How it Works and How it destroyed a Country

Afroz Chakure
7 min readMay 25, 2023

After World War II ended, Germany was divided into four occupied zones: Great Britain in the northwest, France in the southwest, the United States in the south and the Soviet Union in the east. Berlin, the capital city situated in Soviet territory, was also divided into four occupied zones.

The victorious Allies ceded roughly 25% of Germany’s pre-Anschluss territory to Poland and the Soviet Union. The German population in this area was expelled. Between 1.5 and 2 million are said to have died in the process.

Catastrophe that could have been prevented

The old and modern world is filled with Manipulators at every step of the way. People are motivated by power, money, fame, jealousy, lust, anger, etc. These things have had and currently is making people do crazy things.

A common thing that remains a common theme with Pre-WW2 Germany is how Propaganda drew an entire country to ruins.

For more than 30 years after the World war 2 ended, the entire country of Germany remained split that finally ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th November 1989.

The ‘Father of Public Relations’

Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash

Edward Bernays wrote a book in 1928 titled ‘Propaganda’, the book explores the psychology behind manipulating masses and the ability to use symbolic action and propaganda to influence politics, effect social change, and lobby for gender and racial equality.

Born in Vienna into a Jewish Family, Edward Bernays is closely related to famous Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis which is a theory of how the mind works and a method of helping people in mental distress.

He is best known for his 1927 campaign to promote female smoking by branding cigarettes as feminist “Torches of Freedom” for the American Tobacco Company and in 1954 where he assisted the CIA to overthrow a democratically elected government in Guatemala.

According to Bernays,

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.

Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”

Bernays’ thesis is that “invisible” people who create knowledge and propaganda rule over the masses, with a monopoly on the power to shape thoughts, values, and citizen response.

but, what exactly is Propaganda?

A simple Google search provides the following definition for propaganda:

The Wikipedia definition of ‘Propaganda’ is:

It is communication that is primarily used to influence or persuade an audience to further an agenda, which may not be objective (correct) and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is being presented.

In short Propaganda is a useful tool for those who want power and control over the minds of the masses. It helps a small few gain consent from the masses over things that will help their cause.

Modern day Propaganda can be found in our Daily News, Social Media, Youtube videos, Road-size ad-Banners, phone notifications, etc. It very difficult to distinguish between Marketing and Propaganda because in both cases you are trying to influence people.

Illusion of Truth: If you show or tell lies enough times, then people will eventually start believing it to be true. You just have to repeat it many times!

Confirmation Bias: The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. Beware as this new evidence maybe falsely represented as facts.

Case for Nazi Germany — How Germany destroyed itself

Photo by Maheshkumar Painam on Unsplash

It was after World War 1 that Germany having suffered an incredible defeat had to pay repartitions for the war.

Suffering from highest inflation and unemployment rates in the country over centuries, these were desperate times for the people of Germany. And In these times, when a man told he could fix everything and bring back Germany’s past glory, people latched onto his bandwagon.

That man was Adolf Hitler.

Hitler was a ferocious speaker and could mobilize masses with his powerful speeches, But everyone in Germany knew that he was a racist at heart and despised Jews & other ‘Non-Aryans’ as non-natives of Germany.

but, why and how did Hitler gain power?

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

His rise to power along with the Nazi Party came at a time when Germany’s democracy was fighting to save itself from the hands of Communism after suffering a humiliating defeat in World War 1.

From 1920s onwards, the Nazi Party targeted the German youth as one of their special audience for its propaganda messages. Schools and texts mirrored what the Nazis aimed of instilling in German youth through the use and promotion of racial theory.

Picture books for children such as Trust No Fox on his Green Heath and No Jew on his Oath’, ‘Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom)’ and ‘The Poodle-Pug-Dachshund-Pinscher’ were widely circulated and contained depictions of Jews as devils, child molesters and other morally charged figures. (more than 100,000 of such books were sold!)

The idea was simple, to instill that Jews were bad or inferior and only the Aryans as the real inhabitants of Germany. These things were often presented as facts and any opposition to these ideas was dealt with strong repercussions.

The above is just a tiny bit of the crimes that Nazis committed against the Jews, amongst them mass killings, gas chambers and genocides became a common theme in the Nazi ruled Germany.

By spreading false information about a community, it gave the ruling government a free license to kill and murder millions of people.

Further, Hitler after taking control of the German Parliament implemented laws restricting and limiting the rights of different races and religions, including antisemitic laws — such as the Nuremberg Laws in 1935.

With such an environment don’t you think that Germany had it coming. 😔

As famously said by Abraham Lincoln (16th US president),

“A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”

Modern Rise of Populists & Fascist leaders, Rise of Communism

Photo by Chris Boese on Unsplash

We live in a strange time when everything around us seems to be going great. But great runs don’t last forever. There is a greater shift in power that is happening right in front of our eyes.

With emerging economies taking over, there is a strong race to take over the mantle of world leader among countries.

Many democracies are opting for Populists and Fascist leaders to lead them into the future. Conflicts are bound to rise.

With Communal-ism and formation of Cults on the rise, people have become less trustful of each other.

Slowly democracies are turning into Authoritarian regimes because such leaders claim they can solve all their problems and want to hide every fact that shows they can’t.

The modern-day Media doesn’t help as well, portraying things from the Internet as factual or true without actual fact-checking is what is destroying their legitimacy.

With rapid changes in technology and evolution of AI, things might take turn for the worst as we won’t get time to evaluate their long-term ill-effects.

What we might see is a repeat of what happened a 100 years ago with Hitler & Nazi Party or even 200 years ago with Napoleon Bonaparte & France.

The Modern Propaganda model suggests that propaganda techniques, such as the use of bots, targeted messaging, and data manipulation, can be used to control the public discourse and sway political outcomes.