Capture the Hearts, but Minds Are Optional
One of the most important ways that Hitler was able to hold onto power, despite the obvious flaws in the Nazi platform and the new German state structure, was his control of the minds of the people. But, that is not exactly correct. Hitler did not care about the ‘minds’ of the German populous as much as he cared about the ‘hearts’. As Hitler is marked as saying, “The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific trainign of the individual, but in calling the masses’ attention to certain facts”(140). Hitler knew that he didn’t eneed to convince people’s minds, he had to control their emotions. A pinnacle example of this is Jud Suss.
There are two reasons Jud Suss shows how emotions are more important than intelligence. For one, in class we all said how Suss Openheimer was a sleezy, manipulative dastard who would stop at nothing to reach his won ends and the ends of the other Jews. Since we knew the larger context behind the film, we could tell how exaggerated it all was. But, imagine you were in Nazi Germany, where you were already exposed to anti-Semetic propaganda on a daily basis. Even if you were intelligent, so much hate speech would start to seep into your daily thought patterns. It would take conscious will on a daily level to say to every piece of hate with “That’s wrong”.
Which leads into the second point: how well Jud Suss did in areas that Germany had taken over. In the areas that were suspicious or hostile to the Nazis, Jud Suss did not do well. The emotions in these places were receiving the daily emotional massage to put them in the right, receptive mindset. They were able to see through all the subtext and into what the film was really saying about whom. In these places, it did not take an intelligent person to see through the ‘ruse’, since their intelligence was not being muted by their emotions.
Sources: Jud Süß. Dir. Veit Harlan. Perf. Ferdinand Marian, Werner Krauss, Heinrich George, Kristina Söderbaum. Terra Film, 1940.
Spielvogel, Jackson J. Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988. Print.