Background: Signal was one of the major propaganda publications
of the Third Reich, aimed at an international audience. It
was a lavishly illustrated fortnightly magazine focusing on the war,
but with other human interest stories as well. Most issues had some
color photographs. It was published in 25 languages, the final issues
appearing at the very end of the war. At its height, about 2,500,000
copies of each issue were printed. As late as February 1945, about 750,000
copies were still printed. Although distributed in foreign countries,
it was also intended for the various foreign units allied with Germany.
I have about 75 issues in my collection, and will add more material to
this page over time. Reiner Rutz’s Signal:
Eine deutsche Auslandsillustrierte als Propagandainstrument im Zweiten
Weltkrieg ( 2006), based on his dissertation at the Humboldt University, includes a wealth of information on Signal.
||This is the cover of an October 1940 issue. A German
plane flies along the English coast.
||An interior photo from the October 1940 issue. The
caption: “Over England’s rocky coast. British convoy routes pass
alongside the White Cliffs of Dover. Day and night, German fighters
and bombers flew above until England’s eastern harbors were closed
to all shipping traffic. In hard battles in recent weeks, the Luftwaffe
has won air superiority both here and over the island beyond the
||This cover from July 1941 shows German airmen painting
the British ships they have sunk on the tail of their aircraft.
||This is the cover of the December 1941 double issue.
The cover shows a German soldier writing to his mother from the
Eastern Front. The lead article, titled “Decision in the East,”
suggests that the Soviet Union is finished. There is considerable
coverage of the Russian campaign. Another article claims that Hitler
is much greater than Napoleon. There are further articles on glass
blowing, dancing, and a new film.
||This page from the December 1941 issue shows the top
German military decorations.
||This map from the December 1941 issue shows German
military successes in the Russian campaign. The circles show Soviet
troops, guns, and tanks destroyed in battles in those areas. The
“Here the Soviet army was defeated. In seven battles of annihilation
(Bialystock-Minsk, Smolensk, Uman, Gomel, Kiev, on the Faso Sea,
and Brjansk-Wjasma), the Soviet Union lost its best armies and the
greater part of its tanks and artillery.... Their plan was for thousands
of tanks to flood over the Weichsel River toward Central Germany,
then further to the West. There they would join troops from the
Lemberg area, where there were also substantial attack forces prepared
to give Germany the death blow. That would have plunged Europe into
unimaginable chaos, from which there could have been no escape.”
||This cover from January 1942 shows captured Russians.
An interior article explains what would have happened if the Bolshevists
had carried out their plans to attack Germany. “As soon as Germany
was eliminated as a military force, there would be no further resistance
[in Europe]. German soldiers are fighting not for Germany alone.
They defend with their bodies the European fatherland, those cathedrals
that have not yet been converted to animal stalls.”
||The cover of the 1. August 1942 issue shows German
soldies attacking in the East. There are articles on the Kertsch
and Karkov campaigns. Another interesting article shows Goebbels’s
Propaganda Ministry at work.
||This is the cover of the first issue for February 1943.
The picture is of the scuttled French battleship Strasbourg
in the harbor at Toulon (the French had scuttled their ships in Toulon
to keep them from falling into German hands). An article covers a
submarine base on the French coast. The defeat at Stalingrad is not
yet announced, and there is no mention of Stalingrad in the issue.
||This picture of Admiral Raeder is from the first issue
in February 1943.
||This is the cover of the first issue for May 1943. The caption: “School is done. Panzer officers during morning training.” The most interesting article in the issue is titled “Behind the Iron Curtain.” Goebbels is often said to have originated the phrase, but he only popularized it. There is a good Wikipedia article on the subject.
||This is the cover of the first issue for December1943.
The cover photo, titled “Countless,” shows torpedoed
British seaman being helped ashore by the Portuguese. By December
1943, Allied bombing was having devastating effects on Germany.
This issue has two articles that attempt to persuade readers that
the situation is in hand. The first presents a “new
weapon against bombers,” the second suggests
the Allies were suffering
||This is the cover to a special
edition that accompanied
the #11/1944 issue. Released at the end of June, it was occasioned
by the first V-1 rocket attacks on England. It provides scant detail,
but suggests that Germany was simply taking just retaliation on England
for its bombing of European cities.
||This issue appeared in early August 1944, after the D-Day landing. The cover caption states: “Europe’s liberators have arrived. A picture from the battle in France.” There is an interesting article reporting converations with English and American POWs in France, the point of which is that they have no idea what they are fighting for.
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