The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Hans Fritzsche

(Part 5 of 8)

[Page 1043]

The propaganda campaign of the press preceding the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 bears again the handiwork of Fritzsche and his German Press Division. Fritzsche speaks of the conspirators' treatment of this episode as follows:

"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

[Page 1044]

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 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 of free collaborators in Kattewitz, Bromberg, Posen, Thorn, etc. Their material now came forth with a bound. Concerning this the leading German newspapers, upon 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." (3469-PS)

The press campaign preceding the invasion of Yugoslavia followed the conventional pattern. The customary definitions, lies, incitement, and threats, and the usual attempt to divide and weaken the victim, are contained in Fritzsche's description of this propaganda action:

"During the period immediately preceding the invasion of Yugoslavia, on 16 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 the 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-

[Page 1045]

Serbian feeling in Croatia; (5) the chaotic economic and social conditions in Yugoslavia."

Since Germany had a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, and because the conspirators wanted the advantage of surprise, there was no special propaganda campaign immediately preceding the attack on the USSR. Fritzsche's affidavit discusses the propaganda line which was given the German people in justification of this aggressive war:

"During the night from the 21st to the 22nd of June 1941 [21 June 1941-22 June 1941], Ribbentrop called me in for a 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 Germany. 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." (3469-PS)

Fritzsche, throughout his affidavit, constantly refers to his expert technical assistance to the apparatus of the Propaganda Ministry. In 1939, apparently becoming dissatisfied with the efficiency of the existing facilities of the German Press Division, he established a new instrument for improving the effectiveness of Nazi propaganda:

"About the summer of 1939 I established within the German Press Division a section called 'Speed-Service.' *** 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." (3469-PS)

Throughout this entire period preceding and including the

[Page 1046]

launching of aggressive wars, Fritzsche made regular radio broadcasts to the German people under the program titles of "Political Newspaper Review," "Political and Radio Show," and later "Hans Fritzsche Speaks." His broadcasts naturally reflected the polemics and the controls of his Ministry and thus of the conspiracy. Fritzsche, the most eminent member of Goebbels propaganda team, helped substantially in making possible, both within Germany and without, the conspirators' plans for aggressive war.

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