The Goebbels Experiment

Jun 01, 2010 by Tom Jones

Is a documentary film about the rise of Nazi Germany, led by its Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, second in importance and evil to Adolph Hitler, himself.

The film judiciously borrows parts of the infamous The Goebbels Diary, and read by actor Kenneth Branagh, talking as Goebbels’s himself.

The film is based on a chronological interplay between fact and history, old film clips of Goebbels, Hitler, Goering, other Nazis, and events from WWII, accompanied with Goebbels’s personal, professional, and emotionally disturbed running commentary, that’s taken directly from his own diary, or statements.

Through the film, we see the very humble beginnings of the “National Socialist” party, to their election into the German Parliament, to their all out war, to their ultimate and bitter collapse—all seen, created and written about by Goebbels.

Forget for a moment that we already know the end result of the “Nazi” experiment, and what evil Hitler, Goebbels, and their henchmen have wrought upon this earth—quite frankly, in the old footage of Goebbels, Hitler and their collaborating Nazis–they appear to be effeminate, ridiculous in their Nazi gear, and sound just stupid enough in what they’re saying to only attract the lowest common denominator of miscreants in history—and that they did. The film clips of ordinary Germans caught in their sickening display of support of their “Fuhrer” is quite disgusting.

Essentially, the movie is important because of how it tied the historical and political content to the inner thinking and mind of the propagandist Goebbels. The dullness and numbness one feels when hearing and looking at Goebbels’ perfect wife and children combined with his non-stop analysis of all that he hates shows that he is nothing short of a pathological psychopath.

What’s interesting from watching the movie is that Goebbels is certifiably crazy, and believes that the so-called “Aryan race” deserves to take over the world; National Socialism is a “religion;” War needs Propaganda and Propaganda needs War; and that he’ll deal with this or that person “later,” meaning that he’ll have them put to death.

Overall, while not fully covered in the film, Goebbels was such a genius at propaganda that he was able to convince nations, kings, heads of state, and many people to get sucked into the vortex of the Nazi lie and war machine to their detriment. His name shall always be associated with evil.

That’s why I found a clip from the New York Times, a quick study into why the Goebbels Experiment is both an interesting and important film:

Arguably the most gifted of Hitler’s henchmen, Joseph Goebbels was an enigmatic genius whose successful manipulation of mass political opinion was unprecedented. His rise to power, and that of the Nazi Party itself, will forever stand as one of history’s most terrifying examples of the reach of propaganda, a tool with which Goebbels’s name is virtually synonymous. Less is known, however, about the workings of a personality so cultured yet so gripped by barbaric ideas. In their fascinating documentary "The Goebbels Experiment," the director and writer Lutz Hachmeister and the writer Michael Kloft provide a rare and chilling glimpse into a brilliant but toxic mind. Rejecting commentary, Mr. Hachmeister and Mr. Kloft allow Goebbels to speak for himself, in the voice of Kenneth Branagh, via the extensive diaries that he kept from 1924 to 1945. Rare clips from German film and television archives illustrate the readings, which veer wildly from venomous, anti-Semitic rants to eloquent musings on music and nature, often in the same entry.

And on the back of the DVD, we’re reminded of these chilling words:

At a time when much of our news and entertainment media is controlled by a handful of corporations. The Goebbels Experiment is a cautionary reminder that equal access to the machinery of ideas may be society’s most critical goal.

From such a horribly gloomy time to one that’s now on the precipice, the advice is sound and not too far removed from reality.

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