German Propaganda Archive Calvin College

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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 October 1942, when the German summer offensive was going reasonably well and people were hoping for quick victory. Speakers are ordered not to suggest in any way that victory is near. The material was labeled “Very Confidential!,” although there was not all that much secret in it.

The source: Redner-Schnellinformation, Lieferung 38, 25 August 1942.


Speaker Express Information


 

The great military successes on all fronts have led part of the population to have an overly optimistic opinion of the situation, one that is ahead of the facts. The [German] people’s desire for peace can lead only too easily to wishful thinking that does not correspond to actual conditions. Thus one not infrequently encounters the following thinking by average citizens:

In the East, the Soviet Union is near its end since the Caucasus has been cut off and the Volga River has been reached. The English can no longer do anything to us in the Mediterranean; if U-Boat successes continue for a few months longer, the opponents will no longer have any shipping capacity. They suffer one defeat after another in East Asia. And British dominion over India is almost ready to collapse. All these factors together mean that the war will end victoriously for us this year.

Such a very optimistic attitude is extraordinarily dangerous. If it is not dealt with or derailed, the danger exists that there will be serious effects on morale that will hinder dealing with the increased difficulties that will come with winter.

In our speeches we must avoid anything that might encourage such overly optimistic wishful thinking by the public.

Any predictions about future developments are absolutely forbidden. The task of propaganda is not to predict what will happen, but rather to explain what did happen and is happening. This also includes raising certain hopes about a future significant improvement in our food situation resulting from harvests in the newly won regions of the Soviet Union.

Even if we succeed in producing agricultural surpluses in these areas in the face of great difficulties such as the lack of agricultural machinery, tractors, fuel, seed, etc., it will not be immediately possible to transport large amounts of these products to the Reich. Any predictions in this subject are absolutely out of order. Even if the food situation improves significantly in the near future, from the propaganda standpoint it is better to announce the success after the fact. Here, too, the maxim applies: “Nothing is as successful as success, and nothing is more dangerous than disappointed hopes.”

It is always important to even with great successes that each success is only a building block of victory. Our opponents have taken very heavy blows and their losses are terrible, but they are not yet fatally wounded. A boxing match provides a good example:

One boxer has been hit hard and could collapse at any moment. Then the bell rings and the pause enables him to catch his breath again and gather new strength. One round follows another until finally continuing blows break his last strength and he suddenly falls to a blow, often one weaker than those he has already withstood.

All speakers have the absolute duty of following the above guidelines. We want to train our people to hardness, and must therefore avoid strengthening any overly optimistic hopes that are expected to be fulfilled within a short time. We must much more make it clear to our people that there is no doubt of our final victory, but that a major and critical decision will not happen in the immediate future. Instead, we must slowly beat down our opponents step by step.

 

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