Nazi propaganda keeps the German people in the dark


10 September 1944: Nazi propaganda keeps the German people in the dark

What is happening in the war? This morning Frau Cohn relates: ‘They fetched five women (Aryans, that is) from the Sachsenwerk plant, because they said [the Allies] had already reached Metz, a soldier’s wife denounced them.’ In the afternoon Eva reported from the military bulletin: ‘Engagements by Metz’.

Germans struggled to understand the war situation from Nazi dominated news media. They were well aware of the widespread destruction  from Allied air raids.
Germans struggled to understand the war situation from Nazi dominated news media. They were well aware of the widespread destruction from Allied air raids.

On the 8th September Allied military strategists had completed their position paper for the Octagon conference between Churchill and Roosevelt, about to take place in Quebec.

The aim of German strategy must be to prolong the war and to prevent, for as long as possible, the invasion of the Reich itself; but the speed of recent events has taken Germany completely by surprise and has left her without the resources and apparently without any coordinated plan to meet her radically altered strategic position.

Sound military strategy would long ago have seemed to dictate territorial retrenchment in order to concentrate additional forces in the decisive areas. This, however, would have involved grave political dangers, the very weakness of Germany’s position making it imperative for her to disguise the true state of affairs as long aspossible, not only from her enemies, but from the wavering satellites and neutrals, the restive populations in occupied territories, and her own people.

In Dresden German Jew Victor Klemperer had miraculously escaped deportation to the death camps because of his anomalous position of being married to an Aryan. As a former professor of linguistics he kept a close academic eye on the language used by the Nazi regime. Like almost everyone else in Germany he found it impossible to know what to believe or to get a true sense of what was happening in the war:

10th September, Sunday forenoon

What is happening in the war? This morning Frau Cohn relates: ‘They fetched five women (Aryans, that is) from the Sachsenwerk plant, because they said [the Allies] had already reached Metz, a soldier’s wife denounced them.’ In the afternoon Eva reported from the military bulletin: ‘Engagements by Metz’.

And Eva reports via Winde and Simon: The English have declared, the larger part of the island is no longer being blacked out, it is no longer necessary. They have also declared, however, that there is a pause in the advance, troops have to be brought up.

And Lewinsky, who is always absolutely pessimistic, has heard from a ‘most reliable source’ that Aachen is already in enemy hands, about which, however, England is keeping silent. And not a soul knows what is happening in the East, and what in the Balkans [. . .] and what in Italy, and what in Finland, and what in Germany itself, no one knows, and everything is obscure.

New ’totalisation’ decrees have come out: University departments have largely been closed down (theology and philosophy completely), the senior classes of secondary schools have been dispatched to factory work, all periodicals apart from those ‘important to the war effort’ [. . .] have been suppressed [. . .].

The weekly article on the military situation paints a very dark picture. Naturally ‘We shall manage nevertheless’, and ‘time is on our side’, but that is the most transparent of veils, contradicted by all of the content.

A particular characteristic of the LTI is the shameless short-windedness of its lies. There is a never-ending impudent abandonment of assertions which have been made the day before: ‘They cannot land.’ – ‘They will not scale the Atlantic wall.’ – ‘They will not break through…’

And now: ‘It could all be foreseen and, given their superior strength, occurred astonishingly late. But they cannot impose a decisive battle on us before our lines are on the terrain we have chosen, we are disengaging with great skill …’

Nothing more about the V-1. Once in recent days we were told: [firing] became ’irregular because of events in northern France’, but resumed. Now silence.

See To The Bitter End: The Diaries of Victor Klemperer 1942-45: v. 2.

German picture of air arid casualties.
German picture of air raid casualties.

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