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Raymond Schuhl is the stuff of legends. Hardly anyone knows his name and yet in WWI as a member of the French Army he went to Switzerland and produced anti-German leaflets.
In WWII, after the fall of France, he did it again. He faked his death, went to Switzerland where he joined with the American OSS to head their propaganda campaign against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
WORLD WAR ONE
In October 1914, the Germans were at the gates of Paris. They were drafting Frenchmen to dig their trenches and build fortifications. About the same time, the French government organized a Bureau de la presse et de l'information, ("Office of Press and Information") and Minister of War Millerand formed a Service de la Propaganda aerienne ("Aerial Propaganda Service" sometimes called "SPA") attached to the 2nd Bureau of the Army General Headquarters. In 1916, the French government established the Maison de la Presse in a six-story building of some 200 rooms in Rue Francois Premier in Paris. One section of the Maison de la presse was the SPA. It was composed of Professor Tonnelat and Jean Jacques Waltz, the Alsatian artist code-named "Hansi."
In 1916, Raymond Schuhl joined the team. Schuhl is of particular interest because he crossed the border into Switzerland after the German invasion of France in WWII where he did exactly the same thing that he did in WWI. This time, he secretly designed leaflets for the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) using the code-name Salembier right under the eyes of the very suspicious, nervous, and neutral Swiss.
I first wrote about Schuhl years ago in a magazine article about OSS Berne and said:
The OSS mission had early established contact with a Frenchman, known under his cover name of “Salembier,” who had been one of the French Deuxieme Bureau's chief propaganda artists in World War I.
This book was bound in vellum and then the artist Hansi (Jean Jacques Waltz) painted this wonderful cover illustration of a very early variant of the U.S. B-17 bomber flying over New York harbor and dropping leaflets. He would later design an Ex Libris label for Schuhl’s library that had some similarities to this picture.
This Ex-libris library label was made by the artist Hansi for his wartime friend and comrade Raymond Schuhl. In the foreground are the ruins of the castles of Ortenbourg and Romstein dominating Sainte Marie aux Mines, the birthplace of the Raymond Schuhl. In the distance Hansi depicts Paris and New York.
Hansi states that Raymond A. Schuhl was born in Sainte Marie-aux-Mines. This pretty valley of Alsace is dominated by the ruins of the castles of Ortenbourg and Ramstein, which we see in the foreground. Mr. Schuhl lived in Paris, which can be seen in the background. From 1914 to 1918, during the last war, Mr. Schuhl carried out many important missions in America so one sees the sea, and on the other shore New York, the Statue of Liberty, and the plane that transports him.
The heraldry is as follows: the symbols of Ribeaupierre/Lorraine; Paris; the United States of America; and finally France.
Waltz talked about his time writing propaganda for the French in WWI in his 1922 book Through Enemy Lines - A three Years Offensive against German Morale. I am not going to quote him exactly and will edit his long passages down to brief comments. He said in part:
A small table in the corner of an information desk and, in a cabinet, books and a few German newspapers, was, towards the end of August 1915, the installation of the French “Aircraft Propaganda Service” which was ordered to organize and methodically disseminate propaganda leaflets beyond enemy lines. Our staff was a single interpreter who was, on his own, to endeavor to destroy the morale of two or three million German soldiers who were intoxicated with their early success.
Our “Propaganda Service” always remained modest. From November 1915, Professor Tonnelat and I were a team and shared the rather heavy work of drafting, printing and the dispatch of leaflets. In 1916, the presence of Third interpreter became necessary; Mr. Raymond Schuhl then joined us. Two secretaries and some handlers gradually complemented our team. The total number of persons employed never reached ten members.
It was not the first time, since the start of the war that we were in a less favorable position than the Boche. This had not stopped us from beating them more than once with their own weapon. Our friend Raymond Schuhl promised to make this happen once again. We would do better than the Germans, without the help of anyone and against the odds. The promise was kept…Schuhl kept the Germans on the alert for over two years…Every day parcels of clandestine literature crossed over into Mulhouse and St. Louis in commercial vehicles, in the pockets of workmen with border passes, in the milk bins which the Swiss sent to Mulhouse every day, in the freight trains, etc. Massages were sent down the Rhine in hermetically sealed floating tubes. Messages were sent attached to balloons from friendly houses near the border.
As for the smugglers: from Constanz to Basle, and over the Lake of Constanz, traffic was regular and lively. The smugglers, whether Swiss or German, thought nothing of adding a few bales of pamphlets to their merchandise.
Schuhl decided to become a canned food merchant. He assembled a great number of cans bearing the “Amieux” trademark (a well-known French firm) and got a large consignment to the border…The German consulates had a section dealing with mail. In these same consulates there were fine stocks of official envelopes, these were sometimes sold. It was easy enough to use these envelopes and to mail them at the same post office and same window as that used openly and every day by the employees of the German consulate.
Waltz mentions this French fake newspaper he produced with Schuhl. He says in part:
From October 1915, we printed a German newspaper regularly, eventually totaling almost 300 pages. The first twelve issues were titled “Die Feldpost,” but the leaflet was so carefully demonized and policed by the German military authorities that it was necessary to change its name. From number 13 onwards it was entitled: “Kriegsblatter fur das deutsche Volk” (War Pages for the German People). The newspaper became known as “Das freie deutsche Wort” (The Free German Word), until the end of the war.
Another Waltz-Schuhl project was the reprinting in miniature of Grelling’s book J'accuse! (“I Accuse!”). The booklet J'accuse was first produced in September 1915. The booklets were often disguised with fake covers in the German colors or depicting an Iron cross and the title Die Wahrheit (The Truth). This book argued against the German lie that they were fighting a defensive war and pointed out that the Germans had started the war and were seeking to build a militarist empire. The French reproduced it as a miniature 50-gram 432-page edition. In late 1915, the French dropped 20,000 copies of the books behind the German lines. This result was achieved by using the very fine and resistant paper used by Bibles for holding the Old and New Testaments in one volume. Despite the small size of the Volume, the text remained very readable. So that the volumes dropped behind the lines would not be exposed to deterioration, each copy was placed in a strong paper envelope. And, for the little package to attract attention it was placed in an envelope decorated with German colors.
WORLD WAR TWO
America needed an expert propagandist in Switzerland. British researcher Lee Richards searched the files in the U.S. National Archives and discovered a classified “Secret” letter from the Acting Chief of Morale Operations, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Patrick Dolan, dated 1 September 1943, that mentions what is specifically needed and said in part:
The dissemination of rumors and subversive printed material, clandestine radio if possible, the introduction of MO subagents into enemy territory or enemy occupied territory, the recruiting of such agents among dissident enemy nationals or the nationals of occupied countries, the creation and maintenance of channels for the introduction into such territories of rumors, printed matter and personnel. MO representative in Bern should possess full qualifications for operations…His duties will include the recruiting and direction of subagents who will operate in enemy or enemy-controlled countries. He should command facilities for the printing and distribution of subversive leaflets, pamphlets and possibly of underground newspapers…A comprehensive agreement has been reached with the British Political Warfare Executive and Special Operations Executive for the closest collaboration, mutual assistance and the pooling of resources.
[Authors note]: Let me stop here just for a moment to point out that the British may not have been quite as much in agreement as stated. British researcher Lee Richards found a note in the British National Archives that states:
Salembier has been pirating – very heavily and unsuccessfully!
There are some attached OSS Berne leaflets, with a horse logo on the reverse that was apparently stolen from a PWE project called Operation Periwig. PWE were obviously not too impressed with Salembier’s efforts.
I assume that Schuhl figured that since the British already had a fictitious anti-Nazi underground in Germany he might as well take advantage of it.
This was not the only time that the OSS did a bit of poaching of British propaganda. The British produced two versions of a “Work Slowly” gummed label, coded H.18 and H.230, that could be placed on tables and walls wherever the German workers congregated. It featured the red cogwheel emblem of the German Labor Front at the upper left and repeated the phrase “work slowly” four times. Some of the text is:
Workers in all Europe must work slowly so that Hitler can win himself to death more quickly. The easier we take it, the harder it is on Hitler.
Peace! Freedom! Socialism!
The British propaganda message leans just a tad to the left so Schuhl copied it, coded his leaflet 119 and kept all the original text but cut out the last line at the bottom that mentioned “Socialism.” He replaced it with:
Long live the Fourth Reich and German Freedom.
We now come across the first mention of Raymond Schuhl. In a classified secret letter to Dolan from a Colonel Edward Buxton dated 3 September 1943 we find:
Burns in Bern recommended a man named Raymond Schuhl. Attached is a French translation of a French book which tells about Schuhl’s activities in World War I. Seemingly, he is ideal for our job.
In an earlier letter to the head of the OSS we find a similar comment. No names are mentioned but we know who is being mentioned:
Kindly obtain a copy of the book “Atrauers les lignes ennemies”…In this book the person named on page 136, line 2 is available for work here. I have requested him to make a preliminary survey of what could be done along these lines…There are opportunities opening up and Garry Mayer of the Officer of War Information is giving his full cooperation.
This is really interesting. When I was researching Schuhl years ago I studied the Waltz book mentioned above in the WWI section. Apparently the OSS did exactly the same thing in WWII and offered Schuhl the job.
On 22 September 1943, Dolan sent another classified secret letter explaining the need for his unit to have representation in Bern:
Bern and Switzerland are perhaps the prime outlets for Morale Operations work against Germany. MO has no representation in Bern. This has left a great gap in our overseas operations. I obtained the list of U.S. World War veterans now living in Switzerland; it seems to me they would be valuable as OSS contacts.
How was the Morale Operations Branch going to pay for all this propaganda printing and intelligence collecting? A 19 May 1943 classified secret letter implies it will not be easy:
It appears that the project under discussion earlier this year, whereby MO would have one million dollars, has not materialized. We have, in fact, no designated MO funds in Switzerland at all.
A week later some progress had been made. A 25 May 1943 classified secret letter states in part:
Yesterday I had a long talk…about getting Swiss francs for Morale Operations in Switzerland. The procedure is simple…all we have to do is direct a letter to the Finance Office which then transfers MO funds into Swiss francs payable in Bern. OSS has a general fund in Switzerland from which this will be drawn, amounting to about $900,000.
Raymond Schuhl Takes Charge
We know a lot of general facts about Raymond Schuhl from old OSS documents that I read and quoted from in the past. For instance:
The printing operation in Switzerland is mentioned in the War Report of the OSS, The Overseas Targets, Volume 2, Kermit Roosevelt, Walker and Company, NY, 1976:
Joint OSS/OWI operations were worked out in the field of propaganda warfare. The OSS mission had early established contact with a Frenchman, known under his cover name of 'Salembier,' who had been one of the French Deuxieme Bureau's chief propaganda artists in World War I. He knew his trade and was set up in business, operating from Geneva, by OSS and OWI jointly. Millions of pamphlets, leaflets, cards, postage stamps and every form of literary propaganda were printed and smuggled into Germany and Fascist Italy.
The man with the pseudonym Robert Salembier was actually Raymond A. Schuhl, code-named “Mutt.” His code name had a code name! He had been a French Army propagandist in WWI who had served in the 6th Section of the French Deuxieme Bureau until the fall of France and volunteered to do the same for the Americans in WWII.
All OSS members received a code number and we don’t know Schuhl’s, but there is an un-named person (almost all others are named), numbered 677 that simply says “Employed by OSS in Switzerland.” I suspect this is Schuhl because a Dulles telegram dated 11 September 1943 says:
For the past six months the person numbered 677 has been working full-time for us, and, since it is not wise to transmit reports by cable, we have been doing a great deal more along the lines indicated than you know.
Personal Identification documents forged by the OSS
677 was doing work that Dulles did not want to put on paper. This is almost always the case when you are talking about counterfeiting documents. Six months would take us back to March and we think Salembier was hired in February, but that could just be rounding off the numbers, or it could be that the forger was first hired for some specific contract jobs, and hired full-time a month later.
There is also another clue. Gerry Mayer, Schuhl’s staunchest supporter and partner had the OSS code number 678, just one number away. Not a smoking gun, but interesting.
He seems to have worked for the Americans as early as February 1943. His pay was apparently in U.S. greenbacks and kept in the United States. On 5 February he asked for some of his money and was told [in a censored letter]:
I have talked with our Financial Attaché on the question of the possible release of some of your dollar funds in the United States. I suggest that when you are next in Bern you call at the legation…
Another letter on 6 June 1943 mentions that he also has funds in British bank. The letter from “D” adds:
I have the greatest confidence in Salembier [Now using the code name] and would be glad to do anything I can to facilitate his obtaining funds to keep him and his family going here in Switzerland. He is useful to us in many ways.
Schuhl’s cover was an “Alsatian businessman.” It appears that Gerry Mayer [of the United States Office of War Information] was a middleman between Salembier and Dulles. I have a copy of a 16 September 1943 note from “G.M.M.” to Dulles giving “Mutt’s” phone number and stating that he was staying at the Hotel Regina, phone number 2-61-74.
Mayer is a strange character. He was the head of OWI Berne, and as such had a legitimate job producing American literature, brochures and magazines during the daylight hours. However, each night he allowed those OSS people to sneak into his printing plants and produce illegal (in Switzerland) anti-Nazi propaganda until dawn, when they quietly slipped away and transported it clandestinely to Germany. How can this be? He was on two payrolls. A 9 April 1942 letter to Mayer from OSS Chief William Donovan states in part:
This is to advise you that your headquarters have been changed from Washington D.C to Berne, Switzerland. The reimbursement of your expenses in connection with the travel, in accordance with existing orders and regulations, is hereby authorized.
This transfer is not for your convenience, but is for the best interests of the Government.
It is almost as if his OWI job was a cover and he was meant to do espionage and propaganda from the very start.
Schuhl and Mayer seem to have been the best of friends. In May of 1946, a letter from Schuhl to Mayer in the Allen Dulles papers requests help with $99,000 in blocked funds in three New York City banks and is signed by the old codename “Mutt.” In December of 1946, both Dulles and Mayer wrote to Schuhl at the Hotel Regina in Geneva congratulating him on the first Christmas after the Allied victory.
Raymond Arthur Schuhl was born in Paris but lived in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, a small town in Alsace. Alsace had been integrated into the German Empire but Schuhl always had strong pro-French feelings. He had a perfect knowledge of German language and was able to speak with various regional accents, including Swiss.
When WWI was declared, he traveled to France and enlisted in the army. His intellect was apparently noted and he received several promotions ending the war as a Lieutenant. From an operational base in Switzerland he produced counterfeit German newspapers such as the Frankfurter Zeitung and enormous quantities of leaflets and booklets. The methods of dissemination were quite similar to those used by Office of Strategic Services in WWII
After 1933, Schuhl saw the danger represented by Hitler and the Nazi Party. He secretly stayed near Vichy for a brief time where the new French government collaborated with Germany (possibly gathering information), and then fled to Switzerland where he was able to get in touch with the Office of Strategic Services and become a trusted agent.
At some point in 1942 Schuhl had apparently decided to join the Americans. Perhaps to hide his whereabouts and to make himself invisible to the Germans and to protect his family a death notice was printed stating that:
The friends of Commander Raymond Schuhl
Commandeur of the Legion of Honor
Croix de Guerre with Palms and Stars
Have the great sorrow to announce his death in Algiers during a bombing. It was far from his native Alsace. Pray for him. Algiers, November 1942.
We also know that Schuhl was involved with postal propaganda. In late 1944, Eugene Warner, the Chief of Mediterranean Morale Operations met with the French forger to discuss sending propaganda mail into Germany through regular mail trains from Switzerland. Schuhl told him that it could be done, but in only very limited numbers. As a result, MO Rome pulled out of this operation and told Schuhl to prepare his own letters and envelopes in Switzerland.
Back in Switzerland, the OSS might have been printing propaganda in Geneva and Lausanne. A Swiss Ministere Public Federal document from their General Prosecutor dated 29 September 1944 states:
The “imprimerie Centrale de Lausanne” has printed propaganda material in violation of Swiss neutrality and that propaganda is an outrage to a foreign Head of State.
Consequently: The manager of the printing house will be punished in the event of a subsequent crime. All the material seized is confiscated. 4 copies have been sent to the Police of Surete de Lausanne.
We also find an 18 March 1944 letter among Schuhl’s papers that mention the German attempts to counter his work. The Germans caused similar problems in WWI. The letter says in part:
Measures taken in Germany against the Distribution of Clandestine Literature
On 12 March 1944, an order by the German Minister of the Interior appeared in the German press, especially in western Germany, making the distribution of clandestine literature a punishable offense as “dangerous for the state,” and stating that any leaflets that were found in Germany, if dropped by air or distributed in any other way, must be delivered to the nearest police station. The statement “any other way” officially recognizes the effectiveness of our methods of distribution.
The information department specifies that the distribution of leaflets and clandestine literature considerably disturbs the German authorities. Leaflets and clandestine journals were found in Western Germany as far as the Rhine, in Berlin, and in several important river and seaports.
The surveillance of trains in the Rhine valley, and especially near Switzerland has been considerably enforced. The main station at Basle is one of the places the German police is particularly observant…The anti-Nazi agents who risk their lives by distributing the named literature now have to double their vigilance and prudence.
The Swiss police have received instructions to stop the delivery and transportation of leaflets and anti-Hitler publications into Germany. The Gestapo has informed the Swiss police authorities that the clandestine importation of these publications into Germany was through Switzerland.
On 29 September 1944 we find the first document mentioning the prosecution of some of Schuhl’s team by the Swiss. A "Ministry of the Public" finding says in part:
Concerning the investigation against the Imprimerie Centrale SA in Lausanne, for having fabricated propaganda material against our neutrality and for the criminal offense of article 296 of the Swiss Penal Code (Offense of a foreign state) concerning articles 106 and 107 of the Federal Law of 15 June 1934 about the penal procedure it is decreed:
The investigation is suspended in view of the circumstances of the case.
The director of the accused house, Mr. Arthur Margot and his representative, Mr. Andre Tschan, are informed, according to article 292 of the Swiss Penal Code, that they will be punished by arrest or by a fine in case of a relapse.
The material that was seized in the source of the investigation procedure will, considering its insulting nature being contrary to our neutrality, be confiscated according to article 73 of the law…
I suspect a lot of pressure was put on Switzerland by the Allies, so the court basically put the culprits on probation and told them not to do it again…or else.
Schuhl also filed a 2 June 1945 letter on the Swiss actions against his section. It is rather technical and consists of names and charges so I will heavily edit it. It says in part:
Swiss Army Military Court – Lausanne
By decision of 31 May 1945, the chief auditor of the army, referring to article 122 of the military penal code , ordered to close the proceedings of the military investigative commission against the above mentioned individuals [Five Swiss citizens, one identified as a printer] accused of propaganda actions in favor of a belligerent or involvement in this infraction: the violation of the order of 14 April 1939 on the maintaining of neutrality, or having participated in the preparation, the printing, or the delivery of the “Information Bulletin for France.”
The decision is mainly caused by the consideration that the information bulletin is identified as an information paper with documentary character rather than a subversive propaganda journal. The conditions for foreign propaganda, penalized by the quoted order, were not realized.
The document that apparently caused the prosecution of the OSS printers was this one with the title PETAIN. I could not find the Bulletin mentioned below, but this leaflet does bear the title at the top of the first and second page in a small framed banner: 30 Avril 1943 - Bulletin d'Informations - N° 4. We have found no other leaflet bearing that title. Looking at this leaflet the reader can see why I made a decision to only depict pictorial literature.
What is odd is that although the Germans made the complaint; this leaflet really attacks the French Vichy government. Perhaps that was all the Swiss police could find during their raid. It quotes a number of French officials that say that there was pro-German intrigue and treachery. An example:
Threats by Pétain and Baudoin, – the under-secretary of Foreign Affairs who, after the capitulation, became a minister – to sabotage the proposition of Paul Reynaud to transfer the French government to North Africa and, from there, continue the fight against Germany. This decision was taken by Paul Reynaud when he won Bordeaux on 14 June. Within 24 hours Baudoin, Pierre Laval and their treacherous clique succeeded in detaching the majority of collaborators from the president of the council, forcing M. Paul Reynaud to resign.
Meanwhile, in Bern there must have been some real problem between American and French forces because on 25 February 1945, Dulles recommends Schuhl for an intelligence job to General Eugene L. Harrison of the U.S. Sixth Army Group and says that he can be trusted. The letter says in part:
…My French friend will identify himself under the name Salembier…He worked closely with us for over two years, and also had a mission from the French Ministry of War…Extremely astute and if anyone can be of use in ferreting out the mystery I believe he is the man…He is of course a good Frenchman, but I don’t believe he would tolerate any French intrigue against us…
By some coincidence, the day before, 24 February, an American team called Alsos entered Germany to search for data on atomic experiments and discoveries.
Another letter to Schuhl dated 7 July 1945 from a Molly Bessermann seems to be talking about the same problem, although it gives no detail about what the problem was:
Mr. de Gaevernitz remembers with pleasure the interesting journey to Strasbourg he made with you, and the precious assistance you gave American Army in a very delicate affair.
Molly Bessermann was the private and confidential secretary to the Mr. Gaevernitz, special Assistant to Allen W. Dulles. We assume she would be privy to most of the secret workings of the OSS.
What problem appeared about February and ended about April 1945? I mentioned this problem between the French and Americans and Bernard Hayem gave a possible explanation:
When the Allied armies advanced into Germany in April 1945, evidence was found of the German nuclear program, consisting of components of a nuclear reactor and eight tons of uranium oxide. At Celle, an experimental centrifuge for separating uranium isotopes was found. Later, 1100 tons of uranium ore were found. The problem was that most of the areas of interest lay in the path of the French First Army and were in the occupation zone allocated to France.
American General Groves attempted to get the occupation boundaries changed, but due to security restrictions of the Manhattan Project could not tell the State Department why. The commander of the U.S. Sixth Army Group was asked to make the change but said that the matter would have to be taken up with Eisenhower. A plan was drawn up called Operation Harborage where a large American force would cut diagonally across in front of the advancing French army and seize the area long enough to capture any German scientists, remove all available records, and destroy any remaining facilities.
So, if Hayem is correct, the U.S. wanted to search that part of Germany to be about to be occupied by France in order to confiscate German atomic projects and capture German nuclear scientists. Who would be better to act as an intermediary with the French forces than a highly regarded French officer like Raymond Schuhl?
That is all of the general information known about Schuhl (AKA “Salembier,” AKA “Mutt”). Do we know more about this mysterious Frenchman who came to the aid of the United States and ran propaganda campaigns again the Germans and Italians from Switzerland? If fact we do. I have been privileged to read some of the documents that Schuhl wrote as a record of his WWII exploits. The report below is undated so we are not sure when it was written and it is not addressed to anyone so we don’t know if a copy was forwarded or this was for his use. He uses the word “service” but does not specify what he means so he could be talking about the OSS in Switzerland, the Morale Operations Section or his own forgery and printing section. It is my belief that the latter is the answer. Schuhl is talking about his own group and how they printed and moved propaganda material. These are in his words, all in his native French, although I have shortened and edited them for ease of reading. Let us start with Schuhl’s description of the unit he led in Switzerland:
A Year of Clandestine Propaganda Service in Germany and in the Occupied Countries
The clandestine propaganda service was established in December 1942. The service currently consists of 8 teams, responsible for the dissemination of propaganda leaflets in the nations annexed or occupied by the Axis. Its governing body consists of an editor-in-chief and several assistant editors. Each team is an independent unit which fulfills its mission without any knowledge of the existence of the other teams. All the teams are under the control of Geneva, which is itself directly controlled by Berne, where decisions are taken depending on editing, the types of images and other questions in consultation with the Chief.
During the period under review, the service printed 1,269,500 leaflets and 19,000 brochures. The distribution of the printed material is effected by movement to and departure from the depots of Berne, Zurich and Geneva.
Team Valmy: Printed material only for use in France, most often using the personnel of the French Resistance.
Team Mail: Organized specially for the mailing in Germany of the counterfeit copies of the newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung, and other periodicals, as well as some other newspapers.
Team Navig: This team is responsible for the introduction of leaflets in Germany, via the Rhine river channel, by means of floating tubes 20 centimeters in length and 25 to 35 millimeters in diameter.
Team Rails: Until last September, the operation worked well; leaflets went to Germany and Alsace by way of the railway-cars, returning to the country through the Bale station. Leaflets got pass the Gestapo at Freiburg-Baden, but a complaint was addressed by the German authorities to the federal authorities of Switzerland, who opened an investigation into the matter. A member of the team was surprised during the operation and this led to the arrest of the entire team. The activity of the team is consequently suspended.
Team Waterloo: A secretive, communist-oriented section directed against National Socialism, with many secure means for introducing and distributing leaflets into Germany, including relations with railway workers, tradesmen and postal workers.
Team Nibelungen: The "Free Germany" organization disseminates our leaflets into Germany using processes specific to their organization.
Note: These last two teams operate on both the Bale and Schaffhausen borders, as well as Liechtenstein to Austria.
Team Niagara: This team is specifically tasked to operate near the German-Swiss border in the Lake Constance area.
Team Garibaldi: This group is currently in hiatus due to the invasion of Italy by the Allies. It was constituted for the purpose of the introduction of anti-fascist leaflets into Italy
Team Parsival: Consists of a flying team composed of writers and occasional collaborators, independently aggregating in the various sectors such as Mail, Navig, Rail, Niagra, as needed.
During the twelve-month period, the service had to face many difficulties as a result of the ongoing investigations and research carried out by the Swiss Federal Police on the proceedings and following the requests submitted by the German authorities, to discourage the printers and the authors of the leaflets. Several collaborators were arrested and subjected to vigorous interrogations by the Federal Political Police during the investigations. However, nothing was disclosed, either in regards to the organization itself or in relation to the writers and printers.
In Nazi Germany there were numerous official newspapers for the military, the Storm Troopers, the SS, and Party members. They were “official” and good Germans were expected to read them and accept the statements as gospel. They came directly from the Party and the Party was never wrong. Knowing this, Schuhl and his band of forgers produced numerous facsimiles of the newspapers, all with hidden or overt anti-Nazi and defeatist propaganda. A reader would gradually begin to feel the war was lost as he read through these fake newspapers. I do not want to show them all, but I will mention a number of the very popular German papers that were forged and disseminated.
Some of the newspapers forged by the OSS in Berne: The Black Corps; News for the Troops; News for the Wehrmacht; The New Reich; Front and Home; the National Observer; the New Vienna Daily; the Mulhauser Daily; and The Bodensee Review.
In the months to come, we plan to print more copies of the Frankfurter Zeitung, numerous leaflets and posters and an important pamphlet containing the speeches of General de Gaulle. We also plan to publish a counterfeit of “Illustrious day” and the German humor magazine Simplicissimus [A satirical German weekly magazine founded in 1896].
The pack of “Northland” cigarettes contained ten cigarettes, each with a propaganda message printed on them. A folded copy of the miniature propaganda newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung was also included in the pack. Some of the eleven propaganda messages on the cigarette papers I have seen are:
Total War? Total misery!
What did Hitler bring us? Death – Bombs – Misery
Fight for Hitler’s fall!
Once: Germany above all! Nowadays: Everything is worth more than Germany!
Everything is limited. National-socialist terror is too.
Without Hitler: Peace! With Hitler: Death, destruction, misery! There is no middle way
To hell with Hitler and his bigwigs! This is the only way to save Germany
General von Seydlitz: “Hitler has to go”
The warrior falls in enemy country. The bigwig sits in the dugout
Down with the Nazi bigwigs! Long live the Fourth Reich!
German workers, German farmers! The worst is before us! Peace, before it is too late!
Besides the floating tubes, the teams also use packets of counterfeit cigarettes, containing not only cigarettes with slogans, but also miniature leaflets.
The most intense efforts will be made in the future with a view to maintaining and increasing the activity of the various teams, all this notwithstanding the ever more serious forces which are opposed to this propaganda material by Germany and the rigorous oversight exercised on both the Swiss and the German sides.
Judging by the reports received from the countries affected by this means of propaganda, the results of this branch of activity during the past years should be considered as extremely satisfying and encouraging. This concludes his initial report.
Schuhl had several German newspaper clippings in his files, all commenting on OSS operations. It seems he kept clippings of articles from Swiss newspapers that were telling of the increasing success of allied leaflet propaganda over Germany and the resulting nervousness of the German authorities.
One small clipping tells about Himmler’s order to hand over all leaflets that were dropped by Allied planes immediately. It mentions the significant increase of illegal enemy leaflets dropped over the Reich.
A second longer clipping is in regard to the intensified controls in Alsace and Baden due to the illegal distribution of a newspaper that has been prohibited by the National-socialists; certainly the OSS propaganda newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung. The second half of the clipping indicates an increasing nervousness of the Nazi authorities as a result of the defeats in the East and West and mentions arbitrary arrests by the SS that is extending their operations to Alsace, and especially to Strasbourg. This clipping from the Swiss Arbeiter Zeitung of Basel is a good example of a text in German that could have never been published within Germany in 1944 because it speaks of an increasing weakness and unease of German institutions and authorities.
A third clipping talks about leaflet propaganda in general and its significance in WWII, discussing the pros and cons. It tells about the development of propaganda dropped from the air starting with simple leaflets followed by coffee and chocolate drops, money and rationing coupon drops, front newspapers such as the British Luftpost, and ends with surrender passes. It is stated that by war’s end, Allied leaflet propaganda had a noteworthy influence and wide distribution among Germans both at the front and at home. The article ends by saying:
Propaganda raids of the allied air force played an equal role with the bombing raids against factories and railway stations.
Following the initial comments are several pages that list the leaflets attached: 26 on the first page, including a Bible, and Leaflets coded A through V; Page two lists an additional 26 Leaflets coded W through Z and 1 through 22; Page three lists leaflets 23 through 32, and three issues of the newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung.
When we come to the end of the written portion of the Schuhl papers, we find a great number of the actual leaflets that he printed and saved as souvenirs. We are told that they were found in a hap-hazard condition relatively untouched for decades. We find them alphabetically stamped from A to Z and then numbered starting with one. We think that somewhere between 300 and 400 leaflets were printed in Switzerland so I am going to just show a few that appeal to me. The leaflets are in German, French and a few are in Italian. Take note that I am not going to depict any propaganda newspapers because they are big bulky things, hard to scan and 90% text. In general, unless the subject is really important I will not depict any all-text leaflets. Some are hundreds of words long, difficult to translate and boring to read. The reader should understand that in general the majority of propaganda leaflets are all-text with long military and political diatribes. For the purpose of this article I will show those OSS leaflets that are pictorial, colorful, interesting, and those I believe the reader would most enjoy seeing. All the known OSS Bern leaflets are, however, recorded in the PsyWar.Org PSYOP Database.
I chose to show this envelope filled with propaganda because it is the most patriotic item I have ever seen. Both the French and American colors are red, white and blue, so this envelope is covered with color that would make any Frenchman proud, and the text on the outside is also patriotic and blood stirring. The code is “L” and inside there are eight pages of propaganda. The front of the envelope depicts the Statue of Liberty and the text:
To the French from America
We do not forget you – President Roosevelt
The back depicts the old American symbol of a white star on a blue background with a red meatball center. Curiously, the Japanese flag has that same red meatball so after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor; the United States removed the red center. The text is:
THE FOUR FREEDOMS
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Religion
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear
The insert is a speech by American ambassador M. Bullitt where he spoke of the solidarity of the French on Joan of Arc Day in Philadelphia.
I like this multi-page brochure because I wrote an article years ago stating that the United States was famous for its leaflets showing the Air Force bomber. This booklet falls right into that pattern. It targets the French and shows American pilots and bombers overhead on the front and back. Inside, different American bombers are illustrated and the French are told what they can do. Among them are the A-20, B-26, B-25, B-17 and B-24. The French were told that the bombers were hitting Germany on a regular basis and liberation was assured. The leaflet is coded “P.” 25,000 copies of the brochure were printed.
There are a total of 10 cartoons all bearing the code “S.” The OSS knew that everyone enjoys a good laugh, especially at the expense of the big shots, and here they make fun of the Fuehrer and his belief in Astrology. He sees American bombers overhead and wonders where his star-gazers went wrong. The Nazis believed in astrology and the Nazi leaders had dozens of them on the payroll. After the attempt on Hitler’s life, there is a rumor that he blamed them for his general’s actions and had about 300 of them arrested and perhaps killed. Both sides used astrology as propaganda in the war. Both sides printed leaflets, books, and had experts on Nostradamus explaining why the other side was doomed. The headline of the leaflet is:
Scandalous! The stars up there are not mentioned in my book!
The book Hitler is reading is entitled:
Your Future is Written in the Stars
We should note that the ten cartoons were also published in a camouflaged booklet coded “T” and entitled “German Humor. Soul of the Youth.”
In the Pacific, General MacArthur was sending matches to the Japanese reading: “I will return!” The OSS sent these match books to the French. One side has the French colors of red, white and blue. The other seems to show a broken cigarette. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini has fallen. Below we see Laval of Vichy France, Hitler and Tojo. There is a question mark, clearly implying “Who is next.” This match book is coded “X.” 20,000 copies of this matchbook were printed.
I have always liked propaganda leaflets in the form of postcards. This OSS product is very handsome and we see Adolf Hitler standing in a graveyard near three buried SS members. The bottom of the card says “1918,” to remind Germany of its terrible losses in WWI. The card is coded “Y.” 5,000 of these postcards were printed. Hitler says:
Each comrade of the people has a right to his own piece of land
And the postcard reminds the reader:
Hitler in his Reichstag speech of March 8, 1938
Those German SS Troopers got their own soil, 6 feet deep in a graveyard. German specialist Wolfgang Baldus pointed out that Hitler did not hold a speech on that day. Two weeks earlier, on 20 February he had proclaimed the “Pan-German Reich,” and, a few days after 8 March Germany annexed Austria. There was no Reichstag speech on March 8, and the given date is therefore wrong or the comment is completely bogus. This image also appears on a leaflet coded 43. That leaflet has the added text at the bottom:
Hitler and Himmler were defeated in the East!
The war serves only them!
For us, for the people the motto must be: dare!
The immediate peace is the victory of the people.
I selected this small leaflet with just a few words of text because it is what we call a slogan slip. Often a group of the enemy will march by one of these slips and be able to read the propaganda without bending over and picking it up. This is very important in some armies where reading enemy propaganda is considered a sign of disloyalty and will bring swift punishment. The OSS printed many such small leaflets, this one is coded 24. Any German walking along a road or country trail could see this on the ground and without moving his head causally read the text:
Total war? Total misery!
This leaflet depicts Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler in a ruined Berlin building. Adolf seems to have a headache. The leaflet is one of many on a bright red paper guaranteed to catch the eye of a passerby. The leaflet is coded 57. The text is:
I strongly ask you again, Adolf: We should declare Berlin an open city.
In theory an open city was undefended and the Russians might have walked right in. However, Hitler being a megalomaniac was determined to fight to the bitter end and bring all Germany down around him. He succeeded!
There is an old saying that if you “give a man a fish; you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed Him for a Lifetime. These seed packets fall into that general concept. The Americans were dropping seed packs to people in the occupied nations of Europe and Asia. The OSS knew that the German people were starving because of the war so they sent them seed packages that I am sure were opened with great joy. The problem is that these were part of a propaganda campaign and in reality contained the miniature American propaganda newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung in the German language. The first packet (tomato) had issue number 454; the next packet (cabbage) had issue number 456, etc. There are a number of seed packets, all coded 92. Among them are: tomatoes, cabbage or white cabbage; white icicle radish; carrots and summer and autumn radish. This actually seems rather cruel and I cannot help but think it would turn more Germans against the United States than for it.
I chose OSS leaflet 104 because the image reminds me of the 1935 German propaganda movie Triumph des Willens (“Triumph of the Will”). In that movie we see Hitler flying to Nurnberg through the clouds and as he reaches the city the sun come out. It is Fuehrer weather!
He takes part in a parade to screaming thousands and later visits his Hitler Youth where close-ups of young uniformed drummers and buglers show them almost in rapture. It is the German dream in action, “The world belongs to us.” In the leaflet, a young man of perhaps four or five years old has been dressed like a senior Nazi storm Trooper by his proud parents. Hitler is suitably impressed. Schuhl reminds the Germans of the failure of all their secret weapons to change the direction of the war and cynically tells them that their children will be Hitler’s next weapon. This was a true prophecy. As the war neared its end the Germans armed children and old men and sent them to protect Berlin and face the Russians. This leaflet also appears in red coded 104A. The text is:
Our very last secret weapon: born in 1937
I like this leaflet a lot because I did an entire article once on the vilification of enemy leaders. This leaflet falls so perfectly into that group. Adolf sits on the toilet but seems troubled. Perhaps the war is not going so well for him. The text on this leaflet coded 124 is:
The only place where he did not make mischief…!!
I thought it might be interesting to point out that a good idea never becomes old. Schuhl printed this leaflet coded 163 depicting Hitler sitting on a pile of skulls in the 1940s. The text is:
His glorious regime is enthroned on this
The OSS became the CIA and about 50 years later the United States fought Iraq in Operation Desert Storm to free the occupied nation of Kuwait. The CIA prepared a limited number of leaflets for clandestine use and this one depicts Saddam Hussein sitting on a similar pile of skulls.
What comes around goes around. The text implies that Saddam does not care how many of his people are killed because he is well fed and well protected. The text is:
I can live for 20 years.
I did not want to write about this item because I have written about it numerous times in the past. In fact, readers with more interest might check my article on Operation Cornflakes. I only write about it because of its amazing value.
On 5 April 1937, Germany issued a souvenir sheet in honor of the 48th birthday of Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler. In the center were four identical dark green 6-pfennig stamps showing the face of the German leader. An inscription at the bottom of the sheet read:
He who wants to save his people must think heroically.
Schuhl produced a propaganda parody of this sheet meant to attack and ridicule Hitler and the Nazi Party. It depicts a skull-like Hitler over a field of crosses. In 1946, H. R. Harmer Inc. auctioned off the Franklin Delano Roosevelt postage stamp collection. This was the first time anyone saw the OSS sheet. The catalog said:
Propaganda in Germany, faked Hitler sheet, dark red, showing skull and crossbones design, printed in Switzerland and sent to widows and next of kin of German casualties.
In general, an American propaganda leaflet might be worth from $20 to $30 dollars. But it was not leaflet collectors that wanted this stamp souvenir sheet. It was philatelists. They went positively insane for this “postage stamp” rarity.
The OSS parodies have sold at auction for anywhere from $360 (the very first one in 1946), to $42,700 in 1995 at the height of its value. As additional sheets were discovered the price dropped to $17,400 in 1967 and as little as $5,046 in 2009 when three sheets came on the market at the same time.
Let me tell you a true story. I bid $34,000 for one sheet and did not get it. It sold for $44,000 and then the buyer changed his mind. The auctioneer offered me the sheet but I had regained sanity by then and refused and it eventually sold for $42,700. The last sheet I saw sold was offered in a September 2014 auction, and went for just over $14,000.The sheet is coded “192” and they are still rare although we now know of 28 sheets extant.
A brief word about the rarity of these OSS Berne leaflets. They are very rare. I had a friend tell me that the operation must have been a failure because he hardly ever sees OSS leaflets. Schuhl says the total they did from early 1943 to early 1944 was 1,269,500 leaflets. The U.S. Army Air Force dropped hundreds of different leaflets over Germany and to give some examples: they dropped 8,624,000 copies of USG 17 (Every five minutes a new airplane is built in America!) and 16,800,000 copies of USG 34 (Do you want total war?).
An American airplane could drop tens of thousands of leaflets on a single trip while the OSS was smuggling in dozens or hundreds of leaflets in sardine cans and metal cylinders. A German finding the leaflets knew that if he was caught with them he was going to a concentration camp. He certainly threw them away, buried them or burned them. As a result, most of the leaflets we see today are from OSS or German police files. They are extremely rare.
After the war Schuhl received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Harry S. Truman and was very proud of this award, among many others. France awarded Schuhl the Commander de la Legion d’Honneur and the Croix de Guerre avec Palmes for both WWI and WWII. He died in Paris in 1956 of heart attack.
Dulles did fight for Schuhl. I have seen a letter dated 20 December 1946, where Allen Dulles recommended Schuhl for a military medal. Dulles was a great admirer and wanted to do something for his wartime propagandist. His request said in part:
…Decoration for Raymond A. Schuhl, generally known as Salembier, an Alsatian who did some outstanding work for Gerry Mayer and me during the war…
The request was rejected. The U.S. Army was not about to give a French national a medal for producing black propaganda, forgeries and counterfeits in Switzerland in violation of Swiss neutrality. Schuhl did, however, receive a letter from President Roosevelt dated 30 October 1944 thanking him for efforts on behalf of the Allied nations. Roosevelt said in part:
My sincerest compliments for your valuable labors and efforts in the cause of the Allied Nations. We cannot know all the risks and dangers to which such friends are exposed for the Allied cause. It is only when reports such as those you have kindly sent us arrive that it is possible for us to understand the actions of our friends who are engaged in the struggle to free the world of Nazi oppression. You have my personal thanks. I join with the people of the United States that continues this fight with a single thought: Victory!
I got a lot of help with this article. Some of the material was from the collection of an old friend, Bernard Hayem. British researcher Lee Richards and German researcher Wolfgang Baldus also helped out with images and translations. Rare book dealer Richard Thorner allowed the use of some of his documents and some of my old Psywar Society friends, Belgian Freddy Dehon and Frenchman Michel Girard offered their help. The willingness of all these folks made this story rather easy to write.
This concludes our brief report on Raymond Schuhl who led the U.S. Office of Strategic Services printers in Switzerland. Readers who want to talk more about this article are encouraged to write to the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.