Paul Joseph Goebbels (English /ˈɡɜrbəlz/, German: [ˈɡœbəls] ( listen); 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devoted followers, he was known for his zealous orations and deep and virulent antisemitism, which led to him strongly supporting the extermination of the Jews when the Nazi leadership developed their "Final Solution".
Goebbels earned a PhD from Heidelberg University in 1921 with a doctoral thesis on 19th-century literature of the Romantic school. He found work as a journalist and later as a bank clerk and caller on the stock exchange. He also wrote novels and plays, which were rejected by publishers. Goebbels came into contact with the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), also known as the Nazi Party, in 1923 during the French occupation of the Ruhr and became a member in 1924. In 1926, he was appointed Gauleiter (regional party leader) of Berlin. In this position, he put his propaganda skills to full use, attacking the Social Democratic Party of Germany and Communist Party of Germany and seeking to win over their working-class supporters. Goebbels stressed the need for the Nazis to emphasize both a proletarian and national character. By 1928, he had risen in the party ranks to become one of its most prominent members.
Goebbels came to power in 1933 after Hitler was appointed chancellor; within six weeks Hitler arranged his appointment as Propaganda Minister. One of Goebbels' first acts was to organize the burning of "decadent" books. Under Goebbels' leadership, the Propaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted controlling supervision over the news media, arts and information in Germany.
From the beginning of his tenure, Goebbels organized actions against German Jews, commencing with a one-day boycott of Jewish businessmen, doctors and lawyers on 1 April 1933. These actions eventually led to the outright violence of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) on the night of 9–10 November 1938, an open and unrestrained pogrom unleashed by the Nazis across Germany in which synagogues were burned, Jewish-owned businesses trashed, Jews assaulted (many killed) and thousands of them arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Goebbels commissioned a series of antisemitic films including The Eternal Jew and Jud Süß (both 1940). Jud Süß is widely considered to be "one of the most antisemitic films of all time" Goebbels' antisemitic propaganda promoted stereotypes of Jews as materialistic, immoral, cunning, untrustworthy, physically unattractive and rootless wanderers. Goebbels made it a point in such films to warn German girls of the "sexual devastation that Jews had wrought in the past" and to remind them of the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935, which prohibited any sexual relations between Aryans and Jews. In Nazi ideology, such relations were considered Rassenschande (racial disgrace) and a dishonor of Aryan blood, and were made a punishable offense.
During World War II, Goebbels increased his power and influence through adroit and shifting alliances with other Nazi leaders. By mid-1943, the tide of war was turning against the Axis powers; Goebbels responded to major defeats on the Russian front in a series of highly-orchestrated, emotionally manipulative speeches urging the Germans to embrace the idea of total war and total mobilization. He remained with Hitler in Berlin to the end. Before he committed suicide, Hitler named him his successor as Chancellor in his will. On 1 May 1945, the day after Hitler had committed suicide with his new wife Eva Braun, Goebbels and his wife Magda killed their six young children by giving them poison (in the form of cyanide pills or capsules) in their sleep, then committed suicide themselves. The couple's bodies were burned in a shell crater, but due to the lack of petrol the burning was only partially effective.