Archive/File: imt/nca/nca-06/nca-06-3469-ps-04 Last-Modified: 1997/01/17 28. The action for the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia, which took place on the 15 March 1939, while I was head of the German Press Division, was not prepared for such a long period as the Sudeten action. According to my memory it was in February that I received the order from the Reich press chief, Dr. Dietrich, which was repeated as a request by the envoy Paul Schmidt of the foreign office, to bring the attention of the press to the efforts for independence of Slovakia and to the continued anti-German coalition politics of the Prague government. I did this. The daily paroles of the Reich press chief and the press conference minutes at that time show the wording of the corresponding instructions. These were the typical headlines of leading [Page 187] newspapers and the emphatic leading articles of the German daily press at that time: (1) The terrorizing of Germans within the Czech territories by arrest, shooting of Germans by the state police, destruction and damaging of German homes by Czech gangsters; (2) the concentration of Czech forces on the Sudeten frontier; (3) the kidnapping, deporting and persecuting of Slovakian minorities by the Czechs; that the Czechs must get out of Slovakia; (4) secret meetings of Red functionaries in Prague. Some few days before the visit of Hacha, I received the instruction to publish in the press very emphatically the incoming news on the unrest in Czechoslovakia. Such information I received only partly from the German News Agency (D.N.B.). Mostly it came from the Press Division of the foreign office and some of it came from big newspapers with their own news service. Among the newspapers offering information was above all the Voelkischer Beobachter which, as I learned later on, received its information from the SS Standartenfuehrer Gunter D'Alquen. He was at this time in Pressburg. I had forbidden all news agencies and newspapers to issue news on unrest in Czechoslovakia before I had seen it. I wanted to avoid a repetition of the very annoying results of the Sudeten action propaganda (Sudeten-Aktion-Propaganda) and I did not want to suffer a loss of prestige caused by untrue news. Thus, all news checked by me was admittedly full of tendency (voller Tendenz), however not invented. After the visit of Hacha in Berlin and after the beginning of the invasion of the German army, which took place on 15 March 1939, the German press had enough material for describing those events. Historically and politically the event was justified with the indication that the declaration of independence of Slovakia had required an interference and that Hacha with his signature had avoided a war and had reinstalled a thousand year union between Bohemia and the Reich. 29. The action against Memel, which took place on 22 March 1939, came somewhat later. It was such a surprise for me and for the press that some of the representatives of the press quickly dispatched by me were only able to see in Swinemuende the departure of the ship with which Hitler went to Memel. 30. Very complicated and changing was the press and propagandistic treatment in the case of Poland. Under the influence of the German-Polish Agreement, it was generally forbidden in the German press for many years to publish anything on the situation of the German minority in Poland. This remained also the case when in the spring of 1939 the German press was asked [Page 188] to become somewhat more active as to the problem of Danzig. Also, when the first Polish-English conversations took place and when the German press was instructed to use a sharper tone against Poland, the question of the German minority still remained in the background. But during the summer this problem was picked up again and created immediately a noticeable sharpening of the situation, namely, each larger German newspaper had for quite some time an abundance of material on complaints of the Germans in Poland without the editors having had a chance to use this material. The German papers from the time of the minority discussion at Geneva, still had correspondents or free collaborators in Kattowitz, Bromberg, Posen, Thorn, etc. Their material now came forth with a bound. Concerning this the leading German newspapers, on the basis of directions given out in the so-called "daily parole", brought out the following publicity with great emphasis: (1) Cruelty and terror against Germans and the extermination of Germans in Poland; (2) forced labor of thousands of German men and women in Poland; (3) Poland, land of servitude and disorder; the desertion of Polish soldiers; the increased inflation in Poland; (4) provocation of frontier clashes upon direction of the Polish government; the Polish lust to conquer; (5) persecution of Czechs and Ukrainians by Poland. The Polish press replied particularly sharply. When the German press curing August wanted to write with steadily increasing strongness against Poland, the material for this was only too easy to get. The Polish newspapers, especially the papers of the Polish Westmark Association, had made simple slanders before the German press. They wrote that Germany so far had not had a real opponent; that Poland, however, would remain tough and would show how the German armed forces could only win in "flower wars"; how Germany was only a giant on very slippery ground, and how there would be a victorious battle of annihilation before the gates of Berlin. The German press quoted all these Polish reactions and received the order to trace this strong Polish language to the influence of the open British promise of assistance, the so-called blank power of authority [Blankovollmacht]. The German press, at this time and also later, had the opinion that the Polish sharpness was directed at the small demands of Hitler for Danzig and for a road through the Corridor. 31. On 1 September, the day of the beginning of the battle against Poland, Hitler's speech in the Reichstag gave the instructions for the press, especially as to the ticklish problem of the attitude of the Western powers. On Saturday, 2 September 1939, [Page 189] late in the night, I went home with the assurance given to me by Goebbels, by Dietrich, and by the representative of the foreign office, that there would be no war. By the intervention of Mussolini, the German armies were to stop their advance. Germany, England, and France had accepted the suggestion which should give time for conference. On Sunday I was called from my bed by a telephone call from Goebbels, hastened to the ministry, found there Dr. Goebbels before a microphone which was already turned on. Dumbfounded, I took the manuscript which he asked me to read. Only when reading it I noticed what was going on the proclamations of the Fuehrer on the entering of the war England and France. When I left the microphone I found numerous representatives of the press who were highly alarmed by the radio news just read by me. I had to hold a press conference. Quickly I tried to get some orientation from Dr. Goebbels or Dr. Dietrich, from the Fuehrer's house or from the foreign office. I received none. Thus, without information or instructions, I was forced to hold the first press conference in war time. Therefore, I restricted myself to giving some words of consolation, of courage, and of confidence in God to the press and highly perplexed journalists, and also to give some words of confidence in our cause which I at that time firmly believed to be just and conducted with a will for peace. 32. During the period immediately preceding the invasion of Yugoslavia, on 6 April 1941, the German press emphasized by headlines and leading articles the following topics: (1) the planned persecution of Germans in Yugoslavia, including the burning down of German villages by Serbian soldiers, also the confining of Germans in concentration camps, and also physical mishandling of German-speaking persons; (2) the arming of Serbian bandits by the Serbian government; (3) the incitement of Yugoslavia by the "plutocrats" against Germany; (4) the increasing anti-Serbian feelings in Croatia; (5) the chaotic economic and social conditions in Yugoslavia. 33. During the night from 21st to the 22 of June 1941, Ribbentrop called me in for conference in the foreign office building at about 5 o'clock in the morning, at which representatives of the domestic and foreign press were present. Ribbentrop informed us that the war against the Soviet Union would start that same day and asked the German press to present the war against the Soviet Union as a preventative war for the defense of the fatherland, as a war which was forced upon us through the immediate danger of an attack of the Soviet Union against Ger- [Page 190] many. The claim that this was a preventative war was later repeated by the newspapers which received their instructions from me during the usual daily parole of the Reich press chief. I, myself, have also given this presentation of the cause of the war in my regular broadcasts. 34. In November 1942 a position, newly established by Dr. Goebbels, was conferred on me--plenipotentiary for the political organization of the greater German radio [Boauftragter fuer die politische Gestaltung des Grossdeutschen Rundfunks]. At the same time I was also given the direction of the "radio division" [Rundfunk Abteilung] in his ministry. I held both offices until the German military collapse.
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