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Collection Information

This collection is comprised of 1,471 postcards that are connected to the Nazi Party in Germany.   The Nazi Party emerged from the extremist German nationalist, racist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post–World War I Germany.  The party was created to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism.  Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti–big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric. This was later downplayed to gain the support of business leaders, and in the 1930s the party’s main focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.  Following the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Hitler established a Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda headed by Joseph Goebbels. The Ministry’s aim was to ensure that the Nazi message was successfully communicated through art, music, theater, films, books, radio, educational materials, and the press.  Postcards were an extension of the propaganda department to boost morale, glorify their military and political heroes, and commemorate special events and anniversaries.  Postcards were easier to disseminate than posters and political cartoons and the Nazi government saw in postcards a way to use visual imagery that could express opinions and rally citizens around common causes inexpensively and effectively.

Postcards were printed and sold throughout Germany and German-occupied territories. The postcards offered an affordable way to stay in contact with family and friends in an era before wide access to mass communication, and this common form of communication became interwoven with images of Hitler and party symbols. The postcards show the massive popularity that Hitler enjoyed in Germany during this era.  Nazi propaganda often used Hitler’s image, building a myth of his supposed invincibility and charisma. The leader became associated with the nation’s prosperity and was portrayed as central to its future success. Hitler’s images cast him as a hero, a father figure, and a protector of Germany—and they appeared almost everywhere in Germany during the years of Nazi rule.  By late 1943 the printing of postcards stopped due to extreme material shortages from the war. (Source: USHMM)

Special thanks go out to the “Exhibit Team” who spent hours researching, translating and uploading the postcards. This exhibit would not be possible without Lamisa Muksitu ’22, Tara O’Donnell ’23, Nicole Toedtli and Emily Clarke ’24

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