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70 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST February 3,7940 "Which one of you brings your lunch?" about their Prussian accents. It is even more solicitous about South Africa. That end of the world contains not only numerous Germans left over from the pre-1914 German colonies but also lots of Boers who were fighting the British from kopje to kopje with considerable success only a generation or so ago. Germany's special news pro- grams beamed at South Africa assert that General Smuts, the Boer War hero now heading the pro-British war gov- ernment there, is a Jewish stooge, and that his government has abolished re- lief in order to force the unemployed into the army. Premier Hertzog, antiwar Boer leader who went out of office on a close parliamentary vote shortly after the war began, is "the Hindenburg of South Africa." Smuts doesn't dare submit the war issue to the risk of a general election. A plebiscite vote on whether the Boers want British sovereignty is always included in lists of German ideas on what Britain should be made to do after taking her licking. As special come-on for South African listeners, Berlin occasionally broadcasts the world-market prices of South African products. Such come-ons are essential to the war of words. Entertainment attracts listeners to propaganda-angled news; less obviously angled news attracts them to hands-across-the-sea propaganda to follow. The Germans use music cleverly. A gorgeous short-wave program of Wagner or Beethoven is cut into every five minutes with smashing little speeches: "John Bull sits behind his ships while airplanes fly overhead and the Germans are broadcasting over his head through the blockade. . . . The ' haves ' are aware that they really have no business fighting. Every Englishman thinks about this and is puzzled when he sits down to his abbreviated breakfast, without his ham and eggs." Or: "Two countries are fighting each other. The richest country with the poorest people, and the poorest country with the happiest people, where nobody is unemployed." The Prisoner's Song Britain's favorite come-on is rather less scrupulous, although the Germans might well have used it if they had thought of it first. Early in the war, the British Broadcasting Corporation began promising to broadcast to Germany the names of Germans taken prisoner. After some stalling, they made good, a few names at a time. Obviously, some German families with husbands or sons fighting will risk imprisonment to listen to Englknd on the chance of word that Otto or Manfred is alive and safe in a prison camp. The first threat of such announcements brought sharp reprisal from Berlin in a broadcast in which British prisoners— under nobody knows what threats— testified personally over the air that they were being treated all right. Back snapped the British: Any British citizen broadcasting over German radio for any reason whatsoever would be held guilty of treason and dealt with accordingly at the first opportunity. Germany is way out in front in atrocity stories. The Poles got away fast with those broadcast tales of German aviation dropping poisoned candy and toy balloons full of poison gas in the streets of Warsaw for Polish children. But nobody else has yet developed a body of imaginative horrors to match what the Germans cooked up about the Poles during the tragic few weeks that Poland lasted: German women in chains forced to look on while their menfolk were tortured to death. German children found dead in a but with their tongues nailed to the kitchen table. German bodies intentionally buried so shallowly that the dogs easily got at them. Much of all that, of course, was the work of "British secret agents" assigned to whip the Poles up to sadistic fury. Berlin also did what it could with the case of a woman employee of the German consulate in Glasgow, arrested when the war broke and put in the local calaboose. But when put on the air, the best she could do was mention porridge for breakfast and sore knees from having to scrub floors. This verbal squirming and squalling contains a lot of such unconscious humor. Unintentional entertainment. value is often far higher than intentional. After hijacking Poland, Berlin told the world: "Now the tomb of the great Pilsudski is being honored and watched by the great German army"- Pilsudski, being, of course, the Polish dictator who, the moment Hitler came to power, told the little man to put up or shut up, and saw Hitler meekly shut up. According to the Germans' tell, the Munich beer-cellar bomb is just the latest in a long series of British efforts, some successful, some not, to do away with inconvenient foreign leaders, including the Khedive of Egypt, King Alexander of Jugoslavia, Premier Calinescu of Rumania, and the chief of the Iraq general staff. There is even grim fun in the cordial way the German radio now quotes Pravda and Izvestia, mouthpiece newspapers of official Russia, to prove this or that point about British villainy British absurdities began early with the announcement that Britain would not broadcast propaganda at all—just "straight news and publicity." Presently, you find a British high official asserting over the air that it is not cruel to blockade Germany's food supply; that, on the contrary, it would be "cruel to allow Germany to have food and thereby prolong the struggle." Addressing Germany a Briton severely quotes an inscription on a monument in Dusseldorf: "It is not honorable to fight against a weaker enemy," apparently hoping that his listeners never heard of how England ground up the Boers, the Burmese, the Sudanese, and so forth, in the concrete mixer when laying the foundations of empire. Occasionally, one side gets out on a limb and the other gleefully saws it off. The British tale about seizing innumerable bags of coffee addressed to Hitler while all other Germans were on short coffee rations was countered by the sharp German comment that, as all the world knows, Hitler never drinks coffee. And for months, to make the Germans eat their words about sinking the Ark Royal, the British have been joyfully announcing her appearances at such ports as Capetown and Rio, big as life and twice as natural. International entertainment is usually ham. The Germans' regular " cabaret " program in English has a gabby master of ceremonies named Charley, given to such dusty gags as that Churchill wants Mae West in the British Navy, so that she can get German submarine commanders to come up and see her sometime. It was on this program that obscenity made its debut in the war of words. Nobody over here knows exactly why, but an entertainer in Germany, described as an American on the broadcast, suddenly went haywire while singing a song about his girl Susannah in Louisiana and loosed a tirade of four-letter words. What the Germans did to this agent who left his mission so sensationally unfulfilled also is unknown here. Germany has paid special attention to Canadians recently with short-wave conversations between Jimmy and Johnny, Canadian average citizens with curiously thick accents. Johnny, a milkman, believes everything he hears about the war. Jimmy, his customer, is a wise guy who sets Johnny right with great pessimism about England's future. From him, Johnny learns that the Siegfried Line is much stronger than the Maginot Line because, having been built later, it capitalized on the Maginot mistakes. That any day now German warships will appear off the Canadian coast and blow everything to blazes. That the British are already starving. The War of Whimsy The British go in for the folksy and the pixy. Visits to the zoo, to country pubs, as proof that life still goes on genially and confidently in the right little, tight little isle. Whimsy enters with broadcasting that parody of Jabberwocky which you may already have heard: ' Twas Danzig and the Swastikoves Did heil and hittle in the Reich; All Nazi were the lindengroves And the neuraths julestreich. . . . Adolf in Blunderland has also seen production, and watery little verses about Goering's gross tonnage. Yet the British can also definitely take credit for the radio war's production high spot—a March-of-Timeish dramatization of the Nazi rise to power, called The Shadow of the Swastika, w hich packed both punch and a propaganda message. In quieter moments, Hitler talked like a cross between Erich von Stroheim and Raymond Gram Swing, and the guards in his prison had unexplained cockney accents. But the general idea of a hysterically discouraged nation turning to fanaticism for leadership, with industrialists and politicians joining in to save their skins, was soundly put across. While such direct attacks are going forward, while the French get ladies with melting voices to tell how German refugees are so pleased with French concentration camps that they spontaneously shout " Vive la FranCe!"— definitely news to the refugees themselves— the United States is not neglected. Germany enterprisingly dedicates special short-wave programs to various American localities in English: " California, my beloved," says a certain Frau Hansa, "my greetings to you first, and also to dearest papa and all the other dear ones. . . . I am contented . . . from the standpoint of a housewife . . . ration cards (are) a very wise and good scheme. . . . It really is impossible to eat up what is allotted to us. . . . When you have plenty of eggs and milk, it is really no art to cook well. But with things rationed as they are, it is much more exciting to be a good cook." The Germans' Florida broadcast was called Moon Over Miami, with correspondingly lush language about sunshine and sand and golden fruits. Even Amherst College got a program all its own, opening duly with " Lord Jeffrey Amherst was a soldier of the King" and built round letters from a German exchange student there. Nor is Fred Kaltenbach the only German broadcaster eager to see Amer- icans get it straight about this not be- ing their war. Any American, crackpot, elder statesman or professional thinker, who prints or writes anything on the isolationist side of the fence is very (Continsurd on Paso 72)


The_War_of_Lies_and_Laughs
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