the nature of propaganda and the nazis' use of it

i. seductive and wholesome values: the lure of the nazi party message in 1932

As they were campaigning for public office in 1932 in Germany, the National Socialist German Worker's Party - commonly known as the Nazi party - sought to present itself as the purveyor of positive values and good intentions. This poster with its wholesome image of an ideal German family is a good example.

Posters such as this one presented the German family as blond, blue-eyed, pale, attractive, here with a mother, father, two children, and a newborn baby. Without the German inscriptions, this image might be mistaken for a typical scene from one of Norman Rockwell's images in The Saturday Evening Post.

"Die NSDAP sichert die Volksgemeinschaft" (The Nazi Party Safeguards the People of the Nation) states the banner headline, and below, the German urges people to join their local chapters of the Nazi Party to support the effort.

In addition to the text messages, the poster conveys complex visual messages as well. Select the thumbnail on the right, expand it, and drag it to the side so you can still read here.

Look closely at the poster. The key to unearthing its messages is to pay very close attention to details and to find the patterns that emerge. Nothing in propaganda is an accident. Everything is intended to create a predictable emotional effect.

The mother has her arms around the baby. The father has his arms around his son and wife, and the eagle, symbol of the Nazi party? Look at the wing tips in the bottom corners of the poster. The family is almost engulfed in a circle by the wings, as the mammoth bird (the Nazi party) - their guardian - towers over them and stares intently off into the distance.

How does the visual content of the poster support and relate to the written message? What emotional messages does it convey that aren't stated in the words?

Only the little girl isn't looking at the baby but rather is looking at us, in a way inviting us into the circle. What emotions does her face and her parents' faces convey? What makes you think so?

Knowing the history that followed and the nightmare that the Nazis' brought to Europe, this positive poster with its "family values" has a startling impact.

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