Certain firms in neutral countries such as Switzerland and Portugal, among them the German Hamburg Amerika Line, were advertising at this time that they could deliver food parcels to recipients in blockaded Germany. Germans with friends abroad who could pay in Swiss francs, Portuguese cscudos, or in dollars, could arrange to have hampers containing coffee, sugar, butter, tinned milk and other scarce delicacies released to them from special depots in Germany.
We had been exploiting these shipments on the Soldatensender as a new angle for our `inequality of sacrifice' campaign against the `Party privilegentsia' who, we said, were the chief beneficiaries of this system. And then suddenly an idea occurred to me. For some time the Soldatensender had been putting out news items about the high wages in dollars that German prisoners in Canada and the U.S. were earning for the work they were doing over there as lumbermen, farmhands, lorry drivers, and the like. Would it not be the most natural thing in the world for these German prisoners to want their folks in Germany to share in their good fortune? Why should they not send some of their dollars to Switzerland or Portugal in order to buy food parcels for the families in the Fatherland? Well, if they would not, or could not do it themselves, we would do it for them through our S.O.E. agents in Switzerland and Portugal.
Frank Lynder compiled a list of relatives of U-boat P.o.W.s and their addresses. My friends in S.O.E. and the British taxpayer did the rest. As the food parcels began to arrive (we read the thank-you letters the families sent to the putative donors in Canada) the news soon got around among the German fighting men of the splendid opportunities that awaited them in Canadian captivity. Enemy propaganda? Nonsense, look at the splendid parcel young Scholler had just sent his parents! Some of the grateful parents became our best propagandists. One old baronial Lord of the Manor in Pomerania was so moved by our little gift to him, that he placed it on a table in front of his house and made the whole of his village march past the parcel to inspect what his dear son Siegismund-Sizzo had sent his old father from `over there'.
To lighten my conscience a little-and help on our desertion campaign at the same time-I also arranged for food parcels to be sent to those relatives of dead soldiers whom we had hoaxed so cruelly with our `Red Circle' letters. To reinforce their belief that the dead man was not dead at all but a deserter earning good money in a safe refuge abroad we gave the alleged sender of the food parcel the dead man's Christian name. His surname however was new just as it would have been had he started a new life abroad. I felt sorrier than ever for the wives and parents and sisters in whom we were stimulating these false hopes. But this time at least they were getting something out of it. Something to eat.
A rather less charitable operation was one called `Braddock' which we laid on a little later in the year. We were indebted for this one to Winston Churchill himself and the American novelist John Steinbeck. In his novel about occupied Norway Steinbeck had told how Norwegian Resistance men set fire to German stores. Churchill read the book late one night at Chequers and decided that here was an excellent idea. He gave orders for an incendiary device to be perfected for the use of resistance fighters throughout Hitler Europe.
A neat little thing it was too, a tube about three inches long of which you could safely carry several around in your pocket. Winston gave it the cover name `Braddock'. All you had to do to get the `Braddock' working was to pinch in the pointed end, push it into the Peasantfiihrer's haystack, the Gauleiter's sofa, or whatever else you thought would make a good starting point for a fire, and get out of sight. Fifteen minutes after you had squeezed the end the tube would burst noiselessly into flame.
Winston Churchill wanted the R.A.F. to drop this little infernal machine during its raids on Germany I was told by my friends in Air Intelligence. But Sir Arthur `Bomber' Harris, a tough and hard-headed man, refused to let the R.A.F. carry any` Braddocks'. He indignantly maintained-and with all my admiration for Churchill I think he was right-that a load of bombs did more damage than an equivalent load of the `Braddocks' would.
" I am not going to have my air crews risking their lives," said Harris, "for some damn novelist's fancy toys." Churchill gave way and so `Braddock' had been abandoned and forgotten." But who has the Braddocks now?" I asked, when I heard the story, "they sound to me like an ideal weapon of psychological warfare."
It turned out that they were with S.O.E., and my opposite numbers there were only too happy to let me have them. I explained the plan I had for `Braddock'. We would have twenty or thirty thousand of them dropped every night by the American squadron of Flying Fortresses which were carrying leaflets to Germany. They would do this for me I was sure.
We would also print an appeal to the foreign workers in Germany in their various languages, instructing them to use this incendiary weapon against their Nazi oppressors, the aim of the operation being to make the Gestapo and the German public believe that many of the fires they saw raging around them were caused, not by allied incendiaries, but by foreign workers using the `Braddocks'.
Not that I had any illusions that the foreign workers would in fact use them or that the `Braddocks' would cause vast fires. I had no hopes of the foreign workers because-contrary to the propaganda put out by my own department-I did not believe that the majority of foreign workers were 'press-ganged into slave labour'. I looked on them rather as willing collaborators attracted to Germany by the good pay and good rations the astute Munitions Minister Speer was giving them-a view in which I was confirmed after the war by Speer's right-hand man Willy Schlieker, the ship-building tycoon of today. As for the `Braddocks' themselves, S.O.E. had warned me they might be `a little stale', and when I tried one out on my lawn it stubbornly refused to burst into flame. It did not even burn when I put it on the fire!
But that did not worry me. All I hoped for was that the `Braddocks' would turn the police and the public against the foreign workers and thereby reduce very considerably the value and efficiency of this hitherto loyal and devoted labour force. And to judge by the reactions of the Goebbels Ministry and the German police when the operation was carried out, it achieved all that and more.