MAY I MISQUOTE YOU ON THAT?
In an earlier draft of my comments about the news media, I wanted to end with a quote from Lenin which seemed to synopsize the story.
That quote was:
“Tell a big enough lie and keep telling it and sooner or later everyone will believe it.”
But the first problem with this quote is that it is should not be attributed to Lenin at all. In this case my source was hearsay or in other words someone I was talking with just referenced this quote and told me that it was attributed to Lenin.
When I took the time to research this reference, I found that this quote is often mistakenly attributed to Joseph Goebells, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, but it’s probably more rightly attributed to Hitler. Variations of this quote can be found online attributed to a variety of people.
The Hitler attributed quote goes like this.
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”
In many ways, this entire exercise: first misattributing a quote and then with research finding that the body of knowledge is itself muddled, serves as a perfect example of the problems one faces when trying to discern truth from lie. And with so much inaccurate information out there, it becomes harder and harder to discern get to the truth.
The misquote seems to be a common occurrence. And it doesn’t take too much digging to find a multitude of misquotes and misattributed quotes.
The obvious lesson here (besides don’t believe everything you hear (or read)) is of course that, it’s good do some fact checking and try to find the actual source.
And while Hitler probably didn’t say exactly what is referenced by the Brainyquote website noted above, he definitely did say very similar things (see near the end of the NOTE: below).
From passages in Mein Kamp you can pick out the gist of what Hitler is saying about the big lie. But the context was that he was writing about Jews being expert liars. So, Hitler was blaming someone else for creating giant falsehoods not bragging that he himself had done it. Does this sound familiar to anyone recently in the news?
And while you are at it, read a bit more about what the Nazis said about manipulating the truth. It will likely ring uncomfortably close to home.
The source of the Big Lie technique is this passage, taken from Chapter 10 of James Murphy’s translation of Mein Kampf:
But it remained for the Jews, with their unqualified capacity for falsehood, and their fighting comrades, the Marxists, to impute responsibility for the downfall precisely to the man who alone had shown a superhuman will and energy in his effort to prevent the catastrophe which he had foreseen and to save the nation from that hour of complete overthrow and shame. By placing responsibility for the loss of the world war on the shoulders of Ludendorff they took away the weapon of moral right from the only adversary dangerous enough to be likely to succeed in bringing the betrayers of the Fatherland to Justice.
All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.
It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. XThus, according to Hitler, the “Big Lie” was a propaganda technique typically used by “the Jews”.
The principle is sometimes translated and abbreviated as the pithy saying: “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”
SOURCE: Wikipedia: Big Lie
LINKS: SIDEBAR 3: MAY I MISQUOTE YOU ON THAT?
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”- Adolf Hitler