The newspaper was set up by Joseph Goebbels, who in 1926 had become the Nazi Party leader (Gauleiter) in Berlin, and the party provided most of the money needed to ensure publication. The paper was first founded to rally NSDAP members during the nearly two-year ban on the party in Berlin. Der Angriff was conceived as a mass circulation paper that fought the hated "System" with rude and aggressive language. Antiparliamentarism and antisemitism were its self-defining themes. The most regular contributors were party functionaries; lead articles were usually written by the publisher, Goebbels, until 1933, and signed "Dr. G." Willi Krause, using the pen name Peter Hagen, was its first editor-in-chief. He was succeeded first by Julius Lippert, then in 1933 by Karoly Kampmann, and from 1935, by Goebbels's trusted friend Hans Schwarz van Berk. A further attraction of the paper were the political caricatures by Hans Schweitzer.
Der Angriff was first published on 4 July 1927 by the Angriff Press. Its motto was "For the oppressed against the exploiters". At first appearing once a week, then starting 1 October 1929 twice a week, Der Angriff became a daily newspaper with the subtitle "The German Evening Paper in Berlin" after 1 November 1930. After 1 October 1932 it published twice daily as "The Attack at Noon" and "Night Attack". After 1 February 1933, it appeared as the "Daily Newspaper of the German Labor Front" from the Eher Press, with Goebbels remaining as the publisher. It contained principally party propaganda, agitation against the Weimar Republic, and antisemitism; among many others it regularly attacked Bernhard Weiss, the deputy head of the Berlin police, who was Jewish. For this it was temporarily banned on 4 November 1931 by Albert Grzesinski, Berlin's chief of police.
In 1927 the circulation was around 2,000. This number rose to 146,694 in 1939 and 306,000 by 1944. However, after the Nazis gained political power in Germany on 30 January 1933, the importance of the newspaper slowly decreased. When the Allies started the bombing campaign against Berlin, the circulation was increased to keep up the morale of Berliners. After 19 February 1945 Der Angriff was merged with the Berliner Illustrierte Nachtausgabe (Berlin Illustrated Night Edition). The last edition was published on 24 April 1945.
Nacht-Angriff was a daily paper also published by Goebbels. Issues in 1932 are described as "6. Jahrgang" (Year 6).
Der Gegen-Angriff: antifaschistische Wochenschrift (The Counterattack: anti-fascist weekly newspaper) was an anti-fascist weekly published in Prague between 1933 and 1936 (139 weekly issues); and there were also Parisian and Swiss editions.
In the movie Casablanca, a Nazi civilian whom Rick bars from his casino angrily says that he will report the snub to Der Angriff.
In the 1968 Hogan's Heroes episode War Takes a Holiday, the title characters use a false copy of Der Angriff to perpetrate an armistice hoax.