Joseph Goebbels

Paul Joseph Goebbels (German: [ˈpaʊ̯l ˈjoːzɛf ˈɡœbl̩s] (listen);[1] 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German Nazi politician who was the Nazi Gauleiter (district leader) of Berlin, chief propagandist for the Nazi Party, and then Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945. He was one of Adolf Hitler's closest and most devoted acolytes, known for his skills in public speaking and his deeply virulent antisemitism, which was evident in his publicly voiced views. He advocated progressively harsher discrimination, including the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust.

Joseph Goebbels
Portrait by Heinrich Hoffmann
Chancellor of Germany
In office
30 April 1945  1 May 1945
PresidentKarl Dönitz
Preceded byAdolf Hitler
Succeeded byLutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk[1]
Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War
In office
23 July 1944  1 May 1945
LeaderAdolf Hitler (1934–45)
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Reichsminister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
In office
14 March 1933  30 April 1945
PresidentPaul von Hindenburg (1933–34)
Adolf Hitler (as Führer, 1934-1945)
ChancellorAdolf Hitler
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byWerner Naumann
Gauleiter of Berlin
In office
26 October 1926  1 May 1945
LeaderAdolf Hitler
Preceded byErnst Schlange
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Reichsleiter
In office
2 June 1933  1 May 1945
Stadtpräsident of Berlin
In office
1 April 1943  1 May 1945
Preceded byLudwig Steed
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Born
Paul Joseph Goebbels

(1897-10-29)29 October 1897
Rheydt, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died1 May 1945(1945-05-01) (aged 47)
Berlin, Nazi Germany
Cause of deathSuicide
Political partyNazi Party (1924–1945)
Spouse(s)
(m. 1931)
Children
Alma mater
Occupation
  • Propagandist
  • politician
Signature
^ Formally titled "Leading Minister" or "Chief Minister" (Leitender Minister)

Goebbels, who aspired to be an author, obtained a Doctor of Philology degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1921. He joined the Nazi Party in 1924, and worked with Gregor Strasser in its northern branch. He was appointed Gauleiter of Berlin in 1926, where he began to take an interest in the use of propaganda to promote the party and its programme. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, Goebbels's Propaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted control over the news media, arts, and information in Germany. He was particularly adept at using the relatively new media of radio and film for propaganda purposes. Topics for party propaganda included antisemitism, attacks on the Christian churches, and (after the start of the Second World War) attempting to shape morale.

In 1943, Goebbels began to pressure Hitler to introduce measures that would produce "total war", including closing businesses not essential to the war effort, conscripting women into the labour force, and enlisting men in previously exempt occupations into the Wehrmacht. Hitler finally appointed him as Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War on 23 July 1944, whereby Goebbels undertook largely unsuccessful measures to increase the number of people available for armaments manufacture and the Wehrmacht.

As the war drew to a close and Nazi Germany faced defeat, Magda Goebbels and the Goebbels children joined him in Berlin. They moved into the underground Vorbunker, part of Hitler's underground bunker complex, on 22 April 1945. Hitler committed suicide on 30 April. In accordance with Hitler's will, Goebbels succeeded him as Chancellor of Germany; he served one day in this post. The following day, Goebbels and his wife committed suicide, after poisoning their six children with cyanide.