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Draft Chapter from Political Warfare Training Manual

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In the Autumn of 1943 the Political Warfare Executive initiated the compilation of a Political Warfare Training Manual. The contents were agreed with the intended manual covering such topics as the history of Political Warfare and the formation of PWE;  Political Warfare directed against the enemy and allies; intelligence, instruments of Political Warfare including visual (leaflets) and oral (broadcasting); training schools, and Political Survey. The manual’s progression soon reached deadlock following disagreement over the quality of the first chapter drafted dealing with Political Survey. Within several months the project was effectively abandoned. The only other part of the draft manual that appears to have survived in the files is a portion of section 6: Instruments of Political Warfare. It covers the role of broadcasting in Political Warfare and specifically that of the BBC’s contribution. It is reproduced here.

Sefton Delmer broadcasts to Germany on the BBC

Sefton Delmer broadcasts to Germany on the BBC






(a) Before the War, 1933-1939

Warfare by radio, like the war by land, sea and air, was forced on the United Nations by German aggression. In the years before the war the Nazis used the radio offensively to divide, confuse, and terrify their enemies in accordance with a strategy which was closely coordinated in each succeeding stage with their political and military plans. Rearmament for the war by radio was organised concurrently with material rearmament in their factories and the conditioning of their manpower for war in the field.

The first striking example of broadcasting used as an aggressive weapon of political warfare was the radio campaign which preceded the incorporation of Austria within the Reich.

The German attack on Vienna, which failed in 1934, succeeded in 1937 when Hitler’s invasion, preceded by a radio barrage, was instantly followed by the broadcasting from captive Vienna of programmes prepared in advance. Simultaneously 25,000 receiving sets were distributed to Austrian listeners. A year later German political aggression by radio achieved the greatest of its pre-war successes during the Munich crisis.

In those pre-war years Soviet Russia was using as an instrument of political warfare the most powerful transmitter yet constructed, and, from the accession of Hitler to power up to the conclusion of the Russo-German non-aggression pact in August, 1939, the full force of Russian propaganda was directed against the Fascist dictators. Russian broadcasts to Germany were jammed by the Nazi Government. Italy and France also made an intermittent use of radio in their political warfare during the pre-war years, but no country, except Russia, was adequately prepared to meet the German radio offensive when the war began.

Britain in 1938 had an Empire Service, already six years old, which could reach listeners all over the world. A service to Latin-America and a service in Arabic were started early in that year.

In September, 1938, the Prime Minister broadcast a talk from Downing Street on his return from Munich. The talk was translated into French, German and Italian, and sent out on sixteen transmitters. Thereafter news in French, German and Italian was broadcast daily by the BBC. In June, 1939, services in Spanish and Portuguese came on to the air, and in August, 1939, the nucleus of a European Service was formed, which broadcast regular bulletins in all five languages.

There was as yet, however, no attempt to use broadcasting as a weapon of political warfare. The European Service selected for its programmes such items from the Home and Empire Services as seemed likely to appeal to Continental listeners.

(b) The German Radio Offensive, 1939-1941

In 1933, when Hitler started to prepare for radio warfare, the German foreign service occupied a few rooms at the offices of the German Broadcasting Company. By the beginning of 1941 it filled two large buildings in Berlin, employed over a thousand men and sent out over 100,000 programmes.

Every strategic phase and political device of radio warfare as practised by the enemy was coordinated with his political aims and military operations. Radio both preceded and followed the flag.

During the period of limited military operations in the West the Germans concentrated their radio forces in an attack upon the social institutions, political leadership and national ideals of the listening countries. The most notorious practitioners in this kind were Lord Haw Haw, whose broadcasts to Britain were not wholly innocuous in spite of the fact that they were lightly regarded, and Ferdonnet, the traitor of Stuttgart, the effect of whose anti-British propaganda to France and persistent suggestion that the war was a conspiracy of French and British politicals against the French people was not at the time fully appreciated either in London or Paris.

A typical episode in the radio occupation of Europe which following this period of persuasive penetration in the Western countries was the seizure in May, 1940, of the powerful Dutch station at Hilversum. Radio units with equipment to repair damaged installations and radio programmes in Dutch to cover at least two weeks followed the German armed forces.

Within a few months the German radio commanded the whole network of European stations, the main transmitters in Holland, Belgium and France being surrendered intact or so ineffectively sabotaged that they were in operation within a few days or weeks. The radio occupation of Europe was completed a year later when the Germans invaded the Balkans and won their first successes in Russia. By the end of 1941 they had at their disposal a hundred medium and long wave transmitters, extending from Calais in the West to Dnepropetrovsk in the East, from Tromsö in the North to Athens in the South.

The fall of France in the early summer of 1940 left Britain to carry the whole burden of political warfare by radio against the Axis powers. Russia and America were not yet belligerent, and London became the radio headquarters of Free Europe.

In 1939 news services in Czech, Polish, Greek, Hungarian, Romanian and Serbo-Croat had been added to those already in existence before the war. By the end of 1940 services in Turkish, Bulgarian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian and Dutch were also in operation. Eight news bulletins were then being broadcast daily in German and six in French.

Meanwhile the Allied Governments were accorded facilities to keep in touch with their respective countries. Special periods were assigned to a service staffed by Frenchmen speaking freely to their compatriots. A Free Belgian service was broadcasting in French and Flemish. A Free Dutch service (Radio Oranje), a Free Polish service (Radio Polski), a Czech service, and a Greek Government service linking the Governments and forces in Britain with those who were carrying on resistance at home, were also put on the air.

Britain was getting ready to challenge Germany’s radio supremacy on more or less equal terms. Her policy in 1940 was inevitably hampered by military events and by the resources built up or acquired by the Nazis during seven years of study and preparation. But it was never purely defensive and from the outset it refused to conform with the dispositions of the enemy.

It was realised in London that an audience threatened or dominated by the German radio needed above all things to be told the truth about day-to-day events, and that the success, or failure, of British broadcasting would depend on the degree in which it could establish its reputation as a reliable news service. This reputation was successfully achieved in 1940 by a frank and fearless handling of reverses at a time when Berlin, night after night, was deafening its listeners with fanfares in celebration of a German victory. The British radio had also to get upon intimate and conversible terms with its audiences and to convince them that their problems and difficulties were appreciated.

Much of this preliminary task had been accomplished by the end of 1940. In 1941 more than sixty news bulletins were going out daily in 24 European languages, each consisting normally of news, short commentaries on the news, talks and features arising out of the news - a radio newspaper in sixty special editions, each designed to meet the needs of a particular country, but following the same basic line.

1941 was a year of vigorous and effective counterattack in every field. German victories, truthfully reported, were set in their right perspective in relation to the resources of the free world and long-term strategy; Hitler’s New Order, which the German radio was trying to impose on German-occupied Europe, was presented in its true colours; the spirit and achievements of Britain fighting alone and of the United Nations as they, lined up in open warfare against the Reich were projected with energy and precision.

This was also the period in which the London radio was effectively used by the Allied Governments and by the BBC to consolidate and encourage resistance to Germany in the occupied countries - the year in which the “V” sign was adopted as a symbol by the oppressed peoples. Resistance activities were cross-reported to all countries; warnings and suggestions were conveyed. By the end of the year the so-called “V” campaign had broken down the isolation in which the forces of resistance had hitherto conducted their activities, provided an outlet for those who were opposed to collaboration with Germany in all its forms, seriously shaken the morale of the German garrisons in Europe and done much to make the people of the occupied countries aware of their national and international solidarity.

(c) German Radio on the Defensive, 1942-1944

There is a sense in which the German radio, in spite of its superior technical resources, its sensational exploitation of German successes in the field, its studied appeals to the weakness or self-interest of collaborators and its insolent reliance on the hypnotic powers of mass-suggestion, was even in the flush of its initial triumphs preoccupied with the problem of defence. German propaganda was from the outset directed at audiences conditioned to believe what they heard and deprived of any other reliable source of information. The German people were accordingly forbidden to listen to foreign broadcasts long before there was any need to conceal from them the true facts of the war. In 1940, when Hitler was at the summit of his fortunes, fifteen hundred Germans were sent to concentration camps for black listening and twenty were executed.

Defensive measures against radio-attack, being an essential feature of the Nazi propaganda system, were naturally applied in all the countries successively occupied by the German forces in 1940-1941. They consisted of 1) prohibition against listening to foreign broadcasts; 2) the imposition of very severe penalties, including the death penalty, on persons disregarding the prohibition; 3) the systematic jamming of foreign broadcasts; 4) the confiscation of radio-receiving sets.

Of these measures the prohibition against listening to foreign broadcasts was universal; the severity of the penalties inflicted varied from country to country and from time to time; jamming in 1941 became a major problem for the people of the occupied countries; confiscation was naturally a final resort.

It meant that the Germans feared the influence of foreign broadcasts more than they trusted the effects of their own.

Of the million wireless sets in Poland at the time of the German invasion all but a few thousand owned by Germans or Poles who chose to become citizens of the Reich were immediately confiscated. Here the Germans abandoned from the outset all hope of winning the Poles by persuasion. Executions for listening on sets secretly owned were numerous and persistent.

Confiscations in other countries were occasional and sporadic. In Czechoslovakia, where resistance units were exceptionally prompt and sensitive in their response to suggestions from London, confiscations were carried out in certain districts from time to time; executions for black listening were frequent.

In seventeen districts of Northern France the people were deprived of their radio sets towards the end of 1941; in Norway the sale or possession of radio sets in the western, southern and eastern coastal districts was forbidden in August of that year; in Holland, as a result of nation-wide disturbances in May, 1943, following a broadcast from the Dutch Free Radio in London, a decree for the confiscation of Dutch...

[Following page missing]

...Allies, supplemented and reinforced the attack from London.

Finally, in December, 1942, it was the turn of the United States to enter the radio war as a belligerent.

Already it had the nucleus of a general staff in the Office of War Information established at Washington in June of that year. London and Washington now work in close collaboration. Short-wave stations in the United States broadcast regularly to Europe, but these transmissions are not easily heard on an ordinary set. The BBC has accordingly arranged for America to call Europe on its own transmitters for 3¾ hours a day, and a special series of broadcasts in all the European languages prepared in America is relayed from London to European listeners.



Europe in 1940 was largely conquered by political warfare, the German armed forces intervening violently at points indicated by the political situation, conforming in their strategy with the diplomatic aims and economic necessities of the Reich and exploiting opportunities created by German propaganda.

Britain, organising her resources for radio warfare in 1939/1940, was preparing to strike at the root of this conception.

There were two main objectives to be achieved; first, to undermine the will to fight of her enemies and to convert them, if possible, into friends; secondly, to stimulate and instruct her friends, in enemy as well as in allied countries, with a view to obstructing and disorganising the economic, political and military dispositions of the Reich.

Germany in 1941 had virtually exhausted the possibilities of political warfare in the occupied countries of Europe and was holding them down by main force. Even her so-called allies, as the year advanced, were in varying stages of revolt, active or passive. Britain, on the contrary, was only just beginning to exploit the possibilities of political warfare, though she had not as yet the military means effectively to intervene.

Her principal assets at this time in countries other than Germany were (1) a cause which could be identified with accented civilised standards; (2) an historic reputation for invincibility, freshened rather than impaired by recent events; (3) an intense dislike of Germany, enhanced by a practical experience of the New Order in Europe and kept alive by the physical presence of the invader; (4) national patriotism in the occupied countries; (5) a strong predilection for individual liberty and progressive traditions in most of the European nations; (6) the hardship inflicted on countless millions by an exploitation of their national resources and manpower which increased in intensity as the war continued.

German propaganda relied either on mass suggestion or on well-calculated appeals to private interest. It misrepresented events and manipulated facts to suit a special audience at a given moment; it paid little or no attention to consistency; it adapted its material to temporary situations, to the conflicting ambitions of particular countries, to the prejudices of rival parties and classes within a single country. German radio-warfare was propaganda systematically directed to secure quick and definite results. It presupposed no time or opportunity for reflection, comparison or judgment in the listener.

The principles of broadcasting adopted by the European Service of the BBC were entirely different.

(a) The European Service of the BBC started its career and built up its reputation, not as a propaganda organ, but as an objective news service, suppressing nothing of importance, however disconcerting, which was believed to be true, and reporting nothing which was believed to be false.

(b) Two complementary purposes were kept constantly in view, namely, to accelerate the victory of the United Nations and to create conditions in which that victory might be durable and worth while. It was assumed that these purposes could best be attained by avoiding short-term methods. No attempts were made to gain temporary advantages by the German technique of aggravating national rivalries and class feuds.

(c) The European Service aimed at securing a European audience. It avoided regional appeals to different countries and spoke with one voice to all nations. It assumed that broadcasts to a particular European country would be overheard by all the rest and it tried to ensure that there should be no contradiction or inconsistency as between its sectional services.

(d) It was equally anxious to avoid conflicting appeals to classes and parties within any particular country. It assumed that it was addressing a whole nation united in its resistance to the invader.

(e) On moral and political issues it took for granted certain fundamental concepts. It relied on the fighting force of ideas and thus offered Europe a positive alternative to Nazi doctrine and practice. The principles upheld were such as might be fittingly sponsored by Britain, speaking as a European nation and sharing the European traditions of individual freedom, respect for law, justice and toleration.

(f) In the projection of ideas, as in the presentation of facts, it was regarded as essential to avoid what might seem to be a merely defensive attitude. The European Service never assumed that the enemy was in control of the situation either morally or in fact; never admitted that it was necessary to defend the integrity of its information or the basic principles of its political faith or that it must conform with the dispositions of the enemy either in the field of argument or in the presentation of events.

The European Service of the BBC, as the war entered its final phase, concentrated with increasing intensity upon meeting the demand of its listeners for the fullest possible survey of present events and future prospects. News items and topics for comment were selected for their interest and importance without regard to their propaganda value in the narrow sense. The objective was nothing short of the intellectual liberation of a Europe still under physical domination by the enemy. The aim was to enable the people of Europe to regard themselves as taking part in a free interchange of information and opinion denied to them under the Nazi system, to foster in them a passion for liberty, tolerance and mental integrity, to help the oppressed peoples to play their part in hastening victory and to undermine the misguided loyalty of the enemy peoples to their Fascist leaders.

Forms and methods of presentation were determined by these principles. Europe desired above all things a clear, intelligent and accurate service of information on all important events, military, political, economic, social and even cultural. Objective interpretation of the news came next in the form of news commentaries. Talks and discussions on ideas and principles (particularly the projection of Britain speaking as a European nation) was the third most important category of output. Finally came the reporting of “actualities,” dramatised features, radio cartoons and news reels. Even in the presentation of these more emotional appeals the same consistency of approach to different audiences and the same fidelity to fundamental ideals was carefully sustained.



(a) The Political Warfare Executive (PWE)

The composition and competence of the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) were explained by the Prime Minister to the House of Commons in October, 1941. The Foreign Secretary, Minister of Information and Minister for Economic Warfare were to be jointly responsible for political warfare and the three Ministers recommended that a small executive should be formed to conduct it in all its forms.

This executive was to be responsible to the three Ministers sitting together. In the event of disagreement between the Ministers on any matter of policy the question was to be referred to the Prime Minister as Minister of Defence, and finally to the Cabinet.

Six months later ministerial control was narrowed down. The Foreign Secretary became responsible for policy and the Minister of Information for the administration of the Political Warfare Executive.

The PWE consists of a Director-General, Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, who is advised by a Policy Committee of three members. The PWE settles the general policy to be followed in broadcasting and issues directives every week.

(b) The BBC

The European Service of the BBC gives effect to the general policy recommended by the PWE. It controls all the necessary editorial and technical arrangements and decides upon the best means and methods of attaining the objects in view.

Decisions on questions of detail, often involving matters of principle, have necessarily to be taken very rapidly in a service which broadcasts important news to its listeners often within a few minutes of coming to hand.

It is accordingly essential that there should be the closest possible contact between the PWE which is responsible for general guidance and the officers of the BBC who are responsible for prompt executive decisions from one moment to another.

Intimate contact between the two bodies is secured by the fact that the Controller of the European Service inside the BBC (Mr. Ivone Kirkpatrick) is a member of the Policy Committee of the PWE and that the Director of European Broadcasting (Mr. Noel Newsome) assists in drawing up the policy directives issued by the PWE.

Thus the BBC which gives effect to the policy laid down by the PWE in actual fact helps to frame that policy. It is therefore able to take prompt decisions on points of detail with a full knowledge of the general considerations of policy involved.



The BBC European Service in September, 1939, had a staff of thirty members broadcasting in seven languages for three hours in the twenty-four and working by improvisation from day to day. It is now an organisation staffed by over a thousand officials whose special qualifications and responsibilities are exactly defined.

The Service broadcasts on three networks and on 25 wavelengths. It speaks to Europe in 24 languages, and its broadcasting periods make up a total of just under 45 hours a day.

The following schedule indicates the amount of time devoted to each of the European languages:

8¾ hours per week
French (to French speaking nationals)
37½ hours per week
French (to Europe)
5¼ hours per week
1¾ hours per week
10½ hours per week
6¼ hours per week
11¼ hours per week
4½ hours per week
4½ hours per week
11½ hours per week
5¼ hours per week
31½ hours per week
8½ hours per week
2 hours 55 minutes per week
6¼ hours per week
12 hours 5 minutes per week
12 hours 40 minutes per week
8 hours per week
7 hours 50 minutes per week
28 hours per week
10½ hours per week
10½ hours per week
15 minutes per week
8¾ hours per week

Twenty-three Regional Editors, responsible to the Director of European Broadcasting, determine the form and content of the bulletins and programmes broadcast to their several countries.

The Director of European Broadcasting, on questions of policy, is responsible to the Controller of European Services.

Daily contact between the Director of European Broadcasting and the regional editors is ensured by the circulation of a daily directive and by regular morning and evening conferences when the news and reports from all available sources are discussed and their reliability and relative importance determined.

A Central News service, constantly in session, edits material received from all sources and distributes it to the regional editors in a form suitable for broadcasting, each regional editor selecting and adapting it to his special requirements within the framework of the general policy laid down for the European Service as a whole.

The material handled in this way consists among other things of information derived from the press agencies, from a daily digest of the European press and of the Monitoring Service of the BBC from reports and directives circulated by the Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office and by the Ministry of Economic Warfare, from BBC special correspondents and from the Allied Governments in London.

Liaison is maintained with the broadcasting services of the United States and the Soviet Union.

Special bulletins are broadcast at regular intervals to the European clandestine press which supplies the underground front in Europe with reliable news of the war and keeps it in touch with world events and policies.

A research unit collects, classifies and distributes material required in dealing with important aspects of the war or preparations for the peace.

A special section is responsible for the production of “features” and for advice on matters of technical presentation.



The Monitoring Service provides official departments with information obtained from foreign broadcasts.

It is composed of three main units:

(a) Reception Unit

The Reception Unit is the listening station of the Monitoring Service. It monitors as many broadcasts as possible from countries audible at the place where it is situated. The number of such broadcasts is very large, and the main problem is to choose the most representative and important, bearing in mind the interests and requirements, expressed or assumed, of the many and various recipients of the output. Some 550 bulletins, approximately 1,000,000 words in 52 languages, are covered daily. Some 500,000 words are daily transcribed.

Transcripts for the main service are made in English. Every effort is made to achieve accuracy, but there are two limitations which can never be fully overcome. The first is the possibility of error or misunderstanding inherent in all translations from one language to another, which is necessarily increased when the translating has to be done at high speed. The second is the fallibility of the human ear, even in conditions of perfect reception.

The majority of bulletins are recorded on wax cylinders which are kept for 48 hours. This helps to ensure the accuracy of reports; but a word, or phrase, or even more may be distorted by atmospherics or interference.

(b) Editorial Unit

The Editorial Unit publishes every morning a Daily Digest of World Broadcasts of some 100,000 words. It is a roneo-d document in two parts - Part I (with Index), German and Satellites; Part II, French, Italian, Japanese, Allied and Neutral. It is available in London at 10.50 daily. The Editorial Unit also publishes daily a brief report for the War Cabinet and a Monitoring Report which summarises the more important broadcasts of the last 24 hours.

The primary function of the Service is to produce material in English, but certain broadcasts, produced in the original language, are published by the Verbatim Section of the Reception Unit. Verbatim scripts in answer to specific requests by consumers are provided when staff and other commitments permit.

(c) Information Bureau

The Information Bureau selects material for the Daily Digest, provides a flash service by teleprinter and answers enquiries. The flash service covers items judged to be of immediate importance, having regard to the known requirements of official departments - urgent news or intelligence which must be communicated, or propaganda which might require to be answered, before the Daily Digest is published. An average of 25,000 words a day are teleprinted.

The Federal Communications Commission and Office of War Information of the USA, which have members posted to the Monitoring Service, daily cable to their headquarters in the USA some 16,000 words and 20,000 words respectively from material monitored by the Monitoring Service of the BBC.

The Information Bureau answers an average of 24 enquiries daily. Many of these enquiries involve research by the Index Section, which indexes most of the material monitored from German and German-controlled stations.



Microphone technique, as distinguished from choice of material and preparation of scripts, consists in a delivery suited to conditions of reception and the character and circumstances of the listener.

Speed and emphasis is necessarily determined by material difficulties, such as jamming, or the importance of the message to be conveyed.

Speakers broadcasting to Europe under war conditions have constantly to bear in mind that they are talking to listeners who have to overcome serious mechanical obstacles, who are running terrible risks and suffering great hardships.

The style adopted in addressing such an audience has to be clear, direct, firm, friendly and coloured by an accurate knowledge of local events. It has to carry authority and to inspire confidence, to establish relations of mutual sympathy and understanding.

There is no uniform pattern to which all broadcasters should adhere, but there are certain essential devices which form the basis for an effective use of the microphone in any circumstances and which the individual broadcaster must adapt to his own special purposes and personality.

These can only be acquired by practice and coaching in the studio. The more common lessons to be learned are simple enough; how to give due emphasis to figures and place names; how to read quotations; how to slip lightly over sentences and phrases of minor importance, so that the real point of a passage may be clearly exposed; how to use or to avoid emotion - and to avoid it altogether if it is not sincerely felt or related imaginatively to the listener.

There must never be any suggestion of “performance.”

The purpose of broadcasting as a branch of political warfare is to deliver information, to communicate an idea or to convey an impression.



The optimum duration for any transmission period under present conditions on the European continent is 15 minutes. The normal maximum for a discursive programme is 30 minutes.

Every programme should be drafted on the assumption that the European listener is waiting to hear straight news.

The style of writing whether for news, talks or feature programmes must be brief and direct. Conditions are not suitable for elaborate preparation or complicated argument. Four forms of output are recommended:

(a) Straight news bulletins, news summaries or news headlines.

(b) Commentaries on points of special interest in the news (military, naval, political, etc.) or short talks (not more than five minutes) on more general long-term themes.

(c) News features, illustrating some particular aspect of a topical subject. A problem can often be effectively discussed from different angles by using several voices each representing sharply contrasted points of view.

(d) Actualities, or direct presentation by sound recordings of special events or activities.

Scripts are necessarily subject to censorship, (a) for security, and (b) for policy. Censorship has to be exercised immediately by trained officials available at all hours of the day or night.

The security censors are responsible for ensuring that no information of use to the enemy is broadcast over the open radio in any form. They are briefed by the service departments.

Policy censors are responsible for ensuring that particular scripts conform to the general directives issued by the Director of European Broadcasting and the Political Warfare Executive.

Scripts should be written as texts to be spoken to individual listeners, not as lectures or articles to be read to a public audience. Practised broadcasters writing for the microphone adopt an entirely different style from that which they would use in writing for a newspaper. Broadcasters with an individual message or information on a special subject to impart should prepare their own scripts but accept advice as to wording and delivery from experts.

The experts make it their business to get the broadcast technically right without destroying the individuality of the speaker.



Political warfare by radio to be effective must necessarily be coordinated at every stage with military, naval and air operations in the widest sense.

The problem for the European Service of the BBC in the first years of the war was to encourage the spirit of resistance in the peoples of the occupied countries, keep them in touch with events in the outside world, restrain them from premature and costly acts of violence, indicate ways and means of effectively impeding the dispositions or slowing down the war production of the enemy, foster in them a binding community of passion and interest against the Nazis and their collaborators and, finally, to remind them constantly of the overwhelming potential resources and increasing might of the powers which were rapidly being mobilised for their liberation.

The limits within which the pursuit of these aims could be coordinated with military, naval and air operations at this early stage of the war were instructively indicated by the progress and extent of the so-called “V” Campaign in 1941. The people of the occupied countries were encouraged and advised in their efforts to depress the morale of the German garrisons, to go slow in the war factories, to evade the requisitioning of their supplies, to confuse and delay administrative services working in the German interests, to commit acts of sabotage which were difficult to detect and punish, to show their unity and determination by public demonstrations on a national scale. They could not, however, be reasonably asked to undertake anything which would involve the discovery and break-up of their units and organisations.

The “V” Campaign very soon reached a point in advance of the general military situation. It became necessary to restrain the so-called “V” Army and to issue frequent warnings against premature action. When in March, 1942 St. Nazaire in Britanny was raided by British Commando soldiers the temper of the local population was such that many lost their lives owing to actions which exposed them to savage German reprisals.

Three months later, when the raid on Dieppe was launched, clear warnings were issued to the inhabitants to remain in their houses.

The broadcasting of warnings and of practical advice to the people of the occupied countries - from London, from Algiers, from Cairo - has since become a regular feature in the news bulletins and radio programmes of the United Nations. Some of them are of a general character - orders of the day addressed to the whole nation. Others are in the nature of special appeals or detailed instructions issued for the guidance and encouragement of a particular section of the underground front - magistrates, railway employees, factory workers, peasants, men threatened with deportation, seamen, civil servants. Month by month these addresses become more frequent, more urgent and more precise.

And this is only natural, because every week the military and political situation provides more frequent, more urgent and more precise opportunities for organised cooperation between the peoples of the occupied countries and the forces of liberation.

Warnings to avoid premature, uncoordinated action and to distrust false rumours spread by the enemy with a view to provoking such action are of special interest. Typical instances of such warnings may be cited:

(a) In July, 1943, a message was broadcast to the people of Crete referring to the raids by British forces then in progress. The people were told that the raiders neither asked nor expected any assistance. The message concluded:     “This time no action is required from you. This is not an invasion. The day is coming when the signal will be given for the warriors of Crete to fight side by side with invading forces to exact justice for the enemy’s crimes. Till then, stay in your places. Avoid giving provocation to the enemy. Await your moment.”

(b) On the signing of the Italian armistice in September, 1943, the Greeks and the Yugoslavs received the following instructions from the Allied Commander-in-Chief, Middle East:     “The gallant work of your guerrilla bands and underground organisations has helped to achieve the great Allied victory in Italy. To those of our friends who have not yet revealed themselves I say: ‘Germany will now try to make you show your hand and disclose your secret plans. Do not be caught by this trick. Await the signal for a general rising.’”

(c) A few days prior to this radio message from the Middle East a spokesman of the Inter-Allied High Command sent the following message to the people of France. “Beware of enemy provocation. The Germans are circulating rumours of an imminent invasion of the Continent. Pay no attention. These rumours are set going to provoke disorders which will serve as a pretext for severe reprisals. Discipline - discretion - patience. We shall keep our promise to warn you when your active cooperation is required.”

The general coordination of radio warfare with military, naval and air operations, is best illustrated by further specific examples.

(a) In August, 1942, when the RAF was delivering its first concentrated attacks upon German railway transport, a warning by radio was addressed to the inhabitants of Northern France and in particular, to the railway workers.

The following short extract is typical: “The French railways are used to transport troops and war materials needed to reinforce the German garrisons in your territory and to oppose the armies of liberation. They are also used for the removal to Germany of French products and resources.

The RAF in bombing enemy lines of communication and railway centres must accordingly attack French railway material used by the Germans. We feel it necessary to warn you that these attacks, which are directed chiefly against locomotives and goods trains and to which we have already drawn your attention on several occasions, will continue to be made according to plan and will be extended to wider areas.”

(b) In June, 1943, when the RAF was intensifying its attacks on German military installations in France and on French war factories working for Germany, warnings were broadcast to the French people to leave the neighbourhood of such establishments: “Objectives of this kind will be bombed with a growing frequency and violence. Those who remain near the targets will be risking their lives. All those who have not yet been able to do so should seek shelter with their families far from the threatened area. We warn you that among the targets most likely to be attacked are factories making aircraft engines or spare parts, warehouses and depots reserved for aircraft and aircraft engines, workshops for assembling or repairing aircraft and aircraft engines.”

(c) In November, 1943, a more specific and detailed warning of the same kind was issued. Types of factory liable to attack were described (factories making tanks, guns, lorries, aircraft, locomotives, etc.) and specific factories were named in Paris, Metz, Nantes, Le Mans, Toulouse, Lille, Strasbourg and Lyon.

(d) When the Germans in 1940 occupied Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France, urgent messages were sent to ships manned by nationals of the invaded countries to bring them into friendly or neutral ports. Such messages have been a matter of routine during the whole course of the war. A typical example was the message broadcast to officers and men of the French Merchant Marine in November 1942 when the German forces entered the unoccupied zone and advanced upon Marseilles and Toulon: “The ships of the French Merchant Marine must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Italians or the Germans. If the enemy were able to seize such ships he would have at his disposal sufficient transport to enable him to continue the war in the Mediterranean and which he has lacked up to the present. The British and American Governments accordingly invite all officers and men of the French Merchant Navy to take the following steps: ‘If you are in a Mediterranean or Corsican port, or if you are at sea, immediately head for Algiers, or a port to the west of Algiers, or the British naval base of Gibraltar... If for some reason you are not able to set sail at once, make all arrangements to scuttle your ship rather then have it seized by the enemy. It is absolutely essential that every ship of the French Merchant Navy should come to the support of the new France in North Africa. The vital interests of the country are at stake.’”

(e)  On August 1st, 1943, the Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East broadcast a message to the people of Crete: “Mussolini has fallen, Fascism is falling. Now the Germans and Italians are about to fall out among themselves. The Germans are seeking to disarm and imprison the Italians, to use them to make weapons for killing and oppressing more people and more Cretans. If the Italians resist the Germans do not impede them... The Germans are now the real enemy. It is they who wish to occupy the whole of Crete, it is they who wish to prolong your agony and postpone the day of your liberation... Husband your resources. Do not reveal your strength yet. Do not make a general rising until we land. Await the signal. You will get full instructions.”

(f) On September 8th, 1943, General Eisenhower announced by radio the conclusion of the armistice with Italy. The following “Battle Orders for this phase of the war for the liberation of Europe” were broadcast to the Italian people: “First, in all areas occupied by the Allied Armies, give them all your assistance and obey precisely the orders of the commander in the field. Second, in all areas where the German armies operate, do nothing whatsoever to assist the Germans. Show your national unity and your will to resistance by disciplined unanimous refusal to become the accomplices of the German tyrants. Workers! The war in Italy is your battle of transport. He who wins the transport battle wins the war. In this battle the Italian people, and in particular the Italian transport workers, railway workers, dock workers, road workers, can and will play a decisive role. Railway workers! See that no single train carrying German material is permitted to pass. Dock workers! See that no single ship carrying German troops or material is permitted to load or to unload. Road workers! See that no truck carrying German troops or material is permitted to move in the area where you work. Italians! Make one supreme heroic effort, now in the next crucial weeks, by your disciplined resistance against the Germans you can paralyse their communication lines and so help to win the war of Italian liberation.”

(g) On September 9th, 1943, Radio France, broadcasting from Algiers issued instructions to the transport workers of Southern France: “Road, railway and electrical workers from the departments of the Haute-Savoie, Hautes-Alpes, Basses-Alpes and Alpes-Maritimes, men of the resistance movement. The Germans, your enemies and ours, will make a desperate effort towards accelerating the transport of troops and material to Italy. In our common interest, they must be prevented from freely using the communications linking France with Italy.... We draw your attention to the following railway lines: Annecy - Chambery - Modane, leading to Turin; Marseilles - Genoa; and the secondary line Grasse - Digne - Nice, which, however, must only be interfered with if the Germans are at present using it for strategic purposes. Road workers, think of the road arteries leading to Turin and Genoa. Interfere with secondary roads only if German convoys are using them. Electrical workers, remember the names of the power stations in this region.”

(h) On October 21st, 1943, the Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East broadcast a message to the Greek people urging them to unite their forces and take advantage of the opportunity afforded them by the capitulation of Italy. The following extract affords a particularly interesting example of the use of the open radio as an instrument of political warfare used in coordination with military strategy: “The collapse of Fascist Italy created a very difficult position for Germany in the Balkans, more particularly in Greece. Germany is not in a position to send forces there from other fronts. She has but one way of maintaining herself in Greece: that is to weaken you by internal strife. This is Germany’s latest game. You must see that it fails. Among you there are some who formed fighting bands and swore to wage war against the conquerors; yet they turned their arms against each other... I know, however, that the great majority of the Greek people are united in the struggle against the enemy. In the interests of this great majority and for the sake of unity in the struggle, I tell you that this useless and fratricidal strife must end. As Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East forces, I rely on you to bear in mind your serious military responsibilities to your country, to your Allies and to the history of your land. I look to and rely on you not to weaken now, but to increase your strength for the common aim.”

(i) On November 8th, 1943, the Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East broadcast an assurance to Yugoslavs fighting the Germans of “all the support which, after due consideration for the total requirements of combined Allied strategy, it may be possible to supply.” The Commander-in-Chief declared: “Every man who fights bravely against the Germans for the liberation of his country receives the full support of the United Nations. Anyone who, from whatever motive, helps the Germans, is the enemy of the United Nations. All those once-honest men, who have been misled by mistaken notions of their country’s interests into helping the Germans, must immediately desert German service.”

Instructions and advice of the kind indicated in the above examples illustrate coordination in its simplest form and at a late stage in the long process of preparation which necessarily precedes the launching of an effective appeal.

They presuppose an audience which is ready to receive them, which has learned to trust the sources from which they come, which has been kept truly informed of the progress of events from day to day, which has already received innumerable messages of encouragement and advice on a wide range of subjects affecting all classes of the people.

They are examples of the way in which the radio weapon forged during the last four years can now be used for effective strategic purposes and they point to the decisive moment when the radio will be called upon to support the armies of liberation by enabling the peoples of Europe to play their part most effectively in the final assault.


[Source: TNA FO 898/101, transcribed by]



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