Apart from Hitler himself, perhaps the most fascinating figure of Third Reich Germany is the regime’s chief publicist and spokesman, Joseph Goebbels. He is widely portrayed as a master of lies and deceitful propaganda. But this familiar image, which is particularly entrenched in the United States, is itself a propaganda falsehood. Historian Helmut Heiber wrote: “Goebbels was accordingly able to celebrate his information policy as being not only superior to the enemy’s in its monolithic character, but also of a ‘seriousness and credibility’ which `simply cannot be surpassed.’ … Seen in the long view, Goebbels preached, the best propaganda is that which does no more than serve the truth.” As French scholar Jacques Ellul noted, the postwar image of Goebbels as a master dissembler is itself a propaganda distortion.
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