"The increase in acts of sabotage committed by French guerrillas disguised in Wafpen SS uniforms has led to the, issue of a new order by the chief of the military government in France, Dr. Michel.
It lays down that all directives must in future be signed with the full name. In several cases members of the French Underground have succeeded in obtaining W'affen SS uniforms by producing orders with illegible signatures. The habit of signing orders illegibly has increased recently, since it became known that French secret organisations are collecting the names of officials of the occupying authorities and smuggling them abroad to have them added to the lists of war criminals."
An order had, in fact, been issued by Dr. tilichel insisting on the greater legibility of signatures-though he did not motivate it with the reasons we gave here! Yes, with skilfully angled news items it was possible to put any amount of ideas into the heads of our listeners. We could even suggest ways of malingering, for instance, by reporting exactly how a Hitler Youth Fuhrer had got himself home by temporarily laming his leg.
" . . . Oberstammfuhr-er Schmutzler owes his temporary laming to an old and infallible prescription. He tied a rubber eraser to the hollow of his knee at night so that it pressed hard against the nerve until all the symptoms of genuine lameness were manifested, thus procuring him release from the army."
Innumerable, of course, were the news items about party dignitaries and the efforts of the Party Propaganda apparatus to eradicate from the German people what we called `Kriegsund-Parteimudigkeit'-war-and-party weariness. We reported the failure of these efforts and attributed it to the privileges which high party officials enjoyed and which continued to arouse bitterness among the people. Then we would list the privileges:
" (1) The exemption of Party Officials from the Living Space ordinance* under which they are not like other folk-comrades compelled to receive bomb-victims or East refugees in their homes. * Wohnraumlenkungsverordnung.
(2) The exemption of young political leaders from front-line service. Such political leaders are either exempted altogether from military service or they absolve a short token period of war service as propaganda speakers behind the lines. Then they return as propaganda speakers to the home front.
(3) The exemption of the party aristocracy from food rationing by the granting to them of so-called Diplomatic Rations for purposes of entertaining and representation. By this means higher Party officials receive two and three times the amount of food allocated to ordinary folk-comrades.
(4) The exemption of Party officials from ordinary justice and their subjection to the special judicature of the Party. In this way Party Officials escape prosecution for offences which, in the case of ordinary folk-comrades, would entail severe penalties."
And, of course, the speeches of the party dignitaries full of pathos, unwavering confidence in the Fiihrer and final victory not only provided us with admirable cover but with a bottomless source of the kind of irony which finds a ready appreciation among the more sophisticated Germans.
" Gauleiter Jordan forged a new slogan on the occasion of the conference of the Gau Labour-chamber in Magdeburg. `Our enemies may boast' he said, `that they have the largest number of aircraft, Panzer-tanks, the most numerous labour f`orce and the most gold.' For us National Socialists, however, it is decisive that we possess the best philosophy."
After which stirring pronouncement, Alex Nlaass, our chief disk jockey, would play a short tinkle on a piano record, just five or six seconds, to allow the point to sink in.
Taken in a continuous series as I have presented them here these items would, of course, have reeked of enemy propaganda. But they did not appear one after another like this. They appeared in between items taken from Dr. Goebbels's own DNB service announcing decorations and birthdays, proclaiming ordinances, telling the listener about the new films being shown in Germany, and the latest football results. In this mixture our 'softening-up' went down as smoothly as arsenic in a cup of cordial.
What was perhaps just as important in attracting listeners was that our programmes were always entertaining. They did not bore our German audiences, jaded as they were by a surfeit of Dr. Goebbels's eternal optimism. We did not go in for pompous generalities. We reported detailed and telling facts and took immense trouble to present our news wherever possible with the human and personal angles beloved of such popular newspapers as the Daily Express. Where the B.B.C., for instance, would have said: "R.A.F. bombers last night dropped a heavy load of bombs on the marshalling yard at Metz . . ." the Soldatensender handled the news in this way:
" Many comrades who had hoped to travel home this weekend on a short Whitsun Leave from their billets in France are tonight held up in and around Metz. All railway traffic through Metz has been stopped as a result of last night's air raid. As is reported by the Railway Transport Office in Metz it will be another forty-eight hours before the damage can be repaired and the leave trains can proceed. Cafes and night-spots still open in Metz which we can recommend are . . ."
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During the 1960's and 70's MB was taken over by vandals, burnt, and daubed with graffti. photo 1986