The Nazis Plan a Comeback

Wily propaganda will be directed at Allied occupation troops in Germany, says this writer . . . They'll try to Nazify them

CURT RIESS April 1 1945

The Nazis Plan a Comeback

Wily propaganda will be directed at Allied occupation troops in Germany, says this writer . . . They'll try to Nazify them

CURT RIESS April 1 1945

The Nazis Plan a Comeback

Wily propaganda will be directed at Allied occupation troops in Germany, says this writer . . . They'll try to Nazify them


OCCUPATION and re-education . . . these are the two foundation stones for all plans for a defeated Germany. The occupation must he maintained so that Germany can be prevented from rearming for another war; the education must destroy Nazi teachings and the German lust for world conquest.

Hut the Nazis, too, have a plan. Their plan is to prevent all we hope to achieve. They figure that there is a good chance of eventually rearming Germany in spite of enemy occupation, even under the very eyes of the Allies. They also think that they have as good a chance of re-educating the Allies and infiltrating them with the germ of Nazism as we have of reeducating German people to democracy.

After the last war Germany went to great lengths to change the ideas óf the world about Germany. Lecturers were sent abroad to prove that Germany had not started the war; many means of propaganda were used to create pity for starving German women and children. Everything considered, the Germans were extremely successful in this endeavor. The world rapidly forgot the horrors of yesteryear. But this was only one reason for German propaganda successes. The other reason was that the Allies immediately started to quarrel among themselves; therefore one or another of them was always willing to take the side of Germany. Also, the American and the British always feel sorry for the underdog—and Germany was the underdog.

Germany will be the underdog again. And undoubtedly German propagandists will once more try to prove to the world at large that the Germans really are not so bad. They may not even have to travel abroad to spread their propaganda lies. There is a golden opportunity for them to establish such a “proof” right at home. This opportunity is the troops of occupation.

How many Russians, English and American troops, with some French and Polish thrown in, will there be in Germany? Estimates vary from 500,000 to 2,000,000. How long will they occupy Germany? Again the estimates vary. Some advocate five years, some 20 years, others think there may have to be 60 years of occupation. In any case the units policing Germany will be rotated several times. Thus probably several million foreign troops will at one time or another be stationed inside Germany. Which provides several million guinea pigs for the new Nazi propaganda line.

So far the Nazi propaganda about the occupation of Germany by the Allies still says that the occupation would be the most terrible thing which could happen to Germany. Therefore it must be fought by every German, women and children included.

It is natural that the great majority of Germans should feel unhappy about the coming occupation. Even under the most favorable circumstances no nation likes its land occupied. The Germans would resent Allied occupation even if the Allies showed the utmost generosity and contented themselves with seeing that the peace treaties were carried out. But the Nazis have never depended much on what people think or feel. They have never been in favor of improvisation; they always planned carefully ahead of time; then they carried out their well-laid plans.

It is for this reason that early in 1943, even before we had conquered the whole of North Africa, they created a department which was responsible for devising and spreading propaganda slogans inciting the Germans to the utmost resistance against the forces of occupation. This propaganda line—to frighten the Germans of the consequences of Allied occupation and make them fight against the occupation forces—is useful only while the war continues. Once the war is over the propaganda line will be changed and will become part of a long-range policy; once the shooting war is over the attempts at spreading Nazi propaganda among the millions of guinea pigs will begin.

Plans for this will be devised and carried out by Department Ten of the Propaganda Ministry.

Ostensibly this Department was created to handle problems of education. For some time it worked closely with the Office For Families With Many Children (Amt für Kinderreiche), the office which exhorts German women to bear more children and exploits top results in that line. In charge of Department Ten was a certain Erwin Lande, for some time Goebbels’ favorite in the Propaganda Ministry, who carries the untranslatable title, Ministerialrat erster Klasse. Lande soon hired himself a press agent named Fritz Sundtke, but for some time the German press could find out nothing about the activities of Department Ten.

Then, in the summer of 1943, Goebbels himself announced the Department. He introduced Lande to one of his conferences of important editors of German newspapers. He told them that they must aid Lande

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The Nazis Plan a Comeback

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and his Department in every way possible, and divulged that the Department was founded in order to coordinate all propaganda efforts dealing with strengthening the German fighting spirit.

In September, 1943, shortly after the conference, Lande’s Department 1 en published its first little pamphlet. It was called, “Why Must Germany Win?” Here for the first time an official publication admitted in print the possibility of a German defeat. From then on Department 1 en furnished daily material for the press and the radio on the consequences of such a defeat. Prominent industrialists, university professors and physicians were asked to write for the Department.

The Nazis’ present contention that none of the occupation troops ever will leave Germany alive was, of course, formulated by Department Ten. Needless to say, Lande and Sundtke know, as do all the other Nazi leaders, that this threat will not come true. But they are really serious in their hope that no troops of occupation will leave Germany anti-Nazi. That is the real task of Department Ten; that is what Lande and Sundtke and their collaborators are working toward now. Once Germany is occupied Department Ten will cease to exist officially. But it will continue to exist under some innocent name. And by that time the carrying out of the plan will be in full swing.

What will Department Ten do to influence the troops of occupation and to change their fundamental views about Germany and Germans?

Erwin Lande knows, of course, that it is out of question to use direct methods. He cannot possibly hope to influence the Allied troops by talking to them from secret radio stations or by providing them with propaganda pamphlets. But he can speak to them through interpreters. His best interpreters will be German women, German children and German war cripples.

These interpreters, or agents, will be coached later on. Now the general line of approach is being mapped out, and a number of men and women are being coached to do in turn the coaching of the thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands of would-be interpreters.

The new Nazi line is not to come out for anything or against anything. The new Nazi line will be to create an atmosphere of sympathy and understanding. In this connection it is particularly interesting that German

women will be used as a bait. During the last occupation of Germany a girl who so much as spoke to foreign soldiers was ostracized. It may well be that this time, too, official slogans will forbid German women to have anything to do with foreign soldiers. But those women who are being coached to work for Lande and Department Ten will know’ that they can prove their patriotism and earn the undying thanks of the fatherland by being friendly with foreign soldiers. Lande and Sundtke feel, and with good reason, that a foreigner, once he has fallen in love with a German woman, may be unwilling to believe that the nation to which she belongs is bad and must be kept under constant control.

There is no doubt that the Nazis will concentrate on the youth to carry through their plan of a comeback. The occupation of Germany will play a vast part in the teachings of German schools and university professors in years to come. The children will be constantly admonished to revenge the German defeat in some distant future -but for the present to be “nice” to the troops of occupation.

At the same time these children will be cynically used to create sympathy in the troops of occupation. Since it may be expected that conditions inside Germany will degenerate to the point of hunger and starvation, the hearts of many foreign soldiers will go out to these German children. They will feel that it is unjust to make these children suffer for the sins of their fathers. They may even come to the conclusion that the fathers of these nice children cannot be altogether bad. They will witness touching scenes of family life—never suspecting that these nice suffering children are constantly being taught that one day they have to fight the children of the soldiers of occupation.

War cripples play an important part in the plans of Department Ten. After all they w’ere soldiers, just like the Allied soldiers inside Germany. Just as the Allied soldiers have done their duty, they have done theirs. What is more, they have sacrificed their health, arms, and legs for their fatherland.

Allied soldiers will feel sorry for them and will try to treat them with the respect due comrades in arms. Department Ten banks heavily on this. For it is the war cripples who will have to spread the new party line.

New Wine In . . .

The spreading of the line will begin only after an atmosphere of general sympathy and mutual understanding is created—once the Allied soldiers have gained the impression that, after all, the Germans are quite nice and more or less like the people back home, that they really cannot be blamed for what a few of their crazy leaders did to the world.

Therefore the new propaganda line will ignore the names of Nazi leaders, as well as the fact that there ever was a Nazi Party. Hitler will play no part in the conversation between Allied troops and German war cripples, as devised by Department Ten. Nothing in these conversations will have any semblance to the propaganda dispersed by the Nazis over the last 20 years. Department Ten has learned from mistakes made in the past. All the features that created resentment abroad will either be cancelled or played down.

The new Nazi line will no longer be anti-Catholic or anti-Protestant. The German heathen religion of Rosenberg and his followers will not even be mentioned. It is quite possible that even anti-Semitic slogans will be cut down to an absolute minimum. Of course German interpreters and agents

will have to admit that there had been anti-Semitism in some cases, and that there were certain measures actually taken against the Jews. But they personally never believed in anti-Semitism; in fact some of their best friends were Jews.

The Germans will profess regret that there ever was a war. They will even admit that their leaders—whom they disavow completely— had something to do with starting it. But perhaps, they will say, it was all for the best. To the English and American soldiers they will confide that, after all, Germany had saved the world from Bolshevism. On the other hand the Russian soldiers will be given “proof” that National Socialism was really anticapitalistic.

Department Ten is already preparing statistics which will play a large part in such propaganda. “Three million Germans died to save the world from Communism.” Or: “Three million

Germans died to save the world from the Anglo-American plutocrats.” Later on—much later—there will be pamphlets and posters written around such slogans. Already they are being planned by copywriters in Department Ten.

. . . Old Bottles

Department Ten is also preparing to collaborate with sympathizers abroad. In all countries there will be campaigns to speed the recall of the troops of occupation from Germany. Millions of nostalgic letters will be written to the soldiers, letters inspired by proGerman societies or agents abroad. At the same time German women, particularly elderly women, will do everything to remind the soldiers of their loved ones back home; to make them homesick and thus discontented with policing Germany.

During the first months of World War II there was a successful underground propaganda campaign inside France, directed by German agents, that resulted in thousands of letters to French soldiers at the front. Anonymously written, these letters told that wives back home were having a good time, too good a time, with English soldiers. Such methods may be expected, five to 10 years hence, to break down the morale of the troops in occupied Germany and to direct their anger against somebody or other back home. This somebody or other will be the ones they would like to fight. After all, why fight the Germans? They are really quite nice people . . .

These are only a few features of a plan of grand strategy which even now is being worked out inside Germany, a plan of grand strategy directed against the troops of occupation and also to make these troops potential allies. Undoubtedly the plan will be completed, worked out to the last detail, on the day the occupation of Germany becomes a reality and Department Ten begins to function under a new name.

Whether it will work is another question. German propaganda abroad has notably failed to understand how the minds of free people work. But it is quite possible that the same propaganda which failed to convert the world when it was spread with the help of tanks and bombers, and to the accompaniment of shooting of hostages, will have a better chance when spread by underdogs and obviously harmless people.

At least the Germans think that they have this chance.