Background: The Nazi Party depended heavily on speakers to get its message across. Those speakers needed to be informed. The following is a translation of instructions to speakers in March 1942. After a difficult winter, Germans were expecting a renewal of the previous year’s successful offensives. Speakers are to tell people to have confidence, to write only confident letters to soldiers, and to avoid drawing conclusions from the letters they receive from,
The source: Redner-Schnellinformation, Lieferung 28, 25 14 March 1942.
The Current Propaganda Campaign
The goal of the current propaganda campaign is primarily to build a homeland that, despite all the difficulties of life, is harder and more determined.
The work of the speaker must serve this goal. It must be made clear to all people’s comrades in the homeland that victory depends not only on the battlefields, but also on the strong hearts of all men and women of the entire German people. Reichsleiter and Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels gave the essential guidelines for such propaganda in his article “A Word to All,” which appeared on Sunday, 7 March, in Das Reich and also went to all speakers in issue #10 of the Sonderdienst der Reichspropagandaleitung.
The following instructions supplement the theme.
The homeland must respond with the hardest resistance to anything that might wear down the inner strength of our people. This includes:
a) Annoyances that result from lack of consideration in our relations with each other, such as in party offices, government and city offices, public transportation, restaurants, and shops. Speakers should sharply criticize such happenings by using appropriate examples from daily life. It is particularly important to give good examples as models.
b) Complaining, chattering, and discouraging rumors should be pointed out and energetically rejected. The big complainers of our day should remember the terrible years of Germany’s misery and national shame. There was more hunger back then during peace time than there is now. Any hope of a new and better future was lacking for many millions of our people’s comrades. Our German fatherland seemed condemned to hopeless insignificance in comparison to other countries and faced a future of complete bankruptcy, Bolshevization, and total enslavement under Jewish dictatorship.
Irresponsible chattering and rumor-mongering are to be countered by noting that all careless talk of a discouraging nature about losses at the front, winter damage, political or military difficulties, can have their origins only in enemy propaganda. Our German government and military offices give open and honest information about all situations. If the “common good” temporarily requires silence it is never for the sake of keeping something secret, but rather to conceal coming operations from the enemy or leave him uncertain. That helps protect our soldiers from avoidable losses.
Rumors about losses that we have presumably suffered are usually spread by the enemy in vague terms around the world, hoping to lead us to provide information that would enable him to estimate our actual strength on the fronts. The interests of the entire German people, however, require that the enemy learn something only when our offensive operations teach him about it.
c) Useless squabbles must be avoided at all costs. We have neither the time nor the interest to settle domestic German issues that are not of immediate military importance. There are always certain circles that attempt to provoke us, but we may not deviate from strictly following our line. Religious agitation such as letters from bishops, sermons, rumors, and agitation of other sorts are nothing other than an attempt to force us to talk, which would result in a lively discussion about fundamental issues, constitutional matters, or other topics. We will not do those circles the favor, much less our enemies. The Führer will decide when the time has come for such necessary discussions.
At present the life of our people and its future is at stake, as well as the eventual total victory of our national socialism. We must, therefore, make clear in a positive way to our people’s comrades that our soldiers at the front and our workers in the homeland, with their sacrifices, their achievements, their cheerful devotion, are fighting for the victory that will finally relieve us of all previous inescapable social and economic concerns. If we would lose this war, no enemy would distinguish between Catholic, Protestant, and National Socialist Germans. Victory alone will free us. We will be free to live life unhindered, free for the highest social, economic, and cultural development, and free to practice genuine German religiosity in our community.
2.In treating these themes it is always important to consider enemy propaganda. It must constantly be stressed that the Jews and plutocrats see the undermining of the German homeland as their last hope. They see no other way to win this war. They are holding onto this last hope, remembering November 1918. Just as German domestic collapse saved them then, they hope today for another such miracle.
Given the continuing attempts through using reports of German losses in the East, through lying reports of vast armaments capacity in America, through political agitation in the occupied territories and in the neutral world, etc., they try to create the impression that they have not been affected by the results of the war and that we have no chance of final victory. We must say repeatedly that the enemy lies. He does not want to serve the truth, but rather to win the war. He is not presenting the news objectively, but rather wants to make the German people doubt itself and its goals. He who believes the enemy deceives himself. He who compares enemy news reports with German reports insults himself, because he doubts the honesty of his people’s Führer. He who does not believe in the Führer’s path with the absolute confidence of his whole ability and personality excludes himself from the German community.
In the face of all discouraging influences, the speaker must show in clear and compelling ways the whole scope of our battle with fate. We have everything to win, just as we would lose everything if we lose. The Jews and plutocrats have sold Germany and all of Europe to Bolshevism. Under the dictatorship of the butcher Stalin, millions of German men, women, and children would lose their lives. Under the violence of the Soviet system, German workers would have no socialism, no family, no joy in life, and no religious freedom any longer. Defeat would mean the end of all hopes and wishes, of expectations for and confidence in the future that all our people’s comrades have today.
We all, therefore, have one task: to help to win the war!
Victory is within our grasp. A thorough look at the situation proves that. A comparison with the World War helps us here.
Once England dominated politically the European public. Today there is a growing European community of fate. The attempt to once again encircle Germany has completely failed.
Outside the Soviet Union, the Jews and plutocrats have no territorial daggers at their disposal in Europe and Bolshevism has received further decisive blows after the destructive blows the past summer. No one will succeed in establishing a new European front, for wherever German soldiers stand guard no enemy can succeed.
Thanks to the foresight and preparations of the National Socialist government, we can never again be seriously endangered by a blockade. True, we have sharp cutbacks. However, our present food supplies are still above the average of the crisis period before the takeover of power, when millions of German people’s comrades were unable to work, to earn money, and thereby to make a living. The military operations planned and executed with the Führer’s brilliant military ability mean that in coming years our people’s food supply will steadily increase. That is assured by the land in the East, by the development of and agricultural and industrial measures in the occupied territories, and above all by the German Wehrmacht that today protects these captured territories so that work can again continue peacefully and surely.
And our best guarantee of victory is our Führer. He is the source of our confidence. Our fate is safe in his strong hands. His political foresight, his strategic brilliance, and his statesmanly ability that led us so surely and successfully for seven years of national construction and social progress and through two-and-a-half years of victory give us all the firm confidence that he is chosen by Fate to win for the German people the place that it deserves because of its great economic and social achievements.
Therefore: harden the hearts, strengthen the will, firm up faith and get to work with eagerness. That will help the homeland win!
Letters to Soldiers
In this regard, speakers should emphasize the great responsibility that all of our people’s comrades have when writing letters to those at the front. Under no circumstances may soldiers be burdened with current problems in the homeland and told about every little annoyance. Our front needs all its strength for battle. Today more than ever when the enemy’s incessant defense in the East keeps our troops always at the ready, where a hard winter makes conditions of battle particularly difficult, all letters that reach the front should convey confidence and courage. Since ceaseless battles hardly give our soldiers the opportunity to go home on leave, they think about their loved ones over long months and worry about all the problems they read about in letters. In reality, most of the problems are long gone by the time a letter reaches the front. We should, therefore, always remember that we must give our soldiers more strength and endurance in their difficult life at the front through confident and brave letters.
We must also say something about spreading news that comes in letters from the front. When one considers that soldiers write at least two or three million letters a day, which are read by an average of at least ten relatives and friends within the people’s community, one realizes the significance that news from the front has in the homeland. People draw conclusions from letters from the father, husband, or son, which are then taken to be indicative of the whole situation and total conditions at the front. This, however, is not justified.
For example, a small section of the front might have to withdraw after a few days of hard battle because of extraordinarily strong enemy pressure. When such news gets back home, many people’s comrades, sensitive women above all, assume it applies to the entire front and tell others. In fact, that is not true. First, it almost always involves only a localized area and is done to avoid unnecessary losses, which should be welcomed by our people’s comrades in the homeland. Second, by the time the news arrives the situation has usually been taken care of by reinforcing that section of the front.
My rumors about difficulties at the front, “severe defeats,” and the like result from such reports from the front, and lack all foundation. The individual soldier is not able to evaluate the total situation at the front. And some local withdrawals are the result of tactical considerations, providing a better defensive position or a better launching position for future planned offensives. The army of division headquarters cannot inform each individual soldier about such plans. In fact, that is forbidden, since the Führer has ordered that only those with a direct need to know are to be informed of such plans. Even these persons may know only what is absolutely necessary to carry out their tasks.
Through such explanations, our speakers can help to discourage such discouraging rumors. Here, too, we must demand a discipline that has direct significance for the war, a confidence and blind trust in our military leadership.
In his last speech on 30 January, the Führer said that the German Wehrmacht will begin new offensives in the East when winter is over.
It would be entirely wrong were our speakers to think they had the right to make prophecies about coming operations. We must leave to the Führer the question of when and where German blows will fall.
Above all, there is to be no discussion of the timing of an offensive. First, it must be remembered that spring comes earlier by us than it does in the East. When it is spring here, the snow may still not have melted in the wide steppes and the roads and fields may still not have the necessary firmness and dryness to allow modern war machinery to launch offensive actions.
Second, one must always remember that the enemy is waiting for a discussion of the timing of our attack, hoping to get some idea of when it will happen. We, on the other hand, have the greatest interest in surprise, since that allows us to save our strength and avoid losses to the greatest possible extent.
This thinking is to be made clear to the people in our meetings, along with an appeal for disciplined silence that will help the Führer prepare such surprises.
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