The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified:  1997/01/17

18. When I joined the ministry, the task was limited in
time. It was, however, prolonged from year to year. For
almost four years I refused to become a government employee
of the ministry. I remained as a private employee with
mutual right of notice. I remember having refused several
times, in writing, an appointment as government counsellor
and thus becoming a government employee as intended by Dr.
Goebbels. Finally, however, I was so caught by the fine and
free work which I could do in the field of organizing the
news from 1933 to 1937, that I agreed to my appointment as
superior government counsellor (Oberregierungsrat) and thus
as a government employee, keeping the old field of work. So
far as my income was concerned during my activity within the
propaganda ministry, I take this opportunity to declare the
following: After May 1933, as an employee in the ministry, I
drew a salary of 700 marks monthly. Beyond this I had a
monthly income of about 300 to 500 marks for my work with
radio and from contributions to newspapers and periodicals.
From 1937, after having become a government employee of the
propaganda ministry, I drew, until 1945, a salary lowly
increasing from 600 marks (a superior government counsellor)
up to about 1500 marks (as ministerial director). Here has
to be added the very greatly changing single fees averaging
monthly about 1000 marks. After 1942 almost all such income

                                                  [Page 183]

19. After having become head of the German Press Division,
around 23 December 1938 I still had until about the middle
of 1939 the possibility to comment freely on the daily
paroles [Tagesparolen] in the press conference, while after
the middle of 1939 I had to stick to the directions given by
Dr. Dietrich. About the summer of 1939 I had established
within the German Press Division a section called "Speed-
Service" [Schnelldienst]. This "Speed Service" was under the
direction of superior government counsellor
[Oberregierungsrat] Walther Koerber with a personnel finally
of 6 persons. At the start it had the task of checking the
correctness of news from foreign countries. Later on, about
the Fall of 1939, this section also elaborated on collecting
materials which were put at the disposal of the entire
German press. For instance, dates from the British colonial
policy, from political statements of the British prime
minister in former times, descriptions of social distress in
hostile countries, etc. Almost all German newspapers used
such material as a basis for their polemics. Hereby was
achieved a great unification within the fighting front of
the German press. The title "Speed Service" was chosen
because materials for current comments were supplied with
unusual speed.

20. In my position as head of the German Press Division, I
was promoted three times within four years. To my knowledge:
(a) from superior government counsellor to ministerial
counsellor on 28 January 1939, (b) from ministerial
counsellor to ministerial dirigent on 9 October 1940, (c)
from ministerial dirigent to ministerial director on 16
October 1942.

21. I remained in my position as head of the German press
division until 3 November 1942, though from  March 1942
until the above mentioned day I belonged to the armed
forces. During my service in the army I was in a loose
connection with a propaganda company (P.K.) of the armed
forces, as soldier with a fighting unit in the Eastern war
theater until October 1942. During this period I made
broadcasts only three or four times. The acting head of the
German press division at that period was in the hands Or my
deputy, Erich Fischer. Fischer became my successor on 3
November 1942 as head of the German press division. As to
the direction of propaganda concerning important foreign
political events between 1936 and 1941 I am able to state
the following:

22.  Since a long time before the outbreak of the war, all
instructions given to the newspapers were summarized daily
in the so-called daily parole of the Reich press chief. Also
the fast in-

                                                  [Page 184]

structions [Eilanweisungen] issued in the meantime were
always incorporated into the next scheduled daily parole, in
order to guarantee its completeness. Copies of this daily
parole were mailed to each Reich propaganda office. All
leading papers received these directives which under the
responsibility of the chief editor had to be locked up and

23. In regard to the reoccupation of the demilitarized
Rhineland, on 16 March 1936, no propaganda whatsoever was
made in advance. I, then chief editor of the Wireless
Service, learned of the expected action only on the eve of
the invasion from Dr. Goebbels in the presence of
Undersecretary [Staatssekretaer] Hanke, later Gauleiter of
Silesia. Dr. Goebbels had me called around midnight,
described the situation, and asked me to work out
[herauszuarbeiten] over the radio as strongly as possible
the Franco-Russian agreement as the foreign-political
justification of the action. Besides that, he asked me to
indicate that the Fuehrer did not consider the other
treaties violated, and therefore had decided to keep them.
For the press, similar instructions were received by the
deputy head of the Press Division, Ministerial Counsellor
Stephan, in my presence. The then head of the press
division, Ministerial Director Alfred Ingemar Berndt, was
already on his way to Cologne with some journalists whom he
had called together very quickly. I learned that only in the
ministry. Likewise on his way to Cologne, together with some
radio specialists, was the then Reich broadcasting director
Hadamovsky. Their current reports soon dominated press and
radio. The action developed propagandistically
[propagandistisch] on the next day without special
instructions. I remember only that the question as to
whether the French would march was not supposed to be
mentioned and discussed in the press.

24.  The propaganda in relationship to the Dollfuss Putsch,
which took place on the 25 July 1934, is summarized in the
following way: I learned at noon about the announcements
which the rebels had spread over the Vienna radio. After a
careful examination I gave them over the radio by quoting
with reserve. Dr. Goebbels requested me to spread
information about the extension and success of the
rebellion, which was ordered by the so-called Nazi state
leader of Austria, Habicht. I refused this because I had
recognized his first announcement as wrong and exaggerated.
Subsequently, Dr. Goebbels relieved me from my office and
installed Habicht as responsible for the radio news. He
(Habicht) gave information over the German radio stations
which was in-

                                                  [Page 185]

tended to promote the Austrian rebellion movement. When by
evening the Putsch was wrecked, I was picked up from my
apartment and again took over my office.

25. The incorporation of Austria brought, however, some more
complicated problems. Since the Putsch failed against
Dollfuss, it was forbidden for the press, with some few
exemptions, to occupy itself with Austria at all. Only
shortly before the visit of Schuschnigg with Hitler in
February 1938, this prohibition was lifted and single, but
sharp articles appeared about the Schuschnigg government.
The Schuschnigg government was reproached as being alien to
the Austrian people, with cruelty in the Woellersdorf
concentration camp, and with reliance upon powers hostile to
Germany. After the conversation there appeared friendly

26. The news about the sudden setting of a national vote by
Schuschnigg was at first withheld by the German News Agency
(D.N.B.) by direction of Berndt. After a discussion with Dr.
Dietrich, press chief to the Fuehrer, and with Privy
Counsellor Aschmann, then press chief of the foreign office,
Berndt, finally released information. In addition, however,
he instructed all German newspapers to bring this
information with big headlines, and to ear-mark it as a
breach of agreement with the Fuehrer. All newspapers, which
still appeared up to the beginning of the invasion, then
brought details about the new fashioned fast vote of the
Austrian National Socialists, etc. After the accomplishment
of the invasion, which took place on the13 March 1938, the
newspapers and radio were full of the speeches which were
held and with reports by eye witnesses. The reports came
from some dozen journalists who had quickly been called
together and who had been sent in airplanes and cars to
follow the so-called Fuehrer column. A complete collection
of all news issued in relationship to the whole action by
the German news agency-(DNB) has been published in book form
by Frithjof Melzer. The end and summarization of the entire
Austrian action was then presented in a report by Gericke,
which was issued in the Berlin Illustrated Newspaper under
the slogan "Thus it does not go, Mr. Bundeskanzler."

27.  The most decisive issue was the role of German
propaganda before the Munich agreement on the Sudetenland,
which was occupied on 1 October 1938. This propaganda was
directed by Berndt. The action, which at first did not
appear to me as an action, started with the lifting of the
prohibition, which existed for

                                                  [Page 186]

years in the German press against occupying itself
critically with Czechoslovakia. Since about the summer of
1938 the press was asked in the daily directions to busy
itself with the problems of the different nationalities of
the population of Czechoslovakia, another time with the anti-
German orientation of the policy of this state, etc.
Especially carefully studied was the entire foreign press,
from the standpoint of whether and how it reacted to the
same questions. If some useful headings appeared abroad,
then by direction they were taken up by the entire German
press; or if it appeared more correct, they were taken up by
one or another of the well-reputed newspapers or writers.
The mission of Runciman offered especially good reason for
this. Each time during a conference or discussion--
Berchtesgaden, Godesberg, Muenchen--there was transmitted to
the press instructions for the most sensational make-up of
reports about the suppression or deprivation of the rights
of Sudeten Germans, also about reports on current incidents.
These latter represented a very ticklish chapter. They were
personally made by Berndt and given to the German News
Agency (DNB). He exaggerated minor events very strongly,
used sometimes old episodes as new. There even came
complaints from the Sudetenland itself that much of the news
reported in the German press was untrustworthy. As a matter
of fact after the great foreign political success of Munich
in September 1938, there came a noticeable crisis in the
confidence of the German people to the trustworthiness of
its press. This was one reason for the recalling of Berndt
in December 1938 after conclusion of the Sudeten action and
for my appointment as head of the German Press Division.
Beyond this Berndt, by his admittedly successful but still
primitive military-like orders to the German press, had lost
the confidence of the German editors.

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