Joseph Goebbels’ Marketing Machine
Leah Stevenson, guest contributor

"Propaganda is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert."
—Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1924)

This Monday, I was in Washington D.C. attending Krista’s public conversation with NPR host Michel Martin at the beautiful Sydney Harman Hall. I’ve spent a lot of time in D.C. over the years. In fact, I was born there. But, one of the places I’d never visited was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — a great space, organized well, with exhibits designed to slowly, and surely, draw you into the terror of the Holocaust.

Before I go much further, I should reveal that I am a “career marketer.” I know next to nothing about journalism, and even less about theology. I joined American Public Media, and non-profit life, after almost 20 years promoting food and health care products to consumers. It’s really rewarding to be “peddling thought” after years of pushing cereal (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

Through December 2011, the museum is running an excellent special exhibition called State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. When Trent asked me to guest blog, I realized the thing I most wanted to share was a graphic from that exhibit: Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda organizational chart.

I have to admit, my first thought came from my career marketer bias: 'Man, that is one impressive org chart. It looks like something you'd find at Disney or Coke.' They had departments that covered the traditional/expected news outlets (broadcasting, home press, foreign press). Plus, they controlled the cultural conversation with departments for music, theatre, fine arts, and literature.

As a marketer… impressive. As a human being… absolutely terrifying.

Ms. Stevenson is business development strategist for American Public Media who has been managing SOF’s outreach efforts. We welcome your reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on SOF Observed. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.

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