Uses of Technology in Their Rise to Power
During their rise to power in Germany, the Nazis made extensive use
of modern technology in various ways. The first, and most useful, technique
that they employed was the use of the radio to reach mass audiences.
Secondly, Hitler was the first major leader of any time to commute by
airplane. He used this as a sort of propaganda, and also to get his
message across to more people. The third and final way in which the
Nazis used technology was during the famous party rallies.
Hitler was "a leader whose greatest asset was his ability as a speaker."
[Hitler, 67] He was well aware of this, and also aware of the fact that
"the broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric
than to any other force." [Hitler, 38] Clearly, a man who realizes the
power of the spoken word, and who is also a great orator, will try to
reach as many people as possible with his speeches. Hitler did just that,
by using the modern mass media, especially radio.
His powerful, emotional, speeches reached not only the people at the
rallies, but reached the average German sitting in the beergarden as well.
Normally, this would be a beneficial side effect for a leader. But because
Hitler's speeches were so overwhelmingly powerful, and listeners were
"caught in the spell of powerful emotions of hatred and exaltation," [Hitler,
38] the radio was a tremendous ally for the Nazis in their struggle for
The second facet of modern technology employed by the Nazis was the
use of the airplane. The greatest help the airplane provided was allowing
Hitler to move quickly between cities, thus again allowing him to reach
a greater audience, which allowed him to reel in more supporters. While
the use of the airplane as a mode of transportation was useful, the propaganda
use was even greater. In "Triumph of the Will", a film by Leni Riefenstalen,
nearly two minutes of the opening is devoted to showing Hitler descending
through the clouds in his plane.
With such a massive amount of screen time used to show this, it is obvious
that Hitler wanted the viewer to come away with some impressions of him.
By descending through the clouds, with the sun burning brightly, Hitler
creates a visual simile, comparing himself to an angel or some sort of
heavenly being. The angel, of course, is coming down to meet his adoring
followers, and to pull Germany from the ruins of post-WW I. The airplane
was a great aid to Hitler, not just as a means of transportation, but
as a propaganda tool as well. Since Hitler knew the power of propaganda,
he used any bit of it that he could find to its fullest extent. "Propaganda
did as much in its own right to lend substance to National Socialism as
it did to transmit the substance of ideology and policy to potential supporters."
[Rise, 60] .
The third and final way in which the Nazis employed technology was
at their huge party rallies. These rallies were designed to increase the
dedication of members, bring them closer together, and also to attract
new members. At these rallies, Hitler made extensive use of various technological
devices, such as broadcast systems and lighting effects. The microphone
was a new invention, and Hitler utilized it to its fullest. Twenty years
earlier, when Lenin had made speeches, only those people within hearing
range could get the message that he was conveying. When Hitler spoke into
the microphone, he could reach thousands, instead of hundreds, of people.
Because of the microphone, Hitler's message reached more people. The second
technological device the Nazis used at the rallies was the spotlight.
The multi-thousand candlepower spotlights were pointed upward, giving
the illusion of great columns surrounding the rally. These columns created
a sense of unity, and a sense of power. While certainly not instrumental
in the rise of the Nazis, it certainly contributed to their ever-increasing
popularity in pre-war Germany.
By making use of radio, the airplane, and other modern technological
devices, the Nazis were able to strengthen and speed their rise to power.
Without technology, the Nazis would have come to power later in time,
and possibly may not have ever ascended to power. By embracing relatively
new devices and exploting the advantages gained through them, Hitler and
the Nazis were able to sieze power and begin the Third Reich.
Bullock, Alan, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Harper Perennial,
New York 1991 [Hitler]
Conan, Fischer, The Rise of the Nazis, Manchester University
Press, Manchester, England 1995 [Rise]
© 1994-2005 Stephen Payne