The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Hans Fritzsche

(Part 4 of 8)

[Page 1040]

The reason why the DNB was excepted from Fritzsche's field at this time is that it did not come into existence until 1934.

Later on in his affidavit Fritzsche mentions the sizeable funds

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put at his disposal in building up the Nazi news services. Altogether, the German news agencies received a ten-fold increase in their budget from the Reich, an increase from 400,000 to 4,000,000 marks. Fritzsche himself selected and employed the Chief Editor for the Transocean News Agency and also for the Europa Press. Fritzsche states that some of the

" *** directions of the Propaganda Ministry which I had to follow were *** increase of German news copy abroad at any cost *** spreading of favorable news on the internal construction and peaceful intentions of the National Socialistic System. ***"

About the summer of 1934 Funk, then Reich Press Chief, achieved the fusion of the two most important domestic news agencies, the Wolff Telegraph Agency and the Telegraph Union, and thus formed the official German news agency known as DNB. Although Fritzsche held no position with DNB at any time, nevertheless as head of the news section of the German Press Division, Fritzsche's duties gave him official jurisdiction over the DNB, which was the official domestic news agency of the Reich after 1934. Fritzsche admits that he coordinated the work of the various foreign news agencies

"within the inland Europe and overseas foreign countries with each other and in relationship to DNB" (3469-PS).

The Wireless News Service was headed by Fritzsche from 1930 to 1937. After January 1933 the Wireless News Service was the official instrument of the Nazi government in spreading news over the radio. During the same time that Fritzsche headed the Wireless News Service, he personally made radio broadcasts to the German people. These broadcasts were naturally subject to the controls of the Propaganda Ministry and reflected its purposes. The influence of Fritzsche's broadcasts to the German people, during this period of consolidation of control by the Nazi conspirators, is all the more important since Fritzsche was concurrently head of the Wireless News Service, and thus in control of all radio news.

(2) Use of propaganda to prepare the way for aggressions, The use made by the Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. They used the press, after their earlier conquests, as a means for further influencing for-

[Page 1042]

eign politics and in maneuvering for the net following aggression.

By the time of the occupation of the Sudetenland on 1 October 1938, Fritzsche had become deputy head of the entire German Press Division. Fritzsche states that the role of German propaganda before the Munich Agreement on the Sudetenland was directed by his immediate chief, Berndt, head of the German Press Division. Fritzsche describes Berndt's propaganda as follows:

"He exaggerated minor events very strongly, used sometimes old episodes as new -- and there even came complaints from the Sudetenland itself that much of the news reported by the German press was untrustworthy. As a matter of fact, after the great foreign political success at Munich in September 1938, there came a noticeable crisis in confidence of the German people in the trustworthiness of its press. This was one reason for the recalling of Berndt, in December 1938 after the 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." (469-PS)

Fritzsche was accordingly made head of the German Press Division in place of Berndt. Between December 1938 and 1942, Fritzsche, as head of the German Press Division, personally gave to the representatives of the principal German newspapers the "daily parole of the Reich Press Chief." During this period he was the principal conspirator directly- concerned with the manipulations of the press.

The first important foreign aggression after Fritzsche became head of the German Press Division was the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia. Fritzsche describes the propaganda action surrounding the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia as follows:

"The action for the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia, which took place on 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

[Page 1043]

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 newspapers and the emphatic leading articles of the German daily press at that time: (1) the terrorizing of Germans within the Czech territory 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 kidnaping, 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, DNB. Mostly it came from the Press Division of the Foreign Office and some of it came from big newspapers with their own news services. 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, 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 reinstated a thousand-year union between Bohemia and the Reich." (3469-PS)

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