Truman Papers

No. 335
Memorandum by the Joint Staff Planners of the Joint Chiefs of Staff1
top secret

Establishment of a Unified Agreed Propaganda in Germany


Recent information from Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force has pointed out that the contrast between official public announcements of United States policy, and policy announcements originating in other zones, already has had a marked psychological affect [effect] on the German population in the United States zone. It has been estimated that should this lack of coordination continue, [Page 466] undesirable psychological repercussions also may be produced in zones occupied by other Allies.
A United States policy2 on “Control of Public Information in Germany”, agreed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, State Department and Office of War Information sets forth substantially the following objectives for the control of dissemination of public information in Germany:
Facilitating the tasks of the armed forces occupying Germany.
Promoting and enforcing compliance by the German people with all orders issued by the occupation authorities.
Serving the administration of the Allied Military Government in Germany.
Convincing the German people of their total defeat by the United Nations and of the futility of future wars of aggression.
Destroying the Nazi party (NSDAP) and system, and preventing the dissemination of doctrines and propaganda of the nature which were advocated by the former Nazi party.
Conducting counter propaganda to destroy the attitudes created under the propaganda program of the Nazi party.
Displaying to the German people the unity of purpose toward Germany, existing among the Allied Nations.
Assisting the military operations of any of the Allied Nations against any country with which it remains at war subsequent to the surrender of Germany.
The foregoing policy has been placed before the European Advisory Commission for possible adoption as a uniform policy by the four controlling powers. If adopted it would be used as a basis for instructions to the Control Council for Germany to establish agreed and uniform policies relating to the dissemination of public information throughout Germany.
Working staff officials of the State Department have advised that member nations of the European Advisory Commission agree in principle on the necessity for control of information in Germany. While no particular objections have been raised to any portion of the United States sponsored, proposed directive,2 no definite stand has been taken by any of the other nations for either acceptance or rejection.
Senior staff officers of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force believe that it will be difficult to achieve agreement in the Control Council for Germany on even the major problems vitally affecting German economy. As to matters of lesser importance and the settlement of details, they definitely question the ability of the control machinery to handle such matters. While there is always the hope that some coordination of propaganda could [Page 467] be obtained through a section working under the Control Council for Germany, the consideration of such a solution should include weighing the desirability of loading down the Control Council with details not absolutely essential, thus reducing the chance of success in solving vital matters, such as transportation, currency, food, and coal.
In any consideration of the propaganda problem, it must be recognized that the national aims and ideologies of France and Russia, particularly Russia, are such that they may well intend to further them, at least in their Zones of Occupation, by propaganda means, and perhaps to do this with or without the consent of the other occupying powers. Therefore, it would appear that any attempt to achieve a complete overall agreement on the policies and objectives for all propaganda directed towards Germany is unlikely to succeed. The best that might be expected is possible agreement by the powers on certain of the aims, and these are likely to be only the more “negative” ones which are directed towards the eradication of Nazism and the elimination of Germany’s war-making potential. This leaves “positive” propaganda outside the realm of probable agreement.
The present United States policy, with the probable exception of the undefined “counter-propaganda” objective, concerns itself with the more negative propaganda aims and as such is a reasonable basis for discussion with the other powers in the effort to reach agreement on at least a partial basis.
The question of whether the United States should develop further and more positive propaganda objectives is to a great extent beyond the purview of the military. It appears that the present policy is incomplete and that perhaps an effort should be made to extend the policy, looking towards the post-war years. Such a further development and definition of our propaganda policy would appear to be a suitable task for the State Department and the Office of War Information.
The individual stand of the United Nations at the present on the coordination of propaganda appears to be:
Russia—Recent cable advice from the Office of War Information representative3 in Moscow indicates a slight softening in the Soviet attitude against multilateral control of propaganda for Germany. The opinion was expressed by an official of the Soviet Information Bureau that “the Berlin accord4 will make it possible now to take steps for propaganda coordination.” Since the Russians have their [Page 468] own communistic ideological propaganda line it is considered that it will be difficult to obtain agreement in this connection.
France—There is no available evidence that the French would object to participation in multilateral control of propaganda for Germany. However, the French propaganda line is different from our own and might be difficult to reconcile. Very little French propaganda has been directed at Germany. Rather, the principal part has been directed at the Allies, attempting to justify the French position regarding the Saar and Rhineland areas.
Great Britain—There is no evidence to indicate any change in the British attitude from that inferred in a statement of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force Psychological Warfare Division on 24 April 1944, to the effect: “As a result of the experience with Psychological Warfare in the Mediterranean Theater, there is wholehearted agreement that even though there may be separate U. S. and British zones of military occupation there should be a fully integrated Psychological Warfare organization …5 rather than a distinct national organization for each zone.” Therefore, it seems possible that some arrangement could be obtained with the British regarding propaganda.


It is recommended:
At the forthcoming tripartite conference the U. S. should reasonably press for approval by the Heads of State of a propaganda policy along the lines of the present United States agreed policy now before the European Advisory Commission. Later agreement with France would then be necessary.
As to coordination of the implementation of any policy agreed by the four nations, the only available instrument appears to be the Control Council, and exploratory conversations might be conducted on the political level with a view to ascertaining the desirability of setting up a propaganda committee as part of the functioning organization of the Control Council.
The problem of United States propaganda policy towards Germany be reviewed by the State Department and the Office of War Information prior to the coming conference.
  1. This memorandum was prepared in response to a request from Leahy (document No. 155) for recommendations which would be “useful to the President in preparing himself for the [Berlin] conference”. It was forwarded to Leahy by the Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on June 26, together with other reports, under cover of a memorandum which stated explicitly: “These reports represent the views of the committees only and have not been approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Leahy subsequently passed it to Truman.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Joseph B. Phillips.
  5. The reference is probably to the quadripartite statement of June 5, 1945, on control machinery in Germany. Text in Department of State Bulletin, vol. xii, p. 1054.
  6. Ellipsis in the original.