During World War II the Nazis, led by Hitler, sought to eradicate the Jewish people of Europe. One of the most shocking aspects of this war was how Hitler accomplished his goal. He was able to convince millions of people that Jewish people did not deserve to live. His tactics, often referred to as "psychological warfare" effected not only the Jewish people but also the Christians and the Nazis. In The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank an example of Jewish resistance to this psychological warfare is seen.
Psychological warfare was used in every area of the war. It was used in radio propaganda, film, theater, newspapers, the way the Jews were segregated, the ghettos, and the Jewish councils. How it was achieved was through fear, inconsistency, false hope, and terror. The worst aspect of psychological warfare was that the people had reason to fear, because Hitler and the Nazis were truly inhuman.
Terror was on e of the most powerful tools in psychological warfare used. Hitler used it on Jewish and the German people alike. Throughout history terror has been used as a means of control however, very rarely has it been turned on the soldiers and people of the ruler. Hitler used terror to saturate the minds of the people with fear. The Nazis were fed terror to heighten their fear of something different to frenzy level and told them that it was the Jews who were their obstacle to salvation. Hitler not only made his people fear death, he made them fear for their immortal souls. Hitlers was quoted as saying, "Terror is the most effective political instrument." In this way he marked the Jews irrevocably. It didnt matter how well the Jews behaved, they were tainted, and nothing could change that in the opinion of the Nazis. The Jewish people had to fear for their lives, their families and friends. They faced prosecution and a cruelty that hasnt been seen before or since the reign of Hitler. Christian people who dared to help faced the same treatment; only their betrayal was far greater because they chose to hold back the rest of the "chosen people." (Levin 45).
One of the most effective ways that Hitler installed terror was by creating a faceless and brutal bureaucracy that had people on both sides of the war unsure of where they stood. Hitler played on this insecurity so that no one was ever sure if they were accepted and approved of. In the case of the Nazis this made the soldiers more and more brutal in the hopes of proving themselves to an incomprehensible boss. They would dare each other to greater and greater cruelty, if one of them expressed a dislike or distaste for what they were doing it was viewed as a weakness and was a source of personal shame (Korman 123).
This government that Hitler amassed gave the Jewish people false hope. No one wanted to believe the atrocities that were being reported and so by not having them either confirmed or denied there was room for both hope and denial. Anne wrote in her diary, "Expectation and hope generate tension, as does fear " (Frank102). It is this unbearable tension that grips the whole of the Annex. Anne describes being forced to sit still for hours at a time, only being able to whisper, and having to stick to a strict schedule, one that meant literally life or death. When the Franks first went into hiding they were not aware of the total destruction that was about to happen. However, when Mr. Dussel moved in with them he was able to let them know about the horrible atrocities being committed. Even after this information though, Anne seems to have a hard time accepting the knowledge, she writes "We wouldnt have to give a moments thought to all this suffering if it werent for the fact that were so worried about those that we hold dear " (Frank 71). Holland was one of the slowest countries to accept and react to the mass deaths that were happening and Anne seems to follow this tradition. In the beginning of The Diary Anne and the Annex seem to simply ignore what is going on, perhaps to avoid being tormented by nightmares of their friends and loved ones dying of starvation or being tortured to death, especially when they themselves have to put so much energy into staying alive.
Hitlers system worked on the assumption that everyone hates what is different so Hitler segregated the Jews from the rest of society. The first thing he did was assume control of all facets of the media; he did this by appointing a Minister of Propaganda. This man was responsible for all the radio shows, newspapers, lectures, theater, and film that were produced. If you like your job you did exactly what he said. This man was Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels, lame since birth, was a rare exception to Hitlers rule of the land that the handicapped and ethnically different must die. As a direct result of his lameness Goebbels was unusually and highly educated, this allowed him to delve deeply into the human mind. He wrote in his book The Struggle for Berlin, "The ordinary man hates nothing more than two-sidedness, to be called upon to consider this as well as that. The masses think simply and primitively. They love to generalize complicated situations and from their generalization to draw clear and uncompromising conclusions In the long run the average man is only impressed by force and discipline." He was also quoted as saying, "He (the reader) is being consciously influenced. The whole of the readers thought and feeling must be drawn in a certain direction" (Weiss 141-42).
Hitler trusted Dr. Goebbels implicitly and he accomplished what no one else could have; he spoon fed more than 65,000 people into believing that the Jews were a blight on the earth that needed to be exterminated (Weiss 145). He did this by fabricating material and twisting half-truths about the Jews. On May 19, 1942 a man in the Warsaw Ghetto noted, "Experts on "Jewish life" also participate; they are staging and directing the various scenes This film seems to represent all the bad features of the Jews as "subhumans." German actors, made up like Jews, play their parts A few days later the same film team arrived There unimaginably pornographic pictures were taken. Old bearded Jews were ordered at pistol point to commit lascivious acts with children, with young girls, etc " (Levin 231). This film was shown to German soldiers. The lies went both ways though; Jews were shown films about work camps that had old people reclining in armchairs and other people grateful and happy to work there. The gullible responded and asked to be taken to the work camps were the vast majority of them died (Moyu 1195).
Dr. Goebbels knew what most dont realize until too late; communication is key. Communication gives you knowledge and if you and you alone have the knowledge you can twist it anyway you want to. The radio, for example, was extremely important to the people of the Annex. They would risk movement at night to listen to the radio, desperate to learn any information about the outside world. The radio could either make or break the day at the Annex. This was why it was forbidden for Jews to listen to German radio, that way they wouldnt hear all of the anti-Jewish propaganda. However, this did not stop the people in the Annex. They continued to try and stay in contact by listening to other radio stations like the BBC. This was a form of rebellion for the people in the Annex. It was a way to stay in touch with the world, remember why they were fighting, and renew both their devotion and hope. Anne says in The Diary, "There was a beautiful Mozart concert on the radio from six to seven-fifteen; I especially enjoyed the Kleine Nachtmusik. I can hardly bear to listen in the kitchen, since beautiful music stirs me to the very depths of my soul" (Frank 247). Even in the face of the most heinous crime ever committed against humankind a fourteen-year-old girl is still able to appreciate the music of Mozart. Being forced to hide did not break Anne, contrary, it seems to have heightened her ability to appreciate the finer and pure qualities of life.
Another aspect of Hitlers "mind control" for the people was the inconsistency that was applied to the treatment of Jewish people. For instance, Jewish people were not able to ride the public bus; however, in Amsterdam three hundred Jews were allowed to ride the bus without special passes. The reason for this leniency was never given. This was part of the scare tactics that Hitler used to make the enemy "ultimately terrified, confused, and indecisive" (Bartov 780). Other tactics were used as well like deliberately spreading false rumors of autonomous Jewish communities, giving people jobs and a sense of security, then sending them off to concentration camps, and other random acts of inhumanity. It was this unpredictability that terrified the Dutch Christians as well. In the Holland when nearly 20,000 workers went on strike in response to the first Jewish deportation, the only one in Europe, sixty Dutch workmen were sent to concentration camps and martial law was declared (Levin 407). Not even this stopped the Christians from helping the Jewish people though. Anne speaks of several Christian helpers who find them a place to live, get them food, books, and help look out for them (Frank 71). This is one of the ways Anne and the Annex kept their faith in humanity and hope for rescue alive. To see an example of people banding together under the threat of death to help people who werent even of her "race" must of helped her to not hate Christian people and its clear she never did. Anne never lost her optimism, she says, "If you just look for it, you discover more and more happiness and regain your balance. A person whos happy will make others happy; a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery!" (Frank 207).
Hitler also sought to break the Jewish people by causing confusion and turning one against the other. One of the ways he did this was by setting up Jewish councils made up of various important Jews in the community. Their job was to be a liaison between the Nazis and the Jewish people. Sometimes the men in these councils were threatened with bodily harm and coerced into taking these positions, because even though they were made up of Jewish members, the councils were merely another way for the Nazis to gain control. In the Netherlands Professor David Cohen and Ahen Asscher, a prominent political figure in Amsterdam, were appointed as the chairman of the "Advisory Jewish Council." This council was supposed to keep up good relations with Germany and it was promised that no more retaliations would be acted upon once the committee was set up. However, neither Asscher nor Cohen could grasp the breadth of the scheme and control the Nazis held. It soon became apparent that the Joodse Raad as it was called, would really only help the Nazis. Because even though the Raad helped many Jews it also worked to network and centralize the Jewish people, it kept track of the people, making it easier for the Nazis to track them. Later on, when the war worsened, as did the Jewish situation, the Nazis would make several "concessions" that appeared to make life better but actually made things much worse and allowed them to easily capture Jews through this council (Levin 409).
Hitler also sought to turn the Jews against one another in the ghettos. For example, in the ghetto of Warsaw the Nazis implemented a Jewish police squad, which was largely hated and reviled. They also sought to cause friction and divide the Jews by giving more food to some Jews and not others. The Nazis thought by doing this that the Jews would become nothing more than animals, killing each other off slowly to survive. One eight-year-old boy was heard saying, "I want to steal, I want to rob, I want to eat. I want to be German!" (Levin 220). However, ultimately Hitlers plan failed. Not only did people survive in the worst conditions known to man to date, they also went on to live lives. Anne is the best example of this rebellion of spirit. She never lost hope and she even grew as a person in the Annex, deprived of the sunshine, the rain, the earth itself, still she defied the Nazis by growing into an intelligent and compassionate young woman. Hitler used psychological warfare to gain his goal of Jewish abolition. He used terror, defamation, and lies to inspire Germany to war, and then used absolute force and cruelty to enforce that inspiration. This also affected Anne and all the people in the Annex very deeply. However, as was witnessed in Annes diary and several other historical documents not only did Jews and Christians alike rise to the occasion, maintaining their humanity and sense of compassion in the most depraved time of the worlds history, but they also kept hope and culture alive.