THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: How Europe was told the truth - Britain lifts Nazi ‘blanket of darkness’

From the News Letter, June 30, 1944

Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels as seen The Goebbels Experiment, a film by
Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels as seen The Goebbels Experiment, a film by

German efforts to keep the people of Europe ignorant of what was happening from the free world have failed said Mr Brendan Bracken. Minister of Information, opening a debate on his department in the House of Commons, Westminster, the previous day in 1944.

He declared that the truth was reaching Europe by radio, leaflets, “and now films”.

The Ministry, he said, was ready to provide each country as it was liberated with films showing Britain’s work since Goebbels’s blanket of darkness spread over Europe.

The first batch of French films had already been sent to France, and films in 15 other languages were awaiting distribution.

The BBC was regarded as the most reliable news broadcast service in the world, the Minister of Information noted. And the British and Americans combined efforts had overcome German attempts to stop the ears of the people of Europe by jamming broadcasts.

The European service transmitted 179 programmes daily in 24 languages. Against that barrage the Germans had been force to extreme measures, and in some areas had cut whole supplies of electricity. In spite of these efforts “the voice of London was listened to eagerly”.

The Minister of Information said: “The RAF, in conjunction with US airmen, drop 750,000 leaflets monthly over France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway and Germany itself. During D-Day and the night before over 12,000,000 leaflets dropped were printed on British presses.

“The resources of our broadcasting and leaflets are at the complete disposal of General Eisenhower, who has made liberal use of them.”

Mr Bracken said that some 23 million copies of official war books had been sold at home, and they had also been a success overseas.

He said: “The best way Britain’s story could be told to the US is through the ever-increasing number of editors, journalists, and radio commentators asking for information. The ministry has some 120 outposts overseas, and the Press Department in Russia had made a praiseworthy beginning in telling their Russian ally about Britain and Britain’s war achievements.”

He added: “The best way of making sure that the truth is told in newspapers or broadcast news bulletins is to leave the job to experienced journalists whose sole duty it is to see that the public got facts.”

Down Unionist MP, the Reverend Dr Little, speaking during the debate, said that he had only one comment to make on the work of the BBC.

He said it had been brought to his notice by letter from one of his constituents. It complained that in a recent broadcast of an entertainment such expressions as ‘Good God’ and ‘For God’s sake’ were freely used, and that it was “monstrous that the Holy Name should be allowed to be used by a national corporation in such a stupid and perfidious way”.

The Reverend Dr Little asked: “How can we expect the blessing of God to rest on the nation if such things were allowed?”

He added that “this is not a lone complaint, a great many people have expressed to me deep regret that the name of God should be used in such a flippant and irreverent way”.

He added that the House should “protest very strongly” and he made an appeal to the Minister of Information to exercise his influence on the BBC to have “such uncalled-for kept out of their programmes”.