Hitler believed that propaganda from the allies was the main reason that the Germans lost during World War I and felt that this form of warfare needed to be a primary tool in modern warfare. He spoke of this belief in his book Mein Kampf well before the start of the second World War. Hitler felt that the public needed to be inundated with the ideology of the state at all times and through all mediums (Jowett and O'Donnell 2). "To do this," he said "everything from child's story-book to the last newspaper, every theater, every cinema and every advertisement must be brought into the service of this single mission" (qt. in Qualter ix). This onslaught of propaganda led to the Holocaust by leaving no other option open to the German people than to hate the Jews and blame them for all their troubles.
Propaganda has been used throughout the history of the world. The first named organization of propaganda was set up by the Roman Catholic Church in January 1622 during the religious wars in Bohemia, Alsace, and Palatinate, the so-called Sacra Congregation de Propaganda Fide (Qualter 3). We also see propaganda everyday through commercials and advertisements. However we do not consider this means of selling a product propaganda while in effect, it is.
Today's definition of propaganda usually has a negative connotation. We see propaganda as the work of the enemy. "(T)he idea that propaganda is always harmful, always false, is wrong" (Hummel and Huntress 2). It has nothing to do with the beliefs that we hold dear. Propaganda is used, as some see it, as "a form of abuse, as a symbol for the 'lies' told by the other side, as a description of an activity as well as of the material used in the activity, and as a general term embracing aspects of what we now call psychological warfare" (Qualter 6). In other words, "... we are inclined to call reports which favor are own interests true: reports from the opposition are called propaganda" (Hummel and Huntress 1). The Nazi's did use propaganda in this negative sense but in an underhanded and subversive way. They backed up all their false reports with "scientific studies" and claims of a better human race.
Propaganda is hard to define as most definitions do not cover the full meaning of the word. The Webster's Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary defines propaganda as " the systematic propagation or discrediting of a given doctrine or cause by circulation of polemical material, such as posters and leaflets" (1353). However, this definition does not cover the full scope of the of the word. Terence Qualter also feels the definition for propaganda needs to be more refined for its new usage. The definition that he gives is "the deliberate attempt...(to) form, control, or alter the attitudes of other groups...(with) the use of the instruments of communication" (27-28). He goes on to say that the propaganda must be aimed at the group in general because that is the basic nature of the word, in that the most...