Fraudulent Nazi Quotations
By Mark Weber
Fraudulent quotations attributed to Hitler and other Third Reich leaders have been widely circulated for years. Such quotes are often used by polemicists — of both the left and the right — to discredit their ideological adversaries by showing that Nazis held similar views. This tactic works because people have been educated to believe that anything Hitler and other Nazi leaders thought or said was malevolent, wrong-headed or evil, and that no reasonable or ethical person could hold similar views.
Here’s a look at a few of the many remarks falsely attributed to Hitler and other top Nazis.
Goebbels: ‘Truth is the Enemy of the State’
Hitler’s propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, supposedly said:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Rush Limbaugh, the popular American radio commentator, is just one of the many influential Americans who has cited this quotation. During a May 2007 radio broadcast he claimed that these remarks are “from Hitler’s war room, the Nazi spinmeister-in-chief, Joseph Goebbels,” who was “speaking for his cronies in the Nazi party.” Limbaugh went on to claim that American “Democrat Party” leaders were using “a version” of Goebbels’ technique to try to “repress dissent.” And in January 2011 US Congressman Steve Cohen, a Democratic party politician of Tennessee, accused Republicans of propagating “a big lie, just like Goebbels” about a proposed national health care plan.
In fact, Goebbels’ views were quite different than what this fraudulent quote suggests. He consistently held that propaganda should be accurate and truthful.
In an address given in September 1934 in Nuremberg, he said: “Good propaganda does not need to lie, indeed it may not lie. It has no reason to fear the truth. It is a mistake to believe that people cannot take the truth. They can. It is only a matter of presenting the truth to people in a way that they will be able to understand. A propaganda that lies proves that it has a bad cause. It cannot be successful in the long run.”
In an article written in 1941, he cited examples of false British wartime claims, and went on to charge that British propagandists had adopted the “big lie” technique that Hitler had identified and condemned in his bookMein Kampf. Goebbels wrote: “The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”
Hitler and Gun Control
In a speech, sometimes said to have been delivered in 1935, Hitler is supposed to have exclaimed: “This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”
This quote has been popular with Americans who defend the constitutional right to “keep and bear arms.” It’s cited to discredit those who support restrictions on firearms ownership and use. It’s also cited to support the often-made charge that Hitler and his government curtailed gun ownership in Germany, and confiscated weapons held by private citizens.
The truth is rather different. When Hitler and his National Socialist Party took power in early 1933, they inherited a somewhat restrictive firearms law that the liberal-democratic “Weimar” government had enacted five years earlier. In 1938 Hitler’s government revised the earlier law by loosening those restrictions, thereby enhancing the rights of Germans to own weapons. The most thorough confiscation of firearms ever imposed on Germans was carried out at the end of the Second World War by the occupation forces of the United States and other victorious Allied powers.
Hitler on ‘Law and Order’