"Well, while England may not be on its last legs, Germany looks more attractive right now.”: Intercepted Radio Messages by BBC Monitoring
Earlier this year, Readex announced the launch of the newly-digitized BBC Monitoring: Summary of World Broadcasts collection. Below is a look into intercepted communications during the last week of December 1940.
Among the radio messages intercepted by BBC Monitoring during the last week of 1940 were communications from allegedly courageous Britons on the continent risking all to tell the British public the truth about the war. In fact, they were German propaganda emanating from Berlin and German-occupied territories.
21 December 1940
On December 21st, a message in Spanish for Latin America mocked Churchill’s “eloquent words” warning of invasion.
The same day another intercepted broadcast told a story concerning a British businessman who was attempting to leave Denmark. Albert Gowan allegedly sought to spread lies about German military intentions including an occupation of “the U.S. coast from Boston to Washington.”
22 December 1940
The New British Broadcasting Station was a part of the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft, German State Radio. This black propaganda was broadcast in English. On December 22nd, one such broadcast detailed Roosevelt’s alleged game to avoid joining in the war and thereby allow Britain to lose so that the U.S. could gain control of Canada and other British possessions in the Americas.
23 December 1940
The German black propagandists broadcast a message “In English for North America” on December 23rd mocking the RAF, offering proof of the extent of Britain’s isolation, and asserting “that nervousness and unrest are symptomatic of conditions in England today” because of the fear of invasion.
A lengthy broadcast designated for England, also on the 23rd, denigrated England, Churchill, Anthony Eden who had just become Foreign Secretary, and life in England from egg supplies to inflation.
26 December 1940
December 26th brought several communications including one “In Dutch for Holland,” which boasted of the success of German food supplies and mocking again fear of an invasion of England which concluded, “Meanwhile, the German people calmly await future events, knowing that the Fuehrer will strike when the time is ripe.”
The same day, the same source, “In French for Canada”:
And, one more, “In German for Americas”:
27 December 1940
On December 27th, another broadcast “In English for England” denied Christmas Eve bombings by the RAF and jeered Christmas speeches by Churchill and King George.
28 December 1940
The “New British Broadcasting Station : (Somewhere in Europe): In English for England” released an account of all the woes the British were experiencing in the war. A precis from a “Talk by Sunny Jim on the Christmas Lull and Invasion” urged Britons to understand that “If we, as a people, do not make peace of our own free will, it will be forced upon us by conquest on terms infinitely harder.”
“Germany does not build on bayonets.” This headline appeared in a December 28th broadcast “In German for Germany.” The essay essentially blames England for any destructive act of war that Germany committed. “We were prepared to found new Germany on work alone and to create a new Europe by negotiations and agreements only. England wanted to thwart this new Europe of a rational constellation of forces, and chose war. Today, burnt farmhouses in Norway, destroyed villages in Holland and Belgium, ruined cities, untilled fields in France, accuse England because of this, her own war.” There is much more.
Edward Leo Delaney [E.D. Ward] was an American actor, employee of a film export company in New York, and a follower of the antisemitic “radio priest”, Father Coughlin. He began producing commentaries for German propaganda at the end of December, 1940 under the pseudonym E.D. Ward. An early “talk” was broadcast for North America on December 28th. It merits reading. He concludes by describing a happy Christmas for all in Germany. “Incidentally, Berlin women may still purchase silk stockings, or wrangle them from their weak male friends. London shops have been without for weeks. Well, while England may not be on its last legs, Germany looks more attractive right now.”
That day the New British Broadcasting Station directed a dire warning to the English in English that they were on the brink of indebting their nation to bankruptcy. The only way to prevent this was to make peace immediately.
29 December 1940
As the new year approached, the Germans broadcasted to their nation a “Political Review” which was titled “English Anxiety” and concluded that “There is no hope for England, though the British Government is clinging to the hope of aid from the USA. It is probably known in England how problematical is this last hope. England should take note of one fact: whatever may happen, Germany will not let victory be wrested from her.”
The ersatz New British Broadcasting Station (NBBS) provided the English with more dire news and introduced a new announcer, “The Professor” whose pleasant voice “could be described as musical and liquid.”
The Professor said “I want to stress the importance of contacts. These contacts need not know about the NBBS. They will get their instructions from you, not us. It’ your job to keep in touch with us and then adapt them to your locality. These contacts will enable you to cover as wide a field as possible, different parties and organisations [sic], public services, Government offices and, above all, industries and work places in your region. Do everything you can to spread your influence as widely as possible.”
Again, on the 29th a German broadcast to England sought to turn the public against the war. It provided a distorted account of Lord Lothian, the just deceased British Ambassador to the United States. Lothian’s accurate biography, including his earlier interest in amending the Treaty of Versailles which he thought was too harsh, did provide some fire-power for the propagandists.
30 December 1940
The next day brought another dire warning to the English asserting that “There are two wars, between Britain and the Axis and between the British Government and its own people.”
This was followed by another broadcast which relentlessly described in rather apocalyptic terms the devastation which was raining down on the disheartened British.
These instances of Germany’s propaganda campaign are a handful among the extensive record compiled by BBC Monitoring.
Visit the Readex BBC Monitoring: Summary of World Broadcasts page for information on this collection and to request a complimentary trial.