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*Notes and references for this article.

His eye is on the prize... Goebbels embraces Bernays

None of us like to think we are controlled. The "us" is our personalities, our identity, who we are. But we have all been conditioned by our culture to obey laws and to remain silent when we disagree with the laws. Freud and Bernays understood that this control was necessary to maintain a stable business economy. In our controllable state, we are ideal consumers and good citizens.

The Third Reich in Germany was interested in controlling the masses. They needed to unify the nation and instill god-like devotion to the Fuhrer, but more importantly, they needed a method to persuade the conquered populations to cooperate. The person in charge of these programs was Joseph Goebbels.

At the time, Freud's psychoanalysis was being publically rejected as a "Jewish invention" and the Jewish professors in the universities were replaced by those that taught social psychology, particularly elevating the Aryan race. But, despite its "Jewish origins", Goebbels studied and implemented Barnays marketing and crowd control techniques. And so, apparently, did the Fuhrer:

"The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. -- Mein Kampf


Slogans attributed to Goebbels:

Goebbels used to say that "Domination of the street [media] is the first step to state power."

"Propaganda means repetition and more repetition!"

"Repeat it until even the densest has got it."

"Denials must always be categoric."

"Denials alone won't work. You've got to counterattack."

"If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth."

"It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise."

"The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it."

"The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly -- it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over."

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

-- Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda, 1933-1945


Postcards from Auschwitz: "Having a great time"

Faced with the task of moving hundreds of thousands of foreign prisoners and civilians, from remote locations to work camps, by the German rail system, Bernays' techniques were employed in what may have been the first "bulk mail" campaign.

Prisoners of the camps were occassionally well fed and clothed for days at a time so that promotional photos could be taken of them enjoying the cinema, playing ball, listening to opera and watching plays. These would be published in newspapers, showing that relocating to the camp was both temporary and pleasant... no need to be afraid when the SA come for you... just cooperate...

Another marketing scheme was named Arbeitslager Briefaktion (Operation Mail). Upon arriving in Auschwitz, the victims were required to write postcards or letters to home indicating that their resettlement was fine and they were in good health. [below] All these cards had the same return address: Arbeitslager Birkenau, bei Neu-Berun, Oberschlesien.

This mail was taken in bulk to Berlin for processing. Cachets were stamped on the correspondence indicating that replies were permitted only through the Association of Jews in Germany. Then, the correspondence was postmarked and mailed from several Berlin post offices.

In contrast to prisoners in other camps, these new arrivals were not registered or given inmate numbers. Shortly after writing these postcards or letters, these individuals were killed.

Some marketing strategies were for domestic control and frequently used Bernays concept of "branding" where the swastika (as the product logo) is associated with a group feeling (nationalism, the good life, racial superiority etc.).

[above] Similar poster campaigns were on-going in the US during the same period.


N = ∞

In statistics, the number of subjects included in the testing is usually written as N. Larger subject populations allow the detection of very small changes and quicken the understanding of experimental effects. While not infinite, the Third Reich's access to the population of prisoners in their "work camps" allowed them to make advances by using them in a variety of scientific experiments. Of special interest to those studying personality were identical twins. They could isolate and study children who were undergoing their early personality development and explore in detail what psychoanalytic theory had described.

Historians have correctly stated that these cruel and inhuman experiments were themselves sufficient proof of an evil and irrational unconscious. It validates Freud's worst realizations. Nevertheless, the opportunity to experiment on children confirmed that alternate personalities are the result of emotional trauma, inflicted at an early age.

Some of this happened accidentally. Alters appeared when children were victims of medical experiments or from the obvious trauma of being imprisoned and degraded. Similar techniques worked on adults and these alters could follow complex commands like robots.

The German experiments on mind control became focused on the alter personality phenomenon. Alters would be useful in military interrogations because they could reveal information that the host would not. They could also create alter spies, lurking inside the mind of the unknowing host. The work, towards the end of the war, was fast and furious. There was no opportunity to use these techniques effectively. At least not for Germany...

Upon liberation of the concentration camps, many of the doctors involved in these personality-changing experiments, as well as propaganda specialists, were given permission to immigrate to the United States under Project Paperclip, funded by the Rockefellers. They were to continue their work for a new master.

When Bernays' theory of "engineered consent" returned from Germany it had been supersized. The CIA was especially interested in individual mind-control -- brainwashing. They saw the potential for espionage in a new era of Cold War with the Soviet Union. Already proficient in controlling the masses, they sought total control over the personality. And they achieved their goal with project MK-ULTRA. Next...

MK-ULTRA and beyond (next)

© Gary Vey for viewzone  

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