Holocaust  Propaganda

Holocaust  Propaganda

ENG 333 Project

The World Will Never Forget


In the1945 article, “ The World Must Not Forget,” Harold Denny uses intense imagery combined with descriptive analysis to generate a jarring portrayal of Buchenwald and Thekia, two Nazi concentration camps during their liberation. He insisted that “the world must know and it must not forget” the gory details of what happened during the holocaust. He persists to say that it was impossible for German citizens not to know, to some extent, what was happening behind the barbed wire fences only feet from their homes. The evidence was staring Germans in the face for years. Denny writes:

            “And these camps surrounded only by barbed-wire fences and standing beside public highways were perfectly visible. Long caravans of wretched prisoners were moved from camp to camp too and must have been seen at such times.”

            The problem of dealing with people who are “morally sick,” appears within the text. For most, it is obvious that Adolf Hitler was a moral criminal, a term defined in Michael Walzer’s book “Arguing about War.” Walzer describes the character of moral criminals as “egoists and communalists, who recognize no one’s rights but their own, act badly on the smallest pretext, at the first hint of danger (perhaps also at the first hint of advantage) to themselves.” Obviously Hitler acted badly—to put it nicely—at the first hint of advantage he had over the German population and therefore confirming Hitler a moral criminal.

            What about the German citizens? Were they moral criminals too? Some critics argue that the German community was simply a victim of Nazi propaganda, Hitler ideology and a drowning economy. But Denny certainly doesn’t believe that the German population was innocent, in fact, he states, “Germany has committed these horrors, because the German people as a whole share Hitler’s guilt though already they are hastening to disclaim it.” He goes on to say that, “The motives are obvious: the extermination of races which Hitlerian ‘philosophy’ classified as inferior and the enfeeblement of Germany’s neighboring peoples. It is the final, hideous consummation of the herrenvolk myth, a myth which the German people accepted gladly.” Therefore, because the German people accepted the immoral crimes of Hitler, they too were moral criminals. Mass slaughter could not have happened without the Germany’s consent.

            However, another argument can be made. Emergency ethics, an idea described by Walzer can be used in defense of the German population. “A supreme emergency exists when our deepest values and our collective survival are in immediate danger,” stats Walzer. This was the cause during Germany’s economic crisis prior to Hitler’s rise to power. Without Germany’s state of emergency, they would not have reached out to Hitler who held the only ounce of hope left for Germany.

            Walzer and Denny also parallel on the point of jus post bellum, or justice after the war. In fact, this may be the entire point of “The World Must Not Forget.” In order for justice to take place after the holocaust, Denny offers the solution in his conclusion that the new form of barbarianism that Hitler created must be bred out of the German population. “It will be a difficult process,” states Denny, “lasting for generations.”

            This analysis offers a variety of insight into the German population during the holocaust, and concludes that the only way jus post bellum will ever happen is by the world’s recognition of moral criminals and never forgetting what happened during these horrific times.


-Elizabeth Ilse


Denny, Harold. “The World Must Not Forget,” The New York Times. May 6, 1945


Walzer, Michael. “Arguing about War.” 2004

Rhetorical Propaganda

     The black and white image depicts a clean cut man sweeping away three small Jewish men, several stars of David, and a number of pieces of paper with writing on them. The man’s left shoulder is adorned with the Swastika. What appears to be a Caduceus, two snakes spiraling around a staff with a winged hat at the top, is illustrated to the left of the man. The text on the right side of the poster reads, “Clean must be the German trade.” The rest of the text at the bottom of the poster cannot be completely translated.


     The only thing known about this poster is it was created by Joseph Goebell’s prior to the Holocaust. This means that the intended audience was most likely to be the German population and Nazi soldiers. It was intended to persuade the Germans to support the Nazi regime by portraying the Jews as a problem that needs to be swept away.


     The message of the poster is quite clear and straight forward. The Germans must rid themselves of the Jews. Jews are compared to garbage and trash. They are ugly, little pests that must be exterminated and the Nazi’s are the ones who are going to take care of it. The words and imagery used work well together to completely represent the message that is being portrayed.


     The caduceus is interesting to see. According to Encarta, the caduceus is, “A winged staff entwined with two serpents, the symbol of Hermes or Mercury and associated with the Greek god of healing, Asclepius.” This implies that the Nazi’s are healing Germany. Just like a wound they are getting rid of the infection.


     The image makes me uneasy knowing the outcome of the Holocaust. The easy at which an entire group of people can be dehumanized and torn down is frightening. It’s even scarier to think of how effective this poster is at portraying the intentions of the Nazi’s. How many people were influenced by this image? How many people could have been saved if propaganda such as this was not used?


      Personally, I find the use of visual rhetoric to be very effective. The combination of visual and verbal rhetoric is even more powerful. A picture truly can say a thousand words. When used proper a picture can even change the views of a nation.


      ~ Nick Hendrickson

Just a thought..

In a speech made by Pope John Paul II in March of 2000, he says “I hear the whisper of many as they plot to take my life” when remembering the horrific events of the Holocaust.  He recalls his own nightmares of World War II and gives his religious approach on the situation. He even had Jewish friends who unfortunately did not survive through the Holocaust, but the memories still remain.  He says, “No one can forget or ignore what happened and no one can diminish its scale”.  The Pope is a very influential person to many people in this world.  Because he proclaimed that we cannot forget the Holocaust, it should be assumed as a very significant statement.  As the Pope takes an anti-Semitist stance and informs his audience of future implications, it is recognized that he is very passionate about keeping this world peaceful.


In the book, Arguing about War, Michael Walzer describes a concept of emergency ethics.  Emergency ethics is how a person or nation of people would react when being attacked or when put into a crisis situation.  Not to go against the Pope, but I believe the Holocaust was just a panic reaction to an emergency situation.  Germany was in a place of depression, economically and socially, and they needed a leader.  That leader turned out to be a monster, Adolf Hitler.  The Germans just followed the man in power, a man they trusted.  Hitler persuaded so many people that what they were doing was right.  I think they believed him because they were panic-stricken.  The Jews then had no reaction to the way they were being attacked, because it was so gradual.  Any Jew who would have fought back was killed. 


The Pope is more of an absolutist, as Walzer would say.  Absolutism represents a denial of the very existence of anything that might be called “middle ground” (Walzer).  In this thought process, there is only right or wrong.  The Pope doesn’t completely deny the areas of middle ground when it comes to argument of the Holocaust, but he believes that only negatives came from this.  I would agree, but if you take an opposing position, you could say that positives came from it also.  People have learned a lot from this terrorizing experience and now look for ways to improve the social health of the world.  From the destruction it has caused, we can now view the world with a hopeful caution.


Pope John Paul II takes religion seriously.  If he were to be put into a crisis situation, his morals would have to be tested. A moral criminal has been described as a person “who knows that he can’t do what he has to do - and finally does” (Walzer).  To a person being attacked directly by another person, maybe having a gun pointed to their head, a first reaction could possibly be to kill them before they kill you.  Everyone has a natural instinct to survive.  You should never kill anyone, but sometimes, you may have to.  To the Pope, this is not true.  In the Christian religion, it is against moral code to murder.  I cannot speak for him, but I am sure that he would not compromise his religious morals to kill another person, as a Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.  But, as a human being, I think his instincts would be telling him to defend himself.


In today’s world, we see the struggles of the military through war, deaths through murder, and fear through crime.  By human instinct, we are demanded to react with emergency ethics and may have to compromise our moral beliefs.  By definition, this would determine us to be criminals by law and be considered a “moral criminal” as Michael Walzer says.  Through the eyes of a Pope, morals are important to keep clean.  In the event of a crisis, a Pope with an absolute mindset views murder as something that should never ever be acted out by a human being, but sometimes, you may have to.



- Kayla





"The Holocaust Speech by Pope John Paul II March 23rd 2000 - At Israel's Holocaust Memorial." The

                Holocaust Speech by Pope John Paul II. Web. 04 Apr. 2012.


Walzer, Michael. Arguing about War. Yale University Press, 2004.

Analysis of Propaganda Poster- Behind Enemy Powers: The Jew


My visual is an anti-Semitic poster used by the Nazi’s during World War II. The poster illustrates a Jew peeking through a British, American and Soviet Union flag. Text on the poster states “Behind the Enemy Powers: the Jew.” Artist Bruno Hanish created this poster that was distributed around Germany, German-occupied lands and neutral countries.

                  This poster is a form of obvious visual rhetoric for many reasons. For instance, one example is that it uses symbolic action as explained by Foss, in his article Theory of Visual Rhetoric, “To qualify as visual rhetoric, an image must go beyond serving as a sign, however, and be symbolic, with that image only indirectly connected to its referent.” There are many symbols used, like the Star of David symbolizing the Jewish faith, and flags symbolizing different countries. These symbols along with their placement are used to form a rhetorical message.

                  Colors of red, white, blue and yellow are used consistently throughout the poster, with the yellow of the text reading, “the Jew,” matching the yellow of the Star of David. The aesthetics are affective; using strategic balance and pattern to move the viewers’ eye through the poster, never settling on one specific element. The color yellow, however, stands out.

                  This visually rhetorical device relates directly to the topic of Nazi Propaganda. It was used as a tool to demonize and dehumanize the Jewish race.

                  One visual element that I find extremely strategic and affective is the arrangement of objects. “The Jew,” is placed in the center, but behind flags. The flags are translucent so you can see the finished silhouette of his body. Only one eye peeks out through the curtain of enemy countries. Dangling from his waist, the Star of David appears, and in his face the look of deceit is portrayed. The text added in front, and separate from the visual, only reinforces the message. How these elements are placed play directly to the posters’ audience.

                  According to Foss, “visual rhetoric implies an audience and is concerned with an appeal either to a real or an ideal audience.” Foss also explains how the visual is arranged directly correlates with its effectiveness. The audience of this piece was mainly Germans and German sympathizers, vulnerable due to the timing of World War I and ready to blame their enemies for their suffering. In this way, the German population was the Nazi’s ideal audience when creating a new enemy, the Jew. They arranged the visual elements to correlate their Jewish population with their enemies of World War I.

                  The message is made clear for all viewers to understand. When viewing this poster for the first time, I was appalled and then extremely saddened knowing that a simple message like this took part in the greatest of all genocides. It is also obvious to me that the Nazi’s would not have stopped. They would have committed these crimes until all of their enemies were completely wiped out, including the United States where I live.

Elizabeth Ilse

Visual Rhetoric in Images of the Holocaust


The type of visual I chose to analyze has to do with the topic of Nazi Propaganda. My visual is from a film called The Eternal Jew that was shown as a hate film in Germany. This movie was part of the Nazi’s anti-Semitism acts. This is important in understanding in what ways the Nazi’s did to discriminate the Jewish populations and ultimately make their lives a living hell. In the article by Sonja Foss it says, “The social function that influences and manages meanings”. I believe that this particular visual was created to convey a meaning and convince the German people that Jews deserved to be hated, so that is why I chose to use this one. Briefly, the characteristics of this film poster: it uses dark colors (dark green, black, red, and grey), there is a large red swastika in the center of the poster with the faces of five grey and deathly looking men who seem to be suffering. I am inferring that these are Jewish men. The words across the bottom in green display the name of the film.

In looking at this film poster, personally, my eyes went directly to the center where the swastika is. Right behind the swastika is a picture of a man that looks like the life is sucked out of him, which leads people to believe that this is the condition the Jews are in. For the Nazi’s, this is an accomplishment. In creating this film poster, it is clear that someone wanted to send a message. In order to send a message, Herrick describes in Rhetoric as Situational, an audience needs to be determined. One audience could be the Nazi’s and German people, trying to make the impression that they need to destroy the Jews to the extent of the way they look on the poster. Another audience is the Jewish people, creating a scare tactic and declaring that Nazi’s have all the power.

Herrick also points out an element known as exigence, which is defined as an imperfection marked as urgency or something waiting to be done. This poster motivates an urgent response. It is clear that there needed to be a quick response to this film, the Jews were hated and the Nazi’s needed to do something about it. It makes me uncomfortable knowing that things like thing were used against the Jews in order to influence the German population to destroy them.

Overall, this poster shows just how much the Jews were hated. It shows the dominance and power that the Germans and Nazi’s, even Hitler, had over that part of the world during the time of the Holocaust.


- Kayla





Foss, Sonja. Theory of Visual Rhetoric. 141-151.

Herrick, James. Rhetorical Situation. 230-232.


We are here to inform, teach, and provide a new perspective on the issues surrounding the Holocaust specifically through the Nazi regimes use of propaganda; however, please feel free to discuss any topic surrounding the Holocaust. Our discussions are the driving force towards understanding what truly happened and how we can teach others about the events that took place.

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