Broadcast in German.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Information. – in the House of Commons on 28th January 1942.

Alert me about debates like this

Mr. Craik Henderson:

asked the Minister of Information whether his attention has been drawn to a broadcast in German, on 31st December, 1941, by Mr. Crossman who is employed to broadcast to Germany, in which he said that we respect the qualities of the German people, even in war, and esteem the soldiers of the German army; and whether such expressions of respect and esteem were made with his authority?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

Yes, Sir. I apologise for the length of this answer, but I feel I must read the relevant passages of this talk in full. I think they will correct the erroneous impression which has been created by the quotation of words out of their context. This is what Mr. Crossman actually said: Germany has heard the New Year Message of its Fuehrer: the German army has heard the Order of the Day of its new Commander-in-Chief. We heard it too. Perhaps Herr Hitler really believed that this strange confusion of phrases and slogans reminiscent of the street politics of 20 years ago, would bring comfort to the German mother and wife, confidence to the German soldier in his new Commander-in-Chief. We English find it difficult—yes, painful—to believe that the German people, whose qualities we respect even when we are at war, is the willing subject of the author of this New Year Message, that the German army, whom we respect as soldiers, recognises as its rightful Commander-in-Chief the author of this Order of the Day—with its mixture of whining and bravado, of half-truths and lies, of ill-digested theories. …How long will you tolerate this madness which now reigns over you uncontrolled, unchecked by all restraining influences. In the year in which Herr Hitler promised final victory he has achieved, at a cost he dares not tell you, great victories, but he has lost the war. In 1942, in 1943, in 1944, however long the war lasts, Germany cannot win, and Herr Hitler knows it. And yet he calls on Germany to give the last sacrifice, to follow wherever he leads, to destroy itself in order to satiate his megalomania. He then goes on to make another hot attack on the Fuehrer.

Mr. Henderson:

Will the Minister bear in mind, following on the report of the Polish Government regarding the occupation of Poland and the Russian declaration of atrocities by the Germans, what the effect must be on the peoples in occupied territories and on our Allies when these expressions of respect and esteem are given?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

I recognise that point, but, when broadcasting to the Germans, the hon. Member must fully recognise that in order to destroy their faith in Hitler, you ought not to begin by saying, "You something swine." When talking to the Germans it is very wise to put a lot of what you call sugar on the pill.

Mr. Henderson:

Is it the official policy that it should go out over the B.B.C. that we respect the German people and esteem the German army?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

Of course, it is not the policy. I have explained that when broadcasting to Germany you are not expressing the policy of the Government. As a matter of fact there is a Question on the Order Paper, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), asking me why a certain film was published which appeared to ridicule the German army.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Did not the Prime Minister pay a tribute to Rommel yesterday?