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Evidence of Reception Reports

  14 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.




G.9 West/Atlantik

There is further confirmation of widespread listening by civilians and all ranks of the three services. The general impression recorded in previous reports is borne out: G.9 gains credit everywhere for its quickness off the mark; it has a wide popular appeal, but occasionally deters the intellectuals.

Evidence of listening in the Services

A Korvettenkapitän attached to the Officer Commanding Cherbourg listened to nothing but Calais when in France, because the sets they had were too small for anything else, and Calais drowned every other broadcast. The officers liked it as it gave news which was suppressed in Germany. Another prisoner of war listened in Copenhagen, and was always surprised at the inside news of the German army. The former Managing Director of Tauchnitz also listened in Paris throughout the first half of 1944, with his fellow officers. He believes that Calais made a great impression on the rank and file, but intellectuals were often repelled. A prisoner of war from Coblenz listened in Brittany; even when members of his unit were officially told it was an enemy station they went on listening all the same.

A prisoner of war from Berlin said that one great advantage of Calais was that it broadcast all night when other stations were off the air. It was so cleverly camouflaged that the first reaction of anybody is to say "That can't be an enemy station". Two particular items confirmed its reliability. Soon after the Hitler attentat [assassination attempt], Calais announced that a picture of Gördeler would appear in the German papers, and the very next day almost every German paper had in fact such a picture. On another occasion, Calais announced a coming reduction in the clothing rations. A prisoner of war despatched his wife to buy whatever was needed. The next day the coupon reduction was officially announced.

An officer prisoner of war on his rounds of inspection often found the men listening in groups on the service set, to Calais. He pretended to believe it was a German station. This same belief, according to another prisoner of war, was often put forward as an excuse by other ranks when they were reprimanded for listening to Calais.

Other prisoners of war listened regularly at places as widespread as Denmark, Bruges, Lublin and Bologna. Prisoners coming out of the channel ports say that their commanding officers hang on until they are awarded the Ritterkreuz, after which they promptly surrender. Prisoners of war from Dunkirk say that their Commanding Officer, Admiral Friesius, told them that they could surrender with honour on the 15th December, as their provision would then be exhausted. (All this fits in with a regular line which has been plugged on G.9 during August, September, and October. Details given by Calais about a raid on Bochum convinced another prisoner of war that the station must be inside Germany).

An Allied Intelligence Officer visited a prisoner of war camp at Compiegne, in October, and found some 70% of those he questioned to have been regular listeners. For many of them, Calais was a Wehrmacht or SS station operating inside Germany. An Oberleutnant captured at Liedl on 1st September 1944 said he knew Hitler, Goering and Goebbels intended to escape to Japan. He had heard it officially (on G.9). Some three or four prisoners of war said that there was so much jazz on Calais that it gave itself away as a foreign station.

A group of seven officers from the Air Ministry in Berlin, according to a Major, in peacetime director of the Northern Labour Office, used to assemble at midnight in their nightshirts at the home of one of their number to listen to Calais.

Two Hungarian pilots who left Hungary in September 1944 said that Atlantik was the most frequently followed German language transmission in Hungary, and was often mistaken for an official German army station, owing to its wealth of minor details.

Countermeasures by the Service Authorities against G.9

Three issues of the official newspaper for the troops (numbers 358, 359 and 363) denounce G.9 and warn against its insidious effects: "Soldatensender West keeps telling us to save our country by packing up. But the 'peace' of 1918 cost us more in men and material and in loss by destruction than the war itself".

"Among enemy broadcasts there are some so camouflaged - in particular the so-called Soldatensender West - that on hearing them we felt convinced they were Black stations in our own country - it must be hammered home without possibility of contradiction that the enemy is aiming at our dismemberment; we know full well that listening is 'verboten', but... it is precisely in this sixth year of war that these stern taboos must be dinned into the brains of all officers, NCOs and men, with the utmost gravity, severity and emphasis... be we Generals or privates, if we hear of soldiers or civilians listening to the voice of the charmer, we must act ruthlessly, without respect of persons or titles". The third of these issues has an article on "latest recipes from the enemy's poison kitchen", describing the hypocrisy of offering news as a cloak for lying subversive propaganda. A particular attack is made on G.9's story of the 4th September, according to which the hanging of the 20th July conspirators was made as slow and painful as possible, and a film of the proceedings was being shown to all troops of the replacement army.

The 226th Infantry Division on the Channel coast had all radio sets withdrawn at the order of the Divisional Commander, and all listening was forbidden without the Company Commander's permission.

Another captured document is an information sheet for officers, instructing them to explain to their men, verbally, that the Soldatensender West is a dangerous enemy station.

Front und Heimat (Telegraph Service for Forces newspapers) described G.9's twist of the new Swedish currency regulations into an illustration of its own story of low morale in Germany, and the rush to transfer capital abroad.

Listening by Civilians

A former Hamburg worker states that listening by civilians there is widespread, and since G.9 is so close on the dial to Berlin, people are less afraid to be discovered listening. Some ten informants from Aachen said listening there had been widespread; they expressed amazement at the accuracy and speed of G.9's information. A German soldier prisoner of war had listened himself regularly in Copenhagen, and knew that listening was widespread in Thuringia, his home province. A German worker who had come over through the Allied lines reported many listeners to G.9 in Essen. A wealthy industrialist of Dusseldorf interrogated near Aachen on 5th November, expressed astonishment at G.9's wealth of detail and intimate knowledge of internal affairs, and said his friends also listened. The mayor of Grosshettingen (Würtemberg) wrote on 11th August 1944 to the Gestapo, complaining that "an incredible number of girls" were still being given to the wealthier people as maids, instead of being placed in war industries (This is an old G.9 line). The Post Office Chief of Pforzheim, in Baden, says that women do not listen much to the women's service of the BBC but do tune in to G.9, although they believe it comes from Moscow. His wife ran a work party where it was the regular practice to listen to Calais, and wives of former leading officials and the former Police President's wife, came regularly.

Reactions in the Enemy Press

Monitoring reports prepared by the official Finnish Monitoring Service in Helsinki, have recently come to hand. G.9 is monitored, and entered under Germany, whereas Finland's Free Radio which also receives regular attention, is put under USSR. NPD (News and Press Service of the German Foreign Office) on November 23rd, quoted G.9's broadcast of the 20th, on the subject of a recent Wilhelmstrasse press conference and Ambassador Weisäcker's visit to the Pope, as not being connected with any peace negotiations. NPD went on to say that Schmidt, Press Chief of the Foreign Office, had said at the time that there had been no mention of the word "negotiations". The Wiener Tagblatt of 11th November tells how a certain Skalicky, arrested for listening to foreign broadcasts, pleaded he had only listened to musical programmes. (From his descriptions, probably G.9). His sentence was only "two years with hard labour". NPD on 27th October replied to a G.9 broadcast of the 20th, pointing out how Volkssturm rallies in the area near the West front would be a tempting target for Allied air attack.

Reactions in the Neutral and Allied Press

The periodical Voce (A Rome-published "Radio Times") in an article on the German station Atlantik, describes how it has told the truth uninterruptedly for two years, and concludes that it cannot therefore be a propaganda trick of the Germans, who have no interest in telling the truth. Nor can it be a hoax, i.e. an Allied station broadcasting in German from Allied territory, for the reason that it has always shown a rapidity of transmission and an accurate knowledge of internal events impossible for a station situated outside. The mystery will be solved only after the war; meanwhile if you know German, listen every evening at 20:15.

The Swedish Radio Magazine, Röster i Radio, of 29th October, has an article on "illegal transmitters", which describes Atlantik as the most important and the most widely heard pro-allied station.

A summary of reception reports (Switzerland) shows that the 40 mb continues to give the best results: monitoring between 24th October and 3rd December (140 times) gave the following comments: G.9 was heard with excellent signal 29 times, jammed 24 times, and not heard at all 72 times.

The 410 mb was monitored 79 times, on 22 occasions the signal was excellent, and on 27 occasions totally inaudible. There was also a certain amount of jamming.


Black Leaflets

A copy of H.640 (Final Malingerer) was found in the official papers of a German Unit on the 1st French Army front, labelled "Propaganda". H.1203, Final Goebbels, was found with a unit of the German 7th Infantry Division on the 8th November. Die Heimat Grüsst, (our Almanac, H.857, containing subversive instructions) was found in a wrecked plane at Grove, an airfield in Denmark.

Leaflets found on prisoners recently are: H.525 - Noch fahren U-Boote aus - this was found on a prisoner captured by 21st Army Group in November: and H.910 Almanac Desertion II. This leaflet had the word "Fiendpropaganda" written on it.

A Prisoner of war Obergefreiter, captured at Namur in September said that when food cards were dropped over Berlin in the Autumn of 1943, the workers collected them eagerly and succeeded in exchanging them for meat and butter. According to the prisoner, this happened particularly in the Southeast of Berlin (Neukölln), but also in other districts.

Through censorship channels we have received a report of confusion caused at Zwickau by the dropping of faked travel tickets. All such tickets were blocked, and possessors had to get them re-certified at the local distribution centres.

H.1246 - "Skorpion: Wer darf kapitulieren?" A prisoner of war interrogation report dated December says that Skorpion-West, morale-building news propaganda sheet of the Germany Army, enlightened its readers a few days ago with the statement: 'Troops are authorised to liquidate commanders who order them to retreat. However, this privilege must not be abused'.

A second reaction to this leaflet appeared in the Evening Gazette, Worcester, Mass. On 14th November it devoted a large space on the front page to a description of H.1246, which it called "a captured German document", and gave liberal translated extracts from the text.

Plague booklet, H.306. The Deutsches Arzteblatt, 1st July 1944, has an article by Dr med H. Bauer on "Nerve War with Plague Leaflets". The article gives a very full description of H.306, pointing out where and how the text of the genuine Pestmerkblatt has been altered, and the front cover of our booklet is reproduced. It stresses the feeling of unrest which this leaflet will arouse in laymen suffering from slight ailments and the consequent loss of working-time and the blocking-up of doctors' consulting hours.


Nachrichten für die Truppe

From the details of an order dated 16th September 1944, to the 353 Infantry Division, regarding Allied leaflets containing maps giving German troops the impression they are outflanked and cut off, and warning against such tactics, it appears that Nachrichten für die Truppe is the source of the trouble. The Hakenkreuzbanner of 26th October reproduces part of the Nachrichten issue of 8th October, and lashes at its insidious attacks. Two hundred captured German other ranks replied to a questionnaire recently, about Allied leaflets. In their replies, Nachrichten received the highest number of specific mentions (14), and similarly, a summary of another batch of prisoners of war interrogated at the same time, showed that 12 had seen Nachrichten. The men said they were almost without news, except for leaflets and the Nachrichten für die Truppe, and one described the latter as "like the morning mail".


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

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