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Other titles in the Rhetoric & Public Affairs series:

Bending Spines: The Propagandas of Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic (Rhetoric and Public Affairs Series)


Bending Spines: The Propagandas of Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic (Rhetoric and Public Affairs Series) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Why do totalitarian propagandas such as those created in Nazi Germany and the former German Democratic Republic initially succeed, and why do they ultimately fail? Outside observers often make two serious mistakes when they interpret the propaganda spawned by these authoritarian regimes. First, they assume their rhetoric worked largely because they were supported by a police state, that people cheered Hitler and Honecker because they feared the consequences of not doing so. Second, they assume that propaganda really succeeded in persuading most of the citizenry that the Nuremberg rallies were a reflection of how most Germans thought, or that most East Germans were convinced Marxist-Leninists. World War II Allies feared that rooting out Nazism would be a very difficult task. No leading scholar or politician in the West expected East Germany to collapse nearly as rapidly as it did. Effective propaganda depends on a full range of persuasive methods, from the gentlest suggestion to overt violence, which the dictatorships of the twentieth century understood well. In many ways, modern totalitarian movements rest upon worldviews that are religious in nature, Nazism and Marxism-Leninism presented themselves as explanations for all of life-culture, morality, science, history, recreation. They provided people with reasons for accepting the status quo. Bending Spines examines the full range of persuasive techniques used by Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic, and concludes that both systems failed in part because they expected more of their propaganda than it was able to deliver.

Book News Annotation:

While Nazi propaganda is the mark of vivid evil, says Bytwerk (communication, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan), that of East Germany leaves images of gray old men in colorless cities. He says both regimes used propaganda to attempt to build new societies in which people were to share almost unanimously a common worldview of religious proportions with little room for opposing versions of truth. He explains how.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

About the Author

Randall L. Bytwerk is a Professor of Communication at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. His book Julius Streicher received the National Communication Association Golden Anniversary Award.

Product Details

Bytwerk, Randall L.
Michigan State University Press
East Lansing, Mich.
Anthropology - Cultural
Europe - Germany
Nazi propaganda.
Political Ideologies - Fascism & Totalitarianism
Propaganda, Communist.
Propaganda - Germany - History
World History-Germany
Edition Description:
Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Series Volume:
no. 2
Publication Date:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Europe » Germany » Nazi Germany
History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » World History » Eastern Europe
History and Social Science » World History » Germany » General

Bending Spines: The Propagandas of Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic (Rhetoric and Public Affairs Series) New Trade Paper
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