13. Memorandum From the Chief of the Military Intelligence Section, Department of War General Staff (Van Deman) to the Chairman of the Committee on Public Information (Creel)1

Memorandum No. 8


  • Liaison between Army Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Education Campaign.

A campaign of foreign education (or U.S. propaganda) in order to be intelligently prosecuted relies, of course, on accurate information. The following is an outline of the kinds of information which will be needed, together with an indication of what can be supplied by the Army Intelligence Section.

1. (a) The Propaganda Section will want to keep up with the latest changes of popular feeling within Germany as regards the United States. It will want to know any notable failures to inform, such as the mutilated publication of President Wilson’s messages or the garbled accounts of Secretary Baker’s statements on our armed forces. It will want to know of any marked misconception Germans have in regard to our war aims, etc.

(b) The Army Intelligence Section with General Pershing now gets the latest German newspapers, translates and estimates them, as well as the latest Swiss and Scandinavian and Dutch papers.

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2. (a) The Propaganda Section will want to keep in touch with popular feeling in Germany as hidden behind what the newspapers give.

(b) The Army Intelligence Section collates reports of agents within Germany, of travelers from Germany, and of mail censors’ findings, as supplied by the Allies, and by our own State, War, Navy and Justice Departments. These reports generally tell a very different story from that in the German newspapers.

3. (a) Propaganda will want to know the run of feeling among soldiers in the enemy trenches.

(b) Army Intelligence collects information from prisoners and deserters, overhears talk in enemy trenches, and often, through patrols and raids, gets enemy letters and documents.

4. (a) Propaganda will want to know actual conditions in the enemy trenches, which affect morale, such as amount of food, conditions of living, friction between infantry and artillery, jealousies between Prussians and Bavarians, what the soldiers read, how often they get relief, etc.

(b) Army Intelligence,—through patrols and raids, as well as by aerial observation, and from prisoners and deserters,—has the answer to the above question.

5. (a) Propaganda will want to know the exact character of certain divisions in certain sectors, e.g., the location of divisions just transferred from the East Front and probably undermined with Bolsheviki, the location of Saxon regiments, probably with a big percentage of socialists, location of Bavarians, jealous of Prussians, or of Czecho–Slovaks likely to desert.

(b) Army Intelligence aims to locate every division in the German Army.

6. (a) Propaganda will want to know of any German army orders affecting its work. For example, the reported General Army Order to shoot any soldier caught reading propaganda dropped from the air might make it advisable to restrict U.S. propaganda to small printed paper slips, which a soldier could conceal.

(b) Army Intelligence aims to supply such information.

7. (a) Propaganda will most of all want to know what treatment is meted out to its papers in the German trenches.

(b) Army Intelligence can get some of this information from prisoners, from aerial observation and from patrols and raids. It can attempt to get it from agents in Germany, can have them instructed to look out for such information.2

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8. (a) Propaganda will want to know what methods of distribution work best, aeroplane, trench mortar or patrol, and what new methods are possible, such as balloons or kites.

(b) Army Intelligence can make observations and studies of these problems.

9. (a) Propaganda will want to know other possibilities of extending distribution, such as loading printed matter into machines of our Allies engaged in reconnaissance, fighting or bombing, or such as distribution by Allied patrols.

(b) Army Intelligence can get information on this.

10. (a) Propaganda will want to know what methods have been tried and discarded; also the principal Teuton tricks, so as to avoid them.

(b) Army Intelligence is now making a study of what the Allies have done in aeroplane propaganda; what methods they still follow, and what won’t work; also what the Russians are now doing on the East Front; also what the Teutons have done, especially their successes, such as the misleading of the Italian Second Army last October.3

R. H. Van Deman 4

Colonel, General Staff Chief,
Military Intelligence Section
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 63, Entry 111, Correspondence of Arthur Wood, Box 2, R.H. Van Deman. No classification marking. An unknown hand made minor editorial revisions throughout the memorandum, which have been incorporated into the text. This memorandum is attached to a February 28 letter from Arthur Woods of the Foreign Section of the CPI to Colonel Van Deman, in which Woods wrote:

    “I hope that you are carrying out this plan and will let us have the information mentioned in the different items as they come in.

    "We are particularly in need of anything to throw light on ways in which public opinion anywhere in the world is being misinformed; and the effect produced by the educational work this Committee is now doing.”

  2. An unknown hand wrote the following addition to this sentence: “+ can put them in Germany for the purpose of finding out.”
  3. Reference is presumably to the Battle of Caporetto, which began on October 24, 1917, and in which the German army advanced rapidly against Italian troops.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.