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Operational History of Das Neue Deutschland

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Das Neue Deutschland – The New Germany – was a fake freedom movement created by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services Morale Operations branch in the summer of 1944. Its main organ was a clandestine newspaper which was disseminated through Europe by resistance fighters, by turned German Prisoners of War sent back through the frontline and ingeniously introduced into the German postal system by dropping fake mailbags, full with pre-franked letters containing subversive propaganda, alongside shot-up German railway trains. The following candid and detailed history of Das Neue Deutschland was submitted to the Morale Operations reports office by Eugene Warner, Chief of European and Mediterranean MO section on 1 October 1945.

The names of German POWs have been changed by PsyWar.Org plus a few other minor alterations and corrections. Supporting illustrations have also been added to the narrative.

The Story of Das Neue Deutschland

 

THE STORY OF "DAS NEUE DEUTSCHLAND"

Idea Needed

On the balcony of the Villa Maria, high on one of the ridges which rim the Bay of Naples, one sunny evening in April 1944, sat two men devoid of an idea. They were Master Sergeant Richard Lee, former New York reporter and publicity man, and Eugene Warner, former Washington reporter who was in charge of the newly born MO Branch which at that time was scarcely an embryo.

Inside the stiff and rococo Victorian villa were the other members of the Branch which had the assignment of undermining German morale in the Mediterranean Theater, Lt. (j.g.) Saul Steinberg, New Yorker magazine cartoonist, Cpl. Larry Bruzzese, former radio announcer from Detroit and Italian language specialist, Sgt. Laird Ogle, and Capt. Albert Altherr, Canadian Army, who a year previously had had some experience in black operations in Dakar. This sextette of novices had been straggling in from various parts of the world during the past month and had found one another congenial, but they had only the vaguest notion of how they were supposed to subvert a very active and successful Germany.

"Lee," remarked Warner, "you've been around here for a week now, after leaving Sicily, and you haven't had a single idea."

"Whaddya expect?" snorted Lee, "you want an idea every minute!"

"Yes," replied Warner, "you're an idea man - I want an idea tomorrow morning."

"You're the Chief, aren't you? What's the matter with you having an idea?"

"I'm an executive, I've got better things to do."

"Humph... well, I'll think about it," grumbled Lee.

"Peace Now"

The next morning, on the same balcony, prodded as to what he had dreamed up during the night, Lee said:

"I've got an idea; how about starting a 'Peace Now Party', that's a good one, huh?"

"My boy, that's a honey, keep working on it."

Two or three days later, Warner again asked Lee what he had developed from the original idea. Lee groaned: "Nothing."

"If you're bright enough to get the original idea you certainly should be able to build it up into something more," Warner announced. "Where did you get the original idea?"

"Well, as a matter of fact, I was reading Life magazine in bed the other night and I saw where they had a 'Peace Now' movement in Detroit. That's as far as I got."

A rather noisy altercation ensued in which Warner told Lee to get a typewriter and start writing, writing anything about a Peace Now Party for Germany. Lee stated he was baffled. Warner then suggested to him that the German "Peace Now Party" should have a platform, a definite program, slogans, etc.

"What kind of a platform?" snarled Lee. "What do you think I am, a German reform movement?"

"I have been thinking about this thing," said Warner, "and I should think that the German people at this time are beginning to be rather dubious about the chances of winning the war. When people get in this kind of a mood they are apt to turn to religion. I think out movement should have a definite religious tone, or at least undertone. Back to the ways of the Bible is what they want."

"You're nuts," suggested Lee. "How do you know they want to be pious?"

"Maybe they do and maybe they don't, but at least it's a beginning. We should tell the German people what's in store for them after Hitler is defeated. That's another thing they want to know. This unconditional surrender makes it tough for them to stop. You've got to show them that things will be better if they quit. We can tell them there won't be any more bombings, that their soldiers will come home alive, that the SS will be wiped out and the Gestapo too, and all that sort of thing. I think we can put a lot of religious hope into the writing. Maybe use quotations from the Bible."

"That's fine. It's just dandy - but how in Hell you gonna tell them all this?"

"With a newspaper."

"How are you gonna get the newspaper to them?"

"That is my worry, not yours. Before we can deliver any papers to them we've gotta write the paper. Now get busy."

It Starts

For a week a disgruntled Master Sgt. Lee, trying to imagine himself as a disgruntled German, wrote articles for the "Peace Now Party" journal. As yet it had no name. There were frequent consultations and suggestions from Warner who kept suggesting that the paper should hold out hope for the future of Germany rather than editorialize against the evils of Nazism. He suggested that the optimistic "all's-well-in-this-world" evangelism which permeates the Readers' Digest should be taken as a key to the style of the paper, and Master Sgt. Lee reluctantly proceed to steep himself in ancient and dog-eared copies of the Readers' Digest, or at least the few that could be found. His first manuscripts were mercilessly torn to pieces. A third of them were thrown away. The others were written and re-written several times, with Warner writing parts of articles himself. Cpl. Bruzzese was sent to the Naples public library to get religious books from which quotations were to be extracted and by a great stroke of luck, came up with some old Papal Encyclicals against war and war-makers which seemed to fit the moral tone of the, as yet, unnamed paper.

Sgt. Ogle took a hand and came up with the idea of calling himself "Father Schiller," and once he had dived into his new ecclesiastical better self, wrote two columns, liberally sprinkled with religious quotations, by "Father Schiller." At the end of another ten days or so, there was enough copy written to present for criticism to someone who knew something about the German mentality. At that time MO's roster showed no one who had ever been in Germany, spoke a word of German, or know anything about Germans. The staff was completely in the dark regarding the target.

Experts Consulted

PWB, Naples, however, had on its staff a Capt. Wallenberg, U.S. Army, who was a German expert, and he was invited to Villa Maria one evening to go over the copy and criticize and make suggestions. Capt. Wallenberg, a most amiable soul, first of all agreed that it was a practical idea to attempt to write and distribute a periodical which seemed to come from within Germany and not from the "enemy," i.e., the Allies. He went over the copy carefully and found much of it unsuitable but made constructive suggestions, one of the most important of which was the revelation that the PWB German intelligence section was about to set up what it called a "Friendly Villa," to house German PW's who were anti-Nazi and willing to help overthrow Hitlerism. It was to be located at Caserta, 26 miles from Naples, midst pleasant and bucolic surroundings where the PW's would be given many liberties denied in the prison cages.

It was an obvious suggestion that the revised manuscript should be submitted to German PW's recently from Germany for opinion and editing. Contact with these PW's at the Friendly Villa could easily be made through Lt. (j.g.) Burkhardt, OSS PW interrogator from the R&A Branch, who had taken a leading hand in establishing the Friendly Villa. Shortly Warner drove to the Friendly Villa which was just being organized and was in a rather chaotic condition, having no furniture or tableware, and there met Maj. Steed, British, who was in command. Maj. Steed showed an initial slight reluctance to participate in black operations and was unconvinced that a "black" publication could successfully be foisted onto German readers, but gradually came around to agreeing to let MO consult with his PW's, if MO would help get him some cots and dishes. His initial suggestion was one Wilfried Roschmann, a chunky, talkative Wehrmacht clerk. A preliminary conversation was had with this man and he stated he was vehemently anti-Nazi, having lived for some 18 years in South Africa. He spoke perfect English. He said he had taken his wife, who was ill, back to Hamburg for a dangerous operation and while there had been caught in the Wehrmacht. After OSS provided some furniture and food, two or three more talks were had with Roschmann in which the idea of the proposed newspaper was slowly disclosed and on a third interview the copy already written was shown to him and he was requested to reslant it so it would be acceptable to the Teutonic mind. This he did with enthusiasm and, in fact wrote enough material to fill the New York Times. As time went on, it became apparent that Roschmann was a little bit unbalanced, given to spellbinding speeches and diatribes, all heavily salted with religion. He was, therefore, a man in a million for MO's purposes. He meanwhile had enlisted the help of an ex-German paratrooper, tall, black-browed Heinz Winkel, who was a much more down-to-earth person but with very limited literary ability. He spoke no English. These two argued and debated about the articles they were writing jointly for the new paper.

The final product which they submitted was at least four times as long as needed, was wordy and rambling, and it departed at a 30 degree angle from the original scripts, but at least it was authentically German. This was attested by Capt. Wallenberg, Lt. Burkhardt, Major Steed, and other PW's.

This Was It

Thus was born Das Neue Deutschland, which was the most successful single undertaking of the MO Branch in World War II. From the nebulous "Peace Now" movement in Detroit sprang an instrument of subversion which was to have far-reaching effects, was to penetrate the Reich itself, was to gain converts and adherents in the Wehrmacht, and to play an important part in the undermining of some 10,000 soldiers who deserted Hitler. It was to be denounced ferociously by Heinrich Himmler's own newspaper, "Das Schwarze Korps," was to be denounced on the German radio and in millions of troop and officer news bulletins of the Wehrmacht. Copies were found in Berlin, Pilsen, Lubeck, the Rhineland, and even in the notorious Dach[a]u prison. Troops were captured carrying copies hidden in their shoes and caps. The Gestapo court-martialed German soldiers caught with it on their persons. It was to become a highly useful instrument of destruction for the Allies, as will be revealed in following pages.

This instrument the reader will discern was the produce of many minds. Lee's original suggestion for a "Peace Now" party was considerably altered by almost everyone who laid a hand on it. Little by little as a dozen people in Italy and Africa toyed with the idea, it evolved into various shapes, changing, growing in this direction and shrinking in that, never the same in any two successive weeks of its infancy, and not reaching a permanent form until weeks later, when it finally went to press. Copy as printed bore no resemblance to the original scripts written in Naples.

More Problems

Meanwhile, after much bothersome negotiation, MO was happy to welcome into the fold its first German-speaking member, Sgt. Werner Bloch. Lee and Warner had worked with Bloch in Sicily and knew him from of old. Bloch had been born and raised in Cologne and had been drafted in the U.S. Army the first year he was in America, so his conversational German was faultless and his knowledge of German was valuable. Bloch was assigned to the Friendly Villa to help Major Steed, who was very shorthanded, and he at the same time worked closely with the PW's on the manuscripts.

The unit was also most happy to welcome Cpl. Egidio Clemente who reported for duty from Brindisi where he had been working for SI. Cpl. Clemente was a master printer who had been part owner and publisher of a Chicago newspaper, La Parola. When recruited, SI Branch believed it might be called upon to carry on subversive warfare and Clemente joined SI to do the job. The creation of the MO Branch precluded SI's doing this work. Vincent Scamparino, Chief of Italian SI, who was most cooperative, acceded to a request for the transfer of Clemente to MO. He at once began to work on subversive Italian material but as yet had not tried his hand on German propaganda.

Another development in the interim was an internal problem within OSS. The Operations Officer at that time considered himself a propaganda expert and insisted on his right to supervise all MO, including texts for pamphlets and newspapers, right down to the last comma. This situation was intolerable, as the Operations Officer obviously knew even less about black propaganda than the MO personnel. There were plans afoot, furthermore, to oust MO from its Villa Maria in Naples and use the villa for some other purpose. As these internal complications ascended toward a crisis, Col. E. J. F. Glavin, CO., 2677th Regiment, arrived from Algiers on an inspection tour and Warner stated he could not carry on any longer in Italy under the present OSS regime there and recommended that his unit be transferred to the more amenable atmosphere of Algiers. In this Col. Glavin concurred. The date was about the first week in May. The move to Algiers was ordered for the 15th of May, 1944. A great many other activities besides the German newspaper were well underway and it was with regret that they were stopped in order to move to Algiers, but it seemed the only solution.

So far, no name for the paper had been chosen although some 30 or more were suggested. Brains were racked but whenever a seemingly good name was suggested, inquiry revealed that it had some bad connotation for a German reader. Many of the suggested names were found to have already been used by democratic parties during the Weimar Republic and were thus discredited, or they [were] found to have been attached sometime during the past to German political organizations which were of local and not national repute.

To Algiers

As the packing of supplies, building up a 3-month stockpile of MO kits to cover the period of lost time during the move to Algiers, and other details were being unscrambled by the unit, probing and exploring for the much-needed name continued. The day before the outfit sailed for Algiers, it chanced to pop out unexpectedly during a conversation about the paper when Warner accidentally used the phrase: "What we must get into our paper is the idea of a new Germany." Warner, with a somewhat corny snap of fingers exclaimed: "That's it; the name of the paper is 'New Germany.'" Later research showed that this particular name, obvious though it was, had never been used by any German group in the past. At last the movement and its organ had a name.

Moving the two prisoners to Algiers was attended by the usual complications but it at last was arranged through CSDIC and they were flown from Naples, being deposited in a PW cage ten miles east of Algiers. Warner flew the following day. The rest of the unit proceeded by boat the night of 22 May, 1944, the whole outfit reassembling 25th of May, ready to resume work on the newspaper.

Staff Grows

Meanwhile some additional MO personnel were now available in Algiers, including Major William T. Dewart, Jr., publisher of the New York Sun, who by a great stroke of luck in his youth had learned how to use a Linotype machine, and Pvt. Barbara J. Lauwers who had been transferred from R&A to MO. Also present was 2nd Lt. Charles Peck. These additions were offset by the loss of Capt. Altherr whom PWB would not assign to duty in Algiers, and Sgt. Bloch whom PWB insisted on retaining for duty in Italy. M/Sgt. Lee had difficulty obtaining orders for assignment to Algiers but this was subsequently straightened out and he arrived to join the MO unit. Altherr never returned to MO. Bloch rejoined the outfit in the winter of 1945 after service in Italy and France.

In Algiers the unit was set up in a temporary wooden hut with a tin roof, Hut #6, which was in a compound occupied by OSS. The weather during the daytime was very hot but nightfall brought blessed relief. The staff, confronted with immense new orders, was working fifteen to eighteen hours a day, averaging 100 hours a week, and tempers grew short and irascible. Capt. Temple Fielding, an able writer, had joined the staff and so had Sgt. Walter Weisbecker, former San Francisco reporter. A little later Lieut. Jack Daniels, who was just recovering from a nervous breakdown, was recruited from Services. Daniels was given the job of shepherding the prisoners. None of the three latest additions to the staff had any knowledge whatsoever of Germans or Germany, and while they were willing, their willingness was of small value in producing a German newspaper that would fool a German reader. But work on it continued.

The two prisoners were rescued from their cage outside Algiers and removed to  a small pink stucco villa a half mile from the sea and 15 miles west of the city where they were set up in light housekeeping with various MO personnel acting as guards. Meanwhile, on June 7, Mr. Jan Libich arrived from Washington and at last MO had an A-1 German writer on its staff. Libich consulted frequently with the prisoners. He at first thought the initial copy was excellent and did not need much revision, but later changed his mind and considerable revision was made. After weeks of writing and rewriting, the religious tone of the paper had almost disappeared, never to very successfully reassert itself. Political themes dominated from then on. Still another German-speaking staff member, Mr. Edmund Lindner, a stateless Austrian who had been recruited for agent work but was transferred to MO, joined the staff and helped write for DND about this time. The idea, the stories and the writers were now assembled in one place. All that was needed was to put the paper to press. Considerably increased outlets had been uncovered when Warner arranged on May 30 with SPOC to move 100 kits a month into France in air drops to the Maquis. This relatively small figure was later to be greatly increased.

Printing was to be done in a French printshop named Imbert, which PWB had requisitioned for leaflet printing. Use of the plant during the night hours was arranged for MO.

No Umlauts

One tiny detail blocked the start of printing of Das Neue Deutschland, a detail which grew into mountainous proportions during the next three weeks. In the printshop and in all Algiers there could not be found a single set of German umlauts and since this newspaper pretended to be an authentic German paper printed inside the Reich, umlauts were an indispensable necessity. Cables were sent to Washington ordering the missing gadgets for the French Linotype machines. Nineteen days were lost because of the non-existence of umlauts in Africa. The 19 days, however, were somewhat compensated for by additional time becoming available for further study of German newspaper layouts, printing styles, type fonts and the preparation of a front page cartoon by Lt. Saul Steinberg. An engraving was made of the cartoon, using the facilities of Stars and Stripes. A masthead was designed by Steinberg, using a scrawling script with the words "Neues Deutschland," extending across the top of the page. It was learned, in the study of some 50 German newspapers, that a considerable number of them used a 4 column page, about half the size of an American newspaper, and in order to conserve paper and to print a paper of light weight which could be carried in bulk by airplanes, this format was adopted. During this same period of waiting for the umlauts, discussion by the staff developed the idea that other types of fake underground papers might be expected to sprout in various parts of Germany and several of them were prepared. These latter, called "Friedensbote" (Peace Messenger), "Unser Kampf" (Our Fight), a labor paper, troop papers printed on German V-mail forms, mimeograph news sheets, etc., etc., were written and mimeographed starting on June 2. Most of the bona fide underground papers in France and the Lowlands, it was known, issued their propaganda news sheets in mimeograph form; thus it was reasonable to expect the same might occur in Germany and Austria. The idea was that prior infiltrations of these assorted small sheets would in a sense pave the way for the appearance of a regularly printed newspaper and make the appearance of such a printed newspaper seem slightly more plausible and reasonable. These news sheets were printed in quantities of 10,000 each and were immediately packed and steadily infiltrated in early June by SPOC, arriving in occupied Europe, mostly France, over a period from a week to a month prior to the debut of Das Neue Deutschland.

Several amusing incidents occurred at the MO Villa. M/Sgt. Richard Lee stayed there the first night the prisoners arrived and when they went to sleep, he too retired and snored blissfully, not giving a second thought to the two "dangerous" Nazis in the adjoining room. The following night Libich was assigned to join Lee, but poor Libich, just arrived from the U.S. and in a foreign land, was unable to sleep so near the ferocious Nazis, and spent the entire night leaping in and out of bed to hold a nervous ear to their keyhole. He also barricaded his door. This so upset Lee he couldn't sleep either, and like Libich had visions of having his head cut off by a butcher knife. Next morning Libich pointed out to Lee how they could murder both MO representatives and flee by boat to France, to be decorated by Hitler for assassinating two Allied intelligence agents, a possibility he outlined to Warner that afternoon, accompanied by a vehement refusal to ever spend another night in such peril. None of these gruesome slayings ever materialized. From time to time other MO men took turns guarding. Later MP's were secured to take over this boring task. One day Sgt. Walter Weisbecker, MO, took Roschmann for a swim, accompanied by a guard, and was horrified upon looking backward from the surf to see that the [guard] had his rifle aimed at him, Weisbecker, not Roschmann, to make sure Weisbecker didn't try to escape. Both prisoners were as docile as old cows. They wouldn't have murdered anyone or tried to escape for all the medals in Germany, because they knew they couldn't get very far and because they were so overjoyed to eat good American food and be free from the barbed wire of a British stockade, that any change would have been ridiculous and obnoxious to them.

At Last, Umlauts

At last, on June 22, the sets of little brass keys with the precious umlauts arrived by airmail from Washington. Printing commenced immediately with Cpl. Clemente and Maj. Dewart operating the rickety, broken-down and maddening old French Linotype machines, on Sunday, June 24. Loud and violent were the cursings and the gnashings of teeth by the two Linotype operators as the machines broke down regularly every three or four minutes. The first galleys had almost as many words misspelled as correctly spelled and numerous resetting and corrections had to be made during the nights that followed. Finally copy was ready to put in the forms but as yet headlines had not been written. Messrs. Lindner and Libich, delightfully innocent of the fact that type is metal and not rubber, wrote headlines sometimes 20 and 30 words in length which could neither be squeezed nor hammered into the column widths available, and their literary efforts were chopped and mangled, causing them great pain, but at last all were ready.

Security Crisis

The night the paper went to press, June 28, a minor crisis exploded in the printshop. It was learned at this late moment that the French engraver who had made the page-wide masthead had, through one of those incredible mishaps which are a daily part of war, issued an advertising brochure in which was reproduced samples of his recent art and, lo and behold, in the brochure as big as life was the masthead for the secret underground paper. Since MO had no engraving facilities of its own it had adopted the ruse of having Stars and Stripes make the cut, along with dozens of other routine Stars and Stripes engravings, in the hope it would pass through unnoticed by anyone. But the trick had failed - miserably. This fantastic misfortune threw MO into a panic. Maj. Dewart brought the two prisoners to the printshop in a desperate effort to invent a new name for the paper but their best suggestion was Fries Deutschland - a name long ago rejected. Consultation with Lindner, Pvt. Lauwers and the two PW's finally, after much excited talk, brought to light a variation of the old name, Das Neue Deutschland. This was the name adopted then and there, far after midnight, by the sweating, dirty staff, and used throughout the war.

But the handsome metal engraving waiting to make its bow in the Reich, of which the engraver was so proud, had to be broken up into scrap and the masthead set with type. It took hours in the mare's-nest printshop to find a condensed type that could be squeezed into the available space and yet look even slightly German, not French in origin, but some was found and at long last, after many minor crises, the forms of the paper were locked up and put on the press. The engraving was to be heard from again, a year later, when a Nazi agent captured on the front, inadvertently disclosed he had become acquainted with DND through the engraving for Neues Deutschland, but that is another story which will be told in due time.

In Washington

While waiting for the umlauts, correspondence with Washington MO had been going back and forth across the Atlantic and a great deal of enthusiasm for what Washington dubbed "The New Plan" was expressed by the home office. Mr. David Williamson, Chief, Eu. & Med. Section, MO, had large plans. These included infiltration into a neutral capital of a tattered copy of the paper supposedly smuggled out of Germany and the "revelation" in the Allied press that an underground was at work inside the Reich. This was to be followed by an official statement by the Secretary of State, Mr. Cordell Hull, to the effect that he had "heard of" this movement called Das Neue Deutschland and thus the black newspaper would receive some white publicity through the American radio and through OWI transmitters, thereby calling attention to such German listeners as they had to the existence of a subversive party inside Germany. Warner arranged through the Spanish desk in Algiers to smuggle a copy of the paper into Madrid. It was carried by an ingoing female secretary, wrapped around a pot of jam. She was delayed for some time in getting into Spain and "planting" the paper on an American news service took up some more time so it was not until the 8th of August that Das Neue Deutschland was announced to the public. The Associated Press on that date carried a story from Madrid describing the newspaper. As for exploitation through the offices of Mr. Hull, this never materialized.

First Deliveries

The night of June 28th, the first 4,500 copies were printed and packed in containers and then moved by truck to Blinda air field 40 miles from Algiers and were flown into France within 48 hours. The newspapers were used as stuffing or packing around explosives and other supplies in the cylindrical metal containers which were parachuted to the Maquis. Earlier burlap had been used. By discarding the burlap and using the newspapers, MO was able to greatly increase its circulation. In addition to these papers used for padding, other papers were wrapped in MO kits and these too were shipped in simultaneously. On June 30th, 5,000 bulk papers were pouched to Bari for inclusion in Balkan kits. Others followed. At the same time bulk papers were sent to Cairo and London for inclusion in air drops dispatched from those bases. All in all, 75,000 were printed for the first issue and all were shipped in one form or another to MO outposts, or back of the lines, about 65,000 going into France.

Again To Italy

About the first of July, orders were received to move Headquarters for all OSS from Algiers to Italy, once again upsetting production and distribution. In the hectic five weeks of DND's life in Algiers, Rome had fallen. Having had some sad experiences with printing equipment in Naples and because there were no printing facilities in Caserta - where OSS was setting up Headquarters - it was decided to seek a suitable printshop in Rome and for this purpose Lt. Steinberg and Cpl. Bruzzese, both of whom spoke fluent Italian, were flown to Rome to reconnoiter a printshop. Because it was becoming too much of a problem to keep shipping the prisoners from place to place and finding them safe quarters, Roschmann and Winkel, the two PW's, were returned to the cage. Roschmann was far more interested in his own skin than his buddy's, urging that Winkel be sent to the cage but that he be kept. Libich, with a soldier carrying a gun, took Winkel to the cage first in a jeep. Roschmann patted him on the back and assured him: "It won't be so bad." A few days later Roschmann himself made the same trip after he had first begged not to be put in the same cage with Winkel. Both were upset.

Subsequently Mr. Roland Dulin, who had joined MO during the first week in June from OWI, Cairo, was appointed production chief and he too proceeded by air to Rome. Dulin located a printshop with 17 presses which was by far the most modern and workable of any MO had so far been able to get its hands on. By mid July the whole unit was in Rome, using as DND's editorial office the lavish marble-halled apartment of the ex-Fascist Minister, Farrinacci. It was also the billet of the outfit. The unit had been there only a few days when editorial reinforcements in the persons of H. F. Broch DeRothermann and Mr. William Laas arrived and they, in addition to other tasks, were assigned to work on the newspaper.

Though editorial problems were now fairly well solved, there was always present the question of what "news" to invent, and this required considerable ingenuity as months went by, since 90 percent of it had to be fabricated. The paper was to be published once a month, bearing a dateline of the 15th of each month, and 75,000 copies were printed per issue.

Circulation remained the main problem. Getting 75,000 issues a month into enemy territory where they would be disseminated in such a way the Germans would believe they had actually come from Germany was no mean trick. For this, the MO branch must primarily give all thanks and credit to the patriots behind the lines, and secondarily to the OSS and British resupply units who were daily flying explosives, medicine, arms, money and clothing to the Maquis in France and the Partisans in Italy and Yugoslavia. Some of their experiences in peddling DND will be told later in this account. The move to Rome did not seriously interfere with distribution of the paper in France, as Sgt. Ogle was left behind in Algiers and papers were flown by plane from Rome to him as fast as they were printed each mid-month. He carried them by jeep from Maison Blanche Airdrome to the OSS packing station several miles away, and from the packing station they were trucked in containers to Blida Airport, and thence were flown into the heart of France to waiting reception committees, the whole process being rather unbelievably efficient and quick and on some occasions the papers were received in France within 48 hours after leaving the printing presses in Rome, despite their round-about delivery route, via Africa.

Sauerkrauts

Scarcely had MO arrived in Rome before an assassin's bomb threatened the life of Hitler and seemingly touched off a revolution in Germany. To exploit this dramatic event, MO decided to issue an "extra" edition of Das Neue Deutschland of 50,000 copies; and also commenced ground infiltrations using Germans in full Wehrmacht uniform. These operations were hastily organized and run off successfully, thus giving the paper a new means of circulation. They were called "Sauerkrauts." (For the full story see the book by the same name.) Simultaneously an Italian MO agent carrying DND was sent through the lines to Milan. Air drops to Partisans mounted in number and fully a thousand drops of DND were made in France, in quantities of about 50 copies in each drop. Good weather permitted the air resupply planes to make a heavily increased number of flights to secret pinpoints behind the lines. The circulation picture, which only a few weeks before had been gloomy, suddenly burst into brightness. This continued through August, up until the time the 7th Army invaded Southern France and rapidly over-ran France thus devouring scores of pinpoint circulation outlets.

What Is Good German, Anyhow?

However, about this time a new problem arose. The DND editorial staff developed temperament. Constant wrangling and disputes marred the peace of the unit. One conflict of personalities, for example, arose between M/Sgt. Lee and the two chief German writers, Libich and DeRothermann. Lee, because of his America journalistic training and technical knowledge had been appointed "editor" by Warner, but the two German experts indignantly demanded that he be removed because he knew so little about Germany. They, of course, knew nothing about publishing. This minor crisis was solved by Warner when he appointed himself editor and named Lee "Coordinator", which mollified and checkmated a threatening strike. The future was to produce many more similar clashes of personalities and the slinging back and forth of considerable mud but they were never regarded too seriously by the new editor despite numerous moments of exasperation.

There is something about foreign language experts, particularly those of German extraction writing in German, which seems to lead to interminable disputes among themselves as to what is and what is not good German. No two of the MO writers in Europe were ever in complete accord on any article for DND, and many were the arguments as to syntax, construction, grammar and word usage, each of the debaters usually denouncing the other as an ignoramus. This Weber and Fields routine became so common that it even lost its humor for the English-speaking personnel after a while.

To supplement the amount of material for the paper, an editorial board for DND was created in Washington, with its own separate staff of writers and editors. This Washington staff produced great quantities of text, but little of it was ever used, because 1.) it usually arrived too late for edition time and was out-of-date for the following edition the next month, and 2.) the German experts in Italy declared it of poor quality and inferior to their own literary efforts. Here again is observed the eternal debate between German writers as to what is and what isn't good German propaganda. As a footnote it should be added that the same identical debates raged among the writers in Washington as characterized the writers in Italy, with one berating another for his low-quality literature. The same phenomenon was also observed among German leaflet writers in London, so the epidemic of disagreement among German experts seems to have been world-wide, and a universal pain in the neck to their supervisors.

Das Neue Deutschland, November 1944
Das Neue Deutschland, November 1944 regular edition

The Golden Days

Additional circulation outlets were being opened up almost daily. Capt. Temple Fielding, head of Balkan distribution operating out of Bari, journeyed by boat to the Headquarters hideout of Marshal Tito on the Island of Vis in the Adriatic and after consultations with a Gen. Marinko, Partisan Propaganda Chief, obtained an order for the astounding total of 65 million propaganda items, a good part of which naturally was to be DND. This fabulous order almost rocked MO back on its heels but after blinking in disbelief for a while the unit set about filling it, increasing the press-run of DND to 150,000. It was later discovered that this order was greatly exaggerated and that the Partisans had no means to distribute in such huge quantities but at the time MO was not aware of this and it did its best to print and ship the amount ordered. At the same time invasion of Southern France out of Naples was being mounted and Lt. Arturo Mathieu and Sgt. George Hammond, both of whom spoke perfect French, were assigned to go into France and recruit agents on the spot and infiltrate them with DND and other propaganda. William Laas was severed from the editorial staff and sent north to the 5th Army front near Florence to explore and open up new channels for overland infiltration there, using American, British, French and Polish patrols, and using Italian agents sent through the lines by OSS. Laas proved an A-1 operator and succeeded in increasing ground infiltrations a great deal. Mathieu and Hammond at first had less luck. The 7th Army moved so fast there was no opportunity to infiltrate agents. But Mathieu, alert to the possibilities of the rapidly shifting military scene, hurried by jeep to the Swiss frontier and subsequently was successful in infiltrating the paper and other material into Northern Italy through the Alpine passes. Not long afterward Sgt. Ogle, the flights out of Algiers having ceased, joined Mathieu at Annemasse and Annecy, two towns in the shadow of Mont Blanc. At about this same period, July 15 - August 15, 1944, the Cairo office of MO was closed and the personnel moved to Bari, Italy, under Mr. John Fistere, former Cairo chief. From Brindisi, 40 miles South of Bari, supplies were being flown to partisan pinpoints in North Italy, and these flights reached a new high of 200 a month, with MO kits on each and in each were DND's, the input into North Italy mounting steadily for the newspaper. Cpl. Clemente's printshop was working overtime but was excellently managed and commitments were met as fast [as] they arrived. These were the golden days for MO's infiltrations and huge quantities were beginning to flow into many corners of Hitler's Reich.

Das Neue Deutschland, August 1944
The first miniature edition of Das Neue Deutschland

Losses and Gains

But as was just mentioned, the overrunning of France by the armies closed off countless pinpoints in that country, with an attendant circulation loss of 50,000 or more. It was suspected too at this time that 10,000 copies ordered by MO-London monthly were not being distributed, and at the same time there were increasing doubts as to the promised wholesale distribution in Yugoslavia. Back in Algiers the MO Branch had instituted a custom of quaffing a few cocktails made of the vile local 'eau de vie' and canned GI grapefruit juice every afternoon at 5:30, and this became known as The Five O'clock Club. The custom was continued in Rome, with the refreshment parlor located in an unheated garage. Here for several evenings was debated - amiably - ways and means of making up for the lost outlets. Circulation seemed headed for a bad slump. MO morale sunk. Under the spell of a pair of semi-poisonous martinis, however, it was suggested one evening by Warner that DND be reduced to one-fourth its original size by photography, thus in effect converting it to leaflet size, and that an overprint be stamped across the face of the front page bearing a legend that "This is a newspaper captured by the Allies in Paris."

These leaflet-DND's or as they were later called, Miniature DNDs, were to be dropped openly by Allied airplanes. They would be black newspapers but they were to be delivered by white methods, that is, the contents were pure black and the delivery was pure white, giving a product unique in the war, and capable of widest distribution. PWB, the white agency in Italy, agreed, surprisingly enough, to distribute the tainted product on its regular plane lifts, assigning MO part of its tonnage quote. This was surprising because PWB had always shunned distribution of anything the least bit shaded with black or even grey. Success had been gained in offsetting the lost pinpoints in France and with the air carriers, but it was accompanied by a wild increase in MO's demands for paper and ink, in Italy, a country stripped of supplies and where ordinary newsprint was selling for outrageous prices in the black market.

This problem was overcome when Warner persuaded PWB to part with some 27 tons of newsprint it had in storage in Bari. After much dickering with the British officer in charge of the precious newsprint in Bari, who for a while refused to part with it - despite orders - it was shipped by train to Rome. But on arrival it was discovered with horror that most of it had been spoiled in shipping with great gouges and rips in the rolls and the holes through the centers of the rolls jammed. Salvage was tried. First, attempts were made to drill the holes back to their original size. This failed. Next it was attempted to burn holes through the rolls. This failed. In despair, Italian women were hired to unroll the huge 500-lb. rolls and cut off any usable paper with scissors. After a week or more of this struggle, only about a third was salvaged. Meanwhile, however, tests had shown that the type was still legible after being reduced to 6 inches by 8 inches, so the first week in September plates were engraved and printing of Miniature DND's began, with the initial press order 1,000,000, far more than ever before printed or distributed.

The August 15th issue of DND was the first one reduced to miniature size and a million copies were dropped by Liberators and Flying Forts flying on missions out of the Foggia air field near Bari. The operation was given the code name of "Pig Iron" and for further details on it see the MO book called "Corn Flakes, Pig Iron and Sheet Iron." A million a month was the limit set by PWB in this initial venture by MO in free leaflet dropping of black propaganda. Two months later PWB began to have misgivings and decided to cease cooperating in the use of planes. This calamity was rather quickly overcome when MO undertook to arrange its own lift independent of PWB and succeeded in reaching an agreement with the 15th Air Force to carry 4 times the original lift, or a total of 4 million a month.

In early autumn there was considerable discussion within MO as to what DND could do to actively foster desertions and dissention and to gain recruits to its cause. It was strongly felt that mere reading of the paper by the Germans was not sufficient - that they must be induced to do something positive. Their interest in MO literature was all well and good, but if they could be persuaded to do something tangible, so much the better. But what? Could the paper ask its readers to blow up bridges, assassinate Himmler, start a rebellion? Hardly. All indications were that an overt act was impossible under the Nazi steel fist at that time. Something had to be found which they could do without danger.

DND membership card on the back of the September 15, 1944 edition
DND membership card on the back of the September 15, 1944 edition

Half a dozen suggestions were made such as instructing the paper's readers to withdraw money from banks on a certain date so that their bank books would show they had observed DND instructions and were therefore true anti-Nazi, etc., etc. For one reason or another these first suggestions were rejected. One evening at the Five O'clock Club, the idea was tossed into the usual shoptalk conversation that membership cards in the party should be printed in the newspaper and in the next issue (15 September) this was done. It was learned later that these membership cards were a brilliant stroke.

In Germany

Entirely unknown to MO-Italy, which was completely in the dark on the effect of DND on the Germans, a sharp reaction was being felt by the Nazi hierarchy, but the Nazis were either undecided or unwilling to take counter measures until the following January. In the January 11, 1945 issue of Das Schwarze Korps, covering the entire front page and two-thirds of page 2, was printed a denunciation of those Germans "who would join such a traitorous movement," and who would fill in the membership coupons and "hide them in their hands, mattresses or clothing." The issue under attack by Heinrich Himmler's Das Schwarze Korps was that of the 15th of September. Apparently it took the Germans 4 months to make up their minds to strike back at DND. This they finally did with a mixture of scorn, vilification and pleading to the super race not to join DND.

In the last half of September tangible results of Sauerkraut first began to appear in the PW cages when deserters came in carrying in their pockets copies of DND. During the next fortnight more and more prisoners and deserters were found to have the newspaper hidden in their pockets. A copy of DND was "planted" in the Swedish Legation in Rome with the expectation it would be forwarded to Stockholm, and thence with luck to German diplomatic circles.

A captured German intelligence report dated 24th October stated that DND was causing the German Command anxiety. Another reaction, equally spectacular, was in a 8-page discussion of DND (August 14 edition) in the "Mitteilungen fur die Truppe," official weekly publication designed to provide political instruction for the German soldiers. This official reaction coupled with the later reaction in Das Schwarze Korps was the largest and most satisfactory yet received from German officialdom. Judging from the wording of the articles, the style and make-up of DND had succeeded in giving the impression that it was actually a German newspaper and that it was being widely circulated and enthusiastically received in Germany, and thus was a threat to the Nazi political machine.

Mystery Man

Still another rather flattering "come-back" to DND arrived in Italy in early December, when CSDIC (British PW interrogation agency) telephoned the MO office in Rome it had "a package for MO." This was double-talk for a prisoner. Cpl. Lauwers first interrogated the package who turned out to be one Wilhelm Hakenberg who claimed he had aided and fought with Italian partisans in North Italy and who declared himself anxious to work for the Allies. On December 13 Mr. Lindner again interrogated him and this time Hakenberg offered the additional information he had seen in Germany, at Dusseldorf, a subversive newspaper named "Neues Deutschland," and desired to work on it. This immediately alerted Lindner, bringing to his mind the abandoned masthead which had been discarded in Algiers for security reasons. The paper it will be recalled, in June had been, because of security reasons, renamed from "Neues Deutschland" to "Das Neue Deutschland."

How did this Hakenberg know the abandoned name? Next day Mr. Libich and Mr. Lindner interrogated the man again and this time asked him to make a pencil sketch of the masthead. He made a drawing very similar to the abandoned masthead. Asked what the paper had said he quoted the contents of three articles of the September 15 DND. He said he had seen the September 15 paper in a PW cage at Florence. After several hours of intense interrogation, Hakenberg admitted he had invented the story of having seen Neues Deutschland in Dusseldorf. But the question still remained: where had he seen the abandoned masthead? The suspicion was German intelligence had obtained a copy of the engraver's advertisement in Algiers. Later questioning broke down his story of having aided the partisans in North Italy. He admitted he had spent only three days with them prior to surrendering to the Allies. Other contradictions in various details of his story came to light as the questioning continued hour after hour. He was carrying Russian gold rubles worth $165, which was odd. It was a huge sum for a German prisoner. He had no credentials to prove he was really Wilhelm Hakenberg. When threatened he blandly replied he was not afraid because he knew Americans did not torture or kill suspects.

On 19 December he admitted credentials he had obtained from the partisan leader, Pippo, were falsified. He the same day said he could not remember his German Army number. This was most queer.

All these discrepancies added up, it seemed, to the conclusion that Hakenberg or whoever he was, was in fact a German intelligence agent sent through the lines to discover the source of Das Neue Deutschland. His desire to work for the newspaper, the briefing he had had on it (which was poor), and many other signs pointed to an attempt to infiltrate MO. OSS counter-espionage was brought into the picture and the opinion was expressed from the evidence at hand that the man was a spy and would be executed. He was turned over to the proper authorities for prosecution, but to date the disposition of his case remains unknown, except that last May, when the Branch disbanded, he was still being held in jail. As a last thought on Hakenberg, it may have been that his failure to return to Germany from his mission may have accounted for the long delay in official German response to DND. Because he was jailed by MO, he was unable to report to his superiors. After waiting four months, not having heard from him, Heinrich Himmler printed the denunciation of DND in Das Schwarze Korps without waiting any longer, it may be supposed.

Cornflakes

Hakenberg was a minor incident. Chief concern of the Branch was to devise new ways of getting DND and other subversive matter to Germany.

Autumn of 1944 had brought a great increase in the amount of newspapers dropped in containers to Italian partisans. This was chiefly due to the dynamic energy of Lt. Jack Daniels, who after being relieved of his duty as manager of the Sauerkrauts, was sent to Bari as chief of activities in that area, which included Bari, Brindisi and Foggia, relieving Mr. Fistere and Lt. Col. Vanda, both of whom were returned to the United States. Daniels did an outstanding job of liaison with Ops Supply, and multiplied by his determined arguments the quota of space for MO manifold.

But still more infiltration was desired. There could never be too much - the more Germans who read MO leaflets and newspapers, the better. Once again the Five O'clock Club proved to be the forum which produced a workable idea. The idea emerged from half a dozen people all talking at once.

In sum this idea was to use the German mail system to carry DND. It was bold in concept, but a scheme was devised that worked. The steps were to 1.) prepare envelopes to actual Germans with correct addresses, 2.) insert DNDs, 3.) stamp the envelopes and cancel the stamps with the proper rubber cancellation stamps; 4.)  place the envelopes in German mailbags, 5.) have the air force drop the mailbags alongside shot-up trains inside the Reich.

DND with Fieldpost address label for Operation Cornflakes
DND with Fieldpost address label
for Operation Cornflakes

The whole story of the complications and tribulations of this operation is told in the MO book "Cornflakes, Pig Iron and Sheet Iron." First proposed in December, it did not get going until 5 February 1945 when the first mailbags were dropped in the rubble of a bombed train in Austria. The scheme actually worked and of some 50,000 "letters" stuffed with DNDs were planted inside enemy territory and of these it is believed most were actually delivered to the addresses by the Nazi postal authorities. Considerable evidence of actual deliveries showed up after the war.

Spring, 1945

Mid and late Winter and the Spring of 1945 produced no exciting or novel innovations for DND. The paper appeared regularly. Seventy-five thousand copies a month were distributed back of the line by partisans in Italy. A few were still being shipped to the French for infiltration into the Western Front and a few were going to Yugoslavia but these were minor outlets. The biggest input was via plane of the miniature DNDs, totals averaging 4 million a month. The editorial staff, printing and production, and distribution were running smoothly and under full control, until the war's end.

German reaction continued after the attack in Das Schwarze Korps and Hitler, Goebbels, Dittmar, and other Nazis continued radio polemics against "German traitors," the speeches seeming closely related to DND. Prisoners and deserters carrying DND's became more or less a commonplace as Spring advanced. For them a special DND membership card and surrender pass was printed in large quantities.

Foreseeing that the war might well end in the spring of 1945, and believing the German general staff was fully aware of the nearness of the end, a new DND project, called "Olive," was discussed in late February. This project was daring. It called for a squad of Sauerkraut agents to be put back of the German lines by boat, completely equipped with motorcycles, etc., and for them to proceed to Field Marshal Kesselring's headquarters near Lake di Garda in the Italian Alps and apprise the Marshal that his troops in uncounted thousands had joined the DND movement, had turned against Hitler, and were asking him to assume the leadership of the DND movement in Italy. This scheme was worked out in great detail and submitted to AFHQ. MO was unaware that General Wolff was already starting negotiations with AFHQ via Switzerland in the now famous OSS operation "Sunrise." MO's hunch that the Germans were about ready to quit was correct and it is quite conceivable that if Sunrise had not already been underway that contact and surrender could have been achieved through "Olive." But because Olive might have confused or derailed Sunrise, AFHQ ordered that it be held in abeyance. Sunrise succeeded. There was therefore never any need to attempt Olive, which was a little disappointing to the publishers of DND, for it would have been a fine feather in their caps to have induced the Germans to surrender to Das Neue Deutschland.

Results

When the war in Italy ended 3 May opportunity had at last come to make a scientific survey of the results of DND's effectiveness by asking the German troops captured and being held in stockades what they knew about the movement. It was generally felt from earlier clues that DND had caused some perturbation in Berlin but generally speaking the editors were quite in the dark as to how much. They merely hoped, they didn't know.

To find out the following was done: a) Lt. Taquey who had replaced Mr. Laas in charge of 5th Army infiltrations, made a tour by jeep of partisan territory in North Italy and interviewed 47 different partisan leaders; b) Lt. Bruzzese interviewed numerous OSS agents who reported into forward headquarters in Florence for debriefing; c) Mr. Lindner prepared 40,000 printed questionnaires to be distributed among PW's in German cages holding an estimated 800,000 prisoners.

The results of a.), b.) and c.) follow:

  1. Lt. Taquey learned with pleasure that the partisans had given DND very thorough distribution. Their principal method was to hand the newspapers to women and children and request them to hand them to friendly German soldiers, or to leave them in cafes, restaurants, cinemas, street cars, trucks, automobiles, barracks, latrines and other places frequented by German troops. The questioning of prisoners (going on simultaneously in the cages) revealed that these techniques were effective. Hundreds of German troops reported that they had received the newspaper in such ways.
  2. Lt. Bruzzese's debriefing of OSS agents showed that they had used the same methods with equal success.
  3. When Lindner's questionnaires were collected the data on them was reduced to statistics and showed that 45% of them knew about the DND movement and 14% had actually read the newspaper. (This compares with 49% who knew about PWB's white paper, "Frontbrief," which had been dropped by the millions openly over enemy lines by Allied planes.) The same MO questionnaire revealed that the rather surprising number of 1 out of 3 Germans who knew about DND had heard of it inside Germany, not in Italy. Almost as many prisoners stated that they had received the newspaper from comrades, passed from hand to hand, as had found it or received it from Italian civilians. One out of every 150 PW's stated he had received the paper through the mail (Cornflakes).

A few typical accounts of where and how it was received follows: A grenadier found a copy in a factory in Budweis, Czechoslovakia in September 1944; a Corporal found a copy on the street in Berlin in November 1944; a soldier said he found a copy in his home town in Bavaria in January 1945; a Sgt found a copy on the streets of Trieste in March 1945; a sapper said he found 50 copies in the street of the Italian village of Sassa Marconi which he distributed; a Corporal found a copy in his barracks at Sibano; a Lieutenant found a copy in the town of Monte Catini; another soldier told of receiving a copy in December 1944 from a woman in Bologna; six prisoners and their Corporal told of receiving DND from Italian civilians at Modena; a Sergeant found a copy of DND in an empty house in Italy; another soldier told of seeing a copy thrown from a passing car which he picked up, etc., etc. A German Lieutenant revealed he knew all about DND because two men in his company had received copies through the mail and the Gestapo, learning of it, had investigated the entire company, turning footlockers and barrack bags inside out looking for subversive literature. The two unfortunate recipients, he reported, were court martialed and shot. He said the investigation showed the newspaper had been mailed from "Berlin." This was "Cornflakes."

The prisoners believed the newspaper to be an authentic underground publication. A few of their comments:

"This material eliminated the last possible chance of believing official German propaganda."

"I strongly felt that this underground literature gave the absolute truth because I had many experiences with the Nazi terror."

"I believe that this material was put out by Catholic circles in Germany, and not by propagandists of the former German parties. Although the contents were true sometimes the presentation was not absolutely effective."

"I was very impressed by the DND. It gave me hope for an early end of the war."

"I was amazed how well-informed the editors of DND were. The news and comments checked with news and rumors that were going from mouth to mouth."

"This literature was my weapon in the fight against the Nazis, and it proved to me that as an anti-Nazi I acted right at a time when I was an anti-Nazi only by sentiment."

"The political opinion of DND was based on the feelings of those Germans who were anti-Nazi."

"After reading some issues of DND, I wanted to become a member and filled out the application for membership."

This passion for filling out the membership blanks was encountered again and again, and took some amusing - almost amazing - turns and PW's resolutely refused to give them up to interrogators, arguing that if they surrendered their cards they would lose their last proof of being bona fide anti-Nazis.

Conclusion

Das Neue Deutschland, born in confusion and ignorance, developed into an effective weapon for the Allies. Editorially it seemed to please large numbers of readers, giving them an answer to their problems. Technically it was so authentic in appearance it fooled 95 out of 100 readers. Its distribution was almost as wide as "white" leaflets.

The wrathful denunciations of it by Nazi brass hats eloquently testified to their concern over its appeal to the Germans. The avidity with which it was received by the common people or soldiers resulted in large demoralizations and desertions. It was MO's outstanding success of World War II.

Circulation figures follow:

 

Production

Algiers

Bari

Brindisi

N. Italy

France

Special*

DND

544,000

109,000

77,630

163,565

82,591

30,135

72,005

DND Mini

8,906,000

-

8,843,000

-

-

-

-

DND Extra

136,000

52,000

17,600

29,500

3,000

3,500

31,000

(* Special equals: Sauerkrauts, Cornflakes, Italian agents)

Total distribution: 9,514,620

[Source: NARA RG 226, transcribed by www.psywar.org]

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