels source in terms of information potential, let alone volume. Other fragmentary diaries exist, such as by Heinrich Hirnmlcr (only from his adolescence), Alfred Rosenberg, Hermann Goring, and Franz Halder, but they have been of rather limited service in the past? Commercially the most successful and, with reservations, for the historian the most WelcOTIIC of the diary and memoir genus has been Albert Speer's venal volume of reflections, Inside the Third Reich, which, nonetheless, has blanked out as much as it has revealed about Hitler and his Third Rekh4

This definitive edition of one part of the Goebbcls diaries makes it mandatory for historians to differentiate carefully between already extant, useful precursors on the one hand, and bogus or redundant versions on the other. It also suggests another dose examination of existing Goebbcls biographies and related literature. Concerning the first task, one should no! Jose sight of Helmut Heibcr's meritorious 1960 publication of Goebbcls's 1925· 26 diaries, but nevertheless note that some of his translat ions or interpretations were faulty," Into the same group of bona fide editions belongs Louis P, Lochner's work of 1948, a German-language Zurich edition as well as s translation into English of diary fragments from January 1942 to December 1943, Apart from the loss of felicity in translation, in principle this book ;~ more reliable than Heiber's because its original fundamentwas type-written and hence decipherable It is also still indispensable because, unlike Heibcr's, it has not yet been superseded by Frohlich's definitive edition." A. section ,f the diaries from early 1945, published not too long ago by a prestigious West

3S~e; for instance, the p~tperb;1".ck~~:d.i'ted -paylii:tl diary of Alfred Ro~::;s;hcrg~ Das potiiisc«:

Tagebuch Atficd Roscnbcrgs; 1934/35 una 1939/4,0, .'crt .H21rls-(~i~nther Seraphim (~1unkh, 1961; first hardcover edition 1956), which even if supplementec with ROSEnberg's Nuremberg rell memoirs (Lease ~1uf::.-eic.hnungl..;;L Ideate und [dole dcr nmianalsozialistische» Revolution [G6ttingen, 1955]), remains deficient .~s a SOllW:,

4Erinnenmgen, Sth edition (Berlin, 1970). For bclHr profit this source should be read :~ tandem with Speer's post--1945 Sp2nd,31.1 memoirs, Spandaue: Tagcbischcr (Frankfurt am ~.,.1?c;~

1975}Oa5 Tagebuch' 1'011 Joseph Goebbel» 1925/26' Mil weitet»» Dokitmc'1tr:~, ::d, Helmut H,,:bCi', 2nd edition {Stuttgart, 1961); Frohlich, "Emlcitung.'

6The Goebbels Diaries, ed. Louis P. Lochner (New York, 1948).

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German firm, also appears dependable and equally indispensable, until replaced by the forthcoming larger edition.' Goebbels's notorious, especially designed version of 1932-33 diaries for official publication is less useful because of its deliberate omissions and distortions, but editor Frohlich rightly emphasizes what the readers can now see for themselves: that the then Gauleiter of Berlin anxiously awaiting Hitler's takeover in the Kaiserhof hotel falsified fads far less than had earlier been thought. The reader can make this judgement because Frohlich has now published both versions, Goebbels's official and his private one, side by side in volume 2.8 However, scholars should beware of an English pirate edition of a fragment covering January 1, 1939, to July 8, 1941, brought out by the British Hamish Hamilton and thereafter Penguin companies, and subsequently in the United States by G.P. Putnam's Sons, As Frohlich explains, the translation and editorial work by Fred Taylor is fraught with errors for reasons of carelessness, lack of German language skiUs,and the inability to facilitate proper linkages of the original leaves. Thankfully, this misleading volume has now been certified as obsolete,"

Regarding biographies, Frohlich's master edition today is capable of verifying those, at least to a certain degree, even though nothing is bound to change in the presently accepted weighting. Now as before, Helmut Heiber's magisterial Goebbels biography excels, but Frohlich does shift some of'Heiber's hermeneutical accents. 10 Frohlich dismisses the works of other biographers such as Curt Riess and Manvcll and Fraenkel as superficial and sensational, and also makes short shrift of self-serving biographical memoirs penned by former Goebbels aides, notably that of Wilfred von Oven. In this context, it would have been useful had she gauged the memoirs of Goebbels helper Werner Stephan, which this author has had several occasions to rely upon in the past."

The best of these works, in particular Heiber's, are still not expendable, not only for the adduction of other primary and secondary materials, but also for the colour that lies in individual interpretation, and which makes for quite a different quality from the sober authenticity conveyed by Goebbels's own hand. Moreover, historians still need to fill the gap that exists, with few exceptions, for the period from July 1941 to the end of the Third Reich. In addition to reliable secondary sources, there are two primary ones that will help them do that. One consists of Goebbels's regular lead articles in Das Reich, the comparatively sophisticated weekly the Reich Propaganda Minister

~loseph Goebbels: Tagcbitcher 1945: Die ieuten Aufzeichnungen, ed. Rolf Hocbhuth (Hamburg,


Joseph Goebbcls, Vom Kaiserho[ zur Rcichskanztei: Eine bistoriscne Darsteiiung ill Tagebuchbtattern (Vom. 1. Januar 1932 his zum .1, Mai J933) (Munich, 1934); Die Tagebiicher, vol. 2, p~: 211-415; Frohlich, . "Einleitung!'

The Goebbets Diaries, 1939-1941, ed. Fred Taylor (Harmondswortn, 1984); Frohlich, " Einleitung!'

IOHelmut Heiber, Joseph Goebbels (Munich, 1965; first published 19(2); Frohlich, "Einleitullg!'

Ileur! Riess, Joseph Goebbels (New York, 1948); Roger Manvel! and Heinrich Fraenkcl, Doctor Goebbels (London, 1968; first published 1960); Wilfred von Oven, Wer war Goebbels? Biographie aus der Niihc (Munich, 1987); Werner Stephan,Joseph Goebbels: Damon einer Diktatur (Stuttgart, 1949); Frohlich, "Einleitung."

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published out of Berlin from the start of the war till April 1, 1945"12 The other is a two-volume collection of some of Goebbels's more important articles from that paper, as well as other essays and public addresses, for the years 1941 to 1943, both published in 1943 and, unlike Das Reich, readily available in libraries." There are, of course, individual locations for Goebbels's publicistic output, such as his article on education and leadership, published as early as 1930, in a Nazi-specific yearbook 14 Lest we forget, we have recourse to excellent critical treatments of Goebbels's Kampfzeit and Third Reich life, for instance the monographs and articles by the American historian Jay W. Baird, but also by others, all of whom have mainly concentrated on the uses of propaganda in a dictatorship."

Goebbels's many pages of memoirs do not throw any new light on the received history of the N azi movement Of the Third Reich, but they deepen our knowledge of certain events, reassign historiographical emphasis, and indeed expose a few hitherto unknown albeit isolated phenomena to scrutiny. As the editor elaborates, there arc some irritating lacunae, for example in the case of the Rohm Purge, June-July 1934, about which Goebbels says little more than that he would be on Hitler's side, or on the pre-history of Reichskristallnacht, November 1938, which Goebbels leaves shrouded in darkness." The diaries amplify the already rich evidence on two important points of political relevance: first, that the Nazis did not abet in the laying of the Reichstag Fire of February 27, 1933, and second, that Hitler was genuinely surprised (and disturbed) by Rudolf Hess's flight to England in April, ]941, and had not, contrary to steadily recurring hearsay, sent his deputy on a secret mission for the sake of a separate peace with London."

Because Goebbels was minister of propaganda and responsible for most of the culture in the Third Reich, the diaries can be best put to use in an evaluation of Nazi public opinion manipulation and cultural administration, especially radio, which he policed very closely, apart from rounding off the personality portrait that we have of the man thus far. On the whole, these intricate notes bear out the long-held contention that this doctor was the preeminent intellectual in Hitler's entourage and, despite his rationality, one of the most fanatical believers in Hitler and his self-proclaimed mission at the

12See Goebbels's lead article from ~l1is last issue of the series) which literally marks the cn.J of his profuse publishing career: "Die Geschichtc als Lchrmcisterir." In this he speaks of a

welter of possibilities stili, for thewar, "as long as we keep a cool head."

t3Joseph Goebbels, Das eherne Rcden WId Aufsdtze aus del? Iahren 1941/42, ed. M.A

von Schirrmeister (Munich, 1943); Goebbcls, Dcr steile Aufstieg: Red!", und Aufsot:e aus den Jahren 1942/43, ed. Schirrmeister (Munich, 19,13). A full set of Das Reich is in Baycrische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, srill not microfilmed (as of 1988) and therefore subject 10 spoliation.

14Joseph Goebbels, "Enie:hullg und Fuhrerstaat." Nationalsoriatistisches Iashrbuch (1930), 179 .. 1l3.

tSSce Jay W. Baird, ThE Mythical World of Nazi War Propaganda, 1939··1945 (Minneapolis, 1974); idem, "Goebbels, Horst Wessel, and the Myth of Resurrection and Return," Iournalof Contemporary History, 17 (1982), 63349; idem, To Die For Germany: Heroes in tne Nazi Pantheon (Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1990); Ernest K. Bramsted, Goebbels and Notional Socialist Propaganda (East Lansing, 1%5); Z.A.B Zeman, Nazi Propaganda, Znd edition (London, 1973).

!6Die Tagebiichcr, vol, 2, pp. 472-74; ibid., vol. 3, pp. 531 .. 32; frohlich, "Einkit!.lng."

17Die Tagebiicher, vol. 2, pp. 382--85; vol, 4, pp. 639-45. These entries support Uwc Backes et al., Reichstagsbrand-s-Aujkldrung eincr historiscben Legende (Munich and Zurich, 1986) and Nicolaus von Below, Als Hillers Adjutant 1937·45 (Mainz, 1980), pp, 273-74, respectively.

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same time. This is evident from the very first phase of Goebbels's meetings with Hitler, which was in 1925.18 The often daily entries also project a romantic Goebbels, in fact a man obsessed with sexuality and the need constantly to prove himself with women. If much has already been written about Goebbels's chronic promiscuity and the impression has been conveyed that he was wellnigh irresistible, the diary reveals the traits of a man not at all certain of his powers of sexual persuasion. A reader looking for saucy details regarding Goebbels's love life will be disappointed, for at the most Joseph was fond of intimating a certain level of success or the lack thereof. 19

In the pages of the diary, the compulsion about girls and "beautiful women" (a recurring phrase) is on the wane to the extent that ministerial duties keep Goebbels occupied after spring 1933, and even more so after the outbreak of the war in September 1939. About his legendary affair with young Czech actress Lyda Baarova from 1936 to 1938 there is little in these pages, but he faithfully records the effect Hitler's man-to-man talk had on him in midAugust of 1938. No question, the negative outcome of this great love almost destroyed the propaganda minister!" About Goebbels's various arrangements with film stars and, much more so, starlets, again the volumes are rather silent, but we already know from other sources that he routinely and cynically preyed on women who were dependent on him in the film industry. The Swedish singer Zarah Leander, for instance, has described a would-be seduction in her memoirs, and German film actress Margot Hielscher, in the early 1940s a very young and attractive starlet, has told this author how Goebbels demonstratively once seated her next to him during a private showing of "Gone with the Wind," immediately touching her in the dark, and how the stately Leander, who reportedly could not stand the little doctor, then exchanged seats with Hielscher, in order to rescue her as tactfully as possible." At another time, Goebbels attempted to show young Margot one of his several love nests, but as he proceeded to open the door to the place, the key broke - after having been tampered with by an adjutant with pity to spare for Hielscher.f Indeed, as the testimony of a number of self-indulgent actresses validates, Goebbels is supposed to have been no hero in bed, performing the sex act quickly, businesslike and totally normally, thereafter hurrying his paramour to leave.

Goebbels liked personalities from screen and stage, because he identified his own artistic persona with them. This applied to writers and musicians as well, As a writer, despite early setbacks that prevented him from publishing his autobiographical novel Michael before 1933, he empathized with current

18Die Tagebiicher, vol, 1, p. 161 and following; cf. Helber, Joseph Goebbels, pp. 48-55. 19For an example (affair with Xenia von Engelhardt) see entry for May 20, 1929, in Die Tagebiicher, vol. 1, pp. 374-75., vol. 3, pp. 507-30.

21Zarah Leander, Es war so wunderbar! Mein Leben (Hamburg, 1973), pp. 165-66. See also the more or less dependable memoirs of other female actors, e.g. Hildegard Knef, Der geschenkte Gaul: Bericht aus meinem Leben, 8th edition (Vienna, 1970), esp. p. 71, and Kristina Soderbaum, Nichts bleibt immer so: Riickblenden auf ein Leben vor und hinter der Kamera (Bayreuth, 1983), esp. pp. 156-57, 180-81, and of Goebbels's film star rival in the Baarova affair, Gustav Frohlich, Waren das Zeiten: Mein Film-Heldenleben (Munich and Berlin, 1983). Also author's recorded interview with Margot Hielscher, Munich, June 4, 1988. The film session is verified ill Die Tagebiicher, vol. 4, entry for Novembre 3, 1940, p. 385.

22Author's recorded interview with Margot Hielscher, Munich, June 4, 1988.

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poets and playwrights and took a keen interest in the affairs of the Reichsschnfttumskammer (part of his Reich Cult ure Chamber )Ied by Harms J ohst." Among all musicians in the Reich, the conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler, long famous before 1933, moved him most. (A good biography of Furtwangler, authored a few years ago by Fred K. Prieberg, which showed the musician 3"S being held at ransom by the Third Reich for the sake of artistic concessions he was constantly seeking, might now be somewhat modified. For in the diaries there is evidence of a larger degree of collaboration on the conductor's part than Prieberg had assumed.)" Goebbels was not "remarkably unmusical," as has recently been claimed; on the contrary, he knew the standard farc of the classics well, played the piano passably (often using it strategically in his seduction attempts), and he even injected his own melodic ideas during the composition of a propaganda song by Norbert Schultze, of "Lili Marleen" fame."

It is from the realm of propaganda and culture that entries in the diaries may be used exemplarily to demonstrate how entire sub-themes of Third Reich history can be elucidated. In the first instance, official German attitudes to American phenomena may be probed, and in the second instance, the propaganda ministry's relationship with soldiers fighting at the fronts. In both scenarios, Goebbels's personality is central; this man was truly inside the Nazi body politic.

Contrary to Hans Dieter Schafer's suggestion some years ago, the Third Reich was not ambivalent toward the United States, possessing a "split consciousness" that allowed all sorts of manifestations of Americanism in Nazi Germany to flourish, for the sake of the social peacc.f Deep-down rhe Nazis hated Americans and the modernism they stood for, and the~ tried to fight symbols of American life-style such as jazz or Girl-Kultur: Whenever it seemed that the Nazis embraced something of American origin, they were cynically trying to appropriate or copy it for their own purposes, strictly as a means, never as an end. This signified not ambiguity and confusion, but the realization of necessary compromises. At worst, the Nazis had to acknowledge that even compromises were not possible because they themselves were

21Die Tagebitcher, vol. 2, pp. 521-22, 532-33.

241n particular, Pricberg has underestimated the compromising character of Furtwanglcr's own hyper-nationalism, which, in the final analysis. made such collaboration possible. Fred K. Priebcrg, Kraftprobe: Wilhelm Furtwdngler in Dritten Reich (Wicsbadcn, 1986). Furtwaugler is mentioned, passim, in the diaries.

2~Quotation is from Szymon Laks, Music of Another World (Evanston, II., 1989), p. 86.

Leander, among others, mentions the piano as an instrument of seduction in Mcin Leben, p. 16.5. On Schultze, see Die Tagebiichcr, vol. 4, pp. 723-24, 726. Gocbbels often interceded in the musical work of the Deutsche Tanz- und Unterhalumgsorchester led by Franz Grothe and Georg Haentzschel, usually passing on his distates to Grothe (author's recorded interview with Georg Hacntzschel, Kola-Millheim, October 1, 1988. Also see Michael H. Kater, "Forbidden Fruit? Jazz in the Third Reich," American Historical Review, 11 (1989J, 11-43).

26Das gespaltene Bewusstsein: Deutsche Kultur IIl1d Lebenswitklichkeit 1933-1945, 2nd edition (Munich and Vienna, 1982), pp. 114-62.

270n the latter phenomenon in the Weimar Republic, see Girlkultur: Verglciche iwischen amerikanischem und europaischem Rhythmus- lind Lebensgefiihl (Munich, 1925). The Nazis' (Weimar-republican) opposition to "Americanism" is encapsulated in Alfred Rosenberg. Dcr Sumpf: Querscnnitte durcb das "Gcistesr-Lebcn dcr November-Demokratic (Munich, 1930).

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incapable of maintaining their own position. which, in principle, was always recognized as superior.

Goebbels's diary bears out this situation with graphic clarity. In general, this doctor of philosophy was so contemptuous of American home-bred culture and so convinced of the primacy of German culture that he wanted to use the latter in July of 1935 to attract American sympathies, by staging suitable German events in the United States." About a year later he crassly referred to that country as "this land without cukure.?" Some nine months hence: "The:

Americans are the most corrupt people on earth.":" And in February 1938 the minister heartily concurred with Hitler that America was "not really a nation in our sense of the word. ,,31

Goebbels denigrated the Americans for their large Negro population and the greater degree of tolerance they exhibited toward racial minorities, in particular Blacks and Jews. When in June 1936 the German boxer idol Max Schmeling defeated Joe Lewis in a dramatic match, Goebbels interpreted the victory of his next-door-neighbour Schmeling as One of the white nordic race over the inferior black race. During the Olympic Games that year in August Goebbels was mortified because in an early round of competitions only one German had won a gold medal, as opposed to three Americans, two of them Blacks?2

Juxtaposed to Goebbels's fundamental contempt for America is his apparent admiration of certain of her technical facilities, in constructing machinery, for instance, and especially, in producing films. About American movies, which, according to the diaries, he watched regularly in private showrooms, the chief of all German film companies loved virtually everything, with the sometime important exception of thematic content, characteristically deemed too shallow. Goebbels was intrigued by the American mastery of the camera, by the lavish sets, the cutting and editing in the studios, and, not least, the acting abilities of the stars, wherein he once again admired the physical beauty of such celebrities as Jean Harlow and Eleanor Powell. When colour was introduced in 1937, Goebbels waxed enthusiastic; this, as well as the entire technique of making a successful film, had to be emulated by the Nazis. Significantly, Goebbels viewed the whole phenomenon of American film in the manner of a tough competitor who would one day outdo the originators and beat them at their own game. As far as he was concerned, Germany could not work toward that goal fast enough. And once America was surpassed, she would be humiliated, annihilated. From the vantage point of intense rivalry, then, Goebbels's regard of the United States as champions of film production was closer to hatred than to love; here was a clever foe to be conquered, not unlike the Jews.33

Such sentiments are more brashly expressed in the war diaries, which leave us short of America's entry into the conflict by December 1941. This also

28Dte Tagebiicbcr, vol. 2, P: 496. 29Ibid., p. 655.

~bid., vol. 3, p. 155.

31Ibid., p. 426.

32Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 564, 630, 655.

33Ibid., pp. 430, 528, 570, 588, 666, 673; ibid., vol. 3, pp. 94, 99, 110, 138, 145, 165, 199, 250, 299-301, 318, 437, 507, 541.

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applies to film, for already in February 1939 Goebbels had decided, after seeing a bad American flick, that "our German films are much better.?" In 1942 Goebbels had a tap-dance scene cut out of the film "Carnival of Love" because he regarded this as an "Americanism. ,,35 It is during the war that Goebbels's negative opinion of all things American becomes exalted, as the fragmentary diaries and also the spiteful articles in Das Reich illustrate" Today one may be certain that much of that vituperative anti-American propaganda is reflected in Goebbels's personal opinion as dictated to his stenographer from summer 1941, in the yet-to-be published portion of the diaries.

Goebbels admired the Wehrmacht, and in particular its elite formation, the Luftwaffe. The reasons for this are psychological and can in part be gleaned from the pages of his diary. Like Heinrich Himmler, who just missed active duty because of age, Goebbels was a frustrated World War I fighter, in his case one who would not be accepted by the army because of his deformed foot. He therefore fantasized to himself about a possible role as a warrior. His close identification with soldiers as men of bravery, paragons who sprang from the well of Nazi ideology, was the counterpart to Himmlcr's founding of a private army, the SS; in Freudian terms of reference, Goebbels projected himself into the ranks of the Wehrmacht through what analysts call transference. Later still Goebbels fused an experienced joy of flying, well documented in the diaries," with his adulation of soldiering: air force pilots became role models long before World War II.38

For Goebbels the Luftwaffe was, significantJ,Y, the "most modern and most revolutionary" of all the Wehrmacht sections. Because to him an air force pilot was the epitome of heroism, Goebbcls endowed his persona, totally irrationaIIy, with the highest quality a human being could possess, at least in his own catechism: political astuteness." Thus in September 1940 Goebbels noted that famous war ace Major Molders based a military judgment "entircI,x on political sobriety and lack of hallucination [Phantasielosigkeit] at the front." I In contradistinction and relatively speaking, ordinary army officers were "mere political children" - a phrase used twice by Goebbels in his diaries before summer 1941.42

34Ibid., vol. 3, p. 573. In a similar vein ibid., p. 633. Also see ibid., vol. 4, pp. 41, 259,468, 494, 531, 635, 680.

35Evelyn Kiinnekc, Sing, Evelyn, Sing: Revue cines Lebens (Rcinbek, 1985), pp. 55-56. 36See, for example, Die Tagebucher, vol, 4, pp. 245, 662; "Die Strasse des Blends," Das Reich, November 8, 1942; "lugendmoral in Amcrika: 1m Schattcn dec Kriegskonjunktur," ibid., May 30, 1943; "Ocr gleichbererhtigtc Negro," ibid., July 18, 1943.

37Vol. 1 of the diaries documents this love of flying especially in open planes, braving the elements, where Goebbels could experience the illusion of a war-sanctioned mission. Such an event also has to be understood in the context of prc-1933 campaigning, which to the Nazis was a fight for victory in a period significantly termed Kampfzeit. Sec, for example, entry for September 7, 1930, on p. 599 (flight to Polish-beleaguered Konigsberg).

3SDie Tagebiicher, vol. 1, pp. 592, 594; vol. 3, pp. 32, 237, 466; vol. 4, pp. 27, 29, 57, 164, 336, 339, 350, 369, 374, 436, 709. In this vein, Das Reich continues with numerous articles, such as "Runen des Krieges: Zwei Gcsichter cines Stukafliegcrs" (March 7, 1943), and "Manner dcr Front: Alte und junge Flieger" (August 8, 1943).

39Die Tagebitchcr, vol. 4, p. 287. 4<1bid., vol. 3, p. 466.

41Ibid., vol. 4, p. 339.

42Ibid., vol. 2; p. 288; ibid., vol. 3, p. 18.

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Goebbels ranked the navy just a notch under the air force." He even sent film director Herbert A. Selpin to his doom because he had risked offensive remarks about marine officers who were obstructing his work," Again, a personal preference may have been behind Goebbels's predilection. As the diary explains on numerous occasions, Goebbels preferred holidays at the seaside, he owned villas on the Berlin lakes and enjoyed pleasure boats. Goebbels worshipped marine aces like the 32 year-old Gunther Prien, who with his submarine had singlehandedly scuttled the "Royal Oak," a mighty British battle ship, at its home base in Scapa Flow on October 13, 1939, and thereafter thought this" a milestone in my life. ,.45 The propaganda minister duly cultivated the hero myth of Lieutenant Prien as he had cultivated that of Horst Wessel and Werner Molders, even after Prien went down somewhere south of Iceland in March of 1941.46

Goebbels found such heroes also in the army. Franz Baron von Werra for instance, who in 1941 escaped from a Canadian prisoner-of-war camp via the United States and Mexico and then regaled the minister with tales of hits adventures." Goebbels visited the soldiers at the western fronts - only in the safe spots - and was determined, as early as 1940, to heroize "the whole of German soldierdom" in one of his films. (In fact, this would turn into an entire genre of Nazi military films by 1944.)48 In any case, with a side glance at his model heroes from the Luftwaffe, Goebbels was planning early on in the war "to do something for these boys. ,,49

This resolve to accord some sort of special treatment to Wehrmacht staff was motivated, in Goebbels's case, by a mixture of private infatuation with "these boys," and the cool tactician's understanding of the war-psychological value of morale-boosting for the sake of the final victory. Goebbels was in a unique position to act here because of his dual function as minister responsible for propaganda and culture: not only did he have the propaganda apparatus in hand, but he also controlled all the facets of culture, high and low, that could be channelled into that machinery.

Hence Goebbels's answer to the needs of the fighting soldier turned out to be Truppenbetreuung, a singularly comprehensive program of troop entertainment from the lowest to the highest level of culture and of style. The minister entered into a tacit agreement with Germany's male artists: they would be exempt from active service if they consented to travel to the military bases and outposts, and they would be paid according to their qualifications. Indeed, the missions were risky; artists could come under fire from partisans, and one actor is known to have slipped off a rock on the Mediterranean coast and to

43See ibid., vol, 2, pp. 175-76,423; vol. 3, p. 614; vol. 4, pp. 49, 59, 75.

44lbid., vol, 4, pp, 390-91; Elke Frohlich in ibid., Intenmsregister [vol. 5], p. 266; Arthur Maria Rabenalt, Joseph Goebbels und der "Grossdeutsche" Film, ed. Herbert Holba (Munich and Berlin,

198515 pp. 172-74.. . .

Gunther Prien, Mein Weg nacn Scapa Flow (Berlin, 1940), pp. 166-85, quotation p. 191;

Die Tagebucher, vol. 4, p. 372.

<l6&ird, Mythical World, pp. 59-60. 47Die Tagebiicher, vol. 4, pp. 593, 627.

481bid., vol. 3, pp. 660-61; ibid., vol. 4, pp. 252 (quotation), 368-69. 4~bid., vol. 4, p. 350.

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have drowned." But if the artists refused to comply or misbehaved, they could be conscripted or worse: this was an additional instrument of Nazi population control in time of war. Persuasion and the enticement of wages and camaraderie were used on female artists; many women found those exploits exciting, as did one popular singer who, while performing in occupied Warsaw, was invited by the SS to visit the, Jewish ghetto and had a lovely pair of books made there for a farthing." Resourcefully, these programs were linked to select offerings on radio and the installation of exclusive Soldatensender, soldiers' stations, at the fronts or in occupied territories, the most famous of which came to be Soldatensender Be/grad, as it launched "Lili Marleen" and various broadcasts of officially illicit swing music."

The diaries reveal interesting details about Truppenbetreuung. Already in April of 1940 Goebbels was able to register 15,000 individual front shows PCf month. One of the problems with these was to keep a healthy balance between quantity and quality, in that the spectrum of sophistication among soldiers was so wide as to reflect the factual extremes of formal education within the German populace at large. Typically, the enlisted men longed for cheap, sometimes raunchy diversions, whereas the haughty officers demanded" class," Goebbcls was constantly worried about having to sacrifice one of these legitimate desiderates for the benefit of the other, but he clearly repudiated trash among the common soldiers as much as he despised high-brow snobbery in the officer corps.

In the course of the historian's perusal of these matters, particular difficulties surface in the diaries. For example, there were the usual Third Reich competency battles between the propaganda ministry on the one side, and the Wehrmacht staff office (OKW) and Goebbcls's partner in the deal, German Labor Front Leader Robert Ley, on the other." As a further example, popular and celebrated artists, buoyed by much success, were becoming overbearing and used to raking in more and more money, so that Goebbels had to decree a fee ceiling, On January 12, 1941, the minister personally received about seventy front artists and sampled some of their expertise; on the whole he was pleased, showing his jovial side, he talked to the men and women and "learned much about their challenges, cares and needs. ,,54

How reliable, overall, are the Goebbels diaries as a source of historiography? Did Goebbels not know that they would be used by posterity to judge him and the Third Reich, against the background of aggressive warfare and of Auschwitz? Elke Frohlich offers a persuasive answer to this most important

5OAuthor's recorded interview with Gertie Molkenbur-Schonfelder, Lindau, June 2, 1988; Knef Der Geschcnkte Gaul, p. 51.

51Author's recorded interview with Gertie Motkcabor-Scbcerctcer, Lindau, June 2, 198B. 52See Komer, Raabe, Froelich, Gocbbcl:;, "Aufl1lf! Deutsche Kunstler!" Berlin, August 8, 1940, Amtliche Mitteilungen der Rcichsmusikkamer, August 15, 1904, Bundesarchiv Koblenz, RD 33/2.2. There are voluminous materials on Truppenbctreuung in the Bundcsarchiv's R 561 collection. On the Belgrade station: Lale Andersen, Leben mit einem Lied, 5th edition (Munich, 1981), pp. 99-238; recorded interview with Friedrich Meyer [former Soldatenscnder Bclgrad dance orchestra conductor], Munich, June 4, 1988.

53Pulldamentallyon this, sec Reinhard Bollmus, Das Am! Rosenberg und seine Ccgner: 211m Maciukampf im nationalsozialistiscben hcrrschaftssystem (Stuttgart, 1970), pp, 236·5(1, Also Ronald Smelser, Robert Ley: Hitler's Labor Front Leoda (Oxford, 1988).

54Die Tagebiicher, vol. 4, pp, 124,248,262,271,297,321,327,330,356,387,399,415-16,422,

460·61,463 (quotation), 469, 592,

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of all questions.f Goebbels started the habit of diary entries when he was an unknown young man, as replacement for church confession he had enjoyed as a pious Catholic child. The confessional character of the document, which insures fidelity, was carried over, though weakened, into the period of the Third Reich, because Joseph became accustomed to treating his diary, perhaps psychotically, in the manner of a personal friend. As his own importance under Hitler grew, he increasingly looked upon himself as a chronicler of the great historic era he thought to be living in, to whom later generations would be grateful for having left a weighty record. Since Goebbels subjectively created this diary with a clear conscience, as an unshaken believer in the idea of National Socialism, he had no reason to pretend or distort anything unduly. And lastly, he wanted his children to believe him. Goebbels, it is obvious from the diary, loved these children as any good father would; that constitutes one of the truly human aspects of the tomes. Whatever one may say about Joseph Goebbels, this father would not ever have been able to bear the thought that he had deceived his children.

York University

Michael H. Kater

55Frohlich, "Einleitung."

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