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 early November 1942. The issue is German POWs in English hands, which the Germans claimed were being badly treated. Since Germany had more English captives, it would begin taking revenge.
The source: Redner-Schnellinformation, Lieferung 45, 4 November 1942.
Speaker Express Information
Enemy contempt for international law
The press releases from the OKW that announce German revenge measures for British crimes against German soldiers who had the misfortune to fall into British captivity have aroused lively discussion in some areas about the legal situation. Above all, Roosevelt’s lying statements that conceal the truth make it necessary to treat this theme in meetings wherever it is still a theme of discussion.
Above all, speakers should in no way mention how the Japanese treat prisoners. As a strictly confidential note to speakers, there is a wide difference between the thinking of our continent and the Japanese. A Japanese soldier who is captured is seen as dead by the Japanese people. All relations with this captured member of the people cease. It is therefore a matter of complete indifference to the Japanese what unjust measures the enemy may commit against prisoners. For the prisoners themselves, it is even satisfying to serve their fatherland through personal suffering, and death, since as a result of their capture they are lost to the fatherland anyway.
That is an attitude that we in no way share. We must, therefore, always respect the demands of our mentality, for we have German stock to protect that is suffering in enemy captivity and longs for the hour of possible return to our community.
We do have the possibility of taking revenge on English soldiers for all the dirty tricks that the English and Americans have committed against German POWs. We have captured many more English soldiers than there are German soldiers under British power.
British-American comments have led to a discussion about whether the Geneva Convention is recognized our not. We must reply that this is not the decisive question for us. More important is the fact that the English and Americans are repeatedly violating the principles of international law and the Geneva Convention. One does not need to discuss whether or not we recognize them. The only question in this debate is how our revenge measures can teach our enemies to respect these conventions again.
Newspapers in England and the USA for many months have carried articles and pictures praising how their troops are trained for the war against Germany. They have almost boasted about how their troops are trained like gangsters in brutal murder and cowardly treachery. For example, remember that English newspapers wrote about visits of their troops to slaughterhouses, so that they would get used to “flowing blood.” In the United States even prison inmates have been mobilized and these criminals are given special training for the battle against us.
In nearly every theatre of the war where the English have fought, there have been bestial and illegal attacks by British air units on hospital ships, Red Cross stations, and emergency sea rescue planes. Repeatedly, helpless shipwrecked German and Italian sailors, wounded and battling the waves, were not rescued by the English as international law clearly requires, but instead were murdered in cowardly ways. We recall the Cossack, that British destroyer that criminally attacked the German merchant ship Altmark. When the defenseless crew, some of whom were wounded, rescued themselves on ice floes, the British shot them down with machine guns, carbines, and pistols. And we remember the case of the Baralong during the First World War. This British auxiliary cruiser, concealing itself under a neutral flag, attacked a German U-boat and destroyed it after revealing its guns at the last minute. In full view of American passengers, they then shot at the German sailors and officers in the water, some of whom were seriously injured, until the last of them sank into the depths.
The Hunger blockade that severely damaged the lives and health of the German people during the First World War affected about 800,000 desperate German women and children. It, too, is a typical example of British methods of war that violate international law. There most blatant predecessor was the hunger-driven concentration camps that the British built during the Boer War for Boer women and children, hoping that the suffering and misery would wear down spiritually the Boers who were fighting for their freedom, forcing them to give up resistance.
The English are doing the same today with their criminal bombing terror against the German people. Here, too, they realize that this brutal and dirty method of war violates international law. The Führer warned them for months in 1941 before he decided to respond in kind. Even then, our flyers were always instructed to restrict their revenge to military targets and to keep the bombing war from degenerating. The English, on the other hand, openly admit that their goal is to terrorize our people, to break its spiritual resistance, and give up the will to resist because of despair and misery. British Undersecretary Balfour just recently said that for England the destruction of militarily important targets is of secondary importance. Their goal was to strike at our people, laying mines that they hope will break the domestic German community's will to follow absolutely the Führer.
Given this vile method of warfare, which cannot be excused by any military necessity, the English and their North American friends leave no other way for us than pitiless revenge.
We have the power to do that, since we have enough English in our hands. We refuse to be bound by international law when these treaties have long been rendered void by the ruthless and continuing actions of our enemies.
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