By Wolfgang Jeschke, Rubikon, 3 February 2021(translated from German with Deepl Pro)
There are considerable rhetorical parallels between Joseph Goebbels‘ “Sports Palace Speech” and the hold-out slogans of today’s Corona hardliners.
To persevere, to do without, to make sacrifices, to rally unconditionally behind the leadership of the country. Community spirit comes before self-interest. In these difficult days, no one must “pass by” the all-dominant issue. Everything must be arranged around this one issue. Whoever lets himself have a good time in this struggle of his people’s fate, while others suffer, mocks the victims. Therefore, everything that has to do with “fun” must be radically eradicated … Merkel? Lauterbach? No Goebbels! Despite all the differences that still exist between the Hitler dictatorship and Corona Germany – the sound of the potentates is always the same. From Joseph Goebbels’ “Sports Palace Speech” in February 1943, most people only remember the exclamation “Do you want total war?” But the Reich Minister of Propaganda said other things in that speech – and they are suspiciously reminiscent of the current war against the virus.
We publish here excerpts from Joseph Goebbels’ propaganda speech, which he gave on 18 February 1943 in the Berlin Sportpalast. The most famous sentence in it is the question: “Do you want total war? But we are interested here in other statements, the fascist language, the recognisable motives and the manipulative distortion of reality. Are we equating the speeches of our “lockdown” presidents in the federal and state governments with the speech of the fascist Goebbels? No. Comparing does not mean equating. To compare means to compare – to identify similarities and differences. And the comparison is justified.
The language used by those responsible for the [current] crisis also bears the hallmarks of totalitarian language. Measures are “without alternative”, opponents of measures are “enemies”, “deniers”, “terrorists”, “enemies of the people” and worse. The language in the Corona crisis is riddled with fascistoid elements of defamation, persecution, exclusion. And the “national”, “responsibility”, the “people” and its “public health” are also found again and again. The rhetoric of war is also part of the Corona staging: “war” and “struggle” against the virus, “fighting” the adversaries, “isolation” and “segregation”, “punishment” of dissenters.
Markus Söder’s [Bavaria’s Prime Minister] latest statements reached a new high on the apparently open-ended Richter scale of aberrations. His statement: “Corona is like pestilence. It creeps into every crack.” is factually incorrect in every respect. Corona is a rare disease that can hardly have any effect on public health. At the same point Die Welt quotes him:
“It is devastating. Endless Fake News and lies lead people into make-believe worlds and parallel worlds. It’s like a cult-like development. People are being brainwashed.”
Therefore, he said, it must be true: “We will not let our democracy be destroyed.”
With this, Söder uses classic manipulation techniques in his speech at the CDU’s New Year’s reception. He turns reality into the opposite: democracy is currently not endangered by the people who demand the full application of fundamental rights, but by the executive – i.e. Merkel, Söder and Co.
The civil rights movement is not a crowd of idiots denying the existence of corona viruses or spreading abstruse conspiracy theories. It is overwhelmingly citizens from all sectors of society who are concerned about our democracy. After all, representative democracy is an indirect rule of the people through parliaments – and not a totalitarian rule of the executive and bureaucracy by means of decrees. The core of our basic democratic order are the fundamental rights, most of which have been suspended.
The Fake News is primarily spread by government agencies and the pro-government press. Even after 11 months of the “pandemic”, we have no reliable figures. We count everything that somehow tested positive at some point as “infected”, use inappropriate tests, use untested vaccines and ignore the actual death and morbidity rates. We reduce intensive care beds, close hospitals and look with contempt at countries like Sweden that get through seasonal cold waves just fine without totalitarian measures. But unpopular truths endanger the political business of pandemics. That is why there is censorship.
The censorship is done by ostracising most genuine epidemiologists and virologists and by open censorship in all media. Critical scientists are defamed, critical authors are removed, critical videos and channels are deleted. The censorship community of the IT multinationals does not even stop at scientific channels and contributions. Wikipedia entries are being rewritten and the public state media, financed with compulsory fees, have in part completely blatantly spoken and enforced a ban on any other view on the Corona crisis.
Divising the people is part of the propaganda, the “enemy image” is a strategic necessity to define the “righteous”. By punishing the few one educates the masses.
Real democrats would behave differently: They would communicate in a citizen-oriented and transparent way, they would include all experienced experts in the analysis and discourse, and they would be mindful of the collateral damage they can cause with their actions.
But all this is not happening and never happened. And those who analyse the Corona propaganda campaign realise that the complaisant journalists work with the same terminology, promote division [in society] and, in addition, spread false statements of fact, false figures and false prognoses. They cannot distinguish between positive, false-positive, infected, sick, those who died of or with an infection and diligently add up all the numbers to a cumulative pile of data rubbish.
From taz to FAZ [German newspapers], from Spiegel to Zeit [German weeklies]: serious analyses are sought in vain. The media stubbornly refrain from checking the measures, the figures and the scientific facts. They are thus part of the propaganda machine.
The sound of our potentates is reminiscent of the darkest times. Not much is missing until the hate speech of our “democrats” is indistinguishable from that of the Nazi fascists. The only difference is that at present we have defined “war” as the “fight” against a pathogen of a respiratory disease, which has to serve as a justification for the destruction and division of society – and at the same time creates the legitimisation for a massive empowerment strategy of the political caste. The war is different, the words are similar.
Quote (emphasis added by the editors):
“The front, in view of the superhuman sacrifices it has to make every day, has an elementary right that not even one person at home should claim the right to live past the war and its duties. But it is not only the front that demands this, but also the overwhelmingly decent part of the homeland. The industrious have a right to expect that when they work ten and twelve and sometimes fourteen hours a day, there will not be lazy people lolling about right next to them, and that they will not even think the others are stupid and not refined enough. The homeland must remain clean and intact in its entirety. Nothing must tarnish its wartime image.A number of measures have therefore been taken to reflect this new optic of the war. For example, we have ordered the closure of bars and nightclubs. I cannot imagine that there are still people today who fulfil their war duties to the full and at the same time sit around in nightclubs until late at night. I can only conclude from this that they do not take their war duties too seriously. We have closed down these amusement arcades because they were beginning to be a nuisance to us and were spoiling the image of the war. We are not pursuing any mischievous aims. After the war, we would like to go back to the principle: Live and let live. During the war, however, the principle applies: fight and let fight!Even luxury restaurants, whose expense is disproportionate to the effect achieved, are doomed to closure. It may be that one or the other still sees the care of the stomach as a main task during the war. We cannot take him into consideration in this. If at the front our fighting troops, from the grenadier to the field marshal, eat from the field kitchen, I believe it is not too much to ask if at home we force everyone to at least consider the most elementary commandments of communal thinking. We want to become gourmets again after the war. Today we have more important things to do than take care of our stomachs.In the meantime, countless luxury and prestige shops have been closed down. They were often a constant stumbling block for the buying public. There was hardly anything left to buy there, at most once in a while when one paid here and there with butter or eggs instead of money. What is the purpose of shops that no longer sell goods and only consume electric light, heating and human labour, which we lack elsewhere, especially in armament production. (…)We will put the people who were standing idle in the empty shops there to more useful work in the public war economy. This process is now under way and will be completed by 15 March. Of course, it represents a huge reorganisation of our entire economic life. We are not proceeding haphazardly. Nor do we want to accuse anyone unjustly or to spread blame and reproach in all directions. We are merely doing what is necessary. But we do it quickly and thoroughly.We would rather wear patched clothes for a few years than conjure up a state in which our people would have to walk around in rags for a few centuries. What is the point of fashion salons today, which consume light, heating and human labour. They will spring up again after the war, when we have the time and inclination for them again. What is the point of hairdressing salons in which a cult of beauty is cultivated which takes up an enormous amount of time and labour, which may be very beautiful and pleasant for peace, but is superfluous for war? Our women and girls will one day please our victorious returning soldiers even without a peacetime make-up. (…)In general, everyone must make it a self-evident requirement of war morality to show the greatest consideration for the justified demands of the working and fighting people. We are not spoilers, but we do not let ourselves spoil the game either.Even trifles sometimes inflame public displeasure. For example, it is provocative when young men and women ride through the Tiergarten in Berlin at 9 o’clock in the morning and perhaps meet a worker’s wife who has worked a ten-hour night shift and has to look after three or four or five children at home. The image of a cavalcade galloping by as if in complete peace can only arouse bitterness in the soul of this good working-class woman. I have therefore forbidden riding on public streets and squares in the Reich capital for the duration of the war.If, for example, certain men and women loll about for weeks at a time in the health resorts, gossiping there and taking away the place of severely war-disabled men and women and workers who are entitled to leave after a year’s hard service, this is intolerable and has therefore been stopped. War is not the time for a certain amusement rabble. Our joy, until its end, is the work and the struggle; therein we find our deep inner satisfaction. Those who do not understand this out of their own sense of duty must be educated to this sense of duty, if necessary also forced. The only thing that helps here is a hard line.For example, it does not make a good impression on the people if we issue the slogan ‘Wheels must roll for victory’ with a huge propaganda campaign, and the whole people draw the conclusion from this and do not make any useless journeys, while unemployed pleasure travellers only get more space on the railway as a result. Today, the railways are used for war-important transports and business trips that are necessary for the war” (end of quote).
Joseph Goebbels’ complete speech of 18 February 1943 can be read here (in German).
The Wikipedia entry on the speech in the Sports Palace. A quote from it:
“Goebbels described his speech afterwards among confidants as an “hour of idiocy. If I had told people to jump from the third floor of Columbus House, they would have done it too.”