XIX: The Secret Press Instructions

By a Nazi decree which became effective January 1, 1934, the German press was declared to be "an instrument of the State." At that moment freedom of the press in Germany received its death blow. Free discussion and independent thought were officially barred. Henceforth, the press was to be guided by the cardinal. principle of Hitlerian statecraft -- "Whatever is useful to the national-socialist State is right."

The lie was thus elevated to a state tenet. It no longer mattered whether the information conveyed to the reading public was the truth. It mattered only that the Nazi state was served by the publication. Dr. Joseph Goebbels and his assistants in the Reich's Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda were the judges as to what was serviceable to the State at any given moment.

To control uniformity of thought and action in the German Press -- and thereby to attempt to mould the German mind in a uniform pattern! -- the Goebbels' ministry issues a set of secret instructions to the press every day. These are given out in a press conference attended only by picked men, sworn to secrecy, and are also read over an inside radio set-up to the ministry's representatives in the forty odd districts into which the Reich is at present divided for purposes of Nazi party administration.

These secret instructions, obviously, are a priceless aid toward understanding what is going on behind the scenes in Germany. Back in 1935 I used to secure copies of them from a German colleague who also furnished them to a British newspaperman. Apparently hard up for a story, this fellow craftsman one day thoughtlessly wrote a sensational account of these secret instructions, and, to show that he knew what he was talking about, he published the complete text of a day's output of orders to the press.

The Gestapo promptly got busy to ferret out the offender. Several experienced "spotters" were sent quietly to the daily conferences to watch the faces of the scribes. The culprit's uneasy glances centred attention upon him and he was shadowed. In a downtown billiard hall he was nabbed at the very moment when he was about to hand a copy of the instructions to a French correspondent who, in turn, had agreed to pass it on to our English colleague.

The young German was arrested and summoned before the dreaded People's Court whose proceedings are held in camera and from whose decisions there is no appeal. He was slated for execution, and only the fact that an uncle of his was a well-known German general saved him from certain death. He was sent to prison for life.

-191-

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What about Germany?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Foreword 6
  • Contents 8
  • Illustrations 10
  • I: the Modern Genghis Khan 11
  • Ii: Why Hitler? 19
  • Iii. Preparing the Ground 26
  • Iv: Why Wasn't Hitler Stopped? 36
  • V: "Terror is a Wholesome Thing" 44
  • Vi: the Nazis in Control 52
  • Vii: Fat Years Follow the Lean 60
  • Viii: the Birds of Prey 69
  • Ix: Heil Hitler! 77
  • X: Der Führer in Person 84
  • Xi: Observing the War Machine in Action 96
  • Xii: Lessons Learned from the Enemy 112
  • Xiii: More Lessons from the Enemy 120
  • Xiv: the Westwall 132
  • Xv: Bottlenecks 138
  • Xvi: Hitler's Headaches 149
  • Xvii: is There Another Germany? 161
  • Xviii: the Relapse into Barbarism 177
  • Xix: the Secret Press Instructions 191
  • Xx: the Battle of Words 197
  • Xxi: Shaping a People's Mind 208
  • Xxii: the War of Nerves 218
  • Xxiii: the Foreign Press Gets into Trouble 226
  • Xxiv: Sugared Bread and the Whip 234
  • Xxv: Fishing in Troubled Waters 244
  • Xxvi: A Better Place to Live In 253
  • Xxvii: An Abrupt End to a Long Stay 262
  • Xxviii: What Can Topple Hitler? 272
  • Index 281
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