German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: The Zeitschriften-Dienst was a weekly newsletter for magazine editors during the Third Reich, first published in 1939. These guidelines were published just after the August 1939 non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union was signed. There were two sorts of guidelines: those to be used if appropriate for the magazine, and a much smaller number that were to be used by every magazine regardless of topic. This was in the latter category. All magazines were expected somehow to address the matter. Since the range of magazines included everything from popular weeklies to special journals for watchmakers and gardeners, some had more difficulty than others. The basic argument is that the agreement is good economics. Of course, the secret annex to the German-Soviet treaty that set out the partition of Poland was not mentioned.

Two years later, the Zeitschriften-Deinst issued instructions on how to deal with the 22 June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, the treaty notwithstanding.

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: “Das Hauptthema: Erneuerung der deutsch-russischen Freundschaft ,” Zeitschriften-Dienst, Nr. 17 (26 August 1939), pp. 5-6.

Renewal of German-Russian Friendship

Topic: German-Russian Realpolitik

Why of current interest?

The German-Soviet Russian non aggression pact — The German Soviet Russian economic treaty.


Historic change in German foreign policy, domestically a brilliant act by the Führer that will promote Germany’s rights. — Internationally, stress its significance for peace in Europe. Additionally, confidence in England is completely shaken. Gently persuade small countries of the necessity of friendly relations with Germany.


Emphasize: A decisive event. Shock effect on those trying to encircle Germany, happy response from the German people. In historical discussions, focus on the Bismarck era, not as much on the post-war period. No objection to the terms “Soviet Union, Soviet-Russian, USSR.” “Russia” can also be used again, particularly in historically-oriented articles. Sympathetic, warm tone.

Avoid: Any discussion of worldview matters (at the moment of no significance, the internal system of other countries is not our concern). No Schadenfreude or overemphasis that “we are now breathing more easily.” No forced justifications. No discussion of commercial statistics out of context (particularly comparisons between the time before and after 1933). No discussion of the length of the negotiations.

Themes and Guidelines:


The Führer destroys England’s attempts at encirclement and interference. — Lloyd George recently said in the House of Commons: “Encirclement policies without Russia have no political and military value.” — Devastating defeat for English trouble making. — English balance of power policy outdated. — A fundamental change in European politics brought about by Hitler. — Liberation of Europe from the yoke of British interference. — The Continent will determine its own fate. — German Continental policy: Hitler clarifies the confusion caused by England, constructive German policies for peace once again historically demonstrated! — The democracies talk, the Führer acts. — The Führer’s speech in Wilhelmshaven on 1 April 1939: “Germany will not remain inactive against new efforts to encircle it.” — Sensational change in Europe: The German and Russian peoples have come together again.

Refer to traditional German-Russian friendship. Hundreds of years old, and diplomatic cooperation between Germany and Russia is fruitful for both sides and for Europe as a whole. — Alexander I and Frederick the Great. — Germany and Russia in the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon. — Bismarck’s Russian policy and its continuation by Adolf Hitler. The mutual assurance treaty and its non-renewal. Berlin Treaty of 1926. — German-Soviet conflicts always result from interference by the Western powers. — German-Soviet Realpolitik, both sides wish for natural German-Russian cooperation. — Not a tactical action for the moment, but a true historic change. — The Führer in Mein Kampf: The art of foreign policy and of statesmen is to find common interests between peoples who then can work together. — Trusting and serious negotiations in Moscow — A game with cards openly on the table. — Europe faces new facts.

New German-Russian relations provide new possibilities for European policy. — An impact on relations with Turkey, which has a treaty of friendship with Moscow? — New situation in the Mediterranean. — New thinking on the part of neutrals (Oslo Conference: Caution!). — Germany and Italy in complete agreement. — Italy’s 1933 treaty with Moscow of non-aggression, friendship, and neutrality. — Pravda: “ a time of tense political relations, the economic agreement will relax the atmosphere and means ... a step toward a complete change in political relations between Germany and Soviet Russia.”


German-Russian economic cooperation will be fruitful only over the long run. — The prerequisite for building economic relations is provided by a relaxation of political tensions. — The agreement means a significant broadening of mutual exchange of goods. — The numbers in the treaty are minimum numbers! Commerce will benefit both and all sides. German-Russian credit and currency exchange. — Decline in German-Soviet commerce in recent years an unnatural situation. Germany and Russia complement each other in the most natural and best ways. Russia is rich in raw materials and Germany in high quality industry. — Soviet Russian plans for investment and their partial implementation (as yet insufficient production and quality) mean a long-term great need for high quality industrial products, technical facilities, etc. — Germany’s need for Russian export goods almost unlimited: 170 million Russians and 80 million Germans offer each side markets with unlimited opportunities. — Good experiences with the German-Russian export credits.

The development of trade (1100 million RM in 1931, for example) gives an indication of future developments. Significance for the German food supply: Main exports from Germany are machines, ferrous alloys, electrical products, iron goods, chemical products; main imports to Germany are building wood and lumber, bulk timber, fuel and lubricating oil, pelts, veneer and plywood, phosphates tobacco. — Main industrial regions and harbors in the Soviet Union. —Russia is a great power with regard to raw materials. — Russian black coal reserves according to Statistische Uebersicht des Reichskohlenrates 1.083 billion tons. — Russian oil reserves 3.877 billion tons = 53% of total world reserves (other sources give 13.5%, so be careful in giving figures!). — Iron ore reserves in Russia about 10 billion tons. — Also very large reserves of manganese, chromium, gold, and platinum, considerable reserves of iron ore and copper. Russia leads the world in the production of flax and hemp. — Increasing industrialization and growth in population of 20 million since 1914 have significantly increased the domestic demand for raw materials. — Russian grain exports before the war were 40% of total exports, today only 10% to 12%. — The significance of high quality German industrial products for the Soviet-Russian economy. — Soviet attendance at the eastern trade fair. — 90% of Russian exports today go overseas. — Good prospects for German merchant shipping. — Lumber transport on the White and Baltic Seas.


Reich Propaganda Ministry, Minister-Rat Fritsche (contact through Room 24): 11 00 14. — Foreign Office (Contact Kleinlein): 11 00 13. — Ministry of Economics (contact Oberregierungsrat Rechenberg): 16 43 51.


Bismarck, Gedanken und Errinnerungen, Friedrich Stieve, Deutschland und Europa 1890-1914, Verlag für Kulturpolitik, Berlin, — A. Sanders, Um die Gestaltung Europas, Hoheneichenverlag, Munich, — Walther Paul, Weltkampf um Rohstoffe, Wilhelm Goldmann-Verlag.

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