Background: In 1940, the Nazis put out a booklet titled “What Do I Do in an Emergency?” It told Germans what to do in various crisis situations, and was to be kept by the telephone, kitchen, or other highly visible place. It included material on first aid, conduct during air raids, etc., but also several pages on how to deal with enemy propaganda. That is the section I translate here. The cartoon shows a British plane dropping leaflets, which go straight into the trash.
The source: Der Reichsführer SS und Chef der Deutschen Polizei, Was tue ich im Ernstfall? Eine Aufklärungsschrift für das Deutsche Volk (Berlin: Verlag Hermann Hilliger, 1940), pp. 21-23.
Warning! Enemy Propaganda!
In modern warfare, weapons, the economy, physical resources, and organization play a role. So, too, do spirit and soul.
A new and sinister weapon is used against a nation’s spiritual strength: Propaganda!
Germany lost the World War of 1914-1918 because it did not recognize the danger of enemy propaganda. It collapsed spiritually.
That may not and will not happen again!
Enemy propaganda wants to break the German people’s will to resist by slanders, rumors, suspicions, and with political, military, or simply general lies.
The methods of enemy propaganda include: leaflets, appeals, false pictures, atrocity stories, rumors, radio incitement, and systematic complaining.
All those who are reached by enemy propaganda and have their will to victory reduced by it, whether consciously or unconsciously, are tools of enemy propaganda.
Complainers and grumblers, doubters and agitators are the enemy’s spiritual Foreign Legionnaires amidst the German people.
It is often only a short step from doubting the justice of one’s cause to the complete collapse of the will to resist. The World War proved this!
If I encounter enemy propaganda in word, print, picture, radio, in conversation about the news or through rumors, it depends on my intelligence and good sense whether or not I render it ineffective.
I immediately collect the enemy propaganda material and explain what it is to citizens who have come in contact with it.
I know that the greatest danger of enemy propaganda is in the phrase: “There must be some truth in it.”
I am careful in all my conversations and correspondence. Letters and conversations could reach the enemy and provide him with material.
I strengthen the will to victory of citizens who may be wavering.
If I encounter citizens who are being overcome by enemy propaganda, I confront them directly and make clear to them the enormous danger they face, appealing to their sense of honor.
Anyone who becomes a tool of enemy propaganda and contributes to weakening our spiritual strength places himself outside the people’s community. He should not be surprised if he is treated as an enemy of the people and of the state. If all my warnings are in vain, I do my duty and turn him over to the authorities.
I actively oppose enemy propaganda whenever I encounter it. I also do this with foreigners and friends abroad whom I talk with or write to. If I have German propaganda material at hand, I include it in my letters.
If I find or am given enemy propaganda material, I quickly write in large, clear letters “Enemy propaganda” on it and turn it over immediately to the nearest police station.
I do not show such enemy propaganda material to strangers.
I obey all regulations against listening to foreign radio stations, not only because there are severe penalties but also because I view it as an obvious patriotic duty.
I know that enemy propaganda material is an enemy method of warfare.
He who falls for it is lost.
I also know the severe penalties for harming our fighting ability. [There follows the text of the law imposing the death penalty on those who weaken the German will to resist.]
Go to the 1933-1945 Page.
Go to the German Propaganda Archive Home Page.