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 February 1942, on what to say about the harsh Russian winter, religious controversy, the use of Soviet prisoners as workers, and other topics. The Germans had been caught unexpectedly by the winter battles, and many soldiers had suffered severely, but that could not be told to the public. The material was labeled “Very Confidential!,” although there was not all that much secret in it.
The source: Redner-Schnellinformation, Lieferung 27, 21 February 1942.
Advice to Speakers
I. Rumors of severe winter problems in the East:
The rumors circulating about the severe hardships of our troops in the East lack any foundation. Those problems that do exist are the never to be totally avoided difficulties of winter, which with regards to the length and depth of the front are so minor that they are of no significance.
It should be assumed that these rumors, like most others, have their origins in enemy propaganda, and are attempts to diminish the world’s view of the effective German defense in the East, and to diminish the morale and confidence of the German people.
The Wehrmacht at the front and the administrative offices in occupied territory have tabulated the cases of frostbite. These figures prove that all the chatter is exaggerated. If and when the figures are released to the public depends on strategic considerations. All speakers, of course, should energetically combat stupid and damaging talk.
Those who spread rumors attempt to give apparently irrefutable support by providing sources for their statements. For example, they cite doctors, orderlies, Red Cross nurses, or mayors who supposedly have learned about cases of frostbite at field hospitals, sanitariums, and hospitals. The numbers circulating around the Reich about the number of sick, injured, and amputees far exceed the total number of soldiers on the Eastern Front. When one asks those spreading such stories for written proof, they shut up immediately, for they are not able to provide support for their irresponsible chatter.
Speakers should present these facts to the audiences in their meetings in order to free them from careless gullibility, and to enable them to be responsibly critical of such rumors that they encounter.
The same is true about chatter regarding alleged heavy losses in the East due to typhoid fever. Here, too, precise statistics covering the Arctic Sea to the Black Sea, including occupied Poland, are available. These statistics are surprisingly low. Such diseases cannot be entirely avoided in the East, since lice are so common in the area that there will always be some cases.
As a result, Western Europe is protected from the uncivilized East by delousing stations that prevent the disease from reaching here. There is, therefore, no danger of contagion from the isolated individual cases.
II. Religious agitation:
Reports from speakers regularly show that, in some areas of the Reich, party members are seriously concerned about cases of religious agitation. That should never lead our speakers to take up the matter in meetings. The Führer’s order is that speakers are to avoid any split in our people, under all circumstances and using every means.
The following background information is strictly confidential.
The rumors circulating in some areas about a letter from air hero Mölders, in which he allegedly is to have called for close religious ties, are to be seen as agitation on the part of interested circles. A thorough investigation has found that it has even been read in churches, but that it is a complete fabrication. The dead flying hero never wrote such a letter, and it is entirely unfamiliar to its presumed recipient.
Since the investigation is continuing, nothing will be published, and the information may not be used in public meetings.
The frequent assertions that their is no reason for collecting church bells [to be melted down as scrap] is also a self-serving rumor spread by interested parties. Obviously, just as in past wars (the World War, the 1870/71 war against France, the Wars of Liberation 1812/14), existing reserves of ore and metal must be gathered to secure the necessary resources for armaments production.
Some rumors and opinions in circulation are best overcome simply be ignoring them, and thereby depriving them of the opportunity for public discussion. That is true above all for religions issues, which we do not wish to discuss at this time.
Obviously, reports about such rumors should continue to be submitted. We ask, as in the past, to report all such rumors that you encounter in your activities as a speaker.
III. Labor of Soviet prisoners:
Captured Bolshevists have, in many cases, proved to be very good workers. If their labor is to be of real use to us in the coming months, better treatment is absolutely necessary, particularly in regards to food.
In many areas, the tendency is to provide the captured Soviets with only the absolute minimum. In view of our labor needs, this cannot be continued. There is a Führer order on this matter. Surely there will be no resistance to this in most circles of the German people, especially in rural areas, where captured Soviets will provide visible and needed support in coming months. Mentioning the necessary inclusion of German workers into the military should make clear the need for greater use of Soviet workers.
The appropriate military offices will release guidelines on feeding and housing captured Soviets, as well as rules for dealing with them. What is true for relations with Poles and other prisoners of war is, of course, particularly true for relations with captured Bolshevists. Where Soviet prisoners are at work, our speakers should take particular care to remind people that any contact between the civilian population and these prisoners is to be absolutely avoided.
IV. Language regulations:
a) The concept of “The Reich”:
The British understand how to make their world-spanning territorial holdings seem a united state by using the term “Empire.”
Our goal must be to use the term “The Reich” to present to the world the new Germany and all its possessions as a united state entity.
Therefore, the word “Reich” in the future should never be used to refer to other nations. There are other states and nations, but only one Reich, and that is Germany.
One regularly finds announcements in the press in which leaders of business, athletic, or social organizations are called “Führer.” Speakers should energetically oppose such usages.
The German people has only one Führer, Adolf Hitler. Even in the rest of the world, the term “Der Führer” has become a term that applies only to Adolf Hitler. Many foreign newspapers and books, therefore, do not translate this concept into their own languages.
We, therefore, have the duty to passionately oppose the use of the term for the leaders of clubs, factories, and groups, whether that happens through carelessness or arrogance.
In the same way, we do not apply the title to foreign government or party leaders, even in the case of ethnic or national movements with which we sympathize. Italy has its “Duce,” Spain its “Caudillo,” and we have “our Führer.” Just as Adolf Hitler is unique for us and for the world, so it should be with the term “Führer,” which applies only to him.
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