WW 2 BRITISH BLACK PROPAGANDA
Black Boomerang - Chapter Seven cont - Sefton Delmer
As I listened to the playback-the whole performance had been recorded-the bit I liked best was the denunciation of Churchill as a "flat-footed bastard of a drunken old Jew". Here, with one phrase, which cost no one any broken bones, we had won credibility as a genuinely German Station. No member of the great German public, I felt convinced, would ever suspect that British propagandists could be capable of using such outrageous language about their beloved Prime Minister. This was a phrase, I decided, which was well worth repeating in other broadcasts.
The corporal and I were just being ushered out of the house when one of the recording engineers, a long lanky man in tweeds with the spectacled eyes and wavy locks of a musician, leaned over the banisters and hailed me.
" Don't you think, Mr. Delmer, that G.3 should have a signature tune?" he asked. "Makes it easier for the listeners to tune in, you know. I should be delighted to fix you up with one, anything you like." I thought for a moment.
" A signature tune is not really in character with an army signals station, is it?" I said. "But you are right, it will help our listeners. And that is what we are after; listeners."
So there and then I got my new musician friend Jim Dougherty was his name-to sit down at his piano and record for us the answering phrase to the call-sign of Hitler's own Deutschlandsender. This German equivalent of the B.B.C. used the first few bars of a pleasant little 18th-century folksong by Ludwig Holty, as it was played on the carillon of the Potsdam garrison chapel.
" Ub immer Treu und Redlichkeit . . ." "Always practise troth and probity . . ." tinkled the Deutschlandsender. And now Gustav Siegfried Eins replied with the second line played on what sounded wonderfully like a cracked piano stationed in some primitive front line billet:
"Bis an dein kuhles Grab..." "Untill your cool, cool grave..." It remained The Chief's signature tune untill he broke off in mid transmission one evening eighteen months latercaught by the Gestapo at last!
Who was The Chief, and how did he come to join me? Corporal Paul Sanders was a Berliner of about my own age who had earned his living as a writer of detective stories. In 1938, sickened by the outrages against the Jews, he had turned his back on Germany and come to Britain.
On the outbreak of war he immediately enlisted in the Pioneer Corps and was sent to France. When I first met him in April 1941 he was in a bomb disposal squad, risking his life day after day to dig out the Luftwaffe's time-bombs and remove their fuses. Not content with this hazardous job, he had volunteered to be parachuted behind the German lines in one of the Cloak-and-Dagger commandos of 5.0.2. That was how Leonard Ingrams had come across him, and Leonard passed him on to me.
I liked him enormously, this man with the sallow face, watchful observant eyes and the aristocratic hawk nose. His voice seemed to me just right for `The Chief' as I envisaged him, virile and resonant with just that slight trace of a Berlin drawl which I had found so often in the speech of Junker officers of the Kaiser's guards regiments.
The second man in the team, Johannes Reinholz, was a German journalist. He was a genuine German Conservative who had fled to Britain with his Jewish wife only at the last moment in 1939 -just before the war broke out. Reinholz had worked with the Right-wing opposition to Hitler first under the leadership of Walter Stennes,* then after Stennes had escaped to China, under such doughty old Pomeranian Junker antagonists of Hitler as von Oldenburg Januschau and von Rohr-Demmin.
I was much relieved when the security people at last allowed Reinholz to join me. For the Corporal had not been able to get the hang of what I wanted and in those earliest days I was having to write most of The Chief's talks myself. Now Johannes Reinholz took on that task and very well he performed it. He also played the part of `The Chief's' aide-de-camp in the broadcasts, dictating the code messages and introducing `The Chief'. His metallic baritone and his clipped accent, pregnant with generations of heel-clicking, goose-stepping, command-barking Pomeranian forebears gave just the right military tone to the station. And when he announced:
" Es spricht der Chef... The Chief speaks. . ." I could almost see Hitler himself walking gravely and stiffly up to the microphone in the small interval the Corporal allowed to elapse before, solemn and deep-voiced, he went into his act.
The advent of Reinholz worked wonders in the Corporal. Now, at last, he began to get the knack of how to handle his voice at the microphone. With every transmission he was growing more and more into the role of `Der Chef'. One day he asked me whether he could alter the script to suit his way of talking. I immediately agreed. His alterations were superb. Those salty, vividly impudent Berlinese phrases I had hoped for after my first conversations with him now at last began to blossom forth in all sorts of unexpected places. Soon the Corporal asked me whether he might write a piece on his own. He did, and it was a masterpiece, caustic, witty, even moving. I now had two good writers.
But what G.3 did not have was intelligence material with which to give body to our campaign of subversion by rumour. In those earliest experimental months we had to live off our own knowledge and our own imagination. As Goebbels would have said: we were `sucking the news out of our fingers'. Fortunately we had the stories and personalities I had brought back with me from interrogation of Jewish refugees in Lisbon, with which to give flesh, colour and background to our inventions.
Around the foremen, engineers, and Nazi party pepmen from my Lisbon note-book we were able to build up some convincing inside stories. Reinholz was able to clothe any incidents we liked to locate in Pomerania with details of old von Rohr and his cronies at Demmin. And Max Braun, the Socialist leader who had led the anti-Hitler front in the Saar, was able to help us a great deal from his own Socialist Intelligence contacts in Europe and his remarkably acute reading and interpretation of German newspapers. Max was the third man to join my team.
When I had first met Max seven years earlier in the Saar I had thought him a pathetic and rather ridiculous figure, as he stood on the platform at the status quo rallies, his dumpy pot-bellied figure swathed in a grass green Socialist version of the Nazi brown shirt uniform. But over the four years that we worked together during the war, I got to know him not only as a brilliant intelligence expert, but as a most upright and sincere German patriot. It is one of Germany's tragedies that Max Braun died in April 1945, just when the war was won and his country needed his services most.
I believe that had Max Braun been able to influence the decisions of the German Socialist Party after the war we would not have seen that party become the ineffective unrealistic bunch of sterile officeseekers whose weakness has caused Germany to be left without a competent opposition to the illusionist eastern policies of Chancellor Adenauer.
I have given Max Braun's real name because his true identity was never secret. It was disclosed the morning after his arrival. Foolishly I had given him the cover name `Albert Simon' through ignorance of the old rule that cover names should, whenever at all possible, preserve the initials of the true name. Sure enough, the very first morning before I could intercept him, Max came down to breakfast in a beautiful silk dressinggown with the initials M.B. embroidered on the breast pocket. Reinholz who already the previous evening thought he had recognised the newcomer as Max Braun from newspaper pictures of Max, now did a "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" `Simon' confessed and the secret was out. I learned the lesson.
And when, at my request, my friends from Spain's International Brigade, Albrecht Ernst and Alexander Maass, were contacted by Leonard's cloak-and-dagger friends and brought over to Britain to join me from Lisbon and French North Africa respectively, I was most careful to see that their new initials were identical with their old ones.
* Stennes was an ex-officer who after serving in the German `Black Reichswehr' after the collapse in 1918, became a police officer, resigned from the police to lead Hitler's Stormtroops in Berlin, and later still led a revolt against the appointment of Ernst Rohm as chief of all Stormtroops * Dr. Paul Schmidt Der Statist auf der Gallerie, Bonn 1951- Schmidt says G.S.c was the "cleverest propaganda from the British side". From his description of G.S.i however I think he has muddled it with `Soldatensender Calais' which came later.
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