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Proposed use of the Aspidistra transmitter for psychological warfare purposes

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These two proposed uses of the powerful medium wave transmitter known as Aspidistra for psychological warfare purposes were suggested by Sefton Delmer in late August 1943. The first proposal was acted upon in November 1943, to relay the shortwave Atlantik station on medium wave under the Soldatensender Calais name. Intruder radio operations had to wait until the closing months of the war with Germany.

I. It is proposed to use Aspidistra to produce on the medium wave accessible to listeners with popular receiving sets the programme of subversive news and talks known as "Deutscher Kurzwellensender Atlantik" which we at present transmit on two low powered short wave transmitters.

II. If we are given authority to transmit the "Atlantik" programme on medium waves we will rename it "Soldatensender West" and adapt it to meet the interests of the wider audience.

III. Our reasons for wishing to produce this programme on the medium wave band are three:

i) although we have had very satisfactory evidence of wide-spread listening among German troops, especially in Italy, Sicily and Tunisia, a medium wave broadcast would give us access to a much larger public in Germany itself than we can hope to contact with low powered short wave transmitters. (Instead of our potential audiences being confined as at present to the limited number of Germans with good short wave sets, we should have every German soldier and civilian with an ordinary "Volksempfaenger" as a possible listener.)

ii) we feel the time has come for the launching of more offensive political warfare against Germany, particularly of operations of internal agitation and confusion. B.B.C. broadcasts to Germany rightly confine themselves to straight news — mainly of military and strategic developments and comments thereon. They refrain from revolutionary agitation against the regime as such agitation coming from the openly enemy B.B.C. would be ineffective. They cannot embark on confusion operations. All this is the task of "black" and an amplification of our "black" channels to Germany is therefore necessary.

iii) the Atlantik programme is in our opinion the most suitable form of internal agitation for transmission on medium wave.

IV. The objective of the programme is to induce Germans and other German-speaking inhabitants of Hitler-occupied Europe to sabotage the German war effort either consciously or unconsciously and to produce in them a frame of mind in which they will

a) offer least resistance to Allied operations,

b) either consciously or unconsciously become agents of Allied designs.

V. The method used is to produce in the guise of a radio programme of internal German origin — in this case a Forces Programme sponsored by a section of the German Services — news and views of a subversive character which, if accepted and passed on among Germans, would contribute towards attaining the objectives we have set ourselves.

The news and talks of the programme are arranged and framed both from the point of view of policy and of security in accordance with the directives of P.W.E. and the Service Ministries concerned.

The subversive news bulletins consist of true, half true and invented news items interspersed with "cover" items of official German news taken from the D.N.B. Hel-transmissions, German radio bulletins and local newspapers, giving the whole of the bulletin the atmosphere of a news bulletin of internal German origin and making it impossible for the ordinary listener to distinguish which items are true and which are invented. This gives the listener full justification for assuming the source of the news to be German.

We know from prisoners that this latter aspect of the "Atlantik" programme is much appreciated. Atlantik is regarded as "safe". "German soldiers in Sicily," says a report based on the interrogation of prisoners, "regularly switched on to Atlantik in the recreation tent. If an officer entered the room during an Atlantik news bulletin, he could easily mistake it for an official German station; if, however, the officer recognised it, the listener could plead that he genuinely believed it to be a German station."

The talks in the programme are of an openly sub­versive agitatory character, voicing the grievances which might plausibly be felt by large masses of Germans today and also by special sections of our services audience. Our campaign to U-boat listeners has taken the form of talks delivered by discontented and subversively-minded members of the U-boat service. The same technique is applied to subversive propaganda to members of the German airforce and, though so far to a lesser extent, to the German army.

Apart from the news and talks we include dance music in the programme of a type we know from prisoners to be what German soldiers and sailors want to hear. The music is interspersed in the manner of a German Forces Programme with greetings from home for members of the German Services, addressed by name, and with news flashes.

To help to give the impression that the programme is of German origin we would, if it is put on to the medium wave, at certain periods relay portions of genuine German programmes being broadcast in the medium wave band, thus giving listeners the impression that we are, at least for part of the time, hooked-up with the ordinary German network.

VI. As a frequency for the programme we propose to use 832 kc/s, which is one channel removed from the Berlin medium wave programme on 841 kc/s. We should take up broadcasting at the moment that Berlin, in common with many other stations of the Reichssender group, goes off the air.


(Sgd) D. S. Delmer


Another method of agitation on the medium wave band would be the programme known as "Schaltstelle drei und vierzig (43)".

In this scheme Aspidistra is used to relay an official German Reichssender programme on a frequency not being used by the Germans in order that the Reichssender may serve as the foil for a clandestine station butting in on it allegedly from inside Germany with agitatory material. The clandestine station is called Schaltstelle 43 and appears to be operated by the same organisation which operates Gustav Siegfried Eins — the existing "army opposition" station.

Schaltstelle 43 breaks in on the official Reichssender medium wave programme relayed by Aspidistra, and monopolises that programme with a broadcast of its own for anything from three to fifteen minutes, eventually permitting the Reichssender, relayed by Aspidistra, to resume its programme.

Schaltstelle 43 breaks in after the German news bulletin, dissects a number of the items, denies them, calls attention to important omissions from the news, rectifies the omissions and introduces agitatory, subversive and emotional talks in accordance with P.W.E. policy. The break-in would also occasionally take place during a German minister's speech or during a musical programme of the Reichssender.

The suggestion would be that Schaltstelle 43 is working from a cellar through which the telephone cable passes from the broadcasting studio to the transmitter. Schaltstelle 43 is able to intrude its own material on the cable at will.

The political line adopted by the station could be: the war is lost. It is up to the Army and all upright Germans to see that the Party Bolsheviks are thrown out and that as much as possible is saved from the ruins.

Schaltstelle 43 will not be in operation every night but would be operating when it is thought suitable.

Schaltstelle 43 would, in common with all black political warfare against the enemy, aim at disseminating news likely to lead the enemy into sabotaging his war effort, either consciously or unconsciously.

It would aim at providing Germans, and the more gullible among our friends, with evidence of a vociferous German opposition.

(Sgd) D S Delmer


[Source: TNA FO 898/45, transcribed by]



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