Goebbels was under five feet tall with a bad limp caused by a bone operation as a child and in 1914 was rejected by the German Army. It was later claimed that he spent the next two days crying hysterically in his room.
Goebbels spent the next ten years writing novels, plays and poems. When he failed to find a publisher for his work he developed the theory that this was because the publishing companies were owned by Jews. He was also rejected as a reporter by the newspaper Berliner Tageblatt. Goebbels joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in 1926. Goebbels described one of their first meetings with Adolf Hitler in his diary: "Shakes my hand. Like an old friend. And those big blue eyes. Like stars. He is glad to see me. I am in heaven. That man has everything to be king."
Hitler admired Goebbels' abilities as a writer and speaker. They shared an interest in propaganda and together they planned how the NSDAP would win the support of the German people. He edited Der Angriff (The Attack) and used the daily newspaper to promote the idea of German nationalism.
In 1928 Goebbels, Hermann Goering and ten other members of the Nazi Party were elected to the Reichstag. Soon afterwards Goebbels became the party's Propaganda Leader. Hitler was impressed by Goebbels work. He wrote in 1930: "Years ago I dispatched you, dear Dr. Goebbels, to the most difficult post in the Reich, in hopes that your energy and vigor would succeed in creating a tight, unified organization. You have fulfilled this task in such a way that you are assured of the movement's gratitude and my own highest recognition."
Magda Quandt began attending meetings of the Nazi Party. After hearing Goebbels and Adolf Hitler make speeches, she became a member on 1st September 1930. Later that year she went to work for Goebbels. According to Ralf Georg Reuth, the author of The Life of Joseph Goebbels (1993): "Magda Quandt fascinated him. Elegant in appearance and calmly assertive in bearing, she embodied a world that had hitherto remained in Goebbels's inner circle... She had grown up in very comfortable circumstances and had graduated from a convent school." However, Magda's parents both disliked him intensely and she came under "horrendous pressure" to break off the relationship.
Goebbels married Magna on 19th December 1931, in Mecklenburg, with Hitler as a witness. Goebbels spoke about her "entrancing beauty" and her "clever, realistic sense of life". Goebbels claimed that together they spent "completely contented" evenings, after which he was "almost in a dream... so full of fulfilled happiness". Over the next few years they had six children: Helga, Hildegard, Helmut, Holdine, Hedwig and Heidrun.
Magda suffered from poor health and on 23rd January, 1933 she was hospitalized. He wrote in his diary: "God keep this woman for me. I can not live without her." Later he added: "To the clinic. Magda much better. The fever has abated. She is so happy that I am there. We talk much of our love, and how good we will be to one another, when she is healthy again. I have grown so with Magda, that I really can not exist without her."
When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in January, 1933, he appointed Goebbels as Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Congenital birth defects was a disqualification for high office and so he told people his limp was the result of a wound suffered while fighting in the First World War.
Albert Speer later commented on Goebbels relationship with Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Goering: "After 1933 there quickly formed various rival factions that held divergent views, spied on each other, and held each other in contempt. A mixture of scorn and dislike became the prevailing mood within the party. Each new dignitary rapidly gathered a circle of intimates around him. Thus Himmler associated almost exclusively with his SS following, from whom he could count on unqualified respect. Goering also had his band of uncritical admirers, consisting partly of members of his family, partly of his closest associates and adjutants. Goebbels felt at ease in the company of literary and movie people. Hess occupied himself with problems of homeopathic medicine, loved chamber music, and had screwy but interesting acquaintances. As an intellectual Goebbels looked down on the crude philistines of the leading group in Munich, who for their part made fun of the conceited academic's literary ambitions. Goering considered neither the Munich philistines nor Goebbels sufficiently aristocratic for him and therefore avoided all social relations with them; whereas Himmler, filled with the elitist missionary zeal of the SS felt far superior to all the others."
Ernst Hanfstaengel blamed Goebbels for being a bad influence on Adolf Hitler. "The evil genius of the second half of Hitler's career was Goebbels. I always likened this mocking, jealous, vicious, satanically gifted dwarf to the pilot-fish of the Hitler shark. It was he who finally turned Hitler fanatically against all established institutions and forms of authority. He was not only schizophrenic but schizopedic, and that was what made him so sinister."
During the Second World War Goebbels played an important role in building up hatred for the allies. He had little confidence in the abilities of other ministers in the government and made attempts to have Joachim von Ribbentrop dismissed from office.
Goebbels encouraged Hitler to invade the Soviet Union. He wrote in July 1941: "The Führer thinks that the action will take only 4 months; I think - even less. Bolshevism will collapse as a house of cards. We are facing an unprecedented victorious campaign. Cooperation with Russia was in fact a stain on our reputation. Now it is going to be washed out. The very thing we were struggling against for our whole lives, will now be destroyed. I tell this to the Führer and he agrees with me completely."
Goebbels also advocated terror bombing of Britain: "He (Hitler) said he would repeat these raids night after night until the English were sick and tired of terror attacks. He shares my opinion absolutely that cultural centres, health resorts and civilian resorts must be attacked now. There is no other way of bringing the English to their senses. They belong to a class of human beings with whom you can only talk after you have first knocked out their teeth."
When the Red Army made advances into Nazi Germany, Hitler invited Goebbels and his family to move into his Führerbunker in Berlin. Rochus Misch, Hitler's bodyguard, claims that Goebbels told him: “Well, Misch, we knew how to live. Now we know how to die." Misch added: "Then he and Frau Goebbels processed arm-in-arm up the stairs to the garden... The children were prepared for their deaths in my work room. Their mother combed their hair - they were all dressed in white nightshirts - and then she went up with the children. Dr Nauman told me that Dr Ludwig Stumpfegger would give the kids 'candy water’. I realised what was going to happen immediately. I had seen Dr Stumpfegger successfully test poison on Blondi, the Führer’s dog.”
On 1st May, 1945, Joseph Goebbels, his wife and six children, committed suicide. According to Ralf Georg Reuth, the author of Goebbels (1995): "The last details regarding the deaths of Joseph and Magda Goebbels will probably always remain unclear. It is certain that they poisoned themselves with cyanide, but it is not known whether Goebbels also shot himself in the head. Nor do we know whether they died in the bunker or outside at the emergency exit, where the Soviets found their bodies."