Lord Haw-Haw | The Nazi broadcaster who threatened Britain
WRITTEN DOCUMENT UNKNOWN BUT PROBABLY MARCH 1940?
Director of Home Intelligence,
One aspect of broadcasting is becoming very important. There is more or less consistent listening to Hamburg in the B.E.F., in Officers' messes, men's canteens and estaminets. The D.M.I. considers that this is a grave danger to morale and may be in the future a very definite penetration point for enemy propaganda.
"Haw Haw", or his successor, is at present treated as a joke but by the free publicity given to him in every possible way, both out here and at home, not only has his general listening public been increased but the widespread discussion of his outstanding faults has enabled German propaganda experts to correct those faults and to make his broadcasts more palatable to British listeners.
The phrases "Of course he does bring out a lot of good points, you know" and "Let's hear what Hamburg's got to say about it" are still frequently heard. The danger is not serious at the moment but should any series of reverses at sea, on land or in the air take place there is no doubt that alarmist reports from Hamburg would find a large military audience ready to receive them, and ready to accept some proportion as being true.
Any question of coercion, or a veto on listening to Hamburg, is out of the question. That would have the very worst possible effect, because it is the very method we deride in the enemy.
There is only one real remedy, and it lies entirely in the hands of the B.B.C. We must ensure not only that our Forces programmes are as good as is humanly possible, but that, for some time to come at any rate, the Hamburg talks in English during the peak listening periods (5.30 to 10.00) are nullified by having as a counter attraction the very best items we can produce, with a very decided majority appeal. The "High spots" of variety, and recorded or live commentaries on first class sporting events will invariably beat Hamburg hands down and I think that such a programme policy, to be worked out between the monitor service and programme planning, should be put into force as early as possible.
There is no question but that the present Forces programme as a whole is excellent, and is exactly what the troops want, but it is simply the question of timing that is vital. Items should be so spaced and arranged that if any man tries to switch on to Hamburg there should follow a general shout of indignation from the other occupants of the canteen who are waiting for a very popular item.
(General Staff - Section 8)
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Document Type | Letter
A British Army major writes to Home Intelligence at the BBC highlighting concerns about Haw-Haw's propaganda. He advises that these broadcasts should not be countered directly with analysis and corrections, as this would enable Haw-Haw to improve and in turn command bigger audiences. Neither should there be a veto on listening to him. Instead, the only solution lies with the BBC.
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