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Joseph Goebbels

Political Figure / World War II Figure

Born: 29 October 1897
Died: 1 May 1945 (suicide)
Birthplace: Rheydt, Germany
Best known as:

 

Adolf Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, 1933-45

Name at birth: Paul Joseph Goebbels

 

Joseph Goebbels was Nazi Germany's Minister of Propaganda and a member of Adolf Hitler's inner circle during World War II. Although he was of age, Goebbels did not serve in World War I (1914-18) because of a physical deformity to one of his legs. Instead he studied at eight different universities and ended up with a doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1921. Goebbels was a student of romantic drama, but his talents lay in journalism and speech writing. He joined the Nazis in 1924 and quickly rose in the ranks; by 1926 Hitler had sent Goebbels to run things in Berlin and edit the party newspaper, Völkische Freiheit. As the Reichminister of Propaganda after 1933, Goebbels persecuted political opponents, burned books and urged the annihilation of Jews. After Nazi losses in 1943, Goebbels was the de facto domestic leader of Germany while Hitler concentrated on war strategy. Goebbels, in weekly radio addresses, encouraged the German people to fight to the death as the tide turned against the Nazis, and he and his family were with Hitler in a Berlin bunker at the end of the war. Goebbels and his wife, Magda, killed their six children and then themselves on 1 May 1945, a day after Hitler's suicide and seven days before Germany surrendered.

Extra credit:

 

Goebbels kept diaries from 1921 to 1945, parts of which made their way into public view in the 1980s. Although there were questions of authenticity at the time, in 1992 copies of his diaries were found in the archives of the former Soviet Union... Goebbels is often referred to as the father of "the Big Lie," a term that has come to mean repeating a falsehood until it becomes accepted as fact. Historians point out, however, that Goebbels was remarkable as Propaganda Minister because he was honest with the German people about Germany's chances of defeat.

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