In January 1933, Hitler became the German chancellor, and in March of that year he appointed Goebbels the country’s minister for public enlightenment and propaganda. In this capacity, Goebbels had complete jurisdiction over the content of German newspapers, magazines, books, music, films, stage plays, radio programs and fine arts. His mission was to censor all opposition to Hitler and present the chancellor and the Nazi Party in the most positive light while stirring up hatred for Jewish people.
In April 1933, at Hitler’s directive, Goebbels orchestrated a boycott on Jewish businesses. The following month, he was a guiding force in the burning of “un-German” books in a public ceremony at Berlin’s Opera House. The works of dozens of writers were destroyed, including German-born authors Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970), Arnold Zweig (1887-1968), Thomas Mann (1875-1955), Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Heinrich Mann (1871-1950), and such non-Germans as Émile Zola (1840-1902), Helen Keller (1880-1968), Marcel Proust (1871-1922), Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), H. G. Wells (1866-1946), Jack London (1876-1916) and André Gide (1869-1951).
In September 1933, Goebbels became director of the newly formed Reich Chamber of Culture, whose mission was to control all aspects of the creative arts. An offshoot of the formation of the chamber was the forced unemployment of all Jewish creative artists, including writers, musicians and theater and film actors and directors. Because the Nazis viewed modern art as immoral, Goebbels instructed that all such “decadent” art be confiscated and replaced by works that were more representational and sentimental in content. Then in October came the passage of the Reich Press Law, which ordered the removal of all Jewish and non-Nazi editors from German newspapers and magazines.