Background: This is Goebbels’ discussion of Hitler’s speaking ability, taken from an illustrated book on Hitler published in 1936. Goebbels presents Hitler as a unique master of rhetoric, able to speak the truth to the masses in a way that inspires them to greatness. The pictures that accompany the chapter are available on a separate page.
The source: Joseph Goebbels, “Der Führer als Redner,” Adolf Hitler. Bilder aus dem Leben des Führers (Hamburg: Cigaretten/Bilderdienst Hamburg/Bahrenfeld, 1936, pp. 27-34.
The Führer as a Speaker
by Dr. Joseph Goebbels
There are two fundamentally different kinds of speakers: those who use reasoning, and those who speak from the heart. They reach two different sorts of people, those who understand through reason, and those who understand through the heart. Speakers who aim for the reason are generally found in parliaments, those who speak from the heart speak to the people.
The speaker who uses reason, if he is to be effective, must command a wide range of statistical and factual material. He must be a master of dialectic as the pianist is master of the keyboard. With ice cold logic, he develops his line of thinking and draws irrefutable conclusions. He is most effective with people who work primarily or exclusively with reason. Big and compelling successes are denied him. He does not understand how to fire up the masses for a great cause. He is limited to educational discourse. Since he is cold, he leaves his listeners cold. At best he persuades people, but never mobilizes them and sets them marching regardless of their own ideas or the element of personal risk involved.
The speaker from the heart is different. He may have the skills of the master of reasoning. They are, however, only tools he uses as a true rhetorical virtuoso. He has abilities not found in the reasoning speaker. He combines clear diction with simple argumentation, and instinct tells him what to say and how to say it. Language is united...