Background: I have had a long interest in the less visible aspects of the Nazi propaganda system, including the Reichsring für nationalsozialistische Propaganda und Volksaufklärung, the section of the party’s Reichspropagandaleitung that provided guidance for those making propaganda at the Gau and local levels. If curious, see my article “Grassroots Propaganda in the Third Reich: The Reich Ring for National Socialist Propaganda and Public Enlightenment,” German Studies Review, 33 (2010), 93-118. Here I’m translating most of the January 1944 issue of the Gau propaganda ring newsletter for Niederdonau (Austria). It provides a summary of what propagandists throughout the country were saying at a less than encouraging period of the war.
The source: Der Propagandist. Mitteilungen der Gaupropagandaleitung Niederdonau (Gauring), 3 (January 1944).
Confidential! Only for official use!
To all staff
The tasks of the month
Things to do and directives:
To all staff!
I thank all officials for their loyal and diligent service during the war year 1943. Today, we can note with pride that despite all the enemy’s predictions and the difficulties of the year, we did our duty this year in a way the world cannot ignore. We enter the war’s fifth year in a material and spiritual condition that cannot be compared to any of the other combatant states. Later historians will view 1943 as the decisive year in which not only the German soldier, but also the German home front, earned victory, thanks to the leadership of the NSDAP.
At the beginning of the fateful year 1944, we swear to be true National Socialists, standing together in camaraderie, to assure for all time what we have earned in 1943. There will certainly be many challenges, burdens, and dangers for us in 1944, but through our old camaraderie and readiness we will master them as we have done before. Our faith is and remains:
Hans Groger, Gaupropagandaleiter
The Task of the Month:
1. The Bombing war
a) Party Leaders:
Hans Schwarz van Berk, journalist for the German armaments minister Dr. Speer, writes as follows about overcoming and avenging the bombing war:
The question that cries out from the bomb-damaged housing areas of Berlin is the call for revenge. To speak about that prematurely would be easy, a way of helping a person in the midst of personal disaster. The question of a date for revenge does not depend on the technical aspects, but rather on the purpose to be achieved. Revenge will happen in a compelling way at the psychologically correct moment, and in a way that will influence the course of this war. It would be false to simply answer with ruins with ruins. The operation will show itself in entirely surprising effects, psychologically as well as politically. The war will take on a new appearance, and the responsible men on the other side will confront a public opinion that has entirely different questions today than yesterday, such as whether one should attack in Italy or the Balkans, or when there will finally be a second front. No action by the other side, no matter how risky, can hinder or stop revenge. Things are in motion.
Revenge is not a matter of triumph through weaponry, nor of the judgment that our whole people demands today. Instead, it is a matter of bringing an end to unrestrained mass murder through a powerful, very drastic blow. Humanity, so might it seem to a peaceful observer, is not far from the point where half the world can be blown up. Restraining technology through an ordering will is the Occident’s last great task. In this sense the great masters of weaponry will be the real masters of life in our century. We count ourselves among them. That is why all of our campaigns are characterized by rapid decisions that save human life. The losses among the Poles, Danes, Norwegians, Dutch, Belgians, French, Greeks, and Serbians were so small because our military art won classic victories. Just as in surgery the cut of a great surgeon usually saves a life whereas a bungler inflicts new miseries on his patient without accomplishing any good, so, too, have we done, while the English who are unable to win on the battlefield play with the lives of European humanity and bring upon them the miseries of war.
As much as the bombing war rages today, our new weapons will bring about an entirely different test of nerves. They will rapidly lead the English people to ask how long such a war can be continued. Just as the English people today looks without pity on the devastation on the continent, with so little pity we will leave them to their hardest hour. We have greater concerns that their island. Unlike the English, we have not turned the fate of the continent over to Stalin. We remain the single and last armed great power in Europe that faces the danger from the east on the battlefield, not the conference table.
Like many others, Hans Luenberger, a Swiss journalist who experienced the bombing nights in Berlin speaks like other witnesses of the truly astonishing behavior of the entire population. He ends his report with an experience typical of the mood of Berlin and other bombed areas. An old woman standing before her burning home able to rescue only her life itself, said to him: “My husband and son are fighting on the Eastern Front, where they are also fighting for me. I hope there will be a higher court for what is happening here, a divine court. And I hope that all that I still have on earth, my husband and son, may carry out that judgement!” — That is the spirit and attitude that is born from the terror caused by the fire of British bombs, concludes the Swiss journalist.
2. The NSDAP evening discussion evening
Directives for the work of the local triangle [the Nazi term for the local party leader, the local farming leader, and the mayor]
c) Local Farming leader:
[There are seven tasks assigned to farming leaders, involving things like difficulties with the potato harvest, preparing for frost, repairs to agricultural machinery, the need to cut back on rabbits, and a notice that many agricultural workers will shortly be drafted and that foreign laborers may not be expected to replace then, so everyone will have to pitch in.]
Things to do and directives:
1. The DAF and foreign workers
The DAF will hold meetings with foreign workers in January. We refer to the following article on “Europe and Communism.”
Europe and Communism
“A Bolshevist victory would be a European catastrophe”
The Swiss journalism Paul Gentizon published a clear-eyed article about the Bolshevist danger threatening Europe in the Swiss magazine Le Mois Suisse. He writes:
A century has passed since Stendhal said: “In a hundred years Europe will either be republican or ruled by the Cossacks. The first part of this prophecy has not been realized. Is there a danger that the second will be fulfilled?
Over the past winter the Soviets waged war with an Asiatic squandering of men and machinery. Millions of soldiers of the Soviet army and hundreds of thousands of cannons, tanks, and aircraft were used to storm the Axis front. The German, Roumanian, Hungarian, Spanish and Slovakian troops were forced to give up large areas in the south. Still, they are not defeated. Not a single unit surrendered, even when surrounded. The defense of Stalingrad deserves to be written in letters of gold in the history of war. It does not seem as if the Soviets have exhausted their military means.
The whole continent is aware of the gravity of the hour. The meaning of this war and its outward appearance have changed. Both have become more fateful, more tragic. It is no longer a matter of territorial changes in Europe; border questions have become of subordinate importance. The fate of thirty peoples and millions upon millions of people is at stake. We are in one of the most critical epochs of Occidental history. Europe itself is threatened with invasion, just as at the end of the Roman Empire was threatened by Islamic conquest. “Europe—a province of the Soviet Union.” A Roumanian newspaper reported a statement by a captured Soviet officer who belonged to Stalin’s inner circle. “In the best case,” he said, “Europe that today is nothing but a pile of states always at war with one another will become a typical province of the Soviet Union.”
The differences between the European peoples have vanished. If Bolshevism were victorious the fate of the European peoples would be sealed; Moscow’s revolutionary and imperialistic hunger would not hesitate a moment to devour in one gulp the whole of Europe, from the Weichsel River to the Atlantic Ocean. For twenty years, Moscow’s full efforts went to war production.
What Europe would face...
One thing is certain! If the methods the Soviet army and the Bolshevist administration used in 1940 and 1941 used in Karelia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, in Bukovina, in Bessarabia, etc., were used between the Weichsel River and the Atlantic, millions of Europeans would be torn from their homeland and fatherland and deported to the enormous reaches of the Soviet world.
Each of us must recognize that we are in the midst of a dramatic crisis. We must looks at the facts. To ignore them is to unconsciously advance the Bolshevization of Europe.
The impotence of the Anglo-Americans
The belief of many Europeans that Great Britain or the USA will be the salvation of Europe is nothing but utopian thinking. If Soviet Russia with its military power and subversive ideas establishes itself firmly in Europe, no European or non-European power will be able to drive it out.
Moscow’s only war goal
As the heads of the Anglo-Saxon powers gathered in Casablanca to discuss the postwar order, Stalin—the great Oriental mystery—stayed in the Kremlin. Even more! He did not sign a single official declaration regarding the freedom of human beings and peoples, nor did he support any kind of program by the “United Nations.” The Soviet Union is fighting only to make Europe Bolshevist.
The longer the war lasts and the higher the ruins pile up, the greater the danger that threatens the world from Moscow. It would be irresponsible to ignore the seriousness of the hour. Communism is fighting not to establish some sort of geographical borders. It fights to force Europe to bow to its will. Its victory would be a European catastrophe. The catastrophe would be nothing other than a return to the oldest forms of slavery.
It would be a great mistake to believe that Bolshevism has changed. It is inextricably found to the doctrines of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. The Soviet Union has remained fundamentally communist. The so-called bourgeois circles trying to Europeanize the Soviets are only digging their own graves.
The danger of a third world war
American Vice President Wallace dared to name clearly and criticize subversive Bolshevist policies aimed at world revolution. He painted a picture of a third world war should the big democracies and the Soviet Union fail to come to a satisfactory understanding before the end of the present war. He feared that in the case if Germany’s defeat, it would be forced to accept Bolshevist Asiatic doctrines, which without doubt would mean its death. Europe’s heart would become an abyss into with all Europe’s states would inevitably fall.
That is the “Russian peace,” the third world war, that Vice President Wallace prophesied. May Providence preserve us from this fate! In 1937 Pope Pious XI issued an encyclical that said: “Communism is depraved in its very nature. One cannot allow those who work with it to claim that they are rescuing civilization...”
That is the fundamental truth that the world must accept.
2. The Gau street collection on 22-23 January 1944
“We have not given the Führer a single minute of worry since our Gau began; our goal will be to give him further joy.”
This statement by our Gauleiter puts an obligation on the people’s community of Gau Niederdonau to do everything possible so that in 1944 the Führer will take real joy from us. Through the Gau street collection, we can prove that we stand behind our Gauleiter.
These figures from past Gau street collections show how the willingness to sacrifice has grown in our Gau.
That should also be true of this collection. This is especially true since the funds that are raised through NSV contributions and WHW collections enable a great deal to be done in our community for the bearers of the future of our people, namely our mothers and our children.
The activities of the NSV in Gau Niederdonau are as follows:
1. The “Mother and Child” program:
2. Branches of the “Mother and Child” program [I’m not sure of the exact distinctions between these establishments so I’m leaving most in German]
3. Day care centers
4. Youth aid
5. Other NSV offices
6. Training schools
7. Care for soldiers
Only the selfless willingness of volunteers and the sacrificial readiness of all people’s comrades made it possible for our Gau to do so much for the greatest social welfare system in the world.
3. NS-Frauenschaft community evenings in January
[A list of songs for women’s meetings]
4. What will I become?
In this year, too, the Hitler Youth in cooperation with the labor boards and with the support of all party offices will conduct an educational campaign on occupational choice. This will inform the boys and girls who will finish school in summer 1944 of available occupations, with particular attention to areas with shortages. The information will be presented at evening meetings of the Hitler Youth and in special camps at which HJ leaders and occupational counselors will recruit boys and girls for occupations with shortages. There will also be meetings arranged in cooperation with party leaders for parents of boys and girls entering occupational life. The focus of this informational campaign is to help the youth make appropriate occupational choices.
The action will run from January to March. Advertising for the rural service of the Hitler Youth aimed at city youth and second or third farming sons will be conducted parallel to the occupational campaign. Aside from Hitler Youth meetings, the press and radio will support this campaign, but it is also expected that propagandists will support the Hitler Youth campaign with energetic oral propaganda.
The Gauleiter will open the Hitler Youth occupational choice campaign with a mass meeting in Neunkirchen in January. Besides obligatory meetings and parent meetings, the Hitler Youth is going to try something entirely new this year. More details are available from Hitler Youth leaders. The youth of today is the productive people of tomorrow and one, therefore, cannot be too thorough in preparing them.
5. Brief notices
1. In reference to Gauleiter directive 29/43:
The oldest task of the party is to find the most capable and diligent members of our people and give them responsible positions that they are able to fill given their excellent character, their achievements, and their abilities. Wealth and family background have no role here. The only things that count are character, good racial background, desire for achievement and diligence, but above all National Socialist attitudes and lifestyle. Those who make the choice are party officials, Hitler Youth leaders, and teachers. It is, however, important that party members support those who make the decisions, since they generally know the parents, families, and relatives.
2. The meeting: the party’s visiting card
One of the most important methods of propaganda is and remains our meetings. The meeting, regardless of whether it is a membership meeting or some other sort, is to a certain extent the party’s visiting card. It is, therefore, obvious that the meeting chairman feels himself as a representative of the movement. and expresses this outwardly. We do not want meeting chairs who are either slovenly dressed or foppish.
Pay particular attention to introductions and conclusions. It is not necessary for the chairman to repeat what the speaker has already said in different words. In most cases, that will reduce the effectiveness of what the speaker has said.
3. How do I open and close a meeting?
The speech is the center of a meeting. After the meeting sings a fighting song, the chairman introduces the speaker in a few words. In the same way, it is unnecessary for the chairman to gush after the speech. That must be avoided. It is enough to end with the Führer greeting rather than cheap praise for the “interesting remarks” of the previous speaker.
4. More letters to the Front
A letter from a Gauringleiter currently at the front includes the following:
“Morale and food are excellent. It is, however, necessary to mention one thing: always to urge people to send a lot of letters to the Front. Letters from fellow workers—this is a general complaint—are rare, and sometimes nonexistent. Perhaps you could start a campaign: More letters to comrades at the Front!”
This suggestion by the Gauringleiter should everywhere find as much response as possible.
It is true that today everyone has enough other things to do, aside from his own work. There is not a lot of free time left. But is writing a letter really only a private matter? The soldiers who formerly worked alongside us want to hear not only from their families, but also from their former work mates!
Each must, therefore, take the time to stay in contact with his former work mates.
Letters to former work mates at the Front is proof of the connection between Front and homeland.
Put it on your calendar:
There will be meetings in all local groups on 30 January 1944.
“Latest” News: “...I just heard, and the guy who hold me swears he got it confidentially from a high office, honestly!”
[An anti-gossiping cartoon. A duck is a German metaphor for unreliable information.]
Go to the 1933-1945 Page.
Go to the German Propaganda Home Page.