The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-First Day: Tuesday, 5th February, 1946
(Part 2 of 14)

[M. EDGAR FAURE continues]

I shall not dwell further on publishing, and I should like now to say a few words about the Press. It is a matter of common knowledge that all the newspapers of the occupied countries were controlled by the Germans, and that most of them had been founded at the instigation of the Germans by persons who

[Page 69]

were in their pay. As these facts are well known, I shall refrain from submitting documents on this point, and shall limit myself to the following remarks:

Firstly, restrictive measures -- censorship. Although all these newspapers were practically "their" papers the Nazis nevertheless submitted them to a very strict censorship. I shall submit, as evidence of this Exhibit RF 1108, which is a report of a Press conference held on 8th January, 1943, in the course of which are defined the new censorship orders and regime. I point out to the Tribunal that this document and others of the same nature, found in the archives of the French Office of Information, which was under German control, have been deposited either in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris or in the Documentation Library of the War Museum. These documents have been selected by us from the reports, either in the form of photostats or original documents from the French collection.

I should like simply to point out, by means of this document, that the Germans were concerned with the establishment of a more liberal regime of censorship. On reading the document, however, it becomes evident that almost all news items and articles were subject to censorship, with the exception of serial stories, reviews of films and plays, items of scientific or university news, radio programmes and a certain number of completely trivial subjects.

The second aspect of the German interference, the positive aspect, appears in the directives given to the Press, and these directives were given by means of Press conferences such as that which I have just described.

I shall submit to the Tribunal, without reading them, a certain number of documents which will be Exhibits RF 1109 to 1120. I produce these documents in evidence not for the sake of their contents -- which are simply a repetition of German propaganda -- but because the mere fact of their existence is evidence of the continued pressure exerted on the press.

I should like to say, however, how this was done. The Press conferences were held either in the Propaganda Staffel, Avenue des Champs-Elysees, or at the German Embassy. The representatives of the Press were summoned by the competent Nazi officials, who issued directives. After the conference, the substance of these directives was embodied in a dispatch from the French Office of Information. The Tribunal knows that agencies sent dispatches to the papers for their information. When a dispatch had been drawn up by the office, it was submitted for checking to the German Bureau, which affixed a seal to it. After that it could be distributed to the papers.

I stated that I would not read anything on these Press conferences or on the agency's minutes and notes, which form Exhibits RF 1109 to 1120.

I should like to read only a very brief document, which I submit as Exhibit RF 1121, the minutes of a Press conference held on 16th April, 1943, in the Propaganda Abteilung:

"At the end of the conference the German commentator declared that on Tuesday, 20 April, -- the Fuehrer's birthday -- the newspapers would consist of four pages instead of two, and on Wednesday, 21st April, they would consist of two pages instead of four. He asked the reporters present to stress the European orientation of the Fuehrer's political personality and to treat Franco-German relations very generally. 'A great deal of tact and reserve are necessary, however, in order not to give the newspapers the appearance of being no longer French, and in this way shocking public opinion.'"
I am not forgetting the fact that we are participating in a criminal trial and that we must select, from the extremely varied facts which we have to present, those elements characteristic of the intention and realisation of an act condemned by penal law. In consideration of this, I quote Exhibit RF 1124, which I am also presenting and which is an attempt to promote, by means of

[Page 70]

Press and propaganda, the enlistment of Frenchmen in the enemy army. Article 65 of the French penal code covers this crime and I recall that in legal theory proceedings can be taken even against enemy nationals for crimes of this kind. I read this document, which is extremely short:

"At the end of the military conference, Dr. Eich announced that the O.F.I. would broadcast this afternoon an article devoted to the necessity of the inclusion of French sailors in the Kriegsmarine. He asked the newspapers to add comments to this text in which, for instance, the following theme might be treated: 'To be a sailor is to have a profession.'

The article broadcast by the O.F.I. must appear to- morrow (a four-page day) on the first page or must, at least, begin on the first page."

Finally, I must point out that, apart from the Press conference proper, there were so-called cultural conferences at which the German authorities gave their orders on all subjects. I should like to read a few very brief extracts from one of these cultural conferences in order to indicate the general oppression resulting from the interference of the Germans in every field without exception. I present these documents as Exhibits RF 1125 and 1126, and I read two sentences on Page 1 of 1125, which is a report of the minutes of the conference held on 22nd April:
"Reproductions of paintings by Picasso have recently been made in spite of the directives to the contrary previously given.

Theatre: Certain Press publications have seen fit to praise the operetta `Don Philippe' to an extent belied by the reception given to this work by the general public. This goes beyond the bounds of what is permitted."

I will read a little further. The top of Page 2:
"The Press has lent an obviously exaggerated backing to jazz concerts, particularly that of Fred Jumbo. This shows a lack of tact which is all the more regrettable in that a very minor place has been accorded, in general, to concerts of real value."
Finally, at the end of this document, there is a general note which is interesting:
"The nationality of persons of standing in the world of science, art, etc., whose names occur in articles appearing in the Press, is to be given as that of the Greater German Reich in the case of those born in any of the countries which have been restored to the Greater German Reich or incorporated into it."
We thus see that even in what might seem to us the most fanciful connections, we can find evidence of the will to enforce Germanisation, and of the criminal will to strip men of the nationality which they have the right to retain.

I shall now say a few words about the cinema. To do them justice, the Germans have never failed to understand the exceptional importance of the cinema as a means of propaganda. In France they devoted to this subject seven ordinances or decrees.

You must know that, in the first place, the Germans prohibited the showing of films of which they disapproved.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Faure, do you not you think that evidence that the Germans used the cinema as a method of propaganda is really somewhat cumulative? You have shown already that they forbade a great number of books which they considered hostile to their ideas, and that they controlled the Press, and is it not almost cumulative and a matter of detail that they also controlled the cinema?

Unless there is some evidence on behalf of the defendants contradicting the evidence which you have given, I think the Tribunal will be satisfied that the Germans did adopt all these methods of propaganda.

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M. FAURE: When a brief is presented, it sometimes does produce the impression that the arguments contained in it are cumulative, although that may not have been so apparent when the work of preparation was going on.

I shall not speak, then, on the subject of the cinema. I wish simply to point something out to the Tribunal. We thought that with regard to these questions of propaganda with which we are dealing in the abstract it would, perhaps, be as well to provide concrete illustrations of a few of the theses of that propaganda. To this end we propose presently, with the permission of the Tribunal, to submit very briefly films which propagate a few of these theses. I wish to point out that these films are taken from archives which we found. On the other hand, we intend to present, for one minute each, two pictures taken from a German propaganda film produced by a Frenchman at the instigation and with the financial support of the German Office.

As we are now going to present this picture, with the permission of the Tribunal, I consider it indispensable to present just one document, which becomes Exhibit RF 1141, since it is the interrogation of the producer of the film, and establishes the fact that this film was made by order of the Germans and paid for by them. I therefore present in evidence this document, which is necessary for the presentation which we are about to make. Since it seems to me that sufficient evidence has already been advanced concerning the various methods of propaganda, I shall apply the same line of reasoning to the part anticipated for broadcasting. Here I merely wish to present a document which goes beyond the field of pure propaganda. This is Exhibit RF 1146.

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