Master propagandist of the Nazi regime and dictator of its cultural life for twelve years,
Joseph Goebbels was born into a strict Catholic, working-class family from Rheydt, in
the Rhineland, on 29 October 1897. He was educated at a Roman Catholic school and went on
to study history and literature at the University of Heidelberg under Professor
Friedrich Gundolf, a Jewish literary historian renowned as a Goethe scholar and a
close disciple of the poet Stefan George.
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disregarded Hitler's political
testament, which had appointed him as Reich Chancellor, and decided to follow suit.
He had his six children poisoned with a lethal injection by an SS doctor and then
himself and his wife Magda shot by an SS orderly on 1 May 1945. With characteristic
pathos and egomania he declared not long before his death: 'We shall go down in
history as the greatest statesmen of all time, or as the greatest criminals.'