Biography of Joseph Goebbels

Joseph Goebbels was probably the most intelligent of the Nazi leaders; he was certainly the most highly educated, with a Ph.D. from Heidelberg. His rise in the Nazi Party was largely due to his usefulness and loyalty to Hitler, rather than to any skill in political infighting. He was elected to the Reichstag in the last free election in 1932; he was named Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, and given total control of the media in Germany. He quickly proved to be a master of propaganda, one of the few equals to Hitler as an orator and a highly capable administrator. His ability to inspire confidence in Germany, to intimidate or lull the fear of its neighbors, to distract its opponents and confuse the issues, was essential to the success Hitler enjoyed in the period of appeasement before the war. During the war, he kept German morale high, even in the face of obvious defeats which he could not hide. With time clearly running out, he carried out one last coup, by convincing the Allies that the Nazis had prepared a "National Redoubt" - a fortified area in Bavaria, where they would make their last stand. Much of the Allied war effort in the last months of the war was delayed by preparations to attack this fortress that didn't exist. Faithful to the end, Goebbels remained with Hitler in Berlin as the Red Army closed in, and killed himself and his family when Hitler committed suicide.