740.0011 European War 1939/33979

Memorandum by Brigadier General John Magruder, Deputy Director of Intelligence Service, Office of Strategic Services, to the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Dunn)

Transmitted herewith for your information is a copy of a dispatch, from the Bern office of this agency, giving reported German reactions, to three major Allied propaganda lines.

John Magruder
[Page 506]

Germany: Reaction to Allied Psychological Warfare

On the basis of numerous reports and extended consultation, the OSS representative in Bern transmits the German reactions to three major Allied propaganda lines:

The trend toward a German defeat is inescapable. The Germans are certainly aware of this inescapable trend. Their hopes at present consist solely in: (a) diminution of Russian interest upon attaining the 1941 boundaries, or else friction between the USSR and the western Allies; (b) frustration of attempts to land in the Balkans or in France, added to war fatigue on the part of the western countries, the forthcoming elections in the US, and the degree to which the US views the war against Japan as its primary concern; (c) a miracle of some sort, such as a secret weapon, although this hope is fading; (d) an era of chaotic confusion throughout Europe, from which Germany would emerge in as good shape as any other country.
Unconditional surrender does not mean total disaster. The majority of Germans suspect that the Allies wish to ruin the economic as well as the military strength of Germany; “unconditional surrender” therefore signifies to most of them total catastrophe for the country and for the individual German. We ourselves have done nothing to offer them a more hopeful meaning for this expression; we have never, for example, indicated that it refers only to military and party leaders. The Germans’ pessimistic interpretation of “unconditional surrender” is also supported by the widespread feeling that the Atlantic Charter has been discarded or at least does not hold good for Germany, and by Churchill’s mention of compensation to Poland by giving her German territory. In the face of Goebbels’73 propaganda system, it would be difficult to “sell” the German people on a new and more optimistic interpretation of “unconditional surrender”; however, granting the issuance of authoritative and harmonizing proclamations from Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, it probably could be achieved in time. Thus far, back-handed encouragement from the Free German Committee74 in Moscow has been the only source of hope for the Germans, and many Germans regard this Committee as a trap.
Overthrow of the Nazis by a minority group. Unless Hitler and certain other Nazi leaders were murdered, and the Army takes over, [Page 507]most Germans believe that no minority faction could now seize authority over the existing ruler. Moreover, no effective opposition group, military or civilian, exists which favors the western powers. Most anti-Nazis who desire western orientation see no justification for risking their lives to promote any plans for Germany thus far submitted by the western powers. Other anti-Nazi elements in the Reich prefer to have the authority and responsibility maintained by the Nazi and military cliques until the ultimate debacle, so that the whole blame for the war and for Germany’s downfall will rest for all time on the shoulders of Hitler and the military. The German Socialists, especially, do not intend to assume control, as they did the last time, and thus have to answer for the armistice and peace terms. The Catholics’ point of view is much the same. The Communists possess no known leader. Of course, a new group probably would be created in case we chose to offer any indication that such a group could deal with us; until the capitulation, however, the strength of this group would be insignificant.

  1. Joseph Goebbels, German Minister for Propaganda.
  2. This Committee was created in July 1943 and was composed of German prisoners of war in the Soviet Union.