Lord Haw-Haw | The Nazi broadcaster who threatened Britain

Principles and Objectives of British Wartime Propaganda

The Ministry of Information's policy on British propaganda.

BBC ARCHIVE
WRITTEN
DOCUMENT
1940

[Page 1 of 2]
By Minister of Information [handwritten]
March 1940 [handwritten]
MOI file here [handwritten]
Registry [handwritten]
Secret [handwritten]

PRINCIPLES AND OBJECTIVES OF BRITISH WARTIME PROPAGANDA.

A. CALL TO ARMS, TO EFFORT, TO SELF SACRIFICE.

1. This is your war, the nation's war. You decided, rightly, that it had to come. You wage it; no one else can. You will end it; for it can't be fought without you. You would be responsible, as well as your leaders, if it ended in defeat.

2. The war has only just begun. There are many dangers ahead. The Germans owing to their numbers are the greatest military power in the world. For seven years Hitler and the Nazi Party have been building them into a war machine. There may be discontent, but it has no voice; opposition, but it has no power. It is that war machine you have to beat. To that extent you are fighting the German people - 80 million of them.

3. The dangers ahead may be physical dangers - bombing, privation. You can't be sure till they happen. The Germans have been taught to be ruthless and to hate the British. They are merciless.

4. One of the worst dangers is apathy on your part. It could lose the war because this is a war of wills as well as guns. Don't be neutral-minded.

5. Remember your word is pledged to France and other countries. Their security is yours.

6. No war was ever won without effort, suffering, sacrifice. Make up your minds to them as your enemies have long since. In freedom you must be as quick to discipline and self-surrender as men in the bonds of dictatorship.

B. WHAT IS AT STAKE.

1. What is at stake is the ideal of a good life which free men have created through two thousand years. A life based on equal justice, respect for the individual, family affections and love of truth.

2. Nazi Germany boasts the justice of the Gestapo, the break up of the family, and truth distorted to serve ruthless party ends.

3. Defeat means the end of life as we understand it in Western Europe.

4. It also means:

(a) A permanently disabled Britain, the command of the seas lost, under the thumb of the strongest Continental power.

(b) The Gestapo, the concentration camp, Nazi vengeance on yourself and a quarter of the world, including many weak peoples who look to you for protection. These evil things strike at your home, your children, your trade union, your politics, your religion.

(c) That the peoples now enslaved by Germany must abandon hope of liberation.

[Page 2 of 2]

5. Victory means

(a) Release for Germany's victims.

(b) The right to live, think, vote, talk and worship God as you choose.

(c) That the new world which must rise from the war will be Christian and not Satanic, spiritual and not material.

6. No peace could be justified which does not secure these results. You are fighting for justice and decency between man and man, nation and nation.

C. THE WAY TO VICTORY.

1. We shall win the war by our strength; but that includes will and economic power as much as military power.

2. We are making an immense effort, by sea, land and air. Our army, navy, air force are alert and valiant.

3. Our industrial and financial resources are vital for victory. Work for victory; save for victory.

4. Be of good heart; we fight for the right and against evil; we have with us, in growing strength, the free nations of the Empire from the ends of the earth; the French, our allies, are a brave and unconquerable people.

5. But no magnitude of strength and resources is in itself enough. There must be a concentration of mind as well. A determination and a will to victory.

6. The greater the will, the greater the effort, the sooner victory, peace and the security of a better world.

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Document Type | Directive

March 1940

Document version

Writtencirca

1940

Synopsis

The Ministry of Information lists the principles and objectives that should be communicated through propaganda to the British public. It's a clear 'call to arms', relaying the dangers that Britain faces, including apathy, while providing a guide to victory. The document was received by the BBC, which conducted propaganda under the watch of Ministry of Information officials.

Did you know?

The Ministry of Information was established on 4 September 1939, the day after Britain's declaration of war. This document is dated March 1940. In the following months, Germany invaded Norway, Denmark, France, Belgium and the Netherlands and, for the first time, Western Europe experienced Blitzkrieg or 'lightning war'. This marked the end of the Phoney War and the beginning of the real one, underlined all the more by events in May and June at Dunkirk.

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