Lessons from Nazi history

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on David’s Tent, a ministry of Israeli believers Avner and Rachel Boskey. The Boskey’s have ministered at Tabernacle of David, and we consider them trustworthy and Biblically sound.

In a memorable scene in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List, a group of Jewish men in the Polish suburb of Kraków-Płaszów huddle around an old oil barrel, warming their hands over burning scrap wood. One of them confidently proclaims, “There’s nowhere down from here. This is it! This is the bottom. The ghetto is liberty!” This fellow had certainly not succumbed to despair; he felt that there was nowhere to go but up. But his appalling misreading of the situation would soon become poignantly clear.

A retrospective look at some of the Nazi Reich’s principles and strategies – hammered out by Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler – might deepen our understanding of how totalitarian rule can invade and absorb a whole society. These lessons have stunning relevance for our world as we stumble through this present darkness, and not yet at the bottom.

Four areas will be considered: propaganda, secrecy, censorship, and obedience. The Nazi police state’s use of fear and punishment to manipulate its citizens will also be evaluated.

Propaganda – the engineering of consent

Edward Bernays, born in 1891 to a Viennese Jewish family, was an American pioneer in the field of propaganda (which he renamed ‘public relations’). Known as “the father of public relations” Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine. He helped to consolidate a marriage between theories of mass psychology and the goals of politicians and financial magnates. In his influential book Propaganda (published in 1928), Bernays sums up:

  • The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of . . . It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.

Bernays developed an approach dubbed “the engineering of consent” – providing leaders with the means to “control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it.” He developed highly successful ad campaigns for American Tobacco Company, Calvin Coolidge, Cartier, CBS, General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, United Fruit, etc. One of Bernays’ propaganda methods included the instilling of fear through mass media. Another tenet was to convince people that they want/need things that they do not actually need.

Bernays never imagined that Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister overseeing the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda), would use Bernays’ techniques to catalyze the crushing and murder Europe’s Jews. Bernays’ books featured prominently on Goebbels’ bookshelves.

Bernays’ propaganda methods were in fact a generic weapon to mould public opinion in any number of directions, whether ethical or not. Some theologians define witchcraft as the use of manipulative techniques to exercise control, influence behavior and consolidate power over the targeted victim. Recognizable spiritual similarities between propaganda and witchcraft present themselves for our consideration.

Coercion and fuzzy thinking

In Nicholas O’Shaughnessy’s Selling Hitler: Propaganda and the Nazi Brand, he notes that “Hitler’s great insight, which makes him unique among historical actors, was the recognition that violence and propaganda could and should be an integrated phenomenon.”

When propaganda goals are backed up by the coercive power of the state, it is prudent to remember that Nazi methods are not always confined to dead Nazis. As English writer, philosopher and lay theologian G. K. Chesterton once said: “This is the essential mark of tyranny: that it is always new. Tyranny always enters by the unguarded gate. All tyrannies are new tyrannies . . . Remember that newspapers are popular organs that may be turned against the people. Whatever the new tyrant is, he will not wear the exact uniform of the old tyrant.”

Hitler’s chief architect, Albert Speer, told the Nuremberg Tribunal “that what distinguished the Third Reich from all previous dictatorships was its use of all the means of communication . . . to deprive its objects of the power of independent thought.” The strong effect of constant media bombardment was utilized by Goebbels in a technique known as ‘repeated exposure effect’ or ‘illusory truth effect.’

Commenting on this dynamic, German author, political commentator and Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt notes:

  • The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie – a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days – but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.

The weapon of fear

Nazi propaganda aimed to exploit people’s fear of uncertainty and instability. Whether Goebbels’ posters proclaimed ‘Bread and Work’ (touching working-class fear of unemployment), or ‘Mother and Child’ (touching fears about the weakening of the home), or presented demonic-looking Jews or Communists (supposed ‘race-enemies’ of the German people, or political enemies of the Nazis).

The Nazis presented the main political threat as coming from the Left. The tsunami of fear that they catalyzed moved the Germans masses to bolt to the Right. Today the exact opposite can be the case. Some Germans use the fear of the Right in order to catalyze the masses away from positions held by a broad spectrum of people (some who hold conservative views) who also disagree with current epidemiological policies. Can one discern in this development a mirror-image of the Nazi technique? Yet this technique is every bit as dangerous today as was the Hitlerian original.

The recent fostering of a world-wide tidal wave of fear concerning infectious respiratory disease has led to a global panic similar in nature to the fear described in Proverbs 22:13, where a panicking individual envisions a prowling lion pacing the streets of an Israelite town – a nearly impossible occurrence: “The lazy one says, ‘There is a lion outside! I will be killed in the streets!’”

Yet a fact-based analysis of world population deaths during the past handful of years does not validate such a scenario:

  • At the end of 2018, the world population was 7,631,091,040 and that year 57,625,149 people died. The overall world death rate was .76%
  • At the end of 2019, the world population was 7,713,468,100 and 58,394,378 died. The overall world death rate was .76%
  • At the end of 2020, the world population was 7,794,798,739 and 59,230,795 died. The overall world death rate was .76%.

Reuters attempted to downplay these numbers by noting that these .76% totals do not differentiate between those who died of a respiratory illness and all other deaths. That is certainly true. But if there were indeed a marked increase in world deaths, those increases would be reflected in the official figures.  No such increase is observable. When such a huge gap presents itself between facts and worldwide media and governmental claims, it would be proper to consider if propaganda is once again at work, revealing its Rasputin-like hand.

The prophet Isaiah speaks in a different time about a different situation, but his principle seems to have particular relevance for these days: “I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them” (Isaiah 66:4). The words of Proverbs 3:25 are a comfort in this situation: “Do not be afraid of sudden danger, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes!”

Security and secrecy

When fear roams the streets, the power of the totalitarian state is quick to come to the rescue with a promise of security. Nazi propaganda in its day stressed that the Reich would safeguard security (sicherheit in German) for its obedient citizens.

The organization tasked with bringing security to German citizens was under the control of Heinrich Himmler and operated as a subdivision of the SS (Schutzstaffel, Protection Squadron). It was known as SD (Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers – SS; Security Service of the Reichsführer – SS) and was the Nazi Party intelligence agency. A sister organization to the Gestapo, it took on an increasingly prominent role in Nazi anti-Jewish policies – most infamously, as a key component of the Einsatzgruppen (Nazi murder squads in Ukraine and Russia which targeted Jewish civilians).

Vera Sharav (English link starts at 2:20) a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, remembers what it was like in those days: “Under the Nazi regime, . . . the Soviet regime and under the Chinese regime, you have a dictatorship that is running the society with fear, constant fear and surveillance.” She adds, “If you deny the human individual the right to think and question and assess and make decisions based on their own judgment and experience, then you are creating robots.”

The OSS (Office of Strategic Services), America’s pre-cursor to the CIA, worked up a psychological profile on Adolf Hitler, describing his perspective on how to run internal state security and his use of the big lie. His primary rules were:

  • never allow the public to cool down and think dispassionately
  • never admit a fault or wrong
  • never accept blame
  • concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong
  • never concede that there may be some good in your enemy
  • never leave room for alternatives
  • people believe a big lie more easily than a little one; constant repetition brings people to believe the big lie


Aldous Huxley once noted: “In a democratic state the propagandist will have rivals competing with him for the support of the public. In totalitarian states there is no liberty of expression for writers and no liberty of choice for their readers. There is only one propagandist – the state.”

Goebbels wrote in his diary “The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never again escape from it.” Both Hitler and Goebbels agreed that, in order to achieve this goal, there must be totalitarian control of the news media. In Mein Kampf Hitler stated, “The function of propaganda is . . . not to weigh and ponder the rights of different people, but exclusively to emphasize the one right which is has set out to argue for. Its task is not to make an objective study of the truth . . . [but] to serve our own right, always and unflinchingly.”

The present state of social media affairs, where Twitter, Facebook et al., engage in ‘politically correct’ censorship and purging of social media pages, indicates society’s serious downward slide into a totalitarian swamp.

Historian and psychologist Jay Y. Gonen describes the Nazi perspective as ‘group narcissism,’ and sees it as one of the most important sources of human aggression: “In a world that is seen through a narcissistic tunnel vision, only oneself or one’s group has any rights.” The principal aim of Nazi propaganda, according historian Neil Gregor, was “to absorb the individual into a mass of like-minded people.”

For the Nazi party, censorship included hiding ‘bad news’ from public ears and eyes. That might mean downplaying Wehrmacht losses at Stalingrad, or keeping the reality of the genocide of the Jewish people away from the German mass media. This was done in three ways:

  • First, limiting written records to a minimum when dealing with ‘sensitive items’
  • Second, spinning and falsifying existing records
  • Third, preventing access to or destroying incriminating parts of the record

Addressing high ranking officers in Poznań on October 4, 1943, Himmler, the head of the SD and the SS, said that “Most of you men know what it is like to see 100 corpses side by side, or 500 or 1,000. To have stood fast through this – and except for cases of human weakness – to have stayed decent, that has made us hard. This is an unwritten and never-to-be-written page of glory in our history.  All in all, however, we can say that we have carried out this most difficult of tasks in a spirit of love for our people. And we have suffered no harm to our inner being, our soul, our character.”

Censorship continues to be seen in today’s Western media (including social media organs), in medical publications and in politicians’ declarations, regarding many pertinent facts (including extent of sickness and death, record-keeping of adverse medical effects, efficacy of mandated treatments and ‘preventative measures,’ the necessity for inoculating children and young adults, etc.). One recent example to which we are eye-witnesses, involves the Israeli media who simply refused to report on a recent protest demonstration of over 10,000 people in the Tel Aviv area concerning medical coercion, while simultaneously reporting (on the same day) about four small non-related demonstrations of 20 to 100 people each in other parts of the country.

Obedience and civil rights

One of the first acts of the Nazi regime was to establish an emergency quasi-legal umbrella whose members swore absolute loyalty to Adolf Hitler (bypassing the German Constitution). These were the Volksgerichtshof and the Sondergericht special courts.

In April 1933, Hitler passed anti-Semitic laws, purging Jewish and also Socialist judges, lawyers, and other court officers from their professions. The Academy of German Law and Nazi legal theorists, such as Carl Schmitt, advocated the Nazification of German law, in order to cleanse it of “Jewish influence.”

Many German Christians, especially the Deutsche Christen (a pro-Nazi Christian movement), championed obedience to the now-Nazi government based on their reading of Romans 13:1-5:

  • Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God, and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a servant of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore, it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience.

Their movement gave birth to the fiercely anti-Semitic ‘Institute for the Study and Elimination of Jewish Influence on German Church Life’ (Instituts zur Erforschung jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutsche kirchliche Leben). This institute was headed by Walter Grundmann, later a Stasi collaborator. It denied Yeshua’s Jewishness and called for the removal of any Jewish elements from the Bible and from the Christian faith.

German history and narrative speaks highly of the value of Gehorsam and Folgsamkeit, (both terms mean ‘obedience to one’s superiors’). Yet what is one to do when one’s leaders are evil, or are causing harm to their own citizens? The prophets of Israel spoke God’s perspectives and His truth to evil kings, and often suffered punishment for their courageous stand. In Acts 4:5-22 the Jewish apostles refused to submit to a command to “speak no longer in this Man’s name,” responding in this way: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, make your own judgment. For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

Later on, the apostles were arrested again. “When they had brought them, they had them stand before the Council. The high priest interrogated them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:27-29).

Recent German history reminds us of such brave heroes as Corrie ten Boom, the White Rose group, Dietrich Boenhoeffer, etc., all who were willing to pay the price for opposing evil in high places. These people did not distort Yeshua’s words into ‘Render unto Hitler the things that are Hitler’s.’  They did not submit to and cooperate with the fear-based control and totalitarianism of the Nazis. True believers in Messiah Yeshua recognize that ‘Arbeit macht frei (German for ‘work makes you free’ – a Nazi sign posted at the entrance to Auschwitz) is a lie, and also that obedience to authorities also does not makes one free.

We are not called upon to blindly rubber-stamp any and all governmental decisions. Our call is to obey God, His word and His ways, even if that entails civil disobedience.

Riki Tiki Tavi

In  1970 the folk-pop-rock singer Donovan came out with a song modeled on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Riki Tiki Tavi,’ a mongoose who protected a family by killing marauding cobra snakes. One of the lines in that song was “United Nations ain’t really united, and the Organization really ain’t organized.” Donovan had come to the realization that sometimes governments, security forces and even the media “won’t be coming around for to kill your snakes no more, my love.”  It is hard for many of us to realize that some of our national leaders and authorities in various spheres are actually in league with corrupt and evil strategies which, in time, will lead to the rise of great evil in this world.

As believers, we need to look unblinkingly at the wickedness now being propagated by Big Pharma and their governmental fellow-travelers, as well as by tycoons, men of wealth and power. These power-players are willingly concealing the growing empirical evidence of damaging side-effects and inefficient pharmaceutical solutions, while simultaneously pushing for a worldwide ID framework, one which can easily lead to full-blown totalitarianism and financial tyranny.

“Be careful how you walk, not as fools but as wise people, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

How should we then pray?

  • Pray for clarity of discernment and revelation concerning demonic plans taking advantage of the present medical ‘forged crisis’
  • Pray for courage for believers to speak the truth in love in order to expose the evil deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11)
  • Pray for the restoration and amplification of true shepherds’ hearts, leaders who will care for and save God’s scattered and oppressed people (Ezekiel 34)
  • Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth

Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

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BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN 37212-1971 USA

Donations can also be made on-line (PayPal or credit card) through: www.davidstent.org

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