Propaganda within Germany, according to an official Allied source, is the
responsibility of the Ministry of Propaganda. In occupied countries and in the
theaters of war, propaganda is the responsibility of a department in the Supreme
Command of the Aimed Forces (OKW) known as the Armed Forces Propaganda
(Wehrmachtspropaganda or W.Pr.) with headquarters located at 27 Bendlerstrasse
The two authorities work in very close liaison with each other on questions
of policy. In addition, the redistribution of all propaganda material received from
the occupied countries and the theaters of war is the responsibility of W.Pr.
Actually, W.Pr. controls the publications by press, radio, and otherwise, of the
Ministry of Propaganda regarding operations by the armed forces and collateral
W.Pr. is also responsible for the appointment of all propaganda personnel
in the occupied countries and the theaters of war.
a. Army Propaganda Units
These comprise four types of units:
1. Propaganda Depot Battalion (Propaganda Ersatz Abteilung)
2. Propaganda Service Battalion (Propaganda Einsatz Abteilung)
3. Propaganda Battalions (Propaganda Abteilungen)
4. Propaganda Companies (Propaganda Kompanien)
Units 2, 3, and 4 are provided by drafts from the Propaganda Depot
Battalion. The propaganda companies are numbered in the 501 series and more
than fifteen are numbered in the 601-700 series. The battalions appear to be
unnumbered and there are also propaganda companies which are unnumbered. Unnumbered
battalions and companies bear names which correspond to the country
or territory in which they operate. All personnel belonging to these units are
classed as signal corps personnel and wear lemon-yellow piping.
(1) The Propaganda Depot Battalion
This depot battalion is housed in the Propaganda Kompanien Barracks
located in Potsdam. It is a pool for trained propagandists awaiting assignment,
in addition to being the training center. The battalion consists of four companies:
1st company, journalists: 2nd company, photographers and war artists; 3rd
company, war reporters; 4th company, depot company, which includes administrative
personnel, and personnel who have returned to the depot after completing a tour
In addition there is a section for radio propaganda experts. Recruits are
mainly men who in civil life were journalists, press photographers or film
cameramen. They receive normal infantry training and frequently are sent on courses of
from 4 to 6 weeks duration at the Ministry of Propaganda.
(2) The Propaganda Service Battalion
This battalion has its HQ in Potsdam in the same barracks as the Depot
Battalion. It consists of two companies: 1st company, a pool of linguists; 2nd
company, called the Propaganda Liaison Company (Propaganda Verbindungskompanie)
which provides personnel for ensuring the transit of propaganda material (including
periodicals and daily papers), to and from the various branches of the propaganda
organization throughout the occupied countries and the theaters of war. Its
strength is about 400 men.
(3) Propaganda Battalions
There is one of these in each of the occupied countries. In Russia, there
are three. They are concerned with conducting and controlling propaganda among
the civil population. Propaganda battalions were formed in advance, for countries
about to be invaded, and were among the first to make contact with the civil
population. Their principal function in the early stages of occupation appears to be the
reassurance of the civil population with a view to rendering assistance in the
maintenance of public order, and to assist in the reestablishment of public utilities.
The organization appears to be elastic, as each battalion is modified according
to the area in which it works. They have an HQ Section in the chief town or
capital, and a section (Staffel) in each of the more important towns. Each section
is similarly constituted and has a total personnel of about 30. These include:
||Advertisement Censor (who controls public speeches and advertisements)|
All of these are Sonderführer (special director). The remainder are clerks and
orderlies. Sonderführer are personnel with specialist qualifications acquired in
civil life. They wear uniform, and are subject to military law. They do not hold
military rank, but are classified as ranking with NCOs, platoon, company, battalion,
and other commanders.
The organization is clearly shown in France, where there is a Propaganda
Battalion HQ in the Hotel Majestic in Paris, and propaganda sections located in
Bordeaux, Dijon, and other towns. There are propaganda battalions at Riga,
Smolensk and Kremenchug (in the Ukraine) with offices (Aussenstellen) in the
smaller towns. There is one such Aussenstelle at Minsk.
The propaganda battalions are controlled by the W.Pr. in Berlin and forward
material there. The literary censors control all published matter and keep
a watch on all book-shops. Radio transmitting stations are all controlled by the
propaganda battalions who appoint switch censors. In Russia the propaganda
battalions provide troops with posters, leaflets and illustrated publications to
distribute to the inhabitants of villages. Loud speaker vehicles are made
available to them and it is laid down that they must include in their propaganda such
topics as news favorable to the progress of German troops, the release of
prisoners belonging to minority regions, administration of real estate, etc.
(4) Propaganda Companies
Our official source states, a propaganda company consists of the following
(a) reporters, radio commentators, photographers and cameramen, whose
duty it is to secure reports of troops in action, for publication by press and radio,
and to take films for inclusion in newsreels.
(b) a welfare section (Betreungstrupp), whose duties include the distribution
of literature to the troops and the arranging of entertainments, and the showing of
films for the troops.
b. Method of operation
The reporters, radio commentators, photographers and cameramen are
allotted to units in action as required. In Africa for example, a war correspondent
platoon (Kriegsberichterzug) was attached in August 1942 to the
Ramcke (Parachutist) Brigade. This platoon was organized in four "reporter sections" of which
two were light, and known as "word and picture sections' (Wort und Bild), and two
were heavy, and known as "radio and film" sections (Rundfunk und Film). The
two light sections were attached, one following the other, for a period of about
three weeks, to the front-line troops. The two heavy sections were attached to
units for short periods according to the situation. Films taken in Africa were
silent - the dialogue being added later in Germany from records made on a
"Magnetophone" and synchronised. In Russia sound films are usually made on the
spot. The propaganda company in Africa did not broadcast, but recorded material
for programs and the records were forwarded to Berlin for distribution. For this
work there were Spanish, French, English, and Arabic-speaking officers on the
roster of the company.
c. Welfare Section
The section possesses a mobile motion picture truck, several mobile film
units on trucks, a band wagon, two loud-speaker trucks and a mobile library. A
general staff officer, of about lieutenant colonel's rank with the Panzer Army in
Africa directed the movements of this equipment, and those in charge of it
reported to him once a week. The films, shown by the unit, were those current in
Germany and no special propaganda films were shown. The mobile truck gave its
shows in the open air using forward projection, with the audience between the
screen and the truck. Antiaircraft protection was always provided. Sometimes
movies were given in tents.
Periodicals for the troops are produced in the various theaters of war.
In Africa the periodical was entitled "Die Oase" (The Oasis) and was produced
by a lieutenant with one enlisted helper. The number of copies was limited and
a standing order existed that it must not be sent out of Africa.
As regards transport, the propaganda company in Africa had the following,
which is probably a typical allotment.
Two small cars (Volkswagen) - one for the company commander
One large car
One mobile movie truck
Four mobile movie outfits on trucks
One ration truck
One office truck
One field kitchen
One clothing truck and armory
The propaganda company in Africa used the regular courier aircraft for
forwarding its material to Berlin, though propaganda companies in Russia are
known to have aircraft of their own.