Oddly enough although many speeches given by Adolf Hitler have been preserved, there is no audio footage of his normal conversational voice. Well, except one tape, recorded in secret by a Finnish sound engineer and released to the public only decades after the war ended.
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During his lifetime, but also in studies afterwards, Hitler has been revered for his ability to enchant crowds with his voice. The dictator realised, more than anyone at the time, the power of a well-staged speech, both to excite and intimidate.
Because over 500 speeches, of which audio- and video footage has been preserved, we really only know the way of speaking of Hitler in its most dramatic form. It may come as a surprise because it’s not something you’d generally think of when talking about the rise of Hitler or the Second World War in general, but we only have recordings of Hitler giving speeches to massive crowds. And, sure, he managed to captivate and enchant those crowds with his signature raspy voice and dramatic way of speaking. I mean, he basically perfected demagoguery, and from photographs and documentation, we know he prepared his speeches into their minute detail. He didn’t just rehearse the content of his speeches, but actually practised and prepared the intonation of every word he uttered.
Photographs were commissioned, in fact, to examine certain poses and body language, and to see if they were imposing enough to present to crowds. He even took acting lessons. Everything, to perfect his charisma and rhetoric. Hitler himself was aware of his rhetorical skill as, stating that he was “conscious that he had no equal in the art of swaying the masses.”
And Hitler’s rise to power was made possible, in part, by an unprecedented propaganda campaign. Although admittedly there has been some academic debate that disputes the effects of Hitler’s speeches on the electoral success of the Nazi party. At any rate, the speeches made by Hitler were a sight to behold and engrained in the minds of anyone that witnessed it, even today.
Photos, paintings and imagery: Public Domain, Wikicommons
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