GOEBBELS’ PRINCIPLES OF PROPAGANDA
These principles purport to summarize what made Goebbels tick or fail to tick. They may
be thought of as his intellectual legacy. Whether the legacy has been reliably deduced is a
methodological question. Whether it is valid is a psychological matter. Whether or when
parts of it should be utilized in a democratic society are profound and disturbing
problems of a political and ethical nature.
1. Propagandist must have access to intelligence concerning events and public opinion.
2. Propaganda must be planned and executed by only one authority.
a. It must issue all the propaganda directives
b. It must explain propaganda directives to important officials and maintain their morale
c. It must oversee other agencies’ activities which have propaganda consequences
3. The propaganda consequences of an action must be considered in planning that action.
4. Propaganda must affect the enemy’s policy and action.
a. By suppressing propagandistically desirable material which can provide the enemy
with useful intelligence
b. By openly disseminating propaganda whose content or tone causes the enemy to draw
the desired conclusions
c. By goading the enemy into revealing vital information about himself
d. By making no reference to a desired enemy activity when any reference would
discredit that activity
5. Declassified, operational information must be available to implement a propaganda
6. To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of an audience and must be
transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium.
7. Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.
8. The purpose, content and effectiveness of enemy propaganda; the strength and effects
of an expose; and the nature of current propaganda campaigns determine whether enemy
propaganda should be ignored or refuted.
9. Credibility, intelligence, and the possible effects of communicating determine whether
propaganda materials should be censored.