German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: The Zeitschriften-Dienst was a weekly newsletter for magazine editors during the Third Reich, first published in 1939. I here translate instructions over several months on the invasion of the Soviet Union. These are the lead stories, which also include directives on other topics. There are references in the material to numbered entries of supporting material on the theme elsewhere in the issues which I generally am not translating. The articles trace the changes in the Nazi propaganda line. In October 1941 there was complete confidence that the Soviet Union was almost defeated. The cautionary notes that the war might continue for a while were overshadowed by exravagant claims of victory. By January 1942, the claim was that difficulties and apparent defeats would only encourage Germany to still greater efforts to win the war.

For general information about the ZD, see Robert Young, “‘Not this way please!’ Regulating the press in Nazi Germany,” Journalism Quarterly (1987), 787-792.

The source: Zeitschriften-Dienst. Issue date proceeds each article.

Strictly confidential — Not for publication

The Invasion of the Soviet Union

[Issue #128: 10 October 1941]

[5128] The remarks of Reich Press Chief Dr. Dietrich on 9 October are an extension of the Führer’s speech opening the War Winter Relief Campaign 1941/42. As Dr. Dietrich said, under the conditions of modern warfare it is not always possible for the military leadership to provide as much information about the military situation as magazines and newspapers might wish. Furthermore, there has been no pause in the battles in the East, but rather one major operation has flowed into another. Now that the military situation has in some sense reached a conclusion, a decision, more can be said in magazines.

The special announcements on the breakthrough in the center of the Eastern Front and the vast battles of annihilation at Vyazma and Brjansk where several Soviet armies were surrounded and the army groups Timoschenko and Budjenny were destroyed have proved the truth of the Führer’s words, namely that “this enemy has been broken and will never rise again.” The Führer’s appeal to his troops on 2 October said that this powerful blow before the onset of winter will be the final decisive blow of the year. With the defeat of the last of Timoschenko’s fully battle-ready armies, the encirclement of Leningrad, and the ring around Budjenny’s troops, the remaining Bolshevist army groups are nearing annihilation. Militarily, the Soviet Union is finished. The English dream of a two-front war is over. Armchair strategists will probably come up with slogans about restoring Soviet armies, but they will only frighten dilettantes. The Soviets needed twenty years to build their huge offensive army. The German Wehrmacht, built in only five years, destroyed the deadly Soviet weapon in a few months. It will be impossible to replace it in half a year!

Talk of huge and still unconquered Soviet territory will only impress the ignorant. Once a country’s army is destroyed, territory is no longer a problem. The Soviets have done the best possible thing from Germany’s point of view: they joined battle with us and we destroyed them. The tremendous achievements of the German military are above all praise. Future military historians will show what it means to attack the opponent directly for three and a half months along thousands of kilometers of front, trapping them in huge pockets.

Magazine writers can use Dr. Dietrich’s discussion of German military leadership and information policy and of enemy “war rumor reporters.” As Dr. Dietrich said, they construct battles with words, but when real battles are fought they have nothing to say. Even enemy countries have always known that the single source of reliable military information anywhere in the world is the OKW report.

Over the past weeks and months, our disciplined magazine press has held to “absolute silence” when that was necessary. This was an intentional weapon on the part of the German government and military leadership, in contrast to the random information policies of the plutocracies, and made a critical contribution to Germany’s successes in the East. Editors can discuss the breadth and significance of German information policy and give examples that will make it clear to each reader how important silence in warfare is. This fundamental line will guide magazines in coming winter. The decision in the East, along with the whole previous course of the war, proves that the feverish attempts by plutocratic-Bolshevist writers to make historical parallels is nonsense. Our article “False Parallels” (5480) [another article in this issue] provides material for this important theme. (The destructive will of the plutocratic dilettantes striving for world domination can also be shown using the example of the extermination of the Indians by the ostensibly humane Americans. Article 5482 provides ideas and material).

The joint German-Turkish communiqué shows that planned silence works in the diplomatic as well as in the military realm. The English apparently made secret statements to the Soviets about the Dardanelles. The goal of this English-Soviet rumor-mongering was apparently to draw Turkey into the war on their side. This act of Turkish-German solidarity is a weapon of our policy. Magazines can provide effective support for Germany’s efforts through sympathetic and friendly articles about Turkey.

[Issue #130: 24 October 1941]

[5562] Given the clear superiority of our troops, the tempo with which German military operations against the remainder of the Soviet Union proceeds is currently determined only by the weather. Arming the civilian population of Moscow and other areas cannot change the fate of these cities. German actions will be determined not for reasons of prestige, but rather solely those of military need. If we pay attention to the Soviet capital, it is only for reasons outlined in article 5577 [an article later in the issue that discusses the economic significance of Moscow]. Just as we did not discuss “open” or “not open” cities during the Polish and French campaigns, here, too, we are interested only in whether a city is “defended” or “not defended.” We report the transfer of the Soviet government and foreign diplomats to Samara — which we use in place of the Bolshevist name Kuybyshev — without claiming that it indicates the imminent collapse of the Soviet system. By the way, the various OKW special announcements give continuing occasion to discuss the achievements of the German infantry. We refer readers to our article “The Eternal German Foot Solder” (5565) elsewhere in this issue.

We have often encouraged our colleagues not to ignore Roosevelt’s war policy. We stress that request again today. It is of the greatest political significance that each step Roosevelt takes on the path to war is covered by as many organs of public opinion as possible, both for the present and for posterity, and for our own people and the world. The Greer and Kearney incidents should be described as efforts to whip up as much excitement as possible to help overturn the Neutrality Act. Gutter-mouth Hull has earned his name. The rape of the small countries of Latin America continues, as is proven by the Putsch in Panama and the seizure of Peruvian airplanes. Roosevelt did not get everything he wanted in the House of Representatives, but there is good reason for large parts of the public to be worried about his policies. People are also disappointed in the commercial treaty with Argentina, since he did not succeed in breaking British influence over that country. These unfavorable developments , however, will not keep the president from continuing his plan to broaden the war.

These frantic efforts by USA politicians are also a sign of how hard England has already been hit by the Soviet defeats. It has no dagger on the continent any longer to use against the Reich. There was great joy in British circles over 22 June; the disappointment is now just as great. For the first time in its history it faces implacable fate alone. What that means can be seen in the ceaseless, and for England very costly, Battle of the Atlantic, and in the fact that the German Luftwaffe continues its powerful attacks on British merchant shipping and harbors, despite the stationing of strong forces in the East.

The new Japanese cabinet adds no little nervousness for the Britain and USA governments. The appointment of officer Tojo as prime minister and war minster indicates a particular political direction. He served in the Kwantung army until recent years. We want to avoid anything, however, that might suggest a political program on the part of this cabinet, nor do we want to give the German public illusions. The obvious concern in London, Washington, and Moscow is sufficient. It is also no accident that the new Japanese foreign minister has significant periods of service in Berlin, that he has a German wife, and has many connections with German politics. Our article “Japan in the Economic Struggle” (5567), by the way, goes into the fact that Japan is economically prepared for all eventualities.

Since other British attempts at an offensive are hopeless, they are turning up their oral offensive, the battle against the German heart. Our Italian comrades have enjoyed the particular attention of British and USA propaganda in recent days. It seems advisable for the relevant magazines to reprint Italian articles responding to these stupid lies, and also not to forget to pay regular friendly attention to Italy, its military leadership, and its population. The heroic resistance that their encircled troops in East Africa still conduct, far from the motherland, deserves particular attention.

In Afghanistan at the moment, the British are apparently trying the same game as in Iraq and Iran. Important things will probably happen soon in this part of the Near East. For the moment we will be reserved on these matters, but it would be advisable for editorial staffs to prepare material in advance. The Zeitschriften-Dienst will have an article on conditions in Afghanistan in the next issue.

We have already mentioned the necessity to promote economical use of household coal (items 5268 and 5532). We ask colleagues to avoid the impression that there will be more than enough coal in Germany in the coming winter. We will also not write about the fuel situation in areas occupied by the Reich or in neighboring areas.

[Issue #131: 31 October 1941]

[5601] The breakthrough of German troops in the Crimean Peninsula and the unstoppable pursuit of the defeated enemy are further significant successes in the Eastern Campaign. Given the strategic significance of the Crimean Peninsula, the Soviets attempted to make it into a economic and military strong point since their forceful occupation in 1920. Now that access to the Crimea has been won magazines have the opportunity to bring together the special announcements on the Eastern Campaign and compare them to the laughable lies of London’s desktop strategists and radio rumor-mongers. They are vainly attempting to weaken the impact of the German victory announcements, maintaining as did Radio London (26 October) that: “the practice of the German Propaganda Ministry is to fabricate a new victory in the Soviet Union each week. The special announcement about the fall of Kharkov was the sixth in the series.”

We, however, know that the Propaganda Ministry does not fabricate special announcements, but rather German troops win the victories that the OKW reports, and there has so far not been a single case in which the truth of these announcements by the German military is open to doubt. What plutocratic publicists call German propaganda strategy is the result of the systematic German advances.

One element of English war propaganda is to constantly set a deadline, a practice they also followed in the World War. We should also attack this laughable London attempt at propaganda in our magazines. The deceitful English game follows this pattern: One sets some sort of impossible deadline in which the German military “will capture” Moscow or Kharkov or Rostov, and declares after the deadline that the Germans have once again suffered a defeat! We provide material for articles about this lying British campaign in article 5518. We will provide further information on this theme in the next issue, which must constantly appear in German magazines over the winter.

In handing the theme “Decisive Battles — Battles of Annihilation” one should begin with the recent great battles of annihilation in the East, but also point out that the decision in the East has occurred. The huge Soviet armies that were ready to attack Germany have been destroyed. The Bolshevist threat to Europe is finally and forever over. Reasonable people do not see this decision, which rightly gives the German people a sense of security and calmness, as the end of the Eastern Campaign. The wide spaces and weather conditions naturally allow the remnants of defeated Soviet armies to assemble somewhere and continue to resist. Such events obviously can have no influence on the decision that has already occurred. We cannot, however, speak of am immediate or approaching end of the Eastern Campaign, since otherwise the great military achievements of our troops on muddy roads and in inclement weather thousands of kilometers deep in enemy territory cannot be sufficiently appreciated.

We have regularly asked magazines to do more with maps than in the past. We have made suggestions for journalistically effective use of maps. Now there is an extraordinarily good opportunity to use maps in polemics against Roosevelt. As is well known, this warmonger without a conscience gave a speech that he did not dare to give before Congress in which he claimed to possess two valuable documents, the first of which contained a German plan to wipe out all world religions, the second a German map that allegedly proved aggressive German plans to attack and partition South America. The fact that these forged documents have not been published, and that their genuineness is doubted even in the United States, is an example of the lying propaganda tactic that Roosevelt borrowed from Churchill. Mr. Roosevelt supposedly cannot publish these documents for “good moral reasons.” That means that the Jewish offspring Roosevelt is trying to wriggle out of it. He does not dare to defend his blatant and filthy statements and accusations! He has revealed himself to be a political ganister. An outstanding basis for the attack on Roosevelt is found in the article by the Reich Press Chief “The Counterfeiter,” published in the Völkischer Beobachter of 30 October. This article must be used by German magazines of every kind in their own work.

Our constant and sharp polemics must be directed against the Jewish offspring Roosevelt and his Jewish-plutocratic advisers, but not against the people of the United States in general.

Editors must touch on all of these military and foreign policy themes in discussing the domestic front, for which the Zeitschriften-Dienst has provided sufficient material.

[As the above entry suggests, the Germans were realizing that they were not at the brink of defeating the Soviet Union after all. As a result, there was an abrupt disappearance of material suggesting that the Soviet Union was near collapse.]

[Issue #134/3: 21 November 1941]

[5715] The appointment of Reichsleiter Rosenberg as Reich Minister for the East proves that Germany is in the position to take on major new tasks in the middle of the war. The extend of this vast constructive work in the East will only later be clear. Its success will benefit not only Germany, but all of Europe. Magazines should focus on the unity of Europe and the tasks resulting from that. Avoid prognoses about further developments or parallels with the past. It is also wrong to consider past Baltic and Ukrainian efforts at independence.

Positive thoughts should be at the center of magazine articles about Christmas and the New Year. These articles should be serious, but also confident and persuasive. Avoid sentimentality that is inconsistent with the greatness of the age and the struggle for European unity and freedom. Support with facts that the Continent under German leadership cannot be defeated. Speculations about a possible broadening of the war are out of place. The fact that our soldiers are in the midst of the hardest battle of this war and are overcoming all resistance must find expression even in the shortest article. Magazines can thus contribute to building and strengthening the unity of front and homeland.

In dealing with the British opponent, it is necessary to point out the contradictions in enemy propaganda. One will, for example, attack Churchill’s claim that the British air force is equal to or even superior to the German Luftwaffe. The Soviet statement on the Finnish replay to the USA makes it clear how the European continent would look under English-Soviet rule. We will be reserved regarding the conversation of Japanese ambassador Kurusu with Roosevelt, if we mention it at all, limiting ourselves to official releases.

[The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor took center stage for the next few weeks.]

[Issue #140/9: 9 January 1942]

[5989] The collection of woolen clothing and fur coats in the homeland has concluded with excellent results. It once again proves the unity of the German people and its willingness to heed the Führer’s call. That is its particular significance. Reich Press Chief Dr. Dietrich has written an article that shows how the Führer gathers his remarkable energy from difficulties. German magazines have the duty of making this so clear to readers that the German people’s ability to resist in the face of difficulties and setbacks is constantly strengthened.

This task is made easier by the fact that the military situation is good on all fronts. In the East the Soviets are using their strengths in bitter but strategically useless attacks. The English offensive in Libya has stalled. The advance of our Japanese ally continues in East Asia, with the USA fleet so far having made no appearance.

Since Roosevelt and his allies are making no military progress, they are containing their talk offensive. That shows that Roosevelt is a master of immoral emotional appeals, but that his is a midget in the political-military sense. Churchill has not yet returned to London. He is in no hurry to answer the questions that might be asked in the English parliament, assuming there are still people there who will not silently accept Eden’s bowing before Stalin and Roosevelt’s blatant land grab.

[Issue #141/10: 16 January 1942]

[6019] The final results of the wool clothing and fur coat collection makes clear the depth of community of the German people and the unity between front and homeland. Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels, as he gave the Führer’s thanks, could rightly say that such an attitude will enable the German people to overcome all the war’s difficulties.

Today particularly, we remember the provincial election in Lippe on 15 January 1933. The National Socialist party proved in its domestic struggle

that difficulties and outward defeats only unleashed the greater energy and extreme fanaticism that led to victory.

This memory also reminds us of National Socialism’s constructive work in the years between 1933 and 1939. Although the greater part of these efforts must be set aside during the war, that is because of our enemies’ desire for war. It strengthens our will to gather all our strength to ensure that the war ends in victory and these efforts can be fully resumed.

The lies about us that our enemies are now eagerly spreading about the attitude of the German people are intended to divert attention from their own problems. For the same reason England is holding firmly to Moscow and is trying to convince Turkey, which has good reason for distrusting Moscow, that today’s Bolshevism is harmless. From their own experience German soldiers know the opposite!

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