The most successful and effective war propagandist in the world was Hitler’s right hand, Joseph Goebbels.
The propaganda methods and tactics Goebbels used, who was discovered by Hitler and later appointed by him as the Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, changed the course of the war.
He was so influential that the U.S. formed a commission consisting of scientists to follow him, decode his methods, and later take necessary counter-measures against them. This commission had worked on active war propaganda throughout the war, watched Goebbels and produced tactics against him.
Members of the commission continued their studies after the war, and this time they produced “American Propaganda” and influenced the whole world. The tactics and propaganda methods were later applied in fields such as economy, marketing, communication, and they even laid the foundation of today’s public relations and communication.
When one of the members of the commission, Edward Bernays, died, the epithet on his tombstone read: the “father of public relations”.
Goebbels' fake news tactic
Goebbels used very surprising tactics regarding fake news and propaganda. For instance, when the rumors spread that Hitler was dead, he wouldn’t falsify this news immediately. On the contrary, he would froth up the issue so that it would spread. When the rumors spread like a disease and everybody started to believe that Hitler was dead, he would suddenly reveal Hitler and falsify the news.
Goebbels had certain aims in doing this.
Firstly, he would measure the reactions of the people toward the reports of Hitler’s death. He would also identify the groups who spread, extended, and supported these reports.
Secondly, when he revealed that Hitler was alive, he would make sure to brand those groups who spread the news as liars; he would humiliate them and make sure that no one ever believed them again.
And finally, he would put the idea that Hitler, who once again turned out be well and alive, was an “undefeatable, immortal, incontestable holy creature”.
Fake death reports are a part of the war
Today similar tactics are being used. Countries which are a party in a crisis or war very often use similar tactics.
For instance, in Syria, similar fake news that Assad or Mihraç Ural were killed was purposefully spread a couple of times.
Again, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) often serves and spreads the news saying that Murat Karayılan is dead.
In Myanmar, the rumor was spread that Buddhist monks killed children and even photos of Buddhist monks with the bodies of dead children circulated everywhere. Later, it was revealed that the photos were taken during a search and rescue mission carried out after an earthquake. That is why every report and photo shared and circulated in Myanmar has been evaluated from a critical perspective.
Was the Uyghur poet used as a tool of propaganda?
Finally, we are witnessing a propaganda process regarding Uyghur Turks. The news that Uyghur poet Abdurrehim Heyit was killed instantly made headlines in Turkey. Newspapers, televisions broadcasted this report on their headlines for a couple of days. A huge debate started on social media.
During this entire process, China didn’t make any official announcement. They remained silent. Later, when the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a statement about the issue, the Chinese official news agency shared a video showing that Heyit is well and alive.
This video confused everyone. It is still not known whether Heyit is dead or alive. However, taking into account the fact that this report turned out to be false, every report about East Turkestan is being questioned now.
Moreover, some pro-Chinese groups started to declare that “some circles” are manipulating the Uyghur Turks issue to harm Chinese-Turkish relations. Thus, this also damaged the reliability of every report that will be published about this issue.
Sensitive people who spread this news, which are propaganda tools, without verifying and obtaining them from healthy sources, in a way, became a part of this disinformation. Moreover, the reliability of these circles has started to be questioned.
This is a typical Goebbels tactic.
That is why it is important that everyone who reacts to the crisis from all over the world should obtain their facts from reliable sources. This is an issue that could harm the actual cause. We should be more careful.