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Evidence of Reception Reports

  11 of 15   | ARTICLES
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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.


13th July, 1944



Calais and Atlantik

Atlantik was congratulated by Nya Dagligt Allehanda and by Svenska Dagbladet as being the first broadcasting station to announce the Allied landings in Normany. Its announcement was rebroadcast on 7th June by the Swedish Radio among a number of recordings illustrating Allied and German radio output, the commentator remarking that Atlantik is presumably an English station. The German-inspired paper Allehanda goes so far as to claim that it heard it playing God Save the King one Sunday morning. Röster i Radio, the Swedish radio paper, after mentioning Atlantik's scoop, refers to its temerity in giving music with English words. This article is repeated in a Finnish radio paper of 4th-11th June.

While it was long been known that Calais had a considerable audience among the Luftwaffe and German navy in the West, evidence is now coming in that it is listened to also by the Wehrmacht. Though the available information is still insufficiently comprehensive, it is fairly clear that the number of listeners is considerable. One PWD report states that of the prisoners interrogated during the last week in June about 50% were more or less regular listeners. An earlier report shows that out of 46 prisoners of war, 12 had listened to Calais and 7 to the BBC. All seem to have been warned against listening to Calais; one prisoner of war stated that he learnt of its existence through the warnings posted on all wireless sets forbidding troops to tune in to it. A similar prohibition was published in the front line newspaper Gegen England.

A batch of NCO's and OR's from a Coastal Division Artillery Unit from Normandy said they listened to Calais, although it was forbidden. They had more faith in its news than in the news coming from German sources.

A number of Mitteilungen für die Truppe of various dates, recently captured, refer directly or indirectly to Calais/Atlantik. The issue dated March 1944, refers to the station by name, remarking that no self-respecting soldier would listen to it. "Soldiers beware! Soldatensender Calais is 100% behind the enemy. We know we must not accept his poisoned food". The May issue declares that it is neither a soldiers station, nor in Calais, but is a broadcast put out by Jews in England. Mitteilungen für das Offizierkorps for May takes a similar line. Other Mitteilungen für die Truppe attempt to refute many of our standard themes, e.g. the issue of 14th May, which discusses at length the soldiers post war prospects, endeavouring to allay his fears by assuring him that he will get his job back, that small craftsmen and their businesses will be protected, etc.

A captured company order dated 12th December 1943 states that listening to Calais on 360 m or Atlantik on 48.3 m is forbidden on pain of severe punishment. Both stations are also mentioned in a secret order issued by the German Naval Intelligence (23rd February). The masking of the transmitters is skilful, says the order, so that the chance listener may take them to be German broadcasts. All Service personnel are to be warned of their existence.

German officials abroad are also worried by the two stations. The German Press attaché in Ankara, Herr Seiler, wrote in May to the Anatolian Press agency, begging them not to be misled by two pseudo-German broadcasting stations, which veiled their true identity very cleverly.

A telegram intercept from Stockholm to Toronto (18th May) contains an offer to give "sensational information internal changes Germany got directly from best German source". The writer backs his offer by giving a number of Calais items.

Among criticisms received are those from a German deserter from Norway, who considers that we repeated the same news items too often, that we gave bad news too aggressively and that some of our stories were too improbable. Our references to the "Führer's hours of weakness" were tactless and dangerous. He praised our anti-Party and anti-officer items, our music, sports bulletins and lists of damaged streets which he thinks are effective. A prisoner of war from Normandy disliked one of the announcers voices, which he thought was Jewish, but enjoyed the hot dance music. A naval officer, captured in February, declared that Atlantik made use of "all the dirt that comes their way". On the other hand, a deserter from the German navy, condemned to death for subversive activities in Norway, considered the transmissions were perfectly designed to undermine NS morale.

According to a telegram intercept of 9th June, a German refugee in Berne reports difficulty in understanding the dialect of the speaker in the Luftwaffe commentary, but praises the clarity of the Wehrmacht speaker, whom he describes as "formerly Gustav Siegfried".

There are, as usual, a number of reports of listening by the German armed forces both in France and in Italy. For example, a regimental commander captured in May at Cisterna, used to listen to Calais (sic) at 8 o'clock in the evenings, though well aware of its enemy origin.

A calibration chart of a radio receiver recently captured in Italy bore in pencil "Soldatensender Caesar 732 kcs" which clearly refers to Calais on 731 kcs. A member of a U-boat crew has reported that he always tuned in to Atlantik when at a rest hostel in France.

It is interesting that a number of captured German generals in this country listen to Calais in their camp.

There have, as usual, been a large number of Calais/Atlantik stories in the Swedish press, as well as some in the Swiss papers.

The following are notes on reception:

Berlin. A Luftwaffe prisoner of war reports that in February Calais was unjammed in Berlin. (Almost certainly he must have meant Atlantik).

Laufen. An internee from Laufen (near Salzburg) states that reception of Atlantik was excellent.

Innsbruck. A prisoner of war from Normandy reports that "Soldatensender Calais" was regularly listened to in Innsbruck by friends. (He may, of course, have meant Atlantik).

Switzerland. A monitoring report for end of April/early May says that medium wave transmissions are useless. Reception on the 48 m band is usually good or excellent, though sometimes impossible owing to jamming. The longer hours of daylight have somewhat improved reception on the 30 m band. The report for the period mid-May/end June shows no difference except that there is increased jamming on 30 m.

Norway. A German deserter said the programme was audible, and the jamming not too heavy.

Stockholm. According to DX-Radio (May) during the winter months Calais was barely audible, but Atlantik was well received. A monitoring report for end April/early  May shows that 30.7 m was good on the whole, but 48.3 m cannot be enjoyably heard.

Barcelona. Several reports from repatriates show that both Calais and Atlantik were regularly listened to. None of them complains of poor reception.

Johannesburg. A very comprehensive report from a censor in Johannesburg shows that reception of Atlantik there must be good.


German Priest

One of the few direct reactions to this station has come from an Army prisoner of war who declared that civilian and soldier friends of his in Germany listened regularly to this station. Their opinions about it differed according to their attitude towards religion.

Röster i Radio, 4th June 1944, discussing whether there are in fact any genuine freedom stations mentions the German Catholic Station as being in England.

A Mitteilungen of July 1943 on the fight against rumours mentions, among others, stories about old people being allowed to die, being refused medical aid, etc. Protest against inhumane treatment of the aged is a frequent theme of the German Priest and was discussed, for instance, on 25th January 1943.



Black Leaflets

There is growing evidence that our clandestine booklets and leaflets on how to malinger are seriously worrying the German High Command. The following captured documents support this view.

Sportvorschrift für die Kriegsmarine malingering instruction booklet

1. A document dated 5th July 1943 captured from the 165th Artillery Regiment is a reply to a circular letter from the Corps Medical Officer asking Unit doctors whether they have noticed soldiers malingering under the influence of one of our booklets camouflaged as PT Hints for the Navy. While the answer in this document was in the negative, it shows that this edition of the Malingerer, handled only be agents, has been widely distributed.

2. A secret document, dated 8th April 1944, emanating from the Senior Medical Officer of an Army Corps, gives a detailed summary of a 30-page malingering booklet entitled "How shall I keep healthy?". It describes the booklet as giving advice and instructions to malingerers "in a very clever form". (This brochure was prepared and printed by SOE in Switzerland from material supplied by us).

3. A secret order from the Senior Medical Officer, High Command of the Armed Forces, dated Berlin, 12th April 1944, and apparently addressed to all Senior Medical Officers throughout the three Services, is headed "Demoralisation of the Armed Forces by means of self-injury". The order begins as follows: "Recently there have been repeated cases of the circulation of apparently harmless pamphlets... in the Armed Forces for the purpose of causing self-injury. Reports by military and civil police have shown that their use has already reached greater proportions than had been assumed heretofore". It goes on to give examples of malingering methods, (almost all of them taken from our booklets) and instructs Senior Medical Officers to pay more attention to this problem when examining men reporting sick or presenting themselves for the call-up. It winds up: "The examinations will be carried out with the greatest care so as not to rouse the suspicions of the culprit prematurely. When suspicions are sufficiently confirmed that wounds have been self-inflicted, the case will be reported at once to the army court martial authorities. Some cases have already been tried and the death sentence passed. Proof is considerably simpler to obtain than would appear from the instructions".

The PT Hints for the Navy edition is also mentioned in Mitteilungen für die Truppe (February) under the heading of "A frequent trick of enemy propaganda". Section Officers are told to look out for possible malingerers.

Other issues of the Mitteilungen also mention our black leaflets:

Pest Booklet. Referred to in the issue of June 1943.

Bolschevismus droht. The issue of January 1944 says that we try to entice readers with this arresting title.

Society for the Bombed-out. This is also mentioned in the same issue.

Immelmann Leaflet. The issue of March 1944 denounces our Galland order to the Luftwaffe fighter pilots as false from A-Z, saying that all the names are invented and that this is just one of numerous attempts to sow distrust between officers and men.

"The Führer is in danger". The September 1943 issue refers to it as "another swindle". It is again mentioned and dismissed as primitive in the January 1944 issue.

Mitteilungen für das Offizierkorps (our fake). This is referred to in the issues for October 1943, January 1944 and February 1944. The February issue alleges that a Swedish newspaper discussed our fake as though it were genuine, and mentions the sharp attack in it on the NSDAP. The Germans ask whether the paper was really taken in by it, or pretended to be duped.

False Pregnancy. The November 1943 issue declares this to be a clever imitation of a German Memorandum for lectures to troops.

Nachrichten für die Truppe (leaflet, not newspaper). This is referred to in the issue of June 1943, where the story about the decline in German steel production is sharply denied as a series of lies, and again in the January 1944 issue in an article headed "Enemy agents unmasked".


[Source: TNA HS 6/696, transcribed by]

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