first experience of propaganda by pornography came in France during
the Phony War period of 1939.
I was a war reporter with the French army in France. On one of my visits to the Maginot Line, a sniggering French Lieutenant showed me what he declared was a very clever piece of German psychological warfare. It consisted of a small picture on very thin tissue paper showing a French soldier doing his duty at the front. But if one held the picture upto the light, the scene underneath underwent a complete change. In place of the brave poilu one now saw in minute salacious detail a British Tommy fornicating with what a caption told us was the Frenchman’s fiancée.
The French were of course a particularly susceptible target for this sort of thing. Especially so during the Phoney War period when the Germans and their communist helpers (the French communists as agents of Hitlers allies, put all their subversive ability into ridiculing the war) had little difficulty in persuading the browned-off French soldier that France’s military effort was a stupid and reactionary waste of time.
frontline dug-outs of the French were decorated with such descriptions
as “Aux prives d’amour” ( roughly : “for
those starved of love” ). I found the walls of a popotte (mess)
in the Seutriche fort of the Maginot Line papered with posters showing
young women whose bosoms had been lovingly enlarged with coloured
chalks wielded by the soldier clients. The walls in the underground
corridors of the Maginot forts were covered with so many erotic graffiti
that I unkindly denounced the Maginot line as “ a fortified
the morale of the troops in most of the Maginot forts I visited was
poor. Discipline seemed on a par with that on the Tsarist cruiser
Potemkin, before the mutiny. When an officer or a sergeant cried “Fixe” ,
none of the men took the slightest notice. Nor did the order “Repos!” make
any difference. They just lounged and sulked.
But I would not put this sulkiness down to the effect of the German “transparencies” or the graffiti and the enlarged bosoms. The german propaganda pornography, as I saw it, was merely exploiting a situation which already existed, not creating it. I therefore doubted whether the “transparencies” prepared with such zeal by Dr Goebbel’s pornographers repaid in subversive effectiveness the substantial production costs involved, not to mention the danger to the agents distributing them among the French troops.
much preferred a simpler and in my estimation more effective exploitation
of the French sex starvation complex. I saw it in operation on the
German side of the Rhine near Kehl where both sides were in full
view of each other.
Every evening a couple of German soldiers would stroll arm in arm with a couple of good-looking and bosomy German blondes along what must have been the old Rhine tow path. Every now and then they stopped for an elaborate display of hugging and kissing. “Necking” is I believe the technical term.
French watching the German necking party from their side of the Rhine
went pale with envy.” If the germans can have their girls up
in their part of the front line”, they complained, “why
the hell can’t we?”
The right thing for the French to have done would have been to open fire on the Germans and force them to get out of sight. But they never did, any more than they opened fire on the german “fraternizers” crossing the Strasbourg bridge to throw cigarettes and chocolates to the French guarding the other end.
In 1939 it never occurred to me that one day my turn would come to wage war on Hitler by pornography. But sure enough that was what the fates held in store for me. Early in 1941 I joined the Psychological Warfare branch of the Foreign Office (The “Political Intelligence department” was its euphemistic title.) The late Hugh Dalton in his capacity as Minister of Economic Warfare had become interested in a German freedom station called “The Workers challenge”. It purported to be broadcasting from inside Britain and voicing the discontents of the so called working class. It had some success by using the foulest language to do so. Old ladies in Torquay and Bournemouth listened in ecstasy as the "Workers" challenged them with a stream of excremental abuse.
Dalton decided that we should reply in kind. The BBC of course, could not be entrusted with such an ungentlemanly task. So he decided that PID should launch a short wave station which would pretend to be operating from somewhere in Hitler's Europe. It would be "Black" ; that is to say it would be top secret and disavowable. Asa good socialist Dalton further ruled that the foul mouths should not preach a left wing doctrine but follow a right wing policy and that PID's new Tory recruit, Delmer should run it. I was delighted to oblige - particularly so, as I was convinced that right-wing opposition was far more interesting in the Third Reich and far more plausible than that of the left. (as was indeed proved by the events of July 20, 1944.)
For my hero I chose a crusty old officer who approved Hitler's anti-Bolshevism but disapproved of the Nazis as a set of corrupt and egotistical National-Bolsheviks. He would be full of patriotic indignation and political and strategic advise, spiced with fascinating inside information - in fact if I may be allowed to say so, a kind of prussian counterpart to our own John Gordon. (That of course applied only to my heroes opinions. not to his language or his revelations!)
Clandestine " Black " stations as compared with the BBC had a very difficult task in collecting an audience. They were restricted to short wave transmitters. PID's Marxist station under the benevolent supervision of my colleague Dick Crossman, after months of broadcasting had no audience in germany not anyhow as far as PID had been able to ascertain. Nor had the right wing station run by a German conservative that had preceded mine. How did I propose to attract listeners?
I decided to use radio-pornography to catch their attention. My "Chef" ( Hitler was always called "Der Chef" by those in his inner circle so I decided to call my veteran hero "Der Chef") became a kind of radio Streicher, except that the victims of his pornographic tirades were Nazis, not Jews.
The recipe was an instant success. One unfortunate young German woman, denounced by the Chef for having insulted the honour of the German army by using an officers steel helmet as a chamber pot during a sexual orgy (our intelligence claimed she was an informant of the Gestapo) is still angry with me today because of the stream of telephone calls she received from listeners denouncing her in the harshest terms. The American military attaches included the broadcasts of the Chef in their dispatches to Washington as evidence of the growing rift between the army and the nationalist Socialist party.
But here is the point I am trying to make; we did not use pornography because we thought it would have a deleterious effect on our German listeners. We used it simply for its listener appeal-- just as some popular newspapers use scabrous stories and pictures of scantily clad models to increase their circulation. And we took great care not to let it seem that the Chef enjoyed the bawdy details of what he revealed of the licentious sexual excesses of Hitler's "elite2. He never sniggered over them. His denunciations were filled with the indignation and horror of a salvation army evangelist. He was a puritan diehard of the old Prussian army revolted by the depravity and corruption of the party functionaries and determined to expose and chastise them. Never, never did he let on that he was retailing these salty scandals to make his listeners eager to listen to his next harangue, which in all probability would be completely free of any pornography.
I took an enormous amount of trouble over the Chef's erotica and devoted many hours of patient research to finding ever new forms sexual depravity to attribute to our victims in the Hitler machine. Professor Magnus Hirschfield, on whose works, incinerated during the famous burning of the books in 1933, I depended for much of the detail, would i am sure have welcomed the Chef's broadcasts as a sweet revenge. We also adopted the teqnique of the Austrian creator of an equivalent to Fanny Hill, a young woman with a name like Mitzi mutzenbacher. this Austrian author never allowed his heroine to consummate her erotic adventures. The Chef too, was always careful to leave the end to his listeners imagination.
As the war went on and we received more and more accurate information on which the Chef could base his tirades - and more and more evidence of the Chef's growing number of listeners - I reduced the pornography in his output to minimal proportions. not however before Dick Crossman's Marxist's jealous of the Chef's success, translated one of his more outrageous scripts and passed it to Sir Stafford-Cripps. Cripps reaction went farther even than that of Lord Longford in today's Copenhagen.
He immediately demanded to see the Foreign Secretary. " If this is the sort of thing we have to do to do to win the war", he told Sir Anthony Eden, flourishing the offending script in his trembling hand, " I would rather lose it ! " Fortunately by this time I already enjoyed considerable support from the fighting services, and in the end my own immediate boss was able to smooth down the irate Sir Stafford.
My cloak-and dagger friends in SOE ( the special Operations Executive) were constantly clamoring for printed pornography. But I still took the same view of printed pornography as I had in France in 1939. Looking back, I do not think my unit produced more than three items of printed pornography during the whole war, not because I was squeamish, but simply because I did not think the effort involved on our part would be justified by the subversive effect on the Germans.
The first item was a two-page folding leaflet. Its theme was the Kaisers Germany's patriotic song " The Watch on the Rhine". A very gloomy picture of a snow covered grave somewhere on the Russian front, headed the first verse of the Watch on the Rhine:
Lieb vaterland magst ruhig sein _ ( dear fatherland you may rest assured )
By rights that inspiring thought would be followed by a second verse.
Fest steht und treu die Wacht am Rhein _ ( Firm stands true the watch on the Rhine.)
Instead, the picture of the soldiers grave and its reassuring caption was followed by a second page overleaf showing in colour a picture of a naked girl, painted in the style favored by Adolf Hitler in such beloved pictures as "Leda and the Swan". about to seat herself on the upright penis of some dark haired and dark skinned non-German.
The Caption read: "Fest steckt's und treu der Fremdarbeiter rein."
(" Firmly sticks it and true the foreign worker in"). Depending on the region selected for this documents distrubution, we alternated the word Fremdabeiter with der Italiener or even der Makaroni.
I would like to thank Rod Oakland for allowing me to use this leaflet from his extensive collection of propaganda leaflets.
My SOE friends ordered these leaflets by the thousand. But ironically not because they found them to be subversive of German morale, but because they found them excellent for the morale of their men distributing them!
The next pornographic leaflet we did was a exquisite menu for a dinner party given by some Nazi gourmet for his friends. I cannot now remember who it was. All that I recall was that the menu included dishes way beyond the reach or even the imagination of the ordinary strictly rationed German. Surrounding the menu was a kind of frieze rather in the manner of the pre war cover of Punch. On closer examination, however, it proved to be nothing as harmless as Mr Punch's cornucopia of frolic. Instead it presented a sphinctrian orgy with all the figure male and female alike, connected in pervert intimacy. I cannot think why we bothered to add this touch. The essential propaganda was the menu which provided evidence for any sceptical member of the German public how well the party priviligentsia lived when the ordinary German was forced to obey a strict system of rationing.
The third pornographic leaflet we did was never distributed. Not that SOE objected to it. On the contrary they were lavish with praise. But an old army colonel - he had served a lifetime in Poona, an experience which had not failed to leave its mark on him - had found it on the table of my secret printer whom he had visited with a view to acquiring some of our latest philatelic counterfeits. When he saw this particular piece of pornography he was almost beside himself with indignant fury. I did not want to hurt the old man by challenging him to battle over an item of pornography to which in any case I attached no great importance. So I immediately withdrew it. But it was not really all that bad.
The German army's propaganda unit had been putting out a series of leaflets purporting to expose how the enemy was retouching photographs and faking them to convey untruths. By this time my "Black" printer was an expert at counterfeiting german documents, using the same type, the same paper, and the same size as the German original. So I got him to put the same title on our counterfeit. " Wie sie falshen", it said ( How they forge ). Then with a suitable text we exposed a palpable forgery of a Hitler photograph, which we attributed to the despicable treachery of an internal enemy. The genuine original photograph showed Hitler in his usual saluting posture, right arm upraised, his left resting on the buckle of his belt. The forgery however showed a huge penis under his left hand. Our caption read: " This is a most appalling forgery, Everyone one know the Fuhrer does not possess anything of the kind". Well, I don't really blame the old colonel. As pornography this item was not attractive. In fact, it was revolting. All the same, I would have been interested to have seen what effect it had on the German propagandists.
Do I regret this pornography which I perpetrated during my few years as a temporary government servant ? I certainly do not on morale grounds. As far as I was concerned, anything was in order which helped to defeat Hitler. And I don't regret the Chef's forays into erotic propaganda. it helped him get launched much more quickly than he would have been without it. later I closed down his station and their was no more pornography on those that preceded him.
But I never really changed my mind about the ineffectiveness of printed pornography. And I make that statement with all the authority I possess as the only man to ever have been encouraged to practice pornography by a Minister or HM Government. Blessed be the memory of Dr Hugh Dalton.
And now having qualified myself as HMG's Director of Pornography (retd) I can hear the reader asking; What is your view of the present wave of pornography sweeping the civilized world? Do you consider that it has been deliberately launched by some fiendish Machiavelli in order to debauch the young and undermine their respect for discipline and human dignity ? Is some underground gang deliberately plotting to demoralize our society, so that it shall fall an easy prey to the revolutionary forces of Anarchism and Bolshevism?
My short answer, madam, is: "I do not"
Nor do I think the "Porno-wave", as they call it in Germany, will have that effect, But I do think it is a symptom of the moral deterioration of our western society just as the graffiti in the underground corridors of the Maginot line were a symptom of the deterioration in the discipline and morale of the French army, a deterioration which led to its ultimate disintegration and defeat.
If we want to stop our descent into demoralization and degeneracy it will do us no good to pounce on the porno-wave and try to extirpate it by flinging the pornographers into concentration camps and publicly burning their products. That would have as little effect as it would have had to stop the french from scribbling erotica on the walls of the Maginot forts. For the French a more effective measure would have been to restore a little spit and polish to the general turnout of the poilu, to have removed officers who with their liberal tolerance allowed men to ignore orders. The Ministry of War should have replaced them with commandants who insisted on being obeyed.
As an ex-pornographer myself I must however confess how greatly I am impressed by the subtlety and skill of some of the present exponents of the art. One magazine for instance magnificently adapts itself to the intellectual level,of its clientele by adapting the guise of a children's comic and thus presenting itself in the only style of literature to which its readers are accustomed. Strip cartoons dealing with the superman adventures of its pervert heroes mingle with full-page drawings, done in a style which appears to be a brilliant cross of Beardsley, Bosch and Dali with perhaps a dash of Simplicissimus thrown in. An immense amount of artistic labour and ingenuity would appear to have gone into the walpurgis night whirlings of genitals, male and female. Are they intended to represent the libidinous dream world of LSD users? I cannot tell you.
But there is no mistaking the purpose of the columns of the small ads: "Young lady offers stag films and photos....Photographer will photograph anything....Cordless massages, deep vibrations, etc, etc...."
Nevertheless I am prepared to venture a prediction: the "Porno-wave" - however profitable it may be at present to its commercial exploiters will gradually peter out. The market will be saturated. Quite early in my life I discovered that there is nothing so anaphrodisiac as a swimming bath filled with nudists. Even when they were pretty ones. So I am not alarmed by the latest news from Stockholm : " For a fee of from 50 to 100 crowns tourists can have themselves photographed with one or more naked girls in whatever pose they choose."
Go Ahead ! Take as many pictures as you please. Soon the bosses of the pornography business will find the bottom has dropped out of the market. But I fear that this by itself will not wipe out the effect of our egalitarianism and liberal permissiveness are having on our civilisation. Particularly on those sectors of our community which as a result of spendthrift subsidies have passed straight to degeneracy without ever going through a stage of civilised citizenship.