Information on dr. Elisabeth Noelle (prof. dr. dr. h.c. Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann) (1916-2010)
- T.W.M. van Berkel -

Nederlandse versie

E. Noelle-Neumann
Prof. dr. dr. h.c.
E. Noelle-Neumann

Some facts about prof. dr. dr. h.c. E. Noelle-Neumann
Prof. dr. dr. h.c. Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (Berlin, December 19, 1916 - Allensbach, March 25, 2010) studied history, journalistic and philosophy. In 1940, she became doctor in philosophy in Berlin. Her dissertation was entitled Meinungs- und Massenforschung in USA - Umfragen über Politik und Presse (alternative title: Amerikanische Massenbefragungen über Politik und Presse). After she passed for her dissertation on March 14, 1940, she worked as a journalist for various newspapers such as the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, das Reich and the Frankfurter Zeitung. The actual promotion was on September 17, 1940.
In 1946, Noelle married with the journalist Erich Peter Neumann (1912-1973). In 1947, they founded the first German opinion research institute: the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach - Gesellschaft zum Studium der öffentlichen Meinung mbH, the first German institute for opinion research. This institute, in Allensbach, exists until today.
In the '60's, Noelle-Neumann was appointed as professor at the Gutenberg-university in Mainz. From 1978 to 1991, she was professor at the university of Chicago. From the end of the '60's, she started to develop theories about public opinion. This culminated in the Schweigespirale, a theory in which it is stated that the more the opinion of the majority, spread by the mass media and especially by TV, becomes dominant,  the more those opinions who are opposing it, fall silent.
In 1976, Noelle-Neumann was decorated with the Bundesverdienstkreuz.
From a political point of view, Noelle-Neumann is controversial. In the article The Pollster and the Nazis, published in the August 1991 issue of Commentary, a Jewish heritage and cultural magazine, Leo Bogart, an American sociologist and expert on media and marketing, accused her of anti-Semitic passages in her dissertation and articles she wrote for Nazi newspapers. Bogart also suggested connections between Goebbels' ideas about propaganda and Noelle-Neumann's theory of the "spiral of silence". In a letter of apology, Noelle-Neumann replied that the passages served alibi functions under the dictatorship and were not meant to be harmful. In an article in the issue of December 16, 1991 of the New York Times, John J. Mearsheimer, professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, wrote that Noelle-Neumann had admitted that before 1940, she was not hostile to the Nazis. It was after 1940 that she became anti-Nazi. Mearsheimer noted that she had not produced evidence that she criticized the Nazis then. He also noted that in 1938-'41, she was not compelled to write anti-Semitic writings. Asked about her anti-Semitic writings, Noelle-Neumann stated that never in her life she had written anything which she did not believe to be true.[1] Until today, Noelle-Neumann's political attitude during World War II frequently has been a subject of discussion. 


Noelle-Neumann on Nostradamus
In the period in which Noelle-Neumann worked as a freelance-journalist for the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, she wrote an article in which she stated that Nostradamus predicted the German invasion in France in 1940 and the capitulation of Paris. In 1998, she referred to this article in an interview with the German media scholar Wolfgang Hagen and told that by 1940, because of the Centuries, she already knew that Germany would lose the war. In 2003, she discussed her 1940-article in an article which was published by the German newspaper Die Welt and wrote that by 1940, because of the Centuries, she knew that World War II would be followed by a conflict with "the Arabs".
On this website, all these articles are discussed, due to a.o. the fact that the story, told by Noelle-Neumann in 1998, differed from the article she wrote in 2003.



De Meern, the Netherlands, October 2, 2006
T.W.M. van Berkel
updated on March 26, 2010



  1. Source: [text



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