As Hitler rose in prominence and stature in the political world of Germany, his speeches began to reach a larger audience. As he expanded beyond his initial supporters, he tailored his message according to the audiences that he was speaking to. In his memoir, Albert Speer notes Hitler’s ability to adapt his message “to his surroundings” and deftly control the audience’s attention.
In contrast to the Nazi propaganda that showed Hitler in military dress, Speer comments that he was wearing “a well-fitted blue suit.” Knowing that he would be speaking to faculty and students from two esteemed universities, Hitler purposefully dressed more formally, leading Speer to opine that he looked “markedly respectable.” By wearing this suit, Hitler seemed more credible to Speer and other faculty members. Furthermore, Hitler’s reaction to applause from the crowd engages the audience. Speer writes that “as the ovation went on for minutes, he tried, as if slightly pained, to check it.” Speer’s description of Hitler implies that he was trying to be intentionally modest in order to foster the sense that he was thoughtful and knowledgeable. Moreover, perhaps Hitler was attempting to juxtapose his “modesty” with the supposed immorality of the Weimar Republic, which many attributed to its failure. In this sense, Hitler was suggesting that he would be able to fix the problems of the state.
In his artwork, John Heartfield challenges Hitler’s “great gift for adjusting.” Heartfield’s caption, “Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Tin” mocks Hitler’s speaking abilities, declaring that instead of producing a masterful message, Hitler takes a valuable substance and makes it worthless. Additionally, in the image, gold coins are stacked all the way up Hitler’s stomach to the base of his throat. By doing this, perhaps Heartfield was proclaiming that Hitler produced his speeches by “swallowing” the finances that were given to him by powerful donors. Therefore, he is suggesting that Hitler’s genuine interest is in money, rather than in assisting the lower classes. Heartfield’s use of the photomontage technique, which layers different images on each other, furthers this point that Hitler is disingenuous, as his image is constructed from various parts. Notably, Heartfield depicts him in his military attire, signifying that while he appears to be valiant on the outside, Hitler has other motivations that are hidden inside.