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Sir Stafford Cripps and the German Admiral's Orgy
– The Gustav Siegfried Eins Controversy
By Lee Richards

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Sir Stafford Cripps' outrage at the pornographic nature of the clandestine black radio station Gustav Siegfried Eins (GS1) is well known. All the major histories dealing with British psychological warfare throughout the Second World War make mention of Cripps complaint to the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, concerning one of the station's more disreputable broadcasts.[1] None of the previous histories, however, tell the full story as until very recently Cripps' correspondence with the Foreign Secretary has remained secret. Following a Freedom of Information request by PsyWar.Org to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, over sixty years later, this correspondence has now finally been released for public scrutiny.

Gustav Siegfried Eins began transmissions in May 1941. It was inspired by Goebbels' radio broadcasts to Britain and especially by Lord Haw-Haw, who's robust language had been titillating British housewives for the previous eighteen months. In a bid to quickly attract an audience amongst Wehrmacht troops and German hausfraus, GS1 initially incorporated profanity and pornography within its subversive programmes. It worked; tongues were soon wagging across Europe, gossiping about this new salacious radio station.

The Daily Express journalist Sefton Delmer was recruited by the British propaganda department, the Political Warfare Executive, to direct GS1. He was given a free hand with "no holds barred". The essential requirement for conducting psychological warfare is an intimate knowledge of the enemy's language and culture. This is where Sefton Delmer was the perfect choice to coordinate black propaganda to Germany. He was born and raised in Germany, where his Australian father, a renowned English professor, was lecturing at Berlin University. The young Delmer was fluent in German before he had learnt to speak English and witnessed at first hand life on the First World War German home-front until his family was repatriated to Britain in 1917. Delmer's interwar journalist career summoned him back to the new Weimar Republic and later the Third Reich, where he became acquainted with many of the leading members of Hitler's National Socialist Party. Delmer was the first foreign reporter to accompany Hitler on his around country electioneering tours. It was on one of these tours that Delmer overheard Hitler's courtiers referring to their future Führer as "der Chef" (the Chief). Now, as a private joke, Delmer also christened his main speaker on Gustav Siegfried Eins der Chef.[2]

In reality der Chef was a German immigrant named Peter Seckelmann who had lived in Britain since 1937 and more recently had served as a Corporal in the Pioneer Corps, defusing unexploded Luftwaffe ordnance during the Blitz. But on GS1 der Chef to all intents and purposes appeared to be a proud, highly patriotic Prussian officer of the old school, totally loyal to Germany but severely disenchanted with the Partei Kommune. The Kommune were the supposed corrupt and cowardly elements of the Nazi Party who were only interested in feathering their own nests at the expense of everyone else and particularly to the detrement of the Wehrmacht. Anyone der Chef did not like he would call a Bolshevik. He cursed Churchill as "that flatfooted bastard of a drunken old Jew" and demanded that England should be bombed to oblivion in revenge for the spineless RAF raids. Crooked Nazi functionaries were ceaselessly berated for such things as trading food, clothing and luxury goods on the black market, for avoiding frontline military service, for taking holidays far away from the bombing, for stashing their ill-gotten gains in foreign bank accounts and other similarly nefarious activities to demonstrate that the Nazi Party, and especially the SS, lacked any sense of decency, honour and discipline. They were more than happy to cash in on the Volk's misery.

One GS1 broadcast in June 1941 demonstrated that Party officials were above the law by alleging that a Hitler Youth leader had been caught violating the twelve year old daughter of a soldier. But, of course, no police action was taken against him. The next month a detailed account was given about the employment of SS men on the home-front for "race preservation"; their job being to assist wives and widows of fallen soldiers to have the children which their own man would have provided them with normally. Another GS1 programme attacked an SS man called Breuter who was in charge of children who had been evacuated from bombed German cities to Czechoslovakia. He was removed from his post after being found guilty in 67 cases of assaulting little girls. One fourteen year old girl he made pregnant died when a doctor performed an illegal abortion on her. Breuter informed the girl's mother that she was a victim of scarlet fever. But despite this, GS1 indignantly informed its listeners, Breuter was now in Styria and still in charge of child evacuees.[3]

Der Chef did not pull any punches against fellow members of the Officer Corps either if he felt they were not upholding the fine traditions of Prussian militarism. It was one such tirade against a German Admiral and his peculiar sexual practices that came to the attention of an irate Sir Stafford Cripps. A far left Socialist politician and an advocate of Marxist economics but also a devout Christian, Cripps was horrified when he learnt about the seedier side of the black propaganda war. In June 1942, according to Delmer, so appalled was Sir Stafford by GS1's broadcasts,

…pale with indignation he raced around to the Foreign Office to see Anthony Eden and protest. "If this is the sort of thing that's needed to win the war," he stammered in his fury, "w-w-why I'd rather lose it!" [4]

Cripps, also moaned to his cousin David Stephens, who was secretary to PWE, "I am sorry you belong to that beastly pornographic organisation".[5] He then put his complaint in writing to Eden. The personal and private letter – handwritten as Cripps wouldn't allow his young lady typist to see its scandalous contents – has remained secret up until now. He protests about the "most foul and filthy pornography" put out by Gustav Siegfried Eins and continues:

I heard a rumour of this and so got someone who could understand to listen in and this is the report I got of a particular transmission (paid for by His Majesty's Government!).

"Detailed description of a named German admiral who takes home 4 or 5 sailors with his own mistress. He makes the sailors drunk and excites himself by instigating the sailors to rape his mistress in turn. All this is given in a running commentary which describes in the minutest detail the difficulties of the sailors owing to their drunkenness.

(Here is a typical sentence from the orgy: "...und wenn sie zwischen den Beinen trocken wird, schütten Sie Butter ein", ["...and if she gets dry between the legs, pour in butter"]. This is followed by the indignant comment that butter is rationed to the common people).

The climax of the orgy is an even more detailed description of how the old Admiral finally works himself up into a state in which he, too, can copulate with the woman".

What good this is supposed to do I cannot imagine. It could only play up to the most foul and filthy Nazis who we shall never catch – I hope. The decent minded liberals, socialists, Catholics, Protestants and other resistant sections will be disgusted.

…I object most strongly to such filth being allowed to go out of this country.[6]

Eden was also disturbed by Cripps' revelations and ordered Bruce Lockhart, PWEs Director-General, to investigate. Black radio broadcasts were run and transmitted from PWEs Country Headquarters in and around Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. Reginald "Rex" Leeper was in overall charge in the country and fought valiantly to defend both Gustav Siegfried Eins and Delmer personally.  Leeper informed Delmer that an objection to the Admiral's orgy had been received without letting him know who had made the complaint and to whom it had been made.

In response, Delmer spelt out his rationale for using some pornography in GS1 programmes:

The pornographic element in these broadcasts was introduced deliberately, not for the sake of pornography in itself, but in order to attract listeners and gain their attention for the main objects of the station, viz. the undermining of confidence in the regime. In the early days of the station this element was more pronounced, but since last March [1942] it has been discontinued, although reports received from American officials in Berlin shortly before America entered the war emphasised that the pornographic element in the broadcasts had attracted a listening public much wider than would otherwise have been the case.

The broadcast about the German admiral's orgy dates back to last November or December [1941]. It was used purely as an introduction to an operational item which aimed at undermining the confidence of German sailors in the material used in U-boats. This depraved Admiral was quoted as the man responsible for shortcomings in the supply of the proper material and indignation was whipped up against him. The story had a foundation of truth.

…We are of course not trying to win Germans to our side by this method; we are trying to turn Germans against Germans and thereby weaken the German war machine. There is a sadism in the German nature quite alien to the British nature and German listeners are very far from being revolted by the sadistic content of some of these broadcasts.

Moreover, Delmer indirectly threatened he would quit running the station if he not did receive full backing for his work with a free rein:

The success of these broadcasts has been proved on evidence available, and, if an official fiat were to demand that the character of the station should be changed, it would not be possible to continue it. No secret, subversive organisation can operate successfully if its operations are to be limited to what the moral standards of our country would require for work undertaken openly and in the name of His Majesty's Government.

The alternative is either to close down a station which has undoubtedly done something to undermine the unity of purpose in Germany or to give the officials responsible a free hand to conduct their operations provided they do so within the recognised limits of security. [7]

Leeper supported Delmer's position and noted that this was war "with the gloves off". As an example, he pointed out that the Secret Intelligence Service used women in perhaps morally questionable ways and rhetorically asked, "Has any protest ever been made?" He continued:

I dislike the baser sides of human life as much as Sir S. Cripps does, but in this case moral indignation does not seem to be called for.

Delmer is a rare artist and a good fellow. I want to back him in the good work he is doing. [8]

As Gustav Siegfried Eins had already built up its audience and subsequently dropped most of the pornographic content from its broadcasts, Sir Stafford Cripps' concerns were now a moot point. Bruce Lockhart drafted an official reply mentioning that fact and took Cripps out to lunch to pacify and un-ruffle his feathers. Delmer was free to continue with GS1 broadcasts for over another year until permanently going off-air in a hail of gunfire as, apparently, the Gestapo finally caught up with der Chef and put him out of action. Delmer's good work persisted and he went on to control all black propaganda to enemy and satellite countries with great success, most notably with the Soldatensender West radio station and the daily airdropped newspaper for German troops Nachrichten für die Truppe.

The interesting point about this controversy is that it raises an important question. How far should a civilised country lower its perceived moral standards in its fight against a more immoral enemy? In today's world, Sir Stafford Cripps' objections to Gustav Siegfried Eins' salty stories may seem a little amusing. But certainly in 1940's Britain many people would have been shocked and appalled by the graphic nature of its pornography and felt it was going too far. However, the stories were not intended for the British public and, perhaps, the old philosophy "what you don't know, can't hurt you" should apply when a country is fighting for its national survival?

© 10 January 2007, Lee Richards


[1] See The Secret History of PWE by David Garnett, St. Ermin's Press, 2002, pp 44-45; Black Boomerang by Sefton Delmer, Secker & Warburg, 1962, p 252; The Fourth Arm by Charles Cruickshank, Davis-Poynter, 1977, p 81; The Black Game by Ellic Howe, Michael Joseph, 1982, pp 115-117; and The Times Literary Supplement – "HMG's Secret Pornographer" by Sefton Delmer, 21 January 1972.

[2] Trail Sinister by Sefton Delmer, Secker & Warburg, 1961 and Black Boomerang, p 42.

[3] The National Archives (TNA) file: FO 898/60, Examples taken from reports on GS1 broadcasts, June – August 1941.

[4] Black Boomerang, p 252.

[5] The Secret History of PWE, p. 44.

[6] FO 898/60, Personal & private letter from Sir Stafford Cripps to the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, dated 12 June 1942.

[7] Ibid, Memorandum titled "Gustav Siegfried", 16 June 1942.

[8] Ibid, Letter from Leeper to Bruce Lockhart, 16 June 1942.



 

 

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