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In an attempt to ascertain the effects of its clandestine psychological warfare, the Political Warfare Executive routinely monitored neutral and enemy media looking for comment and reaction to its radio broadcasts, underground rumour-mongering and leaflets. The comments of enemy prisoners of war, captured documents and other intelligence sources were also studied. Any comebacks to PWE propaganda campaigns were circulated to interested parties through the following "Evidence of Reception" reports.
PWE Intelligence Series
Ref: L 969
14th December, 1943
Information about listening to freedom stations has been obtained from the interrogation of 80 prisoners of war captured between 14th June and 13th October. They were selected at random from German Air Force and German Navy personnel. It was found that over one third had either listened to them, or heard them quoted. By comparison, interrogation of a somewhat similar batch showed that two thirds had listened to the BBC (none had heard the BBC quoted). The only freedom stations listened to, with insignificant exceptions, were Atlantik and Gustav Siegfried Eins. While it is clearly unwise to draw any hard and fast conclusions from such figures, they do at least show that the two RU's mentioned have a considerable audience. Any comparison with the size of the BBC's audience must take into account the fact that the BBC uses many more channels and more powerful transmitters. Other points are:
1) The RU's audience is increasing. This is shown by comparison with similar interrogations earlier in the year.
2) The German Air Force and the German Navy have greater facilities for listening than the Army.
3) Atlantik is more popular than GS1. Both the news and the music of Atlantik are listened to, even though almost all listeners have realised that it is subversive. Regular listening to GS1 appears to be much less common. While the Chef is thought amusing at first, his coarseness is said to pall.
Gustav Siegfried Eins
A Swiss journalist who left Berlin in September gave an account of this "secret broadcasting station... which is always speaking against the Italians and is neutral towards the English and the Russians". According to popular belief it was Wehrmacht propaganda broadcasting from somewhere in Switzerland.
A number of GS1 stories have been reported under Berlin, Stockholm or Ankara datelines. There is reliable information that various German Air Force units listened to the Chef in Italy (August) in Trondheim (August) and in North Africa (May-June).
In the space of twelve days there were fourteen Swedish press comebacks - six in Aftontidningen, three in Social Democraten, and one each in Gotheborgs Handels Och Sjoerfartstidningen, Aftonbladet, Svenska Dagbladet, Trots Alt and Nya Dagligt Allehanda. The value of these Swedish press comebacks is indicated from a reliable report that there is a large demand in Germany for foreign news. Although Swedes are not allowed to take their newspapers ashore in Germany, they are left lying about the ships and are read and sometimes taken ashore by German port officials.
Associated Press reported from Washington that the Argentine Embassy spokesman had denied reports that the Argentine were releasing German seamen to take part in U-boat warfare. This is doubtless a comeback to Doenitz's invitation, issued via Atlantik, to the 53 Graf Spee internees to return to the fatherland for U-boat duties. This invitation may also be responsible for the Argentine decision that Graf Spee internees are now to be concentrated in groups under the surveillance of the local military or naval commanders.
A letter from Zurich speaks of "a non-official German radio station which brings, quietly and objectively the news from all over the World".
It is known that various German Air Force units have been listening to Atlantik in Italy, Holland, Norway and France.
This station started on 14th November. The next day the Swiss paper Arbeiter-Zeitung reported the existence of a new station "so far practically unjammed" on 360 metres. It gave its name, and said that, like Atlantik, it was extremely well informed about the German situation, both internal and external.
Illustrations made from blocks specially sent out have been used to a growing extent by the clandestine press. The 1st October issues of La Libre Belgique reproduced no less that five of our photographs. Other papers which use them more or less regularly include Le Monde du Travail, Le Voix des Belges, Le Peuple, and La Liberation. Articles from the Courrier de l'Air sent out by similar means have also been made use of.
Once again there have been reactions to the Koch leaflet. An escaped British Officer prisoner of war obtained a copy of it near Dresden, from a woman who was afraid that if she was caught with it she would be accused of being mixed up with German opposition circles.
There has been some more news of the Himmler stamp. A paragraph in Stanley Gibbons Stamp Monthly (October) refers to a Lisbon report that Himmler had ordered the arrest of the director of the department responsible for printing German postage stamps. Himmler had ordered the preparation of stamps bearing his effigy but they were printed too soon, and some of them leaked out. Himmler therefore vented his wrath on the printing department. The paragraph continues by pouring ridicule on the whole story on the grounds that the preparation of a stamp involves dozens of people, and in a spy-ridden country like Germany the news of such work would be bound to leak out. A similar story was sent by a journalist in Lisbon to the Editor of the North American Alliance on 14th September.
Aftontidningen (16th November) reported that "a large number of printed pamphlets" were being spread through German camps in Norway appealing to soldiers to flee to Sweden. They were assured that the Swedish Government no longer turns back deserters, even if they are in uniform. It goes on to give a full summary of our Norwegian "Red Circle" desertion leaflet.
A copy of our "Belges ! L'Allemagne seigne pour vous" has come back from Belgium with a note that it is a German leaflet.
What appears to be a comeback is contained in a report on Greece (dated November) which says that German troops at Tythion found anti-Hitler propaganda written on bits of paper which they found in packages of cigarettes shipped from Germany. We have used German cigarette-paper packages as covers for a number of our leaflets.A copy of the leaflet on the subject of the new divorce decrees (H.416) has come back from Belgium. Rundstedt's proclamation on the increase in desertion (H.504) is also known to have been circulating there.
[Source: TNA HS 6/696, transcribed by www.psywar.org]