SGM HERBERT A. FRIEDMAN (Ret.)
Note: The producers of the documentary film called Fledglings about WWII Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron 425 requested the use of material from this article. Portions of this article were used as reference for the study of Information Operations at the U. S. Naval War College.
This story was written almost by accident. The 6th of June had just passed with all the attending hoopla and I was wondering if it might be worthwhile to write about the psychological operations of D-Day. I contacted the members of our old Psywar Society and Dr. Rod Oakland in Britain had a few German leaflets targeting the Allied invasion force. Lee Richards in Britain had some translations of leaflets to the Germans. Freddy Dehon in Belgium agreed to translate some leaflets to his country and Michel Girard in France did the same. Retired Major Ed Rouse in the USA added his expertise. The society, although gone, is not forgotten. Everyone stepped in and I want to acknowledge their help here. It made what would have been a minor exercise into what I think is a fairly significant historical article. Curiously, the article was finished on the 4th of July, Americas Independence Day.
D-Day Normandy Landing
Every time the military goes to war there are numerous D-Days and H-Hours. These are routine identifications of the day and time of an attack. Yet, to most Americans alive today, when they hear D-Day they think of 6 June 1944 when joint Allied forces invaded Nazi-occupied France.
The Normandy landings were codenamed Operation Neptune and were part of the Allied invasion called Operation Overlord. This was the greatest seaborne invasion in history. 5000 vessels transported over 150,000 men and nearly 30,000 vehicles across the English Channel to the target beaches in France. Six parachute regiments with over 13,000 men were flown from nine British airfields in over 800 planes. 11,000 planes, and nearly three million soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors was assembled in England for the assault. At the same time, more than 300 planes dropped 13,000 bombs over Normandy in advance of the invasion. The 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire.
The Longest Day
There are dozens of movies with D-Day in their title. Probably the best known is The Longest Day, released in 1962 and starring John Wayne and a host of other stars in various cameo roles. There are probably hundreds of books with D-Day in their title. I note that Amazon.com has at least 20 pages of such books for sale.
In this article we will not tell of battles won and lost or ground taken and death on the battlefield. We will just mention some of the propaganda paper produced by the Allied and the enemy specifically for the invasion. There are literally thousands of different leaflets dropped during WWII; their total numbers somewhere in the billions. We will just look at those that were specifically prepared for, or mention the invasion. The reader should understand that I could depict dozens of paper products here. I will just show a few to give a general impression of what was being prepared and disseminated at the time.
U.S. to Friendly Troops
General Eisenhowers Letter to his Troops
Before the invasion, General Dwight D. Eisenhower told his troops in part:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely
The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory! I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good Luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
CENTRAL BASE SECTION - S.O.S., ETO U.S.A
raised stamp on General Eisenhowers Letter to his Troops
There was a time when I saw hundreds of these letters so they were obviously prepared in great numbers. Some had a raised stamp at the top or bottom, almost like a corporation seal. The seal said:
CENTRAL BASE SECTION - S.O.S., ETO U.S.A.
The mission assigned Central Base Section was to provide all of the supplies and services for all American Army units in London which included the U. S. Army Forces in the British Isles, the European Theater of Operations U. S. Army, the Headquarters, Allied Force for North Africa, and the Headquarters Services of Supply, and Headquarters, 1st Army Group (later 12th A. G.). The SOS is Service of Supply. The ETO USA is U.S. Army, European Theater of Operations. I always thought those with the seal were the rarest and most interesting.
Eisenhowers Accepts Responsibility for defeat.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower knew that the D-Day landing could easily be pushed back into the sea. He prepared a letter in advance where he acknowledged the blame was his should the invasion fail. The paper said:
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.
This is a wonderful note and shows the true inner strength of General Eisenhower. In the event of failure he could have blamed the weather, his allies, or the Navy or Air Forces for landing troops at the wrong place. Instead, he accepts full responsibility. We do not see much of that responsibility by our leaders today. Note the date at the bottom of the paper. Do you think the general had much on his mind? He actually wrote July 5 instead of June 5. His mind was whirling and he was full of confidence and dread and apprehension. This is a true look into the heart and mind of a great man carrying all the worries of the world on his back.
Supreme Allied Commander U.S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks with 101st Airborne Division paratroopers before they board airplanes and gliders to take part in a parachute assault into Normandy as part of the Allied Invasion of Europe, D-Day, 6 June 1944. I have read that Ike believed they might all be killed in the attack and wanted to personally say goodbye to them.
General Montgomerys Letter to his Troops
The British Commander-in-Chief General Montgomery, a man who often fought with Eisenhower about how the war should be fought and thought he should have led the invasion, also wrote a letter to his troops. Notice that he quotes a poem from James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose, a Scottish nobleman and soldier who supported King Charles I in the English Civil War.
President Roosevelts Letter to the Troops
Even the President of the United States saw fit to send a personal message to the troops about to storm Europe. He knows the strength of the enemy and says:
Never were the enemies of freedom more tyrannical, more arrogant, more brutal.
Eve of Battle Dedication Service
An 8-page booklet printed for the Eve of Battle Dedication Service 1944 of the Second Army prior to D-Day. The cover displays the cross-within-shield of the Second Army and the sword within printed in silver. Printed by Second Army Headquarters, Portsmouth, 4 June 1944. Inside the booklet are prayers and hymns of protection for the coming battle. I quote two of the Chaplains comments:
Lord, we desire to place ourselves and what we are about to undertake in thy hands. Guide, direct and prosper us, we beseech thee; and if thou seest that this undertaking will be for thy glory, grant us good success
To Second Army there has been given a glorious part in a great task; to relieve the oppressed, to restore freedom in Europe, and to bring peace to the world...As we stand upon the threshold of the greatest adventure in our history, let us now offer to Almighty God all our powers, of body, mind and spirit, so that our great endeavor may be thoroughly finished.
Germany to their Troops
There were German letters as well. As usual, Hitler ordered his men to stand and die. This top secret letter is from Commanding General Neumann of the German 712th Division:
The Fuhrer has personally telephoned and ordered that our present main line of defense must be held under all circumstances; a withdrawal of units even surrounded by the enemy is out of the question. Orders for a withdrawal from unknown officers are on no account to be obeyed.
We can be destroyed in our positions, but we must not give ground. If the enemy breaks into our main line of defense at any point he must be thrown back again by an immediate counter-attack.
This order is to be made known verbally to every man, as far as it is in any way possible. The written order is to be destroyed as soon as possible and must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy. Formations and units will report when this order has been circulated and destroyed.
Allied PSYOP to Occupied Europe
In the latter months of the war the Office of War Informations Intelligence and Leaflet Unit, Area III, produced a Leaflet News Letter. Some of the data on this subject is:
Leaflet Operations by the 8th Air Force between D-Day and February 1945.
In the period from D-Day to 1 February 1945, the 406th Squadron flew 1,133 sorties and distributed approximately 701,040,000 leaflets. An additional 43,000,000 leaflets were dropped on tactical targets by aircraft flying in bomber formations on the daylight close cooperation missions detailed below:
Total daylight distribution by the Eighth Air Force for the period D-Day to 1 February 1945, was 872,818,163 leaflets. The grand total distribution for this air force during this period was 1,573,858,163 leaflets. The effectiveness of this type of air cooperation has been proven by reports from all ground echelons and above all, by interrogation of thousands of enemy prisoners in whose surrender it has played a part.
Caroline Reed discussed D-Day Propaganda in an article published in History Today, dated 6 June 1984:
Scant attention is given in the official histories of Operation Overlord to the massive propaganda operation which accompanied the initial D-day landings and then announced their success to occupied Europe. Specially equipped bombers carrying several million leaflets were the first Allied aircraft, except for airborne troop transporters, to fly over the Normandy beaches on June 6th, 1944. Within two days of the invasion nine million leaflets had been dropped, bringing the news to friend and foe alike.
By early 1944 a 'Special Leaflet Squadron', the American 422nd, was established and supplied with unarmed B-17's, camouflaged and modified for night flying. It was this unit which was to precede the Allied bomber force into France, ironically as daylight dawned on D-Day morning, dropping warning leaflets for the civilian population and special instructions for transport workers.
The warning leaflets appear, from several accounts, to have emerged as something of an afterthought to the initial invasion plans. Originally, it had been intended that an announcement of the Allied landings, in the form of a 'proclamation' from Eisenhower, would be dropped on the night of D-Day following their success. It was only after considerable pressure had been exerted by French representatives in London, through the British Premier, that SHAEF headquarters was persuaded of the necessity for prior leafleting of those areas which were to be the target for Allied air and naval bombardment. French statisticians and Churchill estimated that the 'softening up' process of bombing transport and communications centers and coastal areas in use by the Wehrmacht could cost some 80,000 civilian lives.
As Churchill emphasized in a letter to Eisenhower, written in early April 1944, 'post-war France must be our friend. It is not alone a question of humanitarianism, it is also a question of high state policy'. Eisenhower in his Crusade in Europe, first published in 1948, maintains that the predictions were unrealistic and that adequate plans for warnings by radio and other means were already well in hand before the French protests had been received. General Robert McClure, Chief of the Psychological Warfare Division, however, confided to his colleagues Frank Kaufman and Richard Crossman that it was only because the British Foreign Office had been 'getting hell from the French' that the original leafleting plan was changed. McClure was particularly concerned by the proposed new timing of the warning leaflet drop as maximum security required this to be a daylight operation, giving only some 30 minutes' notice of the coming bombardments. He feared that all 422nd Squadron's new, defenseless, black-painted bombers, intended to play a major role in the liberation campaign, would be lost without their protective cover of darkness. This was an opinion shared by many of their crews and it was with considerable tension that take-off was made after a 2am briefing on June 6th. Long hours later, after the first radio reports of the landings had been broadcast, the squadron returned to great scenes of jubilation, its mission accomplished without an enemy plane seen.
The PSYOP plan for the invasion according to James M. Erdmanns PhD thesis Leaflet Operations of the Second World War was:
Just prior to the assault on the Normandy beaches Allied planes were to saturate the villages and countryside inside the invasion perimeter with millions of warning leaflets telling the French civilians to evacuate immediately. Other millions of leaflets would be dropped by airplane on Holland, Belgium and Denmark, and the rest of France, to announce the invasion.
The September 1945 issue of ARMY TALKS, an Information and Education Division news magazine for Allied troops mentions D-Day propaganda:
The first allied air missions over the continent in the early hours of D-Day was that of the British 406th Squadron with leaflets warning French civilians of the bombings to come. The first phase of the invasion lasted from 6 June to 27 July. Leaflet themes during this period stressed the unmatchable weight of Allied arms; the pincer movements closing in on Germany from four separate fronts, the inability of the German war machine to protect the coast
During the first week after D-Day, broadcast messages emphasized the tenseness and urgency of the touch-and-go operations. Radio messages were accompanied in the first seven days by the dropping of more than 20,000,000 leaflets
Researcher Lee Richards found a wartime Top Secret document to the Chiefs of Staff, SHAEF, outlining covert propaganda techniques being applied in support of Operation Overlord. It is entitled REPORT ON SPECIAL OPERATIONS DURING OVERLORD It is several pages in length so I will just mention a few highlights:
The media for covert propaganda during operation OVERLORD have been four: The combined radio program of news and music for the German Armed Forces known as Soldatensender Calais and Kurzwellensender Atlantik; The daily newspaper for the German troops in the West (Nachrichten fur die Truppe); The medium-wave program of talks for the opposition movement: And forged documents and subversive leaflets distributed in Germany and occupied countries by agents and by balloon.
The enemy appears to regard as most dangerous a handbook on methods of malingering which has been printed under various disguises. An order from the High Command warning against this document and expressing concern at the spread of malingering among the troops is in our possession.
Aircraft distribution of the newspaper for the troops was begun a month before D-day and is thought to have played a part in misleading the enemy about our military intentions .
The Allies prepared propaganda leaflets for almost all the European nations occupied by the Germans to announce the landing of troops on the Continent. The codes were usually Z for invasion followed by a letter for the country. Some of the leaflets are: ZD.1 for Denmark (The Allies landing has begun); ZH.1 for Holland (Allied troops land!); ZN.1 for Norway (The Allied Troops landing has begun!) and ZB.1 for Belgium (The Allied armies are landing).
There were 12 Allied leaflets coded ZF all with the target of driving back the Germans from the Normandy beach-head with the help of the French people. The F indicates France. These leaflets were all designed by the Political Warfare Division of SHAEF. Notice that the leaflets were not dropped in numerical order. The official title of the leaflets and the date of first dissemination appear below as found in A Complete Index of Allied Airborne Leaflets and Magazines, 1939-1945. The 12 leaflets were dropped starting in June and ending in September 1944. In some cases I add additional information
ZF.1 Proclamation of General Eisenhower. 7 June.
The Allied Armies have landed.
ZF.2 French (and Belgian) transport workers. 6 June.
To the key men in the transport and communication services.
ZF.3 Proclamation of General Eisenhower. 14 June.
Proclamation to the citizens of France.
ZF.4 Warning message. 6 June.
Urgent message of the Supreme Commander.
ZF.5 Statement of General de Gaulle. 7 June.
Statement of General De Gaulle on 6 June 1944.
ZF.6 Message to the people of Cherbourg. 22 June.
ZF.7 Key Men of the Transportation and Communication Services!
ZF.8 14th of July Release
ZF.9 Declaration of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces
The PWD/SHAEF leaflets to the Germans were coded VG. There were 94 of them in 1944, and in June alone there were 18. As a result, I will only mention those dropped the week of the invasion, from June 6 to June 12.
VG.1 Human landmine theme. 6 June.
From front Attacked! From behind Written off!
VG.2 Four-front war. 6 June.
Four fronts - east front - home front - south front - and now the west front
VG.4 Why? 11 June.
VG.5 Human landmine theme. 10 June.
From front Attacked! From behind Written off!
We will depict a few of them and examples of other leaflets are: Z.6 Message to the People of Cherbourg, ZF.10 People of the Combat Zones, ZF.11 To the People of Alsace-Lorraine, and ZF.12 French men.
The 16 September 1945 issue of Army Talks depicts several WWII leaflet dropped on the Axis and actually has a section just mentioning those leaflets dropped from 6 June to 31 July 1944. They dont list all the leaflets, just selected ones. The magazine says in part:
Situation: The bridgehead consolidated, the Cherbourg Peninsula cut off, port of Cherbourg surrounded and captured, U.S. 3rd Army committed and approached Rennes, the British and Canadians maintain the Caen hinge.
Leaflets: Safe Conduct (July only), 880,000; Warning to French civilians (June only), 6,400,000; A division written off, 7,000,000; Eisenhowers declaration to the French, 4,000,000; Germany cant aid human land mines, 7,000.000; Propaganda and reality, 5,640,000; How your comrades fared, 3,640,000.
Transportation and Communication Leaflet ZF.2 Front
Transportation and Communication Leaflet ZF.2 Back
This leaflet depicts the main transportation systems in France and Belgium. The text on the front is:
France and Belgium Main lines of communications.
Frenchmen, Belgians; dont forget the secondary lines.
The back is all text. It says in part:
To the key men in the Transport and Communication Services
To railroad personnel: railway workers, mechanics, stokers, switch-men, grade crossing supervisors, and assistant station masters.
To the personnel of highway communications: Engineers of the bridges, roads and track-men
To the personnel of waterways: lock keepers and their assistants, haulers (or towing crews) and tugboat men.
You can play an extremely important part in the battle waged against enemy lines of communication. From now there cannot be any secondary railroads, roads or waterways. From the enemys viewpoint, all communications are vitally important. If the Germans attempt to reroute their traffic through so-called secondary lines, you must see to it that, every time, they get into a dead-end situation.
Every kilometer of road, rail or canal of use to the enemy counts. Allied Air Forces do their share by harassing German centers and lines of communications. Help them in their mission
Eisenhower Proclamation ZF.3
General Eisenhower also prepared a proclamation to the peoples of Europe coded ZF.3. Forty million copies were printed in in five languages. This leaflet was first dropped about a week after D-Day on 14 June, so I just add it to complete the picture. Some of the text is:
CITIZENS OF FRANCE
The day of liberation has dawned. Your comrades in arms are on French soil. I am proud to have under my command the gallant forces of France who have so long trained and waited for this day when they can take part in the liberation of their home country. United we come to settle on the battlefield the war you have continued heroically through years of stubborn resistance. We shall destroy the Nazi Tyranny, root and branch, so that the people of Europe shall have a new birth of freedom .Those who made common cause with the enemy will be removed. It will be for the French people to provide their own civil administration and to safeguard my troops for the effective maintenance of law and order
The presence of the enemy among you has imposed the tragic necessity of aerial bombing and military and naval operations that have caused you so much loss and suffering. You have accepted these sacrifices with courage and in the heroic tradition of France, as it was the inevitable cost to which we all had to consent to achieve our goal: liberty.
I am counting on your help for the definitive crushing of Hitlerite Germany and for the restoration of traditional French liberty.
Once victory is won and France is liberated from the oppressor, the French people will be free to choose, as soon as possible under democratic methods, the government under which they want to live.
The enemy will fight with the courage of despair. He will neglect no measure, however ruthless, which he thinks may delay our progress. But, our cause is just; our armies are strong. With our valiant Russian allies from the east, we shall march to certain victory.
This is a very interesting political statement. Eisenhower threatens the collaborationists amongst the French but doesnt say exactly what will happen to them. He talks about a French government which upset De Gaulle since the General believed that France had surrendered while he fought on and now he was France. Finally, in a politically correct ending, Eisenhower mentions Russia which would make Stalin happy, although the Russians had nothing to do with this invasion. In fact, they had been complaining and demanding the invasion for years hoping to take some of the pressure off their front lines
Invasion Warning Leaflet ZF.4 Front
The warning leaflet was coded ZF.4. As the bombers left for France on D-Day the Allied radio told the French people:
To all who live within 35 kilometers of any part of the coast The Supreme Commander has directed that advance warning wherever possible shall be given to the towns in which these targets will be bombed The warning will be given by means of special warning leaflets dropped by aircraft Get as quickly as possible into open country Do not gather in large groups that might be mistaken for enemy formations.
Invasion Warning Leaflet ZF.4 Back
So, any Frenchman finding a warning leaflet that morning knew that he was about to be bombed and had better move his family inland as fast as possible. The warning leaflet was dropped on 16 towns in Normandy by the black-painted B-17 bombers of the 422nd Special Leaflet Squadron. They were the first Allied bombers over France on D-Day. The text was short and said in part:
Urgent message from the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces to the inhabitants of this town To win the battle against our common enemy, the Allied air forces will attack transportation centers and facilities of communication vital to the enemy. Orders have been given accordingly. You who read this leaflet live near or in a center vital to the enemys movement. It is essential that you send your family and remove yourselves at once for some days out of the danger zone in which you live Keep off the highways; disperse in the open country. Start now. You have not a minute to lose.
Military documents show that these leaflets were printed by Odhams, Samuel Stephens and Waterlows. They first printed 9,600,000 copies; then reprinted another 10,000,000 copies. The leaflets were originally delivered on 4 and 5 June 1944 and first disseminated on 6 June 1944.
My favorite story of the entire PSYOP campaign concerns this warning leaflet. The time and place of the invasion was top secret. It was probably guarded more than any other D-Day secret. It could mean the life or death of 100,000 men. If this warning leaflet should somehow get out; perhaps from a worker hiding a valued souvenir, the location of the 16 towns on the leaflet would tell the Germans exactly where the invasion fleet was headed. How do you guarantee that this secret is kept? Easy! You lock all the printers up and basically refuse to let them leave. The printers were ordered into the Sun plant on 1 June to prepare the warning leaflet. The place was sealed and the managers, engravers, printers and workers were locked inside for the next five days. On 6 June, the doors were unlocked; the workers streamed out, saw the sun, and heard that France had been invaded.
ZF.5 - General De Gaulles Address of 6 June 1944
Leaflet ZF.5 ("F" for "France") was prepared by the Allies and quoted a radio broadcast given by Free-French General Charles De Gaulle, the head of the French Committee of National Liberation on 6 June 1944. It explained the need for the invasion and told the French people what to expect. The back of the leaflet was a short statement entitled Allied Armies Landing and the signature of General De Gaulle. Since France was the actual target and would be bombed and bombarded by Allied Aircraft and ships, it was important that they understood why this ferocious attack on their homeland was important. Some of the text is:
The supreme battle is engaged. After so many struggles, so much fury, so much pain, we are now faced with the decisive blow, the blow for which we have hoped so much. It is, it should be understood, the battle of France, and it is the battle waged by France. Immense machinery of attack, that is to say machinery meant to bring us succor has commenced to deploy from old England. It was before this last western bastion of Europe that the tide of German oppression was once halted. It is today the base from which liberation offensive is launched For the sons of France wherever they may be, or whoever they may be, the simple and sacred duty is to fight be every means at their disposal There is no longer in the nation, in the Empire, in the armies anything but one single will, one single hope. Behind the cloud laden with our blood and our tears we see appearing the sun of our national grandeur.
The Back of the De Gaulle Leaflet ZF.5
As I said above, the message is very short:
that the action taken by us on the bitter enemy be joined as quickly as possible with the Allies and French armies operating together.
Key Men of the Transportation and Communication Services! ZF.7
One again the Allies stress the importance of the transportation and communication people. The message is similar to others we translate here such as ZF.2, so I will just translate a few paragraphs:
You continue to play a highly important part in the battle waged against the enemy lines of communication.
There no longer exists, as you know, any secondary road or waterways. From the enemys point of view all communications are vitally important.
Furthermore, you know the enemy is doing his best to repair the damage you have caused him.
You, for your part will continue in your campaign of destruction and you will obstruct the repair work attempted by the enemy. Allied aviation, for its part, continues to batter the German lines and centers of communication. Let us continue to help each other mutually in our task
The Allied Armies Land
Leaflet ZB-1 (B for Belgium) consists of four pages in two languages (Flemish and Walloon) with a signed statement from the Allied Supreme Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower on the front and a signed letter from the Belgian Prime Ministerin-exile Hubert Pierlot on the back. The title is To the Belgian People. I will just translate the first paragraph of the Eisenhower statement:
GENERAL EISENHOWERS ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLES OF OCCUPIED NATIONS
Peoples of Western Europe!
The Allied Troops have landed on the French coasts. This landing has been devised by the United Nations together with Russia in order to liberate Europe. I address this message to you. Even if the first assault did not take place in your country, your liberation is nearing. All the patriots, men or women, young or old, have in important part to play in our march to victory. To the Resistances members I say: Follow the instructions you have received. To the other patriots who are not in a Resistance group I say: Continue to resist but dont expose your life uselessly; wait and I will give you the signal to stand up and strike the enemy. The day will come where I will need your united strength. Until that moment I obligate you to submit to a rigorous discipline...
To the Belgian People
Some of the message by Prime Minister Pierlot is:
TO THE BELGIAN PEOPLE
My Beloved Countrymen:
The hour so long awaited by you is near. Preliminary operations for the liberation of Europe have begun. This first assault is the certain signal for your deliverance. You are about to undergo difficult days in a period of anxious waiting. This is the time to show once again those qualities of discipline and self-control which for four years you have so often displayed.
The first rule for you to follow is to moderate your impatience; the second is not to let yourselves be fooled by any of the enemys treacherous provocations, and not to let yourself be embroiled in any premature action which could result in terrible reprisals .
A complete Index of Allied Airborne Leaflets and Magazines 1939-1945 makes some interesting points about leaflets dropped around D-Day. It appears that most of the normal series were stopped. We see a lack of the usual leaflet missions the week before and after D-Day. It is almost as if the Allies wanted to concentrate on the invasion leaflets and stopped much of the usual forms of communication with the occupied countries. We note that the Eisenhower leaflet above (ZB.1) was also dropped on Holland (ZH.1), Norway (ZN.1), Denmark (ZD.1) and France (ZF.1).
A Message to Transportation and Communication Officers
A second leaflet that was dropped on a number of different countries starting 6 June 1944 was Message aux agents des services du transport et des communications, A Message to Transportation and Communication Officers. The back was Belges et Français ne perdez pas de vue les lignes secondaires, Belgians and French do not lose sight of the secondary lines with a map of the roads and highways near the invasion beaches. This is a four page leaflet in French and Dutch. This leaflet was dropped on Belgium (ZB.2) and France (ZF.2). The Falling Leaf, the Journal of the Psywar Society mentioned this leaflet in a special anniversary supplement dated June, 1994. It said:
ZB.2 and ZF.2. A message to Belgian transport workers asking them to sabotage any secondary roads, railways or canals that might have escaped Allied air attacks. The back is a map showing major lines of communications dropped 6 June.
Military documents show that these leaflets were printed by the Sun Engraving Company in Watford. They first printed 2,000,000 copies; then reprinted another 2,000,000 copies on 12 June. The leaflets were originally delivered on 1 June 1944 and first disseminated on 6 June 1944.
A Belgian friend adds:
Before the landings in Normandy, the British and American air forces bombed the lines of communication in Normandy, Northern France, Belgium and other areas for several months in order to deceive the Germans about the location of the invasion site. Railway stations, marshaling yards, bridges, rail junctions, and important crossroads were severely bombed. The Allies wished to prevent the Germans from sending reinforcements, supplies and armored divisions to the front. This leaflet asks the partisans to continue that action. It tells them that the secondary roads, the secondary railways, etc., are also very important so they must be watched.
Some of the text on the front of the leaflet asks the French and Belgians to block the roads and stop the Germans from moving their vehicles freely:
Message to all the Transportation Services Men
You can play a key role in the battle against the enemy lines of communications. From now on there are no more secondary railways, nor secondary roads, nor secondary waterways. For the enemy ALL the lines of communication are of the highest importance. If the Germans try to use secondary routes, it is dependent on you that they be blocked. Every kilometer of railway, road, or canal which could be used by the enemy is important. For its part the Allied air force will bomb the lines and centers of communication used by the Germans. Please help them in their mission.
When you actually think about this leaflet it seems to put the French and Belgians in great peril. If they obviously tie up traffic to stop German movement there is a good chance that the Germans will shoot them on the spot. If they back up the Germans for Allied air attack, they are right in the danger zone. In the military we have a term called danger close. That means we dont want to fire or bomb too close to our own people. Bombs do not have eyes. When the fighters and bombers attack the German vehicles with machine guns and explosives, any French truck or civilian in the immediate vicinity is in great danger.
Transportation Leaflet ZB.4 Back
The map of the general invasion area shows the main lines of communication, and the text says that the secondary lines of communication must not be neglected. After the Allied landings, the partisans must watch those roads and if they see the Germans using those secondary routes they have to block them. The map shows railways, rivers, roads and canals. The text at top and bottom is:
FRANCE AND BELGIUM main lines of communication
FRENCH AND BELGIAN PEOPLE - Dont neglect the secondary lines
ZG.1 - FROM FRONT Attacked! FROM BEHIND Written off!
Six million copies of leaflet ZG.1 ("G" is for "Germany") were dropped between 6 June and 29 June over German troops telling them of the hopelessness of their positions. It tells the German soldiers that they are nothing but human landmines left to slow the advance of the Allies. The text says in part:
FROM FRONT Attacked! FROM BEHIND Written off!
In the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht defense plan the Atlantic wall and the 40 kilometer wide coastal area behind it are merely a living mine field. Every soldier in the coastal area is only a living mine for the OKW, which is expected to delay a breakthrough but not to stop it.
THE SLAUGHTER AT THE ATLANTIC WALL IS FORGOTTEN.
FROM THE SEA the artillery of the Allied ships made wide breaches in the Atlantic wall. After the shells came the massive waves of land troops.
IN THE AIR the Luftwaffe fights using all available forces, against an overwhelming superior force. For each Allied plane shot down, ten new ones come. For each German plane downed, no new ones come. Everyone can see that the number of German planes becomes smaller daily.
ON LAND an Allied infantry company now attacks every German platoon at all points of penetration.
THE OKW COUNTED FROM THE START ON THE LOSS OF THE COASTAL DIVISIONS
Some of the text on the back is:
They consist of men who are too old or too young for real frontline duty, men who 6 months ago were only considered fit for garrison duty, including a high percentage of ethnic German foreigners and men of unreliable foreign units.
What can be considered battle proven units in this zone are supposed to serve with these replacements and be sacrificed with them.
FROM IN FRONT ATTACKED - FROM BEHIND WRITTEN OFF
THAT IS THE SITUATION ON THE ATLANTIC WALL.
AND THIS IS ONLY THE START OF THE TWO-FRONT WAR.
There is a section written in Polish for German soldiers that speak the language or perhaps were from the part of Poland that had a large German population:
Polish Speaking German Soldiers
Appeal of Allied Armies
1. You were drafted into the German army. Intruders are branded with the disgraceful name Volksdeutsch.
2. Your ancient enemy forced you into this seacoast sector without reserves or transportation. They use you as human mines in front of the German tanks.
3. Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen have started a fierce battle against Hitler's Germany - a battle which will forever stop the tyranny of our common enemy and the enslavement of the Polish people.
4. Every shot you fire against the freedom-fighters is a shot into Poland's heart.
5. Every Pole who ceases this useless fight saves his own life and the life of Poland.
SHOW THIS LEAFLET TO OUR SOLDIERS
The human landmines theme is mentioned in A Report on the Activities of the Office of War Information in the European Theatre of Operations from January 1944 to January 1945:
First psychological warfare (PW) personnel landed on the Normandy beaches on D-day, a tiny group including a news photographer, a liaison officer between PW, the First Army and the 21st Army Group, and an intelligence officer. Although they had little psychological warfare to conduct during that period, the air was full of it in the form of broadcasts by BBC and ABSIE; and British-based· bomber squadrons were scattering millions of leaflets. Some were addressed primarily to enemy coastal divisions; Volksdeutsche troops with little stomach to serve as human land-mines for the Herrenvolk farther back. Later interrogation indicated that the leaflets in German and in Russian and Polish for the German-impressed and mercenary troops-played their part in the rather speedy surrender of these coastal detachments.
As the Allied troops pushed inland, other psychological warfare groups landed in France. The organization, stemming from SHAEF with control vested in the Psychological Warfare Division, contained British and American civilian and military personnel and included members from the British Ministry of Information, the British Political Intelligence Department, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services and the U.S. Office of War Information., In addition to mobile printing equipment, they brought with them tons of ready-printed material already rolled for firing in shells from the two most usual weapons, the 25-pounder on the British front and the 105mm. weapon on the American. They also brought key lists of leaflets available in the United Kingdom, each bearing a code number for reference in signals from the field to PWD-SHAEF. Thus forward PW operatives-filling a role similar to that of artillery spotters were able to direct leaflet fire by area and text.
ZG.2 - Four-Front War
Six-hundred thousand copies of leaflet ZG.2 were prepared by the Allies to drop on the Germans from 6 June to 15 June 1944. The front of the large leaflet shows the invasion force labelled Western Front, the Southern Front in Italy, the Eastern front as the Russians advance, and bombs are depicted dropping on Germany labelled Home Front. The back has a long message telling the German forces of their nations peril due to the Eastern Front, Home Front, and Southern Front. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this leaflet is that the arrow showing the invasion route from the British Isles depicts the invasion landing at Calais. Since the leaflet was dropped starting June 6, the Allies were still hoping to convince the Germans that the Normandy landings were only a ploy and the real invasion would land further east. Some of the text is:
AND NOW THE WEST FRONT
East Front: Two years ago Hitler chose the anniversary of the beginning of Napoleons ill-fated campaign to commence his invasion of Russia. Hitlers armies have retreated as Napoleons armys retreated. The Russian armies are already deep into Poland and Romania, and stand on the boundaries of Czechoslovakia. They await the order for the final offensive.
Home Front: Four years ago Hitler issued his communique, The war in the West is over, and began his assault on the British Home front. His assault was defeated. The Royal Air Force and the American Air Force have now gone over to the air offensive and have opened a front unique in the war, the German home front where Goering promised no bombs would fall. By day and by night Allied air fleets are assaulting aircraft factories, oil refineries, heavy industries, and the entire communications network of the Reich
Catastrophe on the East Front
Catastrophe on the Home Front
Catastrophe on the South Front
AND NOW THE ALLIED LANDING IN THE WEST
THE FOURTH FRONT IS OPENED
The front of ZG.4, dropped from 11 to 15 June 1944, is the same Four Front War image as found on ZG.2 above. 2,000,000 copies of this learflet were printed. The back is all text with the title Why. The text is:
The Allied Expeditionary Army was landed on the British coast without the German air force intervening. Why?
Many thousands of Allied ships were docked in the British ports without the German air force intervening. Why?
The Allied Expeditionary Army reached the coast of France, without the German air force intervening. Why?
The Allied Expeditionary Army broke through the first line of the Atlantic Wall, and created a bridgehead, without the German air force intervening. Why?
Montgomery and Rommel have given the answer. Montgomery said:
You must first win the battle of the air, only then you begin the land or sea battle.
Above all German fortifications, air superiority will make the difference, regardless of what the opponent chooses to do.
ZG.5 FROM FRONT Attacked! FROM BEHIND Written off!
Leaflet ZG.5 was written in German and Polish. 5,530,700 copies of this leaflet were printed for dissemination from 10 June to 5 July 1944. The text on the front and back is almost identical to that of ZG.1. The only difference is the addition of a line or two to the German and Polish texts.
The new German text after talking about the problems at sea, in the air and on the ground is:
This explains: Your lack of trucks; the old age and the health of many of your mates; and the number of foreign troops in your ranks.
What we see on the front line defenses is experienced units meant to support the stiffening of the weaker units, but then sacrificed along with the rest.
The single Polish language addition is:
Show this flyer to our soldiers.
The British and Americans also produced a series of about 50+ leaflets that were coded WG. They seem to be aimed more at civilians than the military forces. I do not want to mention them in depth, but I will show the first one that warns the people that the Germans are in retreat from the D-Day forces and will be destroyed by constant attacks. The leaflet is signed by the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces and dated 26 August 1944, about 10 weeks after the invasion. Some of the text is:
To the German civilian population in the areas west of the Rhine, in the French provinces of Alsace-Lorraine, and to the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg:
The elimination of the German 7th Army has decided the battle of France. The survivors of the Normandy battle and the handful of German divisions north of the Seine can at best fight a series of delaying actions on their retreat into Germany. The German areas west of the Rhine, in the French provinces of Alsace-Lorraine, and to the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg have, therefore become the rear areas of military operations. Very soon they may become a theater of war
The rear communications of the remnants of the German Army retreating into Germany will be subjected to devastating air attacks. These air attacks will be the same scope and intensity as the bombing preceding and accompanying the invasion of France .
5,760,000 of these leaflets were printed and dropped from 3 to 11 September 1944 over 16 targets.
Nachrichten für die Truppe, Nr. 51, 6 June 1944
I said earlier that the Allies slowed their leaflet campaign to almost a halt as D-Day neared. The Allied propaganda newspaper Nachrichten für die Truppe (News for the Troops) is a good example. The newspaper was a joint project of the British Political Warfare Executive and the United States Office of Strategic Services. The newspaper was dropped on the Germans daily from 25 April 1944 until the end of the war. However, we see that no newspaper was disseminated from 30 May to 2 June. Then there was a single drop, and then no more until 6 June. 992,000 copies of the 6 June newspaper were printed and the headline story was the Allied invasion. Some of the text is:
ATLANTIC WALL BREACHED IN SEVERAL PLACES
Tanks have penetrated deep inland: bitter fighting against paratroopers.
According to latest reports, the Atlantic Wall has been breached in several places after the amphibious landing by Anglo-American armored units on the French channel coast two hours after dawn this morning. Bitter fighting is being reported from the Seine estuary and from Normandy. Large paratrooper units and airborne troops equipped with their own artillery and light armored vehicles had been dropped in advance last night where they successfully secured a number of Luftwaffe airfields in surprise attacks. They have joined forces in several places with the armored units now driving inland from the coast.
The German defenders in the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall are now being attacked from the sea, the air and the land.
The naval artillery of the English and American battleships and cruisers now has the whole area covered. The harbor installations on the coast are now also under bombardment. The first port to come under attack was Le Havre. The fortifications and defensive fighting positions from Normandy through to Calais are now being attacked from high and low-level by vast bomber formations protected on all sides by fighters. The few Luftwaffe fighters and other armed aircraft are powerless in the face of this overwhelming air superiority. To the rear, paratroops and airborne troops have made contact with groups of the French resistance.
The overwhelming air superiority is making it impossible for the German command to get a complete picture of the situation due to the lack of any aerial reconnaissance. Communication with the various coastal sectors is also problematic. Alert state 3 was called for the complete Atlantic Wall and the military command shortly before midnight yesterday as the first airborne landings were being reported.
The actual invasion however began just after dawn. Long lines of assault boats and landing craft, escorted by countless numbers of destroyers, gunboats and escort ships of all types approached the coast under cover of smoke and a naval bombardment from cruisers and battleships. Fast patrol boats from Cherbourg, Le Havre and Ijmuiden were heroically sacrificed after being sent up against the superior allied force.
What is in readiness? The 5000 kilometers of Atlantic Wall from the North Cape to Bayonne is being held by 60 German divisions. That is three-quarters of a million men spread all over the occupied West to defend attacks from all directions. On average there are 18 aircraft for each division in the West (during the campaign in France each division had 80 aircraft). The Anglo-Americans recently had 160 aircraft per division for Rome. Anglo-American air superiority in the west is reckoned to be 12:1. The main responsibility for naval defense on the high seas falls on the U-boats. The North Sea, the Channel and the Atlantic are defended by 60 torpedo boats, the same number of minesweepers and a few forward flotillas. No large German warship is situated further west than Kiel.
Sternenbanner (Stars and Stripes) was a 4-page Allied propaganda newspaper dropped on the Germans to keep them updated on the true status of the war. We depict issue 13, coded USG 44, dated 8 June 1944. The newspaper was dropped from 17 June to 21 June 1944. The first page of the newspaper depicts Allied landing craft on the beaches of Normandy. The headline and some of the paragraph headings are:
The opening of the Fourth Front
The Allied landing! Heroes bring the landing craft up to hundred meters from the beaches of Normandy under the protection of heavy naval guns.
It is interesting to note that in the United States this was always called The Second Front, yet we find on two of these leaflets the term Fourth Front used to demoralize the Germans military with the concept that they are being attacked on all sides.
The British Evening Standard of 5 April 1944 says about the Sternenbanner:
A newspaper published in London is regularly delivered to Berlin and all the other bombed cities throughout Germany and occupied Europe by British and United States bombers. It is the 4-page Sternenbanner (Stars and Stripes). The bombers drop it on Germany after they have deposited their bombs. The paper is published in German, Dutch, French and Flemish, and is prepared by a team of experienced journalists and printed on a special lightweight paper. Britain foots the bill for producing the paper, but it is produced under the auspices of the United States Office of War Information.
De Vliegende Hollande (The Flying Dutchman)
The above newspaper-leaflet was printed by the Allies and dropped over Holland to keep them advised on the current war situation. On 22 May 1942, the first issue of 30,000 copies was dropped over Holland. In this 15 June 1944 edition, the Dutch are told that the Allies have invaded France. The main article is entitled AFTER SEVEN DAYS and mentions General Eisenhowers orders to his troops after the first week of fighting.
Erdmann says that the Allies dropped about nine million leaflets supporting D-Day.
German leaflets Against the Allies
This uncoded German propaganda leaflet welcomes the Allies to Europe
Of course the Germans struck back at the invading forces and with a vengeance. I could have added a great number of leaflets here but I add just a few that show the type of propaganda used by the Germans.
Welcome to the Continent!
The first leaflet is uncoded, all-text and says in part:
Welcome to the Continent!
Here you are at last, old chaps. Even though you are unwanted and altogether uninvited guests, you are not unexpected It ist (sic) this Mr. Joe from Moscow that you have to thank for your present position.
The back of the leaflet is all-text and says in part:
What exactly do you want in Europe?
But this is now the second time you are about to mix yourselves up in European affairs at the instigation of Jewish hate instincts and lust for power, although it is none of your business The American continent has never been threatened by Germany. The Bolshies are the sworn enemy of all culture; they are the destroyers of religion and family life. Thats a fact every American knows Think of them when you are facing death. Die for Stalin and Israel?
You Have Been Trapped!
The second German leaflet warns the Allies that they are fighting for a cause that will ultimately destroy their own countries. Notice that the leaflet is coded E114 / 3.44. The E is believed to stand for Englander. The 3.44 indicates that the German prepared this leaflet as early as March. Apparently it was stored awaiting the invasion. There are a whole series of such leaflets and we will mention more below. Some of the text on the front of this leaflet is:
YOU HAVE BEEN TRAPPED!
You have landed on the Continent to face the armed might of Germany but not for the benefit of Britain!...The Bolsheviks alone will profit from your sacrifices. You have been trapped into risking your life for but one purpose The Bolshevization of Europe
WHY SHOULD YOU FIGHT FOR STALIN?
The back of this leaflet is another divide and conquer leaflet message designed by the Germans to split the Allies and convince them that they are dying so that Communism can take over all of Europe. Some of the text is:
The only strategic effect that the invasion could have would be to lessen the resistance of the Germans in the East. If this plan succeeded, Bolshevism would triumph over Europe and triumph of Britain as well
Other leaflets in this E series are:
E108: Why die for Stalin? Why die for the Jews?
E111: Bolshevism What is it? / The leopard cannot change its spots.
E113: Why die for Stalin?
E115: Stalin or your wife?
E116: Smuts said.
E117: Who gains? / You do not / Europe does not / But the Bolshevists do!
E118: Why die for the Jews?
Why die for Stalin? Why die for the Jews?
With the single exception of E108, all of the leaflets the Germans prepared in advance of the invasion are text only. I have added this leaflet because it is the only one that has an image on the front. The image depicts John Avery sitting in front of a typewriter. Your first impression is that this must be a well-known and trusted writer or broadcaster. In fact, he was a British Fascist who proposed to the Wehrmacht the formation of a British volunteer force (the British Free Corps) and made recruitment efforts and propaganda broadcasts for Nazi Germany.
British Free Corps patch and sleeve insignia
Adolf Hitler was impressed by Amery and allowed him to remain in Germany as a guest of the Reich. During WWII the Germans authorized a number of foreign Legions made up of Croatian, Belgian, Estonian, Latvian anti-Communists among others. Somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 men joined these anti-communist legions. The British were not quick to join the Nazis and research has found less than 60 men who admit to being a member at one time or another. At no time did it reach more than 27 men in strength, a bit smaller than a German Army platoon.
Amery made a series of pro-German propaganda radio broadcasts, attempting to appeal to Britons to join the war on communism. After the war he was put on trial and on the first day, 28 November 1945, Amery pleaded guilty to eight charges of treason. He was immediately sentenced to death. The entire proceedings lasted just eight minutes.
The text on this leaflet once again blames the Communists and the Jews for WWII, conveniently ignoring the fact that Hitler started the war by invading Poland, declared war of the United States for no reason, and attacked their ally, the USSR, without warning.
CAUGHT LIKE FOXES IN A TRAP
The third German leaflet is all-text with a divide and conquer message by the Germans trying to convince the Allied that they are fighting for the Soviet Union. The leaflet asks why the Germans have held back their secret weapons. Of course, the American soldiers did not know that the Germans were fooled by Allied deception, that the Germans believed that Calais was the actual invasion target, and that Hitler would not release his panzers wanting to save them for the real attack at the Pas de Calais, the closest area of France to Britain. Some of the text is:
CAUGHT LIKE FOXES IN A TRAP
Why has Jerry waited ten days after the landings to use his so-called secret weapon behind your back? Doesnt that strike you as queer? It looks very much like after waiting for you to cross the Channel; he had set a TRAP for you Meanwhile the robot planes, flying low, scatter over London and Southern England explosives, the power and incendiary efficiency of which are without precedent .
The back of the leaflet quotes stories from six newspapers. For instance:
Daily Telegraph An incredible stream of German pilotless bombers is dropping a rain of high explosives over southern England. There is widespread destruction in many places .
D-Day means Death-Day
I added this German leaflet at the last moment because it doesnt quite make sense. First of all, it was dropped in Italy not in Western Europe, and secondly, D-day was 6 June 1944 and this leaflet is dated March 1945. Why wait eight months to drop a D-day leaflet? The back of the leaflet depicts a calendar of 1944 and 1945 with a red question mark and the text:
D-Day in Italy too?
I assume that the Germans are saying to the Allies that thousands died during the Invasion of Europe and once again thousands will die in Italy. The leaflet was designed and disseminated by the SS organization Kurt Eggers, section Sudstern (Southeast), for British and American troops in Italy in March 1945. After the attempt on Hitlers life by the Army Generals, the fuhrer gave the propaganda operation to the SS and his trusted Heinrich Himmler.
President Roosevelts D-Day Prayer
I am not a believer in coincidence so when just a day or two after I finished this article I read that a bill had passed regarding a D-Day prayer by the President of the United States I assumed that it was an act of providence. I have to add it or risk karmic retribution.
On 23 June 2014, by a vote of 370 to 12, the House overwhelmingly passed a D-Day prayer bill, and it is now headed to the President for signature. The legislation passed the Senate on 5 June 2014. The bipartisan bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to install a plaque or inscription at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. honoring the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the nation on 6 June 1944. Note that like Eisenhower, Roosevelt was not sure that the invasion would be successful. I will just quote the first few paragraphs of the prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph. They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war .
This is just a short look at D-Day propaganda from both sides. As I write this, D-Day 2014 has just passed and I thought it might be nice to commemorate it with a short article. Readers that would care to comment are encouraged to write to the author at email@example.com.