HC Deb 28 March 1945 vol 409 cc1349-51
30. Mr. Cluse

asked the Minister of Information whether he is aware of the anxiety amongst parents of soldiers fighting the Germans as to the character and adaptability of the Allied publicity and propaganda in the fighting and occupied areas; whether the Germans are fully informed as to the effect of our peace terms; that the Allies have no intention of extirpating their enemies, and that an early conclusion of hostilities will be to the advantage of the Germans equally with the Allies.

31. Sir Leonard Lyle

asked the Minister of Information whether his attention has been called to the recent report of the psychological warfare experts of the American First Army, which indicates that Allied propaganda, as at present devised, is failing to induce a tendency to surrender amongst German soldiers; whether arrangements can be made to re-orientate our propaganda at an early opportunity; and whether he can arrange to make available a complete series of existing typical pamphlets and broadcast propaganda matter in use against Germany.

The Minister of Information (Mr. Brendan Bracken)

Many apologies, Mr. Speaker, for being late.

The Allies have repeatedly made it clear, most recently in the Declaration of Heads of Governments at Yalta, that it is not their purpose to destroy the German people. Millions of leaflets and hundreds of broadcasts are carrying this message to Germany. The people at the receiving end are much better qualified than I am to judge of the effectiveness of Allied propaganda. Some indication of its success is given by the extreme severity of the penalties imposed by the GermanHigh Command on troops found in possession of Allied leaflets or listening to Allied broadcasts. During the last three years the German Government have constantly warned their people against what they call the continuous stream of cunning British propaganda. They would not have imposed the death penalty for listening to the B.B.C. or reading British leaflets if our propaganda efforts had been in vain. Sets of pamphlets and leaflets in German are supplied regularly to the Library. So also, until recently, were the English texts of all B.B.C. broadcasts to Germany. But the Librarian found that these were very bulky and never read, and so I asked the B.B.C. to send no more.

Mr. Cluse

Are we to be allowed to see copies of the leaflets so that we can be informed of their contents?

Mr. Bracken

We sent stacks of these leaflets to the Library, until the Librarian of the House thought that the Library was becoming a stock pile for the Ministry of Information pamphlets, and asked me if I would oblige him by sending no more. However, if the House is really desirous of seeing the vast amount of material we are sending out to Germany, I shall be very glad once more to send a truck-load.

Earl Winterton

Will my right hon. Friend agree that the war, at this moment, is being decided by arms, and not by words?

Mr. Bracken

That is a point that has occurred to me.

Mr. Ivor Thomas

As one who is very interested in seeing these leaflets, may I ask if the Minister can say whether the House was told when they were placed in the Library?

Mr. Bracken

At the request of several hon. Members about four or five months ago we started to send this vast bulk of material to the Library. The Librarian wrote to me that, the position was impossible, that they were occupying a large part of the Library, and that no hon. Member had ever taken the trouble to read any of them.

Miss Rathbone

Are any English translations supplied, or are they all in the original German?

Mr. Bracken

As a matter of fact, we did several translations of some of the pamphlets which have been dropped over Germany, but, as they were unread, I felt it was impossible any longer to ask the hard-working people in my Ministry to provide material which was unread.

Mr. Ballenģer

Is it not possible that the German people will not understand that somewhat nebulous term, that it is not the intention of His Majesty's Government to destroy the German people?

Mr. Bracken

The German people have to understand quite a lot of things before they can settle down to their old way of life, and, when the Conference at Yalta decided to put on record, once more, that it was not the object of His Majesty's Government, or their associated Governments, to destroy the German people, that is now the German people's best hope of survival. There is only one man in the whole world who wants to destroy the German people, and that is Hitler, who has already destroyed the people of his own country—Austria.

Mr. Silverman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, for a long time, it was the declared policy of the Government not to allow people in this country to know the contents of leaflets dropped over Germany for propaganda purposes; and can he say when that policy was changed, and when that changed policy was communicated to the House?

Mr. Bracken

If my memory serves me right, that decision was communicated to the House at least five months ago.

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