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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.
Calais and Atlantik
A captured copy of Mitteilungen für die Truppe of December 1943, in an article warning against enemy propaganda, contains the following order: "Enemy radio stations will in no case be listened to, even when they broadcast only music or apparently harmless matter. For music and news in neutral guise are no more than the handsome carton in which are packed the stinking goods of seduction".
The growing number of listeners to freedom stations, which in fact means Calais or Atlantik, among German air force and German naval personnel is shown by the interrogation of 194 prisoners of war from these Services captured between October 1943 and February 1944. Of these 41% had listened, and another 9% had heard freedom stations quoted. Corresponding figures for the BBC were 57% and 1%. The percentage of listeners to freedom stations has doubled since the census taken on prisoners of war captured in March to June 1943. This trend is confirmed by a PWB report for March which states that prisoners of war "acknowledge in particular the efficacy of Soldatensender Calais".
The Germans have restarted "Soldatensender Ritter Goetz von Berlichingen" which originated as a parody of Calais. In the reopening of the station it was announced that part of the programme would be request music and the rest will be "humorous as before".
Discussion continues in the Swedish radio paper Röster i Radio on the origin of Atlantik. The general conclusion is that its location will not be known till after the war. One comment is that "everyone who wants to listen to news from the Third Reich 'straight from the horse's mouth' has here a rich source from which to draw, as the station unquestionably is fantastically well-informed about internal German affairs and also about the progress of the war".
The Appenzellerzeitung (13th April) in an article on German Freedom Movements (quoted in other Swiss papers) declares that one such movement has been carried on by Soldatensender Calais "which was formerly Atlantik Siegfried Eins".
As usual, there is a considerable volume of comment from German air force and German naval prisoners of war. One W/T operator complained that the loss of his U-boat had twice been erroneously announced on Calais; the man on night duty ashore always listened so as to be able to report all such losses. This was confirmed by another U-boat rating, who had himself listened about half a dozen times at Lorient, in November 1943; as the Germans so not announce losses, sailors tune in to Calais to get news of their comrades and of operational units in other ports.
Calais has put out a number of stories about Korvettenkapitän Jahn, including one about his crews going to sea at the crack of the whip. According to a prisoner of war officer this so inspired Jahn that he bought a whip [and] now sees his boats out with it. The story was carried a stage further by a U-boat rating who announced that the flotilla had now superimposed a whip on the flotilla badge.
A Luftwaffe prisoner of war criticised Calais for exaggerating German losses; he also considered the broadcasts were "crude", particularly when we accused officers of "boozing and guzzling". Nevertheless he and his crew were regular listeners, and he is fairly certain that other crews also listened in private.
A U-boat officer commented on the speed with which Calais news is spread abroad. The news itself is so topical and detailed that a Luftwaffe prisoner of war thought it must be obtained from agents inside Germany.
According to a secret report from Norway the morale of German troops there is being seriously affected by Atlantik. Topical Norwegian news in its broadcasts removes any suspicions they might have that it comes from England. The only criticism in the report is that the Party versus Wehrmacht theme should be treated more moderately.
A writer from Gothenburg (8th March) to London reports that Calais enjoys "a high reputation for giving reliable, impartial, up-to-date war news. It is extraordinarily well-informed... apparently its principle is truth for either side". He wonders how this station, which he is convinced is a military transmitter, can remain undiscovered.
Other reactions from Sweden include the usual number of Calais stories reported in the press. The paper Trots Allt (April) describes Atlantik as: "Striking, quick, partly extremely objective (sic), a dangerous enemy, presumably found in England".
Moscow Radio too, has repeated at least three items put out by Calais. Interrogation of repatriated Americans shows that a number of them listened in, usually in Spain. One man went so far as to say that all German refugees in Spain were regular listeners. Another praised it because its military news was always several hours ahead of the BBC. In view of this evidence it is interesting that on 7th May the German European Service put out the following warning "Attention, Spanish listeners! We warn you that the Calais military broadcasting station is a British propaganda station, whose aim it is to spread false news".
The following information on reception has been received:
Yugoslavia. A prisoner of war says he heard "Soldatensender Calais" on an army set on the island of Corcula (end of January and mid-February).
Switzerland. Monitoring reports from Lugano, Zurich and Arosa show that on medium wave the station is almost always blotted out by jamming, though occasionally it is well heard. On 48 m reception is good or intelligible four times out of five. Thirty metres is not so satisfactory.
Spain. One report states that it is mostly jammed on medium waves, but excellent on short waves, particularly on 48 m.
Germany. Jamming at Stuttgart is said to be very heavy, but whether on medium or short waves is not made clear. (Censorship intercept).
Sweden. A report from Stockholm states that reception on short waves is very good, particularly on 30 m at Gothenburg, however, reception is often impossible owing to jamming.
In a Mitteilungen für die Truppe, January 1944, in an analysis of present day Allied propaganda, specific mention is made of efforts to create dissension by "stirring up strife in the confessional", and by creating feeling between north and south Germany, and by holding out special promises to the Austrians and Sudeten Germans. This is presumably an attack on G.7, although the transmitter is not actually mentioned by name.
The Himmler stamp continues to be talked about. The Swiss paper Journal D'yverdon (3rd February) tells the usual story about it, and adds that it caused the disgrace of Himmler and the coming into power of Martin Bormann. It is also mentioned in the Weekly Illustrated of India (26th March) which says it is puzzling British Intelligence Officers.
The Sunday Express (14th May) states that thousands of copies of the Mariazell Prayer Card are circulating among Austrian troops in northern Finland and Norway.
A Mitteilungen für die Truppe (January 1944) devoted to countering Allied propaganda, issues a special warning of our counterfeits of earlier copies of this publication and of Mitteilungen für das Offizierkorps. Real articles taken from earlier copies of German Mitteilungen für die Truppe have been inserted at the beginning and end of the forged copy so as to dupe anyone picking the leaflet up, continues the warning, but they are "poisoned food" and anyone reading them or passing them on as souvenirs is an enemy to his country.
A Luftwaffe prisoner of war thought that our counterfeit had even been smuggled to units through official channels, someone at the post office substituting enemy Mitteilungen for the official ones.
A November issue of the same publication refers to another of our leaflets (dealing with wives at home) as clever and dangerous propaganda, designed to create anxiety among the troops about the families at home and their wives in the factories. It is important that enemy leaflets should be recognised as such and handed in.
Nya Dagligt Allehanda (22nd April) features a facsimile of our bogus Frankfurter Zeitung, which the paper says, is now appearing as a clandestine newspaper.
A deserter who arrived in Sweden towards the end of April reported that on the East Front the following slogan was popular and widespread: "Wir woollen einen Führer von Gottesgnaden und keened Mörder von Berchtesgaden". This comes from one of our sticker leaflets.
A secret report contains a Photostat of the clandestine journal Vrig Volk of December 1943 circulated in the Kesselloo district (Belgium). On one page headed "Voices from Germany" there appear a number of black (and white) leaflets strewn across the page with the following titles of black leaflets discernible:
Mitteilungen für das Offizierkorps;
Opfer von Berchtesgaden;
Der Bolschevismus droht;
Spanish desertion leaflet.
An Unteroffizier prisoner of war from 3/KG.54, captured on April 19th, reported as a fact that fighters have orders to ram now, and that if they have not shot down anything in six operations, they must ram the seventh time. This is a story put out by us in a leaflet.
One of our leaflets, addressed to the Luftwaffe, is believed, according to a January report, to have been dropped by communist German airmen.
A copy of the Koch leaflet was found by a guard last October in a street in Königsberg (East Prussia) and brought into the camp. A copy of the Bombed Towns leaflet (4th edition) was picked up at Fornebu (Norway) at the beginning of April.
There has been another reference in Switzerland to the Ballistics edition of the Malingerer, this time in the Revue Medicale de la Suisse Romande. This gives details of a paper given to the Vaudois Medical Society at its meeting on 28th October 1943 by Mr Vulliet of Lausanne on a booklet for soldiers on the art of feigning sickness. The booklet is described in detail and quoted at length.
[Source: TNA HS 6/696, transcribed by www.psywar.org]