The British in WWII Reported Own Losses to Undermine Nazi Confidence in Wins

An old story from The Guardian reported how transparency played in a war with liars:

An academic trawl of the corporation’s archives has revealed that while the Nazi regime used puppet broadcasters such as William Joyce – nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw – to spin messages of German invincibility, the BBC was choosing to broadcast detailed news of Britain’s military setbacks. The decision was part of a deliberate strategy to win the hearts and minds of the German people, says Dr Vike Martina Plock of the department of English at Exeter University, who discovered memos from the time during research at the BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham Park, Reading.

The strategy was simple.

If the Allies could openly admit defeats, it was believed [by Nazi listeners], they must be extremely confident, convinced of their eventual victory over Nazi Germany.

Tales of invincibility projects weakness, whereas confidence comes through when talking openly about losses.

For instance, on 27 November 1942 the service reported on the bombing of Toulon by the Germans and the scuttling of the French fleet by Allied forces to avoid capture by the Nazis. The invasion of Norway was covered with similar attention to detail. On 6 April 1940, days before the invasion the BBC German Service accordingly told listeners that the German navy had sunk 52 Norwegian ships causing the death of 392 people.

The BBC referred to themselves as “The Fourth Arm” of warfare and some of it still can be reviewed in their archives.

Source: BBC Genome

Here’s the kind of honesty in British reporting the Germans reoriented themselves towards:

Source: Indian Annual Register, Volume 1, 1945, page 253

On the flip side of this story about truth telling, it also seems important to look at examples of the “spin” such as all the fiction about Rommel, who I’ve written about before.

A couple years after his failures in North Africa and Europe he was coerced into suicide by state threats to kill his entire family, covered up by propaganda claiming he died from battle wounds.

Hitler indeed demanded Rommel commit suicide or be forced to watch all his family and contacts be gunned down first before being executed; chief of staff and commanding officer already having been executed by Hitler.

Rommel’s reputation obviously was artificially inflated during and after his life. This despite massive failures and pathetically supporting Hitler all the way to taking a poison pill to prove he remained loyal to the lies of fascism. He literally said in his final days the coming occupation (anti-fascism truth-telling) wouldn’t suit him.

And in that context we must also not forget “Lord Haw-Haw” was in the end held responsible for his Nazi “spin” broadcasts.

4 January 1946: William Joyce, known as Lord Haw-Haw, who started his Nazi propaganda broadcasts with ‘Germany calling,’ is executed for treason.

It was a similar fate for another Nazi “spin” broadcaster, Paul Ferdonnet from France, also who I’ve written about before.

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