Roosevelt and Hopkins, An Intimate History

By Robert E. Sherwood | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VII
The Chain Reaction

It is generally assumed that propaganda is nothing but a maze of words dreamed up by fiendish minds for the purpose of deceiving and cajoling, lulling or frightening. But the only war propaganda that really matters is that which proclaims action or which threatens it, and in the latter case the action must always follow or the propaganda boomerangs. The devastating Nazi propaganda campaign, the strategy of terror, was not the mere creation of Goebbels' phrase factory; it was the sequence of events—the blood purges, the pogroms, the rearmament, the annual Black Mass of force worship at Nuremberg, the concentration camps, the reality of the fifth columns operating with brazen, contemptuous candor behind the frontiers of intended victims all over Europe and the Western Hemisphere; finally, it was the sudden application of overwhelming force itself and the proof that "resistance is futile." Hitler dancing a jig on the grave of the 1918 Armistice— Hitler paying magnanimous tribute at the tomb of his late colleague, Napoleon Bonaparte—these illustrated events provided the supreme peak in the course of Nazi propaganda. If the strategy of terror were enough in itself to conquer the world, Hitler need fear no future battles. But there are some peoples whom it is dangerous to alarm, and the first of these was the British, and the second the Russians and the third the Americans.

One of the most forcible and persuasive although unwitting purveyors of Nazi propaganda was the famous American hero, Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh. Largely because of personal tragedy, and the refusal of the more sensational press (which was also the most vehemently isolationist section of the press) to allow him and his family to lead anything resembling a normal life, Lindbergh had lived for several years in Europe before the war. He had seen the flabby weakness of the England of Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, and the chaotic

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