Background: This is one of the early propaganda efforts of World War II. The German ship Altmark was attempting to slip home through Norwegian territorial waters when it was seized in February 1940 by the British warship HMS Cossack, which freed about three hundred captured British seamen. Several Germans were killed. The incident involved violations of Norwegian neutrality on both sides. For full details on the affair, see Martin A. Doherty, “The Attack on the Altmark: A Case Study in Wartime Propaganda,” Journal of Contemporary History 38 (2003), pp. 187-200.
The Baralong was a World War I British Q-ship (disguised as a merchant ship) that had sunk the German submarine U-27, then shot its surviving crew members in the water.
About a half million copies of this booklet were printed. Although the publisher is not listed as the partyís propaganda office (the Reichspropagandaleitung), it was in fact the producer of material.
The source: Peter Hagen, “Altmark — Baralong.” Dokumente britischer Kriegsführung (Essen - Berlin: Kupfertiefdruck W. Giradet, 1940).
Altmark — Baralong:
The Crime against the Altmark
The hunt is on in the Atlantic. British warships cruise the ocean, their radio signals forming an invisible net over the gray northern seas. Feverish worry and nervous concern fills the bridges of these cruisers and destroyers, for the hunters are also the hunted. Everyone is afraid of German submarines.
Binoculars scan the horizon, searching for the familiar silhouette of a steamer, a picture of which is in the hands of all British commanders. At the same time, those aboard every ship of this British fleet are looking for a small, moving tube, the raised periscope that could betray a German submarine. Following carefully-planned courses, the destroyers plunge through the seas, tightening the blockade, making it impenetrable.
The same scene had occurred here in the North Atlantic a few months ago. The Bremen sailed from North America back to Europe, and proved that there were holes in Britainís command of the seas. The British Admiralty was now doing all it could to catch the Altmark before it reached home, either by capturing or sinking it.
The commanders know what was at stake. They have either to capture or sink this German steamer. That will allow a British propaganda campaign to raise British prestige, and to prove to neutral shipping, which is not eager to risk death by sailing to England, that England still rules the seas around England.
Master Stroke of a German Steamer
The sought-after German steamer Altmark calmly follows its course. The German ship has performed brilliantly. It has sailed from the distant coast of America across the wide ocean, and is nearing the Scandinavian coast. It has slipped through the chain of enemy warships, ever in danger of being discovered, of falling into enemy hands. Indeed, it is a master stroke on the part of this German steamer, a splendid achievement by its captain and crew.
Those aboard the Altmark know the stakes, and they realize how limited their means are in comparison to the enemyís. The British have numerous ships with heavy armaments and well-trained crews on board. The Altmark is an unarmed government vessel with a normal commercial crew.
On board, there are English sailors from those British ships sunk in the Atlantic by the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee. Since the Altmark is on the way home, it cannot transfer these crewmen to a neutral ship without running the risk of revealing its position.
The Englishmen can move around freely in the spaces allotted to them. They are not living under worse conditions than on their own ships. They have good mattresses and woolen blankets. They can smoke, amuse themselves, and talk with each other. They receive sufficient food. Indeed, the German cook even prepares rice dishes for the Indian sailors. The English are in excellent health. The German doctor on board has no serious illnesses to treat.
The German captainís pistol is in his desk drawer, and it can stay there. The English sailors have no thought of rebelling. They are entirely satisfied with their treatment. Often, they tell the Altmarkís captain and officers that they had expected different treatment. They had read newspaper articles about brutal German methods, and were pleasantly surprised. The German sailors can only shrug their shoulders. The best way to combat foolish gullibility is not with words, but with the language of facts...
The hunt in the Atlantic continues. The Altmark has but a single weapon in its battle against the British blockade: the nautical skills of its captain and its officers. The German steamerís hopes rest with the choice of course and the skills of its captain.
British Pirates on the Hunt
With searching eyes, the British tighten their net. Carefully and surely the Altmark follows its course, no less watchful than its searching and hunting opponent. It is a difficult, courageous game that demands the strongest nerves. The Altmark has never even considered concealing itself with a foreign or neutral flag, although the history of naval warfare from 1914-1918 provides enough British examples of such violation of international law. One recalls that in 1916, all British merchant ships received a secret order to fly neutral flags to protect themselves from the danger of German submarines. This official order was a clear violation of international law, as the British later cynically admitted.
The world knows nothing of this exciting hunt and breakthrough attempt in the Atlantic. The name Altmark is still unknown. The men on the Altmark, taciturn German sailors who are used to doing their hard, but welcome, duty quietly and reliably, have no idea that they may shortly be in the eyes of the world. They are simple merchant sailors. They are not interested in fame, but only in doing their duty, using all they have to do their jobs. They know that there are surprises, since they are, after all, at war, and British destroyers are after the Altmark like dogs chasing a rabbit. They know that the opponent is in a much better position than they are. If they succeed despite the odds, well that would be reward enough for their persistence and endurance. Once they reach the Scandinavian coast, they will have succeeded, they will have won the game. But they still have not reached protective neutral waters. British destroyers are still chasing them. At any moment, one may appear on the horizon. Still, fortune favors the brave, and no British ship spots the Altmark. Their engines throb monotonously. The log line on the stern keeps turning, each rotation signals a step nearer the Norwegian coast.
The English Break International Law
Finally, success. The Altmark reaches the safety of Norwegian waters. The breakthrough has happened, by all rules the game is won.
Suddenly, a radio message from the German captain rips the veil that conceals this previously invisible game and announces to the world that British destroyers have entered Norwegian waters and attempted to board the Altmark. Instantly, the name of the German steamer becomes the center of world interest.
British destroyers attack a German steamer in the territorial waters of a neutral state. This violation of international law is a slap in the face of Norwegian neutrality.
Neutral observers establish the plain facts: the Altmark was sailing along the coast, protected by Norwegian neutrality. Norwegian torpedo boats were in the vicinity. Despite that fact, British destroyers approached the German ship and attempted to board the Altmark. As the Norwegian torpedo boats came closer, the Altmark, which had no intention of submitting to the British, changed course and entered the Jössing Fjord. Here it was almost in a channel, surrounded by Norwegian territory. It hoped it was safe from the superior British forces. And in fact, at first the British destroyers left their victim alone.
The World Watches
At first, the world is astonished by the fact that British warships attempted to board a German steamer in Norwegian territorial waters. Peoples around the world remember, of course, that England disregards the rights of smaller states when it serves British interests (particularly during the World War). They also know of many cases in the current war when England has violated principles of neutrality and international law. Still, thanks to Englandís proclaimed moral policies and propaganda, they believed in so-called British fairness. However, world public opinion recognizes the seriousness and significance of this incident: the English attempt a capture in Norwegian territorial waters, and in the presence of Norwegian torpedo boats. People are still willing to believe that this is only the action of the commander of a British warship, doubtless outraged and disappointed that his prey escaped from the Atlantic.
But then comes a new bombshell. A second radio message from the Altmarkís captain reports that English destroyers have returned. One of them, the Cossack, has boarded the Altmark in the Jössing Fjord, shot down German sailors, taken the English sailors, and sailed off. The incredible has happened. British pirates murder defenseless German sailors in Norwegian territorial waters.
Immediately after the report of the first attack on the Altmark, the German ambassador in Norway protested sharply to the Norwegian government and demanded that the German steamer receive immediate protection. The Norwegian admiralty assured the German naval attaché that everything necessary would be done to protect the German steamer.
Details on the Crime
The fjord is still iced over, with only a ship passage open, which shimmers in the ice-cold, black water. The Altmarkís crew are at their posts. They can hardly believe that the British will risk entering the fjord, but there are so many piratical acts in Englandís past. It is not clear if the English will give up the game as lost. A Norwegian customs official is on board the Altmark. He, too, may be wondering what the British have in mind.
Will they demand that the Norwegian torpedo boats transport the British prisoners? No, that is impossible. According to international law, even warships have the right to pass through neutral waters. The English themselves affirmed that a few months ago to the Norwegian government. And the Altmark in not a warship, but rather an unarmed government ship. The Tommies will blow all the smoke they can, but the Altmark situation is too clear and unambiguous for that to have any chance of success.
Now the Altmarkís crew can hardly believe their eyes. Suddenly, and English destroyer picks up steam and heads into the Jössing Fjord. The boarding team is already on deck, prepared to leap across to the Altmark. The Norwegians cannot do anything about it. The German captain maneuvers to prevent the English from achieving their goal.
Slowly, the Altmark backs toward the shore. The English shipís bow gets larger. The German sailors read a name they will never forget: the Cossack. Then comes a light scraping sound, and the ship shudders slightly. The German steamerís stern has run aground. The British can no longer tow the ship.
A shrill signal sounds from the Cossack...
Now, in the Jössing Fjord, the British commit an act of such horror and infamy that words can hardly describe it. British sailors board the Altmark. They come not as disciplined soldiers, but climb on board the German steamer like wild pirates, firing wildly, even though there is no resistance.
The German sailors have no defense against this madness. British bullets fly through the deck, and sink into the wood or the lead of the ventilators.
Bullets, ceaseless bullets...
One of the German sailors is hit and lies bleeding on the deck. A second bullet hits him, and he shakes as if hit by an electric shock.
He dies far from a battlefield, killed by British bullets on neutral Norwegian territory.
The quiet fjord is filled with hellish noise. Shots, shots, hysterical screams and shouts of the English pirates, and the cries and groans of those who have been hit.
The Norwegian customs official on deck stands stunned and shocked. The English come up to him and scream. He explains that he is a Norwegian, a customs official. They shout him down and point a pistol at him...
Those German sailors who are still uninjured seek to find cover. In vain. The deck is filled with Englishmen, still shooting like madmen.
Several Germans jump overboard, seeking to escape the bloodbath by swimming or climbing over the ice to reach shore. Their clothing is instantly soaked by the fjordís cold water. While they are desperately battling the waves, the Cossack fires a machine gun at them. Its bullets hiss into the water around the swimmers.
Resting their weapons on the railing so as to be able to aim better, English sailors fire at those swimming or on the ice.
One German sailor writhes in pain in the water, but swims on, cramped and weary. A British sailor takes aim and fires. As if hit with a hammer, the German sinks under the water. Far from any battlefield, killed by British bullets in Norwegian waters that are protected by international law...
Those fleeing on the ice have no weapons. They are helpless against the treacherous murderers. The British machine gun digs its marks into the white ice. Splinters fly in all directions. The hunted keep going, sometimes taking cover, sometimes ruining more, trying to find cover behind the slight outcrops of ice, pressing their bodies to the ice for cover. But the English pirates keep firing their machine gun salvos at them.
When one of the victims is hit, the British shout with glee...
“Like Hunting Rats...”
“It was like hunting rats,” said one of them later after returning to England. He was speaking about the treacherous murder of unarmed German merchant seamen!
“Like hunting rats...”
None of the British officers has the ability or authority to shop his men. No one even tries. In fact, those in officers’ uniforms on the Cossack apparently take great pleasure in the shooting abilities of their men. Target practice on defenseless, unarmed people...
One of the murdered German seamen was later found to have fist-sized exit wounds, a sure sign that dumdum bullets had been used. That means that the shooter had slit the tip of the bullet before firing to ensure it caused the worst possible wound — or he might have been supplied with dumdum bullets in the first place.
The purpose of such bullets is not only to incapacitate the opponent, but also to cause particular pain. Using such bullets is the worst that a person is capable of. Not even animals are killed in this infamous way.
The British “battlefield” on Norwegian territory is covered with seven dead and many injured as the Cossackís criminals finally cease their crimes. They head into the German ship, presumably to find their countrymen, but in reality to plunder and destroy like pirates.
They are thorough. They have not only butchered defense men, but they also robbed, stole, and stripped corpses.
The English took along whatever they could carry that belonged to the Altmarkís crew. Fountain pens, watches, useful items, personal possessions. They destroy the pictures in the crew quarters, and tear up the Führerís picture in the captainís cabin. Their senseless, small-minded, and depraved hatred rages, proving the lack of any sense of morality or decency.
With their booty stuffed into their pockets, the British return to their destroyer and steam out of the fjord, leaving behind the moans of the wounded, and terrible accusations... [pp. 1-10]
The next pages report that the British had planned their violation of international law, and that Churchill himself had ordered it. There follow attacks on the British character, with lots of examples. A long section deals with the case of the Baralong, the British Q-ship that fired on the crew of a German submarine during World War I. [pp. 10-15]
That is the British Method
No, the case of the Baralong is no exception, even if it is the most dreadful and depraved. And the “rat hunt” in the Jössing Fjord is also no exception, but an example of the British character and of the British way of war.
It is hard, after so terrible an event, to speak of the British character in a dispassionate and objective manner. The details provided by neutral, non-German, fully disinterested witnesses are so terrible that they do not need further explanation...
Still, there is another matter that we have to discuss, namely that England has succeeded over the last century in persuading the world that is a fair, moral nation, despite its atrocities. Even after the Cossack murders, some supposedly neutral journalists thought it appropriate to speak about English fairness.
Well, this matter is easily dealt with. There are several reasons:
The apparatus that English uses to conceal its intentions form the world is enormous, and it functions well. Nearly all major newspapers, the radio, and nearly the entire film industry were until recently in British hands, whether overtly or covertly. Or better said, under the control of Jewish-plutocratic rulers and beneficiaries of the British Empire. England has always had the worldís largest navy, and has eliminated any competition. And finally, it controls, overtly or covertly, commerce, and therefore the world economy.
This is an unequalled position of power. However, it is a position that no one can hope to maintain over the long run. The worldís great laws of life do not follow the artificial lines of outdated historical writing, which evaluate events according to battles, constitutions, or commercial growth. In the end, all power must serve higher ethnic or racial purposes, and if it does not, it is hollow, and will collapse.
The Vampire of the Peoples
Whom does Englandís power benefit? Does it benefit the peoples united in the Empire, or if not them, at least the British people? No. The power of the British Empire benefits only a thin, rich upper class in England, which has stayed the same for centuries. However, it does not serve the Indians, the South Africans, the Canadians, nor the Australians. Nor does it benefit the English people, who even today live under much worse conditions that the peoples of other, poorer, nations.
One may imagine the British system as a huge vampire with its fangs sunk into every part of the world from which it can suck wealth. Well, no people is obligated to arrange its life and culture in the shadow of a distant, foreign vampire. And it is also clear that the age of vampirism is over.
Europe is the living space for a group of highly gifted white peoples who live next to each other. In the past, it has seen England as the most serious problem it faced, without until today being able to find a solution. Time and again, it has fallen victim to British intrigues, which have whipped up its peoples against each other. France is the best and most tragic current example. Germany will see to it that it is in fact the last such example.
It is illuminating to see that African Negroes are more easily governed by force than the white peoples of Europe. England, however, has not realized that. It stupidly and stubbornly insists on its right to be the sole organizer and ruler of Europe — at least according to its views of such matters. That is true, even though as this investigation has shown, it is less suited to it than any other European nation. England is now making its last attempt to persuade the European peoples that the Continent can only be happy if it takes on the English lifestyle. The British call that democracy.
It is enough to note that democracy has been defined over the course of long and diligent historical investigations, and that, unfortunately, those conclusions do not fit what the British call democracy. Democracy means the rule of the demos, that is, the people or the citizens. A democracy does not have a hereditary king as the English have, much less vice regents, emperors of India, peers, or lords. England is a monarchy with a financial aristocracy possessing many advantages, and a mass of people with far fewer rights.
A monarchy that claims to fight for democracy is either ridiculous, or it lies.
We have long since decided on the proper name for the British system: we call it plutocracy, the rule of the money bags. And the facts prove it.
How Plutocracy Rules
What better way to discover the roots of the British character than looking at its domestic life? Englandís democratic-plutocratic-monarchistic nature is best revealed by a few facts.
This brings us back to the starting point of our investigation. It is simply no accident that British methods result in the bloodiest atrocities. It is the result of racial corruption. We know that the better elements of the English people are vainly attempting to defend themselves against further racial corruption, but they have few weapons at their disposal. For example, most land in England is owned by major property owners, the plutocracy. Farmers have few rights. They cannot even determine what to do with their own land. If, for example, a big landowner wants to hunt more partridges, the farmer has to leave his land fallow.
A nation ruled by arbitrariness and force must inevitably become brutal, without a conscience. It must fall ever further away from the European ideal of a knightly, heroic, noble soldiery. In the end, their soldiers, who not by accident were only paid hirelings until recently, turn to any sort of sniping and treacherous murder.
A national that cannot care for its poor, that cannot protect its workers and farmers, that cannot make its peoples happy, and that can maintain its rule only through murder and criminality is ripe for collapse.
Someone has already written the attack on these plutocrats, on those responsible for this world plague. We already mentioned him: the Frenchman Victor Hugo. He writes:
So far Victor Hugo. But the list of famed men who have seen through England, and who raised warning voices to their peoples, could go on forever. Have all these voices been in vain? Have the bitter and strong words of Washington, Thomas Paine, Napoleon, and Frederick the Great gone unheard? No. All of these warnings and accusations have worked quietly, as is the fashion of immortal words, and they have led to a new understanding that gradually has gripped the peoples of the world, freeing them from the fog of British public opinion.
And what words cannot achieve, British deeds will. The shots in the Jössing Fjord and the death cries of the murdered echo through the world, and they will not be silent until the morning of catastrophe dawns on British tyranny, and the dawn of freedom comes for the peoples of the world. Then a just fate will give the death blow from Germany to the depraved world enemy!
Peopleís Comrades — you must also know this!
...Winston Churchill, the current British prime minister, was one of the most experienced pimps of Jewish speculators on the London stock exchange during the World War, and official investigations have proved that he was the war profiteer of the World War.
... His daughter is married to a full Jew.
The British Minister of Information, Duff Cooper, is known as the best friend the Jews have in England.
... That the bank Jew Kahn chose this friend of the Jews as the godfather for his son, the same Kahn who emigrated from Germany during the World War to incite American war propaganda against us.
... That Duff Cooperís sister is married to the Jew Levita.
... That Mr. Eden, the British Empireís Secretary of War, is of Jewish descent, from the Polish Jew Tschawalitzki.
... That he is married to a Jew, and is a close friend of the major London press Jew Moses Sieff.
... That Eden is also a good friend of the Jewish House of Rothschild in London.
... The head of the British National Service is the Jew Nathan.
... That the head of the womenís section of the National Service is the Jew Lady Reading.
... That there are 19 full Jews in the House of Commons, and five times as many half-Jews.
Peopleís Comrades! Pass this pamphlet from hand to hand! Everyone must know the kind of enemy we face!
Go to the page on these booklets.
Go to 1933-1945 Page.
Go to the German Propaganda Archive Home Page.