SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
Lieutenant Colonel Raymond A. Schuhl in 1946
Raymond Schuhl is the stuff of legends. Hardly anyone knows his name and yet in WWI as a member of the French Army he went to Switzerland and produced anti-German leaflets.
In WWII, after the fall of France, he did it again. He faked his death, went to Switzerland where he joined with the American OSS to head their propaganda campaign against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
WORLD WAR ONE
In October 1914, the Germans were at the gates of Paris. They were drafting Frenchmen to dig their trenches and build fortifications. About the same time, the French government organized a Bureau de la presse et de l'information, ("Office of Press and Information") and Minister of War Millerand formed a Service de la Propaganda aerienne ("Aerial Propaganda Service" sometimes called "SPA") attached to the 2nd Bureau of the Army General Headquarters.
The Artist Hansi in 1914
In 1916, the French government established the Maison de la Presse in a six-story building of some 200 rooms in Rue Francois Premier in Paris. One section of the Maison de la presse was the SPA. It was composed of Professor Tonnelat and Jean Jacques Waltz, the Alsatian artist code-named "Hansi."
Bernard Wilkin mentions Tonnelat in Aerial Propaganda and the Wartime Occupation of France, 19141918, Routledge, London and New York, 2017.
In August 1915, a German specialist named Ernest Tonnelat became the first man to work on aerial propaganda. Born in 1877, he had completed a doctoral thesis on the brothers Grimm before working for various French universities. Tonnelat was an expert on pan-Germanism and had travelled extensively in the German-speaking world. The academic fought for a few months at the beginning of the conflict before being transferred to the rear after falling ill. He became a military nurse and was finally promoted to the rank of lieutenant when transferred to the Service de la Propagande Aérienne.
Wilkin goes on to mention Waltz:
The second propagandist inside the Service de la Propagande Aérienne had a different background. Jean-Jacques Waltz, nicknamed and universally known as Hansi, was born in 1873 in Alsace. A talented artist and a fierce French nationalist, he mocked the German presence in his native province for years. His anti-German caricatures led to his arrest just before the First World War, but he managed to escape Alsace and joined the French infantry. The French authorities removed him from the frontline once they heard that he was wanted by the Germans for treason. He was transferred to the Service de la Propagande Aérienne at the end of 1915. Hansis knowledge of the German language and the Alsatian dialect was a valuable skill for the conception of psychological warfare.
In 1916, Raymond Schuhl joined the team. Schuhl is of particular interest because he crossed the border into Switzerland after the German invasion of France in WWII where he did exactly the same thing that he did in WWI. This time, he secretly designed leaflets for the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) using the code-name Salembier right under the eyes of the very suspicious, nervous, and neutral Swiss.
I first wrote about Schuhl years ago in a magazine article about OSS Berne and said:
The OSS mission had early established contact with a Frenchman, known under his cover name of Salembier, who had been one of the French Deuxieme Bureau's chief propaganda artists in World War I.
Through Enemy Lines - A three Years Offensive against German Morale
This book was bound in vellum and then the artist Hansi (Jean Jacques Waltz) painted this wonderful cover illustration of a very early variant of the U.S. B-17 bomber flying over New York harbor and dropping leaflets. He would later design an Ex Libris label for Schuhls library that had some similarities to this picture.
This Ex-libris library label was made by the artist Hansi for his wartime friend and comrade Raymond Schuhl. In the foreground are the ruins of the castles of Ortenbourg and Romstein dominating Sainte Marie aux Mines, the birthplace of the Raymond Schuhl. In the distance Hansi depicts Paris and New York.
Hansi drew this self-portrait Silhouette of himself in 1929
A doll made by Hansi wearing traditional Alsatian clothing
Hansi states that Raymond A. Schuhl was born in Sainte Marie-aux-Mines. This pretty valley of Alsace is dominated by the ruins of the castles of Ortenbourg and Ramstein, which we see in the foreground of the Ex-libris library label above. Other sources say that he was born in Benfeld (about 38 kilometers from Sainte Marie-aux-Mines) on 7 April 1884 to Samuel Schuhl and his mother Reine Picard.
The wedding certificate of his parents show that they were married in 1883 in Markirch, the German name of Sainte Marie aux Mines.
Bernard Hayem who bought a scrapbook containing most of Schuhls OSS products in 1982 studied the man in depth and agrees that he was born in Benfeld. He told me:
His birth certificate found in the archives of civil record of Haut Rhin in Strasbours tells us that he was born into a Jewish family in April 7, 1884 and that he died in Paris 16° on July 11th, 1958.
The birth certificate reads:
Before the undersigned registrar, appeared today the person known as the merchant Samuel SCHUHL, living in Benfeld, of Israelite religion, who said that his honorable spouse Rene PICARD of Israelite religion, who lives with him in Benfeld, gave birth the seven April thousand eight hundred and eighty-four at five o'clock in the morning, to a male child to whom the forenames of Raymond Arthur were given.
Read aloud, approved by Schuhl, and signed: the clerkRack Benfeld: April 8, 1884.
SCHUHLs mother appears under different forenames, Rene, Regine and Reïne on her birth certificate. This is due to phonetic translations between French and German. In addition, Jewish female forenames were often derived from German Jewish or Yiddish nicknames and used to have fluctuating spelling.
Despite many searches, I did not find any siblings or children for Raymond Schuhl. I think he was single with no descendants.
Mr. Schuhl lived in Paris, which can be seen in the background. From 1914 to 1918, during the last war, Mr. Schuhl carried out many important missions in America so one sees the sea, and on the other shore New York, the Statue of Liberty, and the plane that transports him.
The heraldry is as follows: the symbols of Ribeaupierre/Lorraine; Paris; the United States of America; and finally France.
Wilkin says about Schuhl:
The Service de la Propagande Aérienne also used Switzerland to smuggle newspapers to the occupied territories of France. One of its members, Raymond Schuhl, travelled six times to the neutral country in 1916. Hansi and Tonnelat revealed after the war that the Alsatian propagandist sought the collaboration of lost provinces refugees and other Francophile communities living in Switzerland. Schuhl, who spoke German and Alsatian, had worked as an industrialist in Switzerland and had several contacts and friends in the neighboring country.
A 1916 WWI Anti-German Postcard by Hansi
The text is:
LE MEGALOMANE MICROCEPHALE (the Megalomaniac Microcephalic man)
Hansi saw the Germans as Megalomaniacs: Persons who have an obsessive desire for power; and Microcephalic, with a birth defect of having a small head and shrunken brain.
In 2020, this second use of the same image turned up and I thought I should add it because of the additional propaganda on it. The image is autographed by Hansi to Nathan Kahn, who owned a printing shop in Epinal and printed for Hansi during and after WWI. The text is:
To Mister N. Kahn
Epinal February 1915
At the lower left Hansi has drawn a burning Cathedral of Reims, which was set on fire by German artillery in 1914. This event created much indignation in France that the Germans were then called “The Arsonists of Churches” by French propagandists.
Waltz talked about his time writing propaganda for the French in WWI in his 1922 book Through Enemy Lines - A three Years Offensive against German Morale. I am not going to quote him exactly and will edit his long passages down to brief comments. He said in part:
A small table in the corner of an information desk and, in a cabinet, books and a few German newspapers, was, towards the end of August 1915, the installation of the French Aircraft Propaganda Service which was ordered to organize and methodically disseminate propaganda leaflets beyond enemy lines. Our staff was a single interpreter who was, on his own, to endeavor to destroy the morale of two or three million German soldiers who were intoxicated with their early success.
Our Propaganda Service always remained modest. From November 1915, Professor Tonnelat and I were a team and shared the rather heavy work of drafting, printing and the dispatch of leaflets. In 1916, the presence of Third interpreter became necessary; Mr. Raymond Schuhl then joined us. Two secretaries and some handlers gradually complemented our team. The total number of persons employed never reached ten members.
It was not the first time, since the start of the war that we were in a less favorable position than the Boche. This had not stopped us from beating them more than once with their own weapon. Our friend Raymond Schuhl promised to make this happen once again. We would do better than the Germans, without the help of anyone and against the odds. The promise was kept Schuhl kept the Germans on the alert for over two years Every day parcels of clandestine literature crossed over into Mulhouse and St. Louis in commercial vehicles, in the pockets of workmen with border passes, in the milk bins which the Swiss sent to Mulhouse every day, in the freight trains, etc. Massages were sent down the Rhine in hermetically sealed floating tubes. Messages were sent attached to balloons from friendly houses near the border.
Forged WWII German Military Headquarters Envelopes
I have seen propaganda envelopes used postally in WWII that bear the markings of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. I thought I would depict some blank envelopes here so the reader can see that everything Schuhl did in WWI he did again in WWII
As for the smugglers: from Constanz to Basle, and over the Lake of Constanz, traffic was regular and lively. The smugglers, whether Swiss or German, thought nothing of adding a few bales of pamphlets to their merchandise.
A Fake WWII can of Sardines filled with propaganda leaflets
One again Schuhl retraces his steps from WWI
Schuhl decided to become a canned food merchant. He assembled a great number of cans bearing the Amieux trademark (a well-known French firm) and got a large consignment to the border The German consulates had a section dealing with mail. In these same consulates there were fine stocks of official envelopes, these were sometimes sold. It was easy enough to use these envelopes and to mail them at the same post office and same window as that used openly and every day by the employees of the German consulate.
The French Facsimile of the German Newspaper Field Post - Number 6, December 1915
Waltz mentions this French fake newspaper he produced with Schuhl. He says in part:
From October 1915, we printed a German newspaper regularly, eventually totaling almost 300 pages. The first twelve issues were titled Die Feldpost, but the leaflet was so carefully demonized and policed by the German military authorities that it was necessary to change its name. From number 13 onwards it was entitled: Kriegsblatter fur das deutsche Volk (War Pages for the German People). The newspaper became known as Das freie deutsche Wort (The Free German Word), until the end of the war.
The actual booklet Jaccuse! and the disguised French copy of the booklet
Another Waltz-Schuhl project was the reprinting in miniature of Grellings book J'accuse! (I Accuse!). The booklet J'accuse was first produced in September 1915. The booklets were often disguised with fake covers in the German colors or depicting an Iron cross and the title Die Wahrheit (The Truth). This book argued against the German lie that they were fighting a defensive war and pointed out that the Germans had started the war and were seeking to build a militarist empire. The French reproduced it as a miniature 50-gram 432-page edition. In late 1915, the French dropped 20,000 copies of the books behind the German lines. This result was achieved by using the very fine and resistant paper used by Bibles for holding the Old and New Testaments in one volume. Despite the small size of the Volume, the text remained very readable. So that the volumes dropped behind the lines would not be exposed to deterioration, each copy was placed in a strong paper envelope. And, for the little package to attract attention it was placed in an envelope decorated with German colors.
We have mentioned Jean-Jacques Waltz, also known as "Hansi" several times in this article. He was born 23 February 1873 in Colmar (Alsace, then Germany) and died 10 June 1951 in Colmar (Alsace - now France). Above is his very last photograph taken just prior to his death.
At the end of the war, Schuhls was awarded the Legion dHonneur. The citation, signed by Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France during the First World War, said in part:
Citation accompanying the appointment to the rank of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor
SCHUHL (Raymond Arthur), Temporary (Territorial) Interpreter Officer 3rd Class at the Propaganda Action Center against the Enemy: Volunteer, although Retired, distinguished himself in the course of many perilous missions in whose action he has demonstrated of remarkable intelligence and absolute contempt for danger.
Paris, 11 January 1919 Entered in the Official Journal 12 January1919.
Forwarded to head of 1st Bureau
WORLD WAR TWO
The Symbol of Bern, Switzerland
Two volumes covering the history of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II were produced in 1949 by the History Project, Strategic Services Unit, Office of the Assistant Secretary of War, War Department, Washington, D. C. The formal title of the report is War Report, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), it is also known as OSS War Report, Washington Organization, and Operations in the Field. These two volumes remained classified "Top Secret" for 53 years after they were completed. Volume 1 covers the organization of the OSS. Volume 2 covers OSS coordinated operations in the field. Looking through the report I see “Bern” mentioned over 300 times:
In both World Wars, Switzerland was the main Allied listening post for developments
in European enemy and enemy-occupied countries. Switzerland's geographical position and its neutrality made it the happy hunting ground for the intelligence services of all the belligerent countries. In this respect, it was chiefly of use to the Allies since Switzerland opened no doors to the outside world for the surrounding Axis forces.
Intensive planning in OSS/Washington for the establishment of an office in Bern began in the spring of 1942, and, in May, the first representative of OSS left for Switzerland, where he was attached to the U.S. Legation. An assistant was dispatched a few months later, and, in November 1942, a third member arrived to take charge of the mission. Several additional persons had been chosen to assist him and were to follow shortly, but, with the Allied invasion of North Africa, the Germans moved into southern France, and the last remaining channel of access to Switzerland was closed. The Swiss mission therefore started with three men, but by borrowing certain persons from other U. S. agencies and by use of a few Americans who had been caught in Switzerland by the German invasion of South France, a small unit of less than a dozen key individuals was organized. By early 1944, the Bern OSS mission consisted of 5 actual OSS officers and 12 cipher and translation clerks. There were more than 100 subagents and other paid informants reporting on Germany and other areas.
The Swiss seem to have had good reasons for their absolute neutrality. Steve Clark says in The Third Reich Study Group Newssheet of September 2021:
Switzerland's armed neutrality during WW2 - The Swiss government considered it necessary to introduce military protection and mobilized its entire army of 430,000 combat troops in just 3 days. The Germans and Italians had detailed plans to invade Switzerland (known as 'Operation Tannenbaum') but, for reasons that are still uncertain, Hitler never ordered the invasion to commence.
Despite the neutrality, both the Allied and Axis powers regularly violated Swiss territorial locations, and resulted in U.S. and British aircraft being shot down while flying over Swiss territory.
A brief history of Morale Operations from the War Report of the OSS:
On 27 October 1943, MO was charged with the "execution of all forms of morale subversion by divers means including False rumors, 'freedom stations', false leaflets and false documents, the organization and support of fifth column activities by grants, trained personnel and supplies and the use of agents, all for the purpose of creating confusion, division and undermining the morale of the enemy. The Branch expanded rapidly in the last half of 1943. In May MO/ Washington had a staff of twelve. By August it had 75, and by January 1944 it had 150. It was decreed that the Office of War Information would be responsible for leaflets dropped by aircraft and traceable to their actual source. However, leaflets dropped in containers to a reception committee for dissemination and purporting to come from a subversive organization in enemy or enemy occupied territory would be within the province of MO. About radio, OSS agreed not to install or operate "black" stations outside enemy-controlled territory without the Office of War Information's concurrence. OWI, in turn, agreed not to operate agents or installations inside enemy territory. Provision was also made for close working relationships in the field.
America needed an expert propagandist in Switzerland. British researcher Lee Richards searched the files in the U.S. National Archives and discovered a classified Secret letter from the Acting Chief of Morale Operations, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Patrick Dolan, dated 1 September 1943, that mentions what is specifically needed and said in part:
The dissemination of rumors and subversive printed material, clandestine radio if possible, the introduction of MO subagents into enemy territory or enemy occupied territory, the recruiting of such agents among dissident enemy nationals or the nationals of occupied countries, the creation and maintenance of channels for the introduction into such territories of rumors, printed matter and personnel. MO representative in Bern should possess full qualifications for operations His duties will include the recruiting and direction of subagents who will operate in enemy or enemy-controlled countries. He should command facilities for the printing and distribution of subversive leaflets, pamphlets and possibly of underground newspapers A comprehensive agreement has been reached with the British Political Warfare Executive and Special Operations Executive for the closest collaboration, mutual assistance and the pooling of resources.
[Authors note]: Let me stop here just for a moment to point out that the British may not have been quite as much in agreement as stated. British researcher Lee Richards found a note in the British National Archives that states:
Salembier has been pirating very heavily and unsuccessfully!
A British propaganda postcard from Operation Periwig
Courtesy Lee Richards
Note the horse symbol. Schuhl stole the symbol for several of his own leaflets
There are some attached OSS Berne leaflets, with a horse logo on the reverse that was apparently stolen from a PWE project called Operation Periwig. PWE were obviously not too impressed with Salembiers efforts.
The first of four leaflets Where Schuhl placed the horse image.
The British filed these leaflets in their Archives. The leaflets are entitled: The War; The Honor; The Human Being; and The Personality. The small horse symbol is on the last page of each document. The first one, entitled The War asks the following questions: What is it; How is it created; and Who is to blame for the last war.
I assume that Schuhl figured that since the British already had a fictitious anti-Nazi underground in Germany he might as well take advantage of it.
British Work Slowly Gummed Label
This was not the only time that the OSS did a bit of poaching British propaganda. The British produced two versions of a Work Slowly gummed label coded H.230 that could be placed on tables and walls wherever the German workers congregated. It featured the red cogwheel emblem of the German Labor Front at the upper left and repeated the phrase work slowly four times. Some of the text is:
Workers in all Europe must work slowly so that Hitler can win himself to death more quickly. The easier we take it, the harder it is on Hitler.
Peace! Freedom! Socialism!
American Copy of the Work Slowly Gummed Label
The British propaganda message Leans just a tad to the left so Schuhl copied it, coded his leaflet 119 and kept all the original text but cut out the last line at the bottom that mentioned Socialism. He replaced it with:
Long live the Fourth Reich and German Freedom.
We now come across the first mention of Raymond Schuhl. In a classified secret letter to Dolan from a Colonel Edward Buxton dated 3 September 1943 we find:
Burns in Bern recommended a man named Raymond Schuhl. Attached is a French translation of a French book which tells about Schuhls activities in World War I. Seemingly, he is ideal for our job.
In an earlier letter to General Donovan, the head of the OSS we find a similar comment. No names are mentioned but we know who is being mentioned:
Kindly obtain a copy of the book Atrauers les lignes ennemies In this book the person named on page 136, line 2 is available for work here. I have requested him to make a preliminary survey of what could be done along these lines There are opportunities opening up and Gerry Mayer of the Officer of War Information is giving his full cooperation.
This is really interesting. When I was researching Schuhl years ago I studied the Waltz book mentioned above in the WWI section. Apparently the OSS did exactly the same thing in WWII and offered Schuhl the job.
On 22 September 1943, Dolan sent another classified secret letter explaining the need for his unit to have representation in Bern:
Bern and Switzerland are perhaps the prime outlets for Morale Operations work against Germany. MO has no representation in Bern. This has left a great gap in our overseas operations. I obtained the list of U.S. World War veterans now living in Switzerland; it seems to me they would be valuable as OSS contacts.
How was the Morale Operations Branch going to pay for all this propaganda printing and intelligence collecting? A 19 May 1943 classified secret letter implies it will not be easy:
It appears that the project under discussion earlier this year, whereby MO would have one million dollars, has not materialized. We have, in fact, no designated MO funds in Switzerland at all.
A week later some progress had been made. A 25 May 1943 classified secret letter states in part:
Yesterday I had a long talk about getting Swiss francs for Morale Operations in Switzerland. The procedure is simple all we have to do is direct a letter to the Finance Office which then transfers MO funds into Swiss francs payable in Bern. OSS has a general fund in Switzerland from which this will be drawn, amounting to about $900,000.
Raymond Schuhl Takes Charge
We know a lot of general facts about Raymond Schuhl from old OSS documents that I read and quoted in the past. For instance:
The printing operation in Switzerland is mentioned in the War Report of the OSS, The Overseas Targets, Volume 2, Kermit Roosevelt, Walker and Company, NY, 1976:
Joint OSS/OWI operations were worked out in the field of propaganda warfare. The OSS mission had early established contact with a Frenchman, known under his cover name of 'Salembier,' who had been one of the French Deuxieme Bureau's chief propaganda artists in World War I. He knew his trade and was set up in business, operating from Geneva, by OSS and OWI jointly. Millions of pamphlets, leaflets, cards, postage stamps and every form of literary propaganda were printed and smuggled into Germany and Fascist Italy. When the Frankfurter Zeitung was suppressed by Hitler, a small edition was printed in Switzerland and sent into Germany. Much material was also dispatched to the French resistance to aid them with their own publications. The speeches of de Gaulle were reprinted in vast quantities and smuggled into France.
The man with the pseudonym Robert Salembier was actually Raymond A. Schuhl, code-named Mutt. His code name had a code name! He had been a French Army propagandist in WWI who had served in the 6th Section of the French Deuxieme Bureau until the fall of France and volunteered to do the same for the Americans in WWII.
All OSS members received a code number and we dont know Schuhls, but there is an un-named person (almost all others are named), numbered 677 that simply says Employed by OSS in Switzerland. I suspect this is Schuhl because a Dulles telegram dated 11 September 1943 says:
For the past six months the person numbered 677 has been working full-time for us, and, since it is not wise to transmit reports by cable, we have been doing a great deal more along the lines indicated than you know.
Enemy Military Identification Booklets forged by the OSS
Italian Social Republic Ministry of the Armed Forces Army Personal Booklet
German Army Soldbuch or Soldiers Personal Identify Book.
Kingdom of Italy Identification Card
French Disability Card
The last card would be valuable for an OSS agent sent behind the lines into occupied France. If the Germans were to ask why he was walking the street he could say that he had been invalided out of the military.
Italian Military Medical Document
It was not only the French agents that needed a medical excuse to be of military age but not at the front. The OSS forged a medical document that an Italian agent could show to the Germans or Italian authorities signed by a military doctor with a written report of his injuries or disease and the time needed for him to heal. He could walk around safely being a heroic soldier who had been injured in battle and was now on leave at home to recover. The text has open areas for the description of the medical problem and the signature of the medical officer.
Military Hospital - Milan
Hospital Medical Commission
Name...Can be discharged. During the hospital visit, he was treated for:
677 was doing work that Dulles did not want to put on paper. This is almost always the case when you are talking about counterfeiting documents. Six months would take us back to March and we think Salembier was hired in February, but that could just be rounding off the numbers, or it could be that the forger was first hired for some specific contract jobs, and hired full-time a month later.
There is also another clue. Gerry Mayer, Schuhls staunchest supporter and partner had the OSS code number 678, just one number away. Not a smoking gun, but interesting.
He seems to have worked for the Americans as early as February 1943. His pay was apparently in U.S. greenbacks and kept in the United States. On 5 February he asked for some of his money and was told [in a censored letter]:
I have talked with our Financial Attaché on the question of the possible release of some of your dollar funds in the United States. I suggest that when you are next in Bern you call at the legation
Another letter on 6 June 1943 mentions that he also has funds in British bank. The letter from D adds:
I have the greatest confidence in Salembier [Now using the code name] and would be glad to do anything I can to facilitate his obtaining funds to keep him and his family going here in Switzerland. He is useful to us in many ways.
A friend mentions that Schuhl had attained some wealth but lost it twice with the German occupation of France:
Schuhl was associated with his uncle Alfred Picard in running a factory in Ste-Marie-aux-Mines. From 1916 on he was a member of the propaganda service and thus most of the time was away from home. His home town was ruled by the German army, and the factory was sequestered. Alfred Picard escaped to Switzerland and the money for Schuhl's secret actions came totally out of his own pocket. After the end of WWI, Alfred Picard came back with Schuhl and restarted their industrial activities and invested in several plants and companies in Alsace and in north of France. When WWII started, both were wealthy persons.
Both men were Jewish, though non-observant. Picard had turned towards Protestantism, while Schuhl turned towards Catholicism. After June 1940, anti-Jewish laws promulgated by the Vichy Petain government defined both as Jews. When Schuhl escaped to Switzerland his properties were sequestered once again and transferred to "Aryan" administrators He had no funds in Switzerland. At the end of WWII, retrieving ones legal properties was a lengthy procedure with no guarantee of success. His factory employed 4,000 workers. That may be why in his letters to Dulles, Schuhl argues that he strongly needs money.
Hayem mentions Schuhl in Vichy:
After the armistice of 22 June 1940, under agreements with Germany, the French secret services were to be dissolved. In reality, they relocated to the "Free Zone" and went underground. Raymond Schuhl stayed in Vichy, where the government of Pétain was located. What was he doing in Vichy? Surely working for the underground French services, but I found nothing about his activities during this period of time. His address was 1 rue Gernot, VICHY.
The Hotel Regina in Geneva
Schuhl has marked his hotel room window on the photograph
The former Hotel Regina and wartime home of OSS Morale Operations in Geneva 2018
Schuhl worked from this location at 7 Quai du Mont Blanc facing Lake Geneva
It is the blue-grey building second from the right with flags on the roof
Photo by Lee Richards
Schuhls cover was an Alsatian businessman. It appears that Gerry Mayer [of the United States Office of War Information] was a middleman between Salembier and Dulles. I have a copy of a 16 September 1943 note from G.M.M. to Dulles giving Mutts phone number and stating that he was staying at the Hotel Regina, phone number 2-61-74.
Mayer is a strange character. He was the head of OWI Berne, and as such had a legitimate job producing American literature, brochures and magazines during the daylight hours. However, each night he allowed those OSS people to sneak into his printing plants and produce illegal (in Switzerland) anti-Nazi propaganda until dawn, when they quietly slipped away and transported it clandestinely to Germany. How can this be? He was on two payrolls. A 9 April 1942 letter to Mayer from OSS Chief William Donovan states in part:
This is to advise you that your headquarters have been changed from Washington D.C to Berne, Switzerland. The reimbursement of your expenses in connection with the travel, in accordance with existing orders and regulations, is hereby authorized.
This transfer is not for your convenience, but is for the best interests of the Government.
It is almost as if his OWI job was a cover and he was meant to do espionage and propaganda from the very start.
Schuhl and Mayer seem to have been the best of friends. In May of 1946, a letter from Schuhl to Mayer in the Allen Dulles papers requests help with $99,000 in blocked funds in three New York City banks and is signed by the old codename Mutt. In December of 1946, both Dulles and Mayer wrote to Schuhl at the Hotel Regina in Geneva congratulating him on the first Christmas after the Allied victory.
Raymond Arthur Schuhl was born in Benfeld but lived in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, a small town in Alsace. Alsace had been integrated into the German Empire but Schuhl always had strong pro-French feelings. He had a perfect knowledge of German language and was able to speak with various regional accents, including Swiss.
When WWI was declared, he traveled to France and enlisted in the army. His intellect was apparently noted and he received several promotions ending the war as a Lieutenant. From an operational base in Switzerland he produced counterfeit German newspapers such as the Frankfurter Zeitung and enormous quantities of leaflets and booklets. The methods of dissemination were quite similar to those used by Office of Strategic Services in WWII
After 1933, Schuhl saw the danger represented by Hitler and the Nazi Party. He secretly stayed near Vichy for a brief time where the new French government collaborated with Germany (possibly gathering information), and then fled to Switzerland where he was able to get in touch with the Office of Strategic Services and become a trusted agent.
A Fake Death Notice for Schuhl
Courtesy of Richard Thorner
At some point in 1942 Schuhl had apparently decided to join the Americans. Perhaps to hide his whereabouts and to make himself invisible to the Germans and to protect his family a death notice was printed stating that:
The friends of Commander Raymond Schuhl
Commandeur of the Legion of Honor
Croix de Guerre with Palms and Stars
Have the great sorrow to announce his death in Algiers during a bombing. It was far from his native Alsace. Pray for him. Algiers, November 1942.
We also know that Schuhl was involved with postal propaganda. In late 1944, Eugene Warner, the Chief of Mediterranean Morale Operations met with the French forger to discuss sending propaganda mail into Germany through regular mail trains from Switzerland. Schuhl told him that it could be done, but in only very limited numbers. As a result, MO Rome pulled out of this operation and told Schuhl to prepare his own letters and envelopes in Switzerland.
Back in Switzerland, the OSS might have been printing propaganda in Geneva and Lausanne. A Swiss Ministere Public Federal document from their General Prosecutor dated 29 September 1944 states:
The imprimerie Centrale de Lausanne has printed propaganda material in violation of Swiss neutrality and that propaganda is an outrage to a foreign Head of State.
Consequently: The manager of the printing house will be punished in the event of a subsequent crime. All the material seized is confiscated. 4 copies have been sent to the Police of Sûreté de Lausanne.
We also find an 18 March 1944 letter among Schuhls papers that mention the German attempts to counter his work. The Germans caused similar problems in WWI. The letter says in part:
Measures taken in Germany against the Distribution of Clandestine Literature
On 12 March 1944, an order by the German Minister of the Interior appeared in the German press, especially in western Germany, making the distribution of clandestine literature a punishable offense as dangerous for the state, and stating that any leaflets that were found in Germany, if dropped by air or distributed in any other way, must be delivered to the nearest police station. The statement any other way officially recognizes the effectiveness of our methods of distribution.
The information department specifies that the distribution of leaflets and clandestine literature considerably disturbs the German authorities. Leaflets and clandestine journals were found in Western Germany as far as the Rhine, in Berlin, and in several important river and seaports.
The surveillance of trains in the Rhine valley, and especially near Switzerland has been considerably enforced. The main station at Basle is one of the places the German police is particularly observant The anti-Nazi agents who risk their lives by distributing the named literature now have to double their vigilance and prudence.
The Swiss police have received instructions to stop the delivery and transportation of leaflets and anti-Hitler publications into Germany. The Gestapo has informed the Swiss police authorities that the clandestine importation of these publications into Germany was through Switzerland.
On 29 September 1944 we find the first document mentioning the prosecution of some of Schuhls team by the Swiss. A "Ministry of the Public" finding says in part:
Concerning the investigation against the Imprimerie Centrale SA in Lausanne, for having fabricated propaganda material against our neutrality and for the criminal offense of article 296 of the Swiss Penal Code (Offense of a foreign state) concerning articles 106 and 107 of the Federal Law of 15 June 1934 about the penal procedure it is decreed:
The investigation is suspended in view of the circumstances of the case.
The director of the accused house, Mr. Arthur Margot and his representative, Mr. Andre Tschan, are informed, according to article 292 of the Swiss Penal Code, that they will be punished by arrest or by a fine in case of a relapse.
The material that was seized in the source of the investigation procedure will, considering its insulting nature being contrary to our neutrality, be confiscated according to article 73 of the law
I suspect a lot of pressure was put on Switzerland by the Allies, so the court basically put the culprits on probation and told them not to do it again or else.
Information Bulletin for France
The document that apparently caused the prosecution of the OSS printers was this one with the title PETAIN. I could not find the Bulletin mentioned below, but this leaflet does bear the title at the top of the first and second page in a small framed banner: 30 Avril 1943 - Bulletin d'Informations - N° 4. We have found no other leaflet bearing that title. Looking at this leaflet the reader can see why I made a decision to only depict pictorial literature.
What is odd is that although the Germans made the complaint; this leaflet really attacks the French Vichy government. Perhaps that was all the Swiss police could find during their raid. It quotes a number of French officials that say that there was pro-German intrigue and treachery. An example:
Threats by Pétain and Baudoin, the under-secretary of Foreign Affairs who, after the capitulation, became a minister to sabotage the proposition of Paul Reynaud to transfer the French government to North Africa and, from there, continue the fight against Germany. This decision was taken by Paul Reynaud when he won Bordeaux on 14 June. Within 24 hours Baudoin, Pierre Laval and their treacherous clique succeeded in detaching the majority of collaborators from the president of the council, forcing M. Paul Reynaud to resign.
Schuhl also filed a 2 June 1945 letter on the Swiss actions against his section. It is rather technical and consists of names and charges so I will heavily edit it. It says in part:
Swiss Army Military Court Lausanne
By decision of 31 May 1945, the chief auditor of the army, referring to article 122 of the military penal code , ordered to close the proceedings of the military investigative commission against the above mentioned individuals [Five Swiss citizens, one identified as a printer] accused of propaganda actions in favor of a belligerent or involvement in this infraction: the violation of the order of 14 April 1939 on the maintaining of neutrality, or having participated in the preparation, the printing, or the delivery of the Information Bulletin for France.
The decision is mainly caused by the consideration that the information bulletin is identified as an information paper with documentary character rather than a subversive propaganda journal. The conditions for foreign propaganda, penalized by the quoted order, were not realized.
Meanwhile in Bern there must have been some real problem between American and French forces because on 25 February 1945, Dulles recommends Schuhl for an intelligence job to General Eugene L. Harrison of the U.S. Sixth Army Group and says that he can be trusted. The letter says in part:
My French friend will identify himself under the name Salembier He worked closely with us for over two years, and also had a mission from the French Ministry of War Extremely astute and if anyone can be of use in ferreting out the mystery I believe he is the man He is of course a good Frenchman, but I dont believe he would tolerate any French intrigue against us
By some coincidence, the day before, 24 February, an American team called Alsos entered Germany to search for data on atomic experiments and discoveries.
Another letter to Schuhl dated 7 July 1945 from a Molly Bessermann seems to be talking about the same problem, although it gives no detail about what the problem was:
Mr. de Gaevernitz remembers with pleasure the interesting journey to Strasbourg he made with you, and the precious assistance you gave American Army in a very delicate affair.
Molly Bessermann was the private and confidential secretary to the Mr. Gaevernitz, special Assistant to Allen W. Dulles. We assume she would be privy to most of the secret workings of the OSS.
What problem appeared about February and ended about April 1945? I mentioned this problem between the French and Americans and Bernard Hayem gave a possible explanation:
When the Allied armies advanced into Germany in April 1945, evidence was found of the German nuclear program, consisting of components of a nuclear reactor and eight tons of uranium oxide. At Celle, an experimental centrifuge for separating uranium isotopes was found. Later, 1100 tons of uranium ore were found. The problem was that most of the areas of interest lay in the path of the French First Army and were in the occupation zone allocated to France.
American General Groves attempted to get the occupation boundaries changed, but due to security restrictions of the Manhattan Project could not tell the State Department why. The commander of the U.S. Sixth Army Group was asked to make the change but said that the matter would have to be taken up with Eisenhower. A plan was drawn up called Operation Harborage where a large American force would cut diagonally across in front of the advancing French army and seize the area long enough to capture any German scientists, remove all available records, and destroy any remaining facilities.
So, if Hayem is correct, the U.S. wanted to search that part of Germany to be about to be occupied by France in order to confiscate German atomic projects and capture German nuclear scientists. Who would be better to act as an intermediary with the French forces than a highly regarded French officer like Raymond Schuhl?
That is all of the general information known about Schuhl (AKA Salembier, AKA Mutt). Do we know more about this mysterious Frenchman who came to the aid of the United States and ran propaganda campaigns again the Germans and Italians from Switzerland? If fact we do. I have been privileged to read some of the documents that Schuhl wrote as a record of his WWII exploits. The report below is undated so we are not sure when it was written and it is not addressed to anyone so we dont know if a copy was forwarded or this was for his own use. He uses the word service but does not specify what he means so he could be talking about the OSS in Switzerland, the Moral Operations Section or his own forgery and printing section. It is my belief that the latter is the answer. Schuhl is talking about his own group and how they printed and moved propaganda material. These are in his words, all in his native French, although I have shortened and edited them for ease of reading. Let us start with Schuhls description of the unit he led in Switzerland:
A Year of Clandestine Propaganda Service in Germany and in the Occupied Countries
The clandestine propaganda service was established in December 1942. The service currently consists of 8 teams, responsible for the dissemination of propaganda leaflets in the nations annexed or occupied by the Axis. Its governing body consists of an editor-in-chief and several assistant editors. Each team is an independent unit which fulfills its mission without any knowledge of the existence of the other teams. All the teams are under the control of Geneva, which is itself directly controlled by Berne, where decisions are taken depending on editing, the types of images and other questions in consultation with the Chief.
During the period under review, the service printed 1,269,500 leaflets and 19,000 brochures. The distribution of the printed material is effected by movement to and departure from the depots of Berne, Zurich and Geneva.
Breakdown of the Berne Service
Notice that the printing shops are in Geneva and Lausanne. The depots where the materials are stored are in Geneva, Bale and Zurich. You can follow the arrows and see where the various printed material goes from each team.
Team Valmy: Printed material only for use in France, most often using the personnel of the French Resistance.
Team Mail: Organized specially for the mailing in Germany of the counterfeit copies of the newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung, and other periodicals, as well as some other newspapers.
Floats used by Team Navig
Team Navig: This team is responsible for the introduction of leaflets in Germany, via the Rhine river channel, by means of floating tubes 20 centimeters in length and 25 to 35 millimeters in diameter.
Team Rails: Until last September, the operation worked well; leaflets went to Germany and Alsace by way of the railway-cars, returning to the country through the Bale station. Leaflets got pass the Gestapo at Freiburg-Baden, but a complaint was addressed by the German authorities to the federal authorities of Switzerland, who opened an investigation into the matter. A member of the team was surprised during the operation and this led to the arrest of the entire team. The activity of the team is consequently suspended.
Team Waterloo: A secretive, communist-oriented section directed against National Socialism, with many secure means for introducing and distributing leaflets into Germany, including relations with railway workers, tradesmen and postal workers.
Team Nibelungen: The "Free Germany" organization disseminates our leaflets into Germany using processes specific to their organization.
Note: These last two teams operate on both the Bale and Schaffhausen borders, as well as Liechtenstein to Austria.
Team Niagara: This team is specifically tasked to operate near the German-Swiss border in the Lake Constance area.
Team Garibaldi: This group is currently in hiatus due to the invasion of Italy by the Allies. It was constituted for the purpose of the introduction of anti-fascist leaflets in Italy.
Team Parsival: Consists of a flying team composed of writers and occasional collaborators, independently aggregating in the various sectors such as Mail, Navig, Rail, Niagra, as needed.
During the twelve-month period, the service had to face many difficulties as a result of the ongoing investigations and research carried out by the Swiss Federal Police on the proceedings and following the requests submitted by the German authorities, to discourage the printers and the authors of the leaflets. Several collaborators were arrested and subjected to vigorous interrogations by the Federal Political Police during the investigations. However, nothing was disclosed, either in regards to the organization itself or in relation to the writers and printers.
Morale Operations Field Manual - Special Services
What was the purpose of all these leaflets and letters that appeared to come from inside Germany? In 1943, the OSS published a classified secret Morale Operations Field Manual - Special Services. It explained the philosophy, concepts, operations and definitions needed by agents in the field.
Forgeries includes the writing of poison-pen letters, forging of misleading intelligence documents, falsification of enemy documents and periodicals, and the printing of false orders to the enemy, regulations, and proclamations. Leaflets, pamphlets, and graphics are used for subversive deception within enemy and enemy-occupied countries and not identifiable with any official or semi-official United Nations agency.
FALSE LEAFLETS, PAMPHLETS, & GRAPHICS: This type of implement refers to printed, mimeographed or written literature and graphics distributed secretly in enemy territory and under concealed sponsorship. This includes chain and, other anonymous letters, chalking symbols and messages on walls. The false pamphlet sponsored by a belligerent nation attempts to convey the impression that it is a bona fide message from the people's own fellow country-men who are sharing the same risks as the rest of the population and have similar aspirations, aims, and goals.
An appeal to nationalistic attitudes is more effective when made by the nationals of the group than when made by another nation which has its own nationalistic axe to grind. Likewise, incitement to action or revolt coming from a representative of an aggrieved group is more effective than such incitement coming from an "outsider." Whenever an attempt is made to assure potential sympathizers that they would not be alone in resistance activities, such assurance comes better from a group which is presumably carrying on the same activities under the same conditions and taking the same risks.
USES OF LEAFLETS: In general, the leaflet can be used for dissemination of "forbidden" news, spreading of rumors, exposing nefarious activities of enemy officials and collaborationists, giving reassurances to potential sympathizers, instructing in sabotage, inciting to subversive activities, and preparing the populace for cooperation with invading troops. The false leaflet can be capitalized upon by propaganda agencies in popularizing a passive resistance campaign (such as the "V" campaign or the "1918" campaign). It may be desirable to have the campaign "planted" via false pamphlets. This "spontaneous" activity can then be picked up by the authorized propaganda agencies. (2) The false pamphlet can be effectively used to make the enemy uneasy about the loyalty of the people in the territory. The very existence of clandestine pamphlets is "evidence" of underground activity.
The Propaganda Newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung - No. 467, Vol. 89, 1944
This counterfeit newspaper was printed by Schuhl in Switzerland in both WWI and WWII
Headline: Towards Decision? The Dramatic Climax of the War
The German researcher Wolfgang Baldus wrote to me in 2020 to point out that these newspapers might have been a tremendous mistake by the OSS. He discovered that the newspaper no longer existed when Schuhl counterfeited it. He said in part, edited for brevity:
A Fake Frankfurter Zeitung in an addressed envelope ready for mailing
One of Schuhl’s demonstration stamped and addressed envelopes that included number 456 of the fake Frankfurter Zeitung bearing the OWI code 4 is interesting because the issue is undated (The genuine newspapers were dated), certainly in order to make it seem fresh and up-to-date.
However, we now know that the Frankfurter Zeitung was shut down by Hitler in May 1943 and the last wartime issue was published on 31 August 1943 (Volume 88). So, when Schuhl began to work for the OSS in autumn 1943, the genuine Frankfurter Zeitung did not exist anymore. Nevertheless, he produced fake Frankfurter Zeitungs up to Volume 90 (1945). Was Schuhl unaware of the fact that he forged a newspaper that did not exist? Or did he believe that the Germans did not realize that the genuine Frankfurter Zeitung had ceased to exist?
I agree with Wolfgang’s theory. It may be a terrible error on the part of the OSS printing a counterfeit of a newspaper that no longer existed, but it is very likely that the troops in the field had no idea of what was happening back in Berlin, they were used to seeing the newspaper and I am sure they read it believing it to be genuine. And of course I pointed out to him that it took us close to 80 years to figure out that the OSS printed a newspaper that did not exist, and what were the odds that Schuhl would have been up to date in 1943 when he just started his propaganda campaign or that German troops at the front would have known the paper had ceased operation?
A Special Financial Edition?
It appears that 21 issues of the fake newspaper were printed by Schuhl. At least, both OSS sample books that I have seen studied ended with file number 21. The newspapers were normally four pages, but in two cases I have seen 2-page issues bearing the same file number but different text; such as Financial News, with stories about the state of the German economy. I dont know how often the forgers printed a second 2-page newspaper, but I suspect it was more of a special edition when there was too much news to fit into four pages. Notice that the forger marked the Financial at the top of the page with a red pencil to show that it was special.
In Nazi Germany there were numerous official newspapers for the military, the Storm Troopers, the SS, and Party members. They were official and good Germans were expected to read them and accept the statements as gospel. They came directly from the Party and the Party was never wrong. Knowing this, Schuhl and his band of forgers produced numerous facsimiles of the newspapers, all with hidden or overt anti-Nazi and defeatist propaganda. A reader would gradually begin to feel the war was lost as he read through these fake newspapers. I do not want to show them all, but I will mention a number of the very popular German papers that were forged and disseminated.
Some of the newspapers forged by the OSS in Berne: The Black Corps; News for the Troops; News for the Wehrmacht; The New Reich; Front and Home; the National Observer; the New Vienna Daily; the Mulhauser Daily; and The Bodensee Review.
In the months to come, we plan to print more copies of the Frankfurter Zeitung, numerous leaflets and posters and an important pamphlet containing the speeches of General de Gaulle. We also plan to publish a counterfeit of Illustrious day and the German humor magazine Simplicissimus. [A satirical German weekly magazine founded in 1896].
The OSS Propaganda Cigarette Package Nordland
The pack of Northland cigarettes contained ten cigarettes, each with a propaganda message printed on them. A folded copy of the miniature propaganda newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung was also included in the pack. Some of the eleven propaganda messages on the cigarette papers I have seen are:
Total War? Total misery!
What did Hitler bring us? Death Bombs Misery
Fight for Hitlers fall!
Once: Germany above all! Nowadays: Everything is worth more than Germany!
Everything is limited. National-socialist terror is too.
Without Hitler: Peace! With Hitler: Death, destruction, misery! There is no middle way
To hell with Hitler and his bigwigs! This is the only way to save Germany
General von Seydlitz: Hitler has to go
The warrior falls in enemy country. The bigwig sits in the dugout
Down with the Nazi bigwigs! Long live the Fourth Reich!
German workers, German farmers! The worst is before us! Peace, before it is too late!
Besides the floating tubes, the teams also use packets of counterfeit cigarettes, containing not only cigarettes with slogans, but also miniature leaflets.
The most intense efforts will be made in the future with a view to maintaining and increasing the activity of the various teams, all this notwithstanding the ever more serious forces which are opposed to this propaganda material by Germany and the rigorous oversight exercised on both the Swiss and the German sides.
Judging by the reports received from the countries affected by this means of propaganda, the results of this branch of activity during the past years should be considered as extremely satisfying and encouraging. This concludes his initial report.
Gummed Propaganda Labels (Stickers)
Schuhl does not mention gummed propaganda labels but we know that the Office of Strategic Services offices in Rome and Berne produced hundreds of different pin-prick gummed labels as part of their mission to destroy the morale of the German people and military and to make the Nazis believe there was a vigorous underground movement in their midst. In the past I made a collage of such leaflets (I have about 100 of them). Most of these labels had short messages, sometimes with an illustration, and they were all meant to be stuck on tables, walls, mirrors, etc.; wherever the Germans congregated so they were daily reminded of the folly of the war and the evils of the Nazi regime. In general, these small gummed labels are always between 2 and 4-inches in size. Some of the short messages on the gummed labels are:
Die for Hitler?; Freedom! Peace!; Nazis out; One people: Austria; one Empire: Austria, No Leader!; Peace on Earth not peace under the Earth; Later is too late; Away with the (Swastika image), Peace still today; The last cartridge for the [swastika]-bigwigs; Hitler´s death Germany´s life; Volkssturm = SOS of the SS: [swastika] this is the enemy!: [burial cross] you?; [cross with helmet] you?; You are fighting for the party, not for Germany!; Down with the [swastika]; Shit; End the war!; and Germany 1939: people without territory Germany 1945 territory without people?
Fallen on the last day of WWII
I thought I would add this label because it is the largest I have ever seen. It is about 7 x 8.5-inches in size. The Allies often produced white leaflets to Germany showing a clock pointing to five minutes to twelve and asking if they wanted to die in the last minutes of the war. This leaflet is similar. It depicts a grave marker of a German soldier who was killed at the end of the war and asks the reader if he wants to be that soldier. The text is:
Fallen on the last day of WWII.
Do YOU want to be the last one to die?
Dr. David Lerner who was a WWII Captain in the U.S. Psychological Warfare Division wrote about Berne OSS in his book Sykewar. He said in part:
In addition to the standard leaflet formats, [Bernes] material appeared as simulated German newspapers (Mainly the Frankfurter Zeitung), simulated German postage stamps, seed packets, wall stickers, pamphlets and brochures
Schuhl had several German newspaper clippings in his files, all commenting on OSS operations. It seems he kept clippings of articles from Swiss newspapers that were telling of the increasing success of allied leaflet propaganda over Germany and the resulting nervousness of the German authorities.
One small clipping tells about Himmlers order to hand over all leaflets that were dropped by Allied planes immediately. It mentions the significant increase of illegal enemy leaflets dropped over the Reich.
A second longer clipping is in regard to the intensified controls in Alsace and Baden due to the illegal distribution of a newspaper that has been prohibited by the National-socialists; certainly the OSS propaganda newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung. The second half of the clipping indicates an increasing nervousness of the Nazi authorities as a result of the defeats in the East and West and mentions arbitrary arrests by the SS that is extending their operations to Alsace, and especially to Strasbourg. This clipping from the Swiss Arbeiter Zeitung of Basel is a good example of a text in German that could have never been published within Germany in 1944 because it speaks of an increasing weakness and unease of German institutions and authorities.
A third clipping talks about leaflet propaganda in general and its significance in WWII, discussing the pros and cons. It tells about the development of propaganda dropped from the air starting with simple leaflets followed by coffee and chocolate drops, money and rationing coupon drops, front newspapers such as the British Luftpost, and ends with surrender passes. It is stated that by wars end, Allied leaflet propaganda had a noteworthy influence and wide distribution among Germans both at the front and at home. The article ends by saying:
Propaganda raids of the allied air force played an equal role with the bombing raids against factories and railway stations.
The OSS Bible - The Nazis at War with Catholicism
5,000 Printed in German 2,000 printed in Italian
Following the initial comments are several pages that list the leaflets attached: 26 on the first page, including a Bible, and Leaflets coded A through V; Page two lists an additional 26 Leaflets coded W through Z and 1 through 22; Page three lists leaflets 23 through 32, and three issues of the newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung.
When we come to the end of the written portion of the Schuhl papers, we find a great number of the actual leaflets that he printed and saved as souvenirs. We are told that they were found in a hap-hazard condition relatively untouched for decades. We find them alphabetically stamped from A to Z and then numbered starting with one. We think that somewhere between 300 and 400 leaflets were printed in Switzerland so I am going to just show a few that appeal to me. The leaflets are in German, French and a few are in Italian. Take note that I am not going to depict any propaganda newspapers because they are big bulky things, hard to scan and 90% text. In general, unless the subject is really important I will not depict any all-text leaflets. Some are hundreds of words long, difficult to translate and boring to read. The reader should understand that in general the majority of propaganda leaflets are all-text with long military and political diatribes. For the purpose of this article I will show those OSS leaflets that are pictorial, colorful, interesting, and those I believe the reader would most enjoy seeing. All the known OSS Bern leaflets are, however, recorded in the PsyWar.org PSYOP Database.
Before World War II, intelligence activities in the United States were mostly carried out by the Department of State, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and the War Department's Military Intelligence Division (MID). Hoping for greater coordination of intelligence activities, as well as a more strategic approach to intelligence gathering and operations; on July 11, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed William J. Donovan to head a new civilian office attached to the White House, the Coordinator of Information (COI). The COI was charged with collecting and analyzing information which may have had bearing upon national security, correlating such information and data, and making this information available to the President, authorized departments, and authorized officials of the government.
After the start of World War II, Donovan worked with the newly created Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to place the COI under JCS control, while preserving COI autonomy and gaining access to military support and resources. On 13 June 1942, the COI was split into the Office of War Information (OWI) and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OWI would do WHITE propaganda, leaflets and radio broadcasts that were clearly defined as coming from the United States or their allies. The OSS would do BLACK propaganda, leaflets and radio broadcasts disguised as coming from inside enemy countries or from groups opposed to the enemy governments.
Both the OWI and the OSS entered the war late since it had started in 1939. The British were masters of propaganda and psychological warfare with a two-year head start, so the United States used their expertise in its own propaganda in the early days or the war.
THE EARLY DAYS OF AMERICAN WAR PROPAGANDA
The Foreign Information Service (FIS), a division of the Office of the Coordinator of Information, (Prior to the spilt up of the Office of War Information and the Office of Strategic Services) became the core of the Overseas Branch of the OWI. The War Report of the OSS mentions the FIS since in the early years they were involved with it.
To penetrate enemy and occupied territory, Foreign Information Service prepared small, light devices which could be smuggled over frontiers, dropped from planes, and easily concealed. In this category were cards, stickers, folders, leaflets, pamphlets, and booklets. FIS booklets, of which more than 6,600,000 were produced during the COI period, ranged from one in Japanese commiserating with the Japanese soldier on his unhappy condition because of his lack of anything like Special Services, to "The Nazi War Against the Catholic Church," a scholarly, factual document bound in black imitation Bible leather and printed in many languages, which was published under the sponsorship and imprint of the National Catholic Welfare Conference.
Anti-Nazi Japanese pamphlets were prepared by FIS before Pearl Harbor. By 20 December, a four-page folder in Japanese was ready for dissemination. Subsequently, a Japanese translation was made of the President's last-minute appeal to Hirohito. Leaflets for the Philippines in three colors were flown out in February. Altogether, FIS printed over 28,000,000 copies of Japanese leaflets, but not all of these were distributed. The leaflets contained attacks on the emperor and emphasized the power of America and the destructive effects of bombing. They went in heavily for historical references and puns, to which the Japanese are addicted. One was called "The Falling Flowers of Yedo" (Yedo refers to old Tokyo and "Falling Flowers" to fires, hence, incendiary bombs); one side of the leaflet showed a picture of Tokyo after the great earthquake of 1923, the other showed a picture of Lubeck after the bombing raid of 28-29 March 1942. "This is what happened to a city of steel and concrete," the text ran, "What will happen to your cities of paper and wood?"
In the European Theater, the first Foreign Information Service leaflet, containing a message from America to the French people and a picture of the Statue of Liberty, was dropped on France by the RAF in January 1942. Negotiations with the RAF had begun about a week after Pearl Harbor. By June 1942 FIS reported that the British Political Warfare Executive had prepared for them five American leaflets which had been dropped by the RAF. Other leaflets "which to all practical intents and purposes have been American" had also been dropped by the RAF and in some cases distributed through subversive channels. FIS urged that the time had come to make careful preparations for its own production of leaflets in England, and particularly for their distribution by American aircraft. As early as 14 January 1942 Donovan had written a memorandum on this latter point to the President. The President referred him to Army Air Force General Arnold who agreed in recommending that our first bombing missions in force should carry leaflets. He stated, however, that this would not become practicable until early summer. It was not until after the dissolution of COI that American leaflets were distributed over Europe by American planes.
Leaflets from Switzerland
The Office of Strategic Service in Switzerland aimed at every country within or occupied by the Nazi sphere, and most of the bosses of the Nazi Party. In this section we will see some leaflets that used as a theme Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Goering, Mussolini, bombing raids, German children, the Nazi Party, The German secret weapons, the German monetary system, malingering, occupied France, and Charles de Gaulle. Of course there are many more themes and this simply meant that nothing was sacred to the American propaganda agents. All was truly fair in love and war.
I like this black OSS leaflet coded "B" because it appears to be a patriotic German publication. We see the German Eagle on the cover and the text:
VICTORY of the Germans
However, inside the folded leaflet there are a number of charts that show the decline of the value of the German mark. The ratio of the mark to Allied currencies is depicted falling during the years 1940, 1941 and 1942. After each year there is a quote from a Nazi leader:
In the last days of August 1939 our leader said "We will win."
In August 1940 Goring announced "We have won."
But today in 1943 Goebbels tells the people "We have to win."
The mark wins to death
This economic propaganda has always been a favorite form of psychological operations. During WWII the United States prepared four different 10 yen note facsimiles to be dropped on Japan, each with a long text about the inflationary destruction of the war to its currency. Decades later in Vietnam the United States would produce facsimiles of the North Vietnamese 1, 2 and 5 dong notes with similar messages.
To the French from America
I chose to show this envelope filled with propaganda because it is the most patriotic item I have ever seen. Both the French and American colors are red, white and blue so this envelope is covered with color that would make any Frenchman proud, and the text on the outside is also patriotic and blood stirring. The code is L and inside there are eight pages of propaganda. The front of the envelope depicts the Statue of Liberty and the text:
To the French from America
We do not forget you President Roosevelt
One of the enclosures inside the envelope
A gummed patriotic sticker to be stuck wherever the French people congregate
The back depicts the old American symbol of a white star on a blue background with a red meatball center. Curiously, the Japanese flag has that same red meatball so after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor; the United States removed the red center. The text is:
THE FOUR FREEDOMS
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Religion
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear
The insert is a speech by American ambassador M. Bullitt where he spoke of the solidarity of the French on Joan of Arc Day in Philadelphia.
Stabilization of the Lira
We show the OSS attack on the German mark above. Just to prove that the OSS was an equal opportunity attacker we depict leaflet M here. This is a similar attack on the Italian lira. The leaflet shows the fasces on the front, the symbol of Italian Fascism. The colors are those of the Italian flag and the text is:
STABILIZATION OF THE LIRA
One again the Berne propagandists provide charts of the precipitous fall of the Italian lira from 1940 to 1943. 100 lira in 1940 was equal to 19 Swiss francs. In May of 1943 the same 100 lira was equal to 2.52 Swiss francs. On the back of the leaflet there are statements from Benito Mussolini dated from 1940 to 1943. They are:
We will win!
Victory is in the fist!
Victory or death!
Rendezvous with Friends
I liked this multi-page brochure because I wrote an article years ago stating that the United States was famous for its leaflets showing the Air Force bomber. This booklet falls right into that pattern. It targets the French and show American pilots and bombers overhead on the front and back. Inside, different American bombers are illustrated and the French are told what they can do. Among them are the A-20, B-26, B-25, B-17 and B-24. The French were told that the bombers were hitting Germany on a regular basis and liberation was assured. The leaflet is coded P. 25,000 copies of the brochure were printed.
The OSS prepared at two colorful propaganda postcards attacking the Axis featuring vignettes by the famous Polish caricaturist Arthur Szyk. We know from OSS files that 55,000 copies of each propaganda postcard were printed in Switzerland.
Pact of Steel
The first card depicts Hermann Göring, Hideki Tojo, and the Grim Reaper leading a chained and reluctant Benito Mussolini. Notice that the Japanese leader Tojo wears a Nazi Party swastika armband. The title Stahlpakt (Pact of Steel) is on the back of the propaganda postcard. This card has the stamped OSS file code R. The OSS started using an alphabetic code and quickly used up the letters A to Z They then changed to a numeric code and further leaflets in the series are coded from 1 to 341 (the highest number I have seen so far).
There is no text on the front, but the back is entitled Triumphzug Unter den Linden Berlin 1943 (Triumphal Procession under the Linden Trees, Berlin 1943). The OWI/OSS stamped file code for this propaganda postcard is Q. Both crads depict Mussolini as a weak and ridiculous leader. The OWI selected these pictures to discredit the German-Italian alliance and to divide both countries.
The Pact of Steel gummed label
Both of these images were also printed on gummed labels reduced in size to be placed on walls, tables, and wherever Germans might congregate. I depict a gummed sticker from a Berne sample book. The Propaganda cards measure about 6 x 4-inches, while the propaganda gummed labels measure about 3.75 x 2.5-inches.
There is one peculiar fact about these two cards and gummed labels. Every specimen I have seen depicts Pact of Steel as Q and Triumphal Procession as R. However, some documents indicate that they are stamped incorrectly and Pact of Steel should be R and Triumphal Procession should be Q. I do not know how such a mistake could be made, but I do note that in the official OSS file books the R appears before the Q so perhaps that indicates that the OSS was aware that they had erred.
There are a total of 10 cartoons all bearing the code S. The OSS knew that everyone enjoys a good laugh, especially at the expense of the big shots, and here they make fun of the Fuehrer and his belief in Astrology. He sees American bombers overhead and wonders where his star-gazers went wrong. The Nazis believed in astrology and the Nazi leaders had dozens of them on the payroll. After the attempt on Hitlers life, there is a rumor that he blamed them for his generals actions and had about 300 of them arrested and perhaps killed. Both sides used astrology as propaganda in the war. Both sides printed leaflets, books, and had experts on Nostradamus explaining why the other side was doomed. The headline of the leaflet is:
Scandalous! The stars up there are not mentioned in my book!
The book Hitler is reading is entitled:
Your Future is Written in the Stars
We should note that the ten cartoons were also published in a camouflaged booklet coded T and entitled:
Soul of the youth
Here we show the booklet T opened and two of the cartoon inside. They are usually coded S when distributed as single leaflets, but inside the booklet they bear no codes. The cartoon at left depicts a fat Nazi Party member covered with medals strutting by two badly wounded veterans and the text:
Big...Mouth - Germany 1943
The cartoon at right depicts Hitler gloriously happy as his bombers blitz London, but not so happy as the favor is returned by the British on the industrial Ruhr. The text is:
This is great!
But that is inhuman!
Who is next?
In the Pacific, General MacArthur was sending matchbooks to the Japanese reading: I will return! The OSS sent these matchbooks to the French. One side has the French colors of red, white and blue. The other seems to show a broken cigarette. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini has fallen. Below we see Laval of Vichy France, Hitler and Tojo. There is a question mark, clearly implying Who is next. This matchbook is coded X. 20,000 copies of this matchbook were printed.
Each comrade of the people...
I have always liked propaganda leaflets in the form of postcards. This OSS product is very handsome and we see Adolf Hitler standing in a graveyard near three buried SS members. The bottom of the card says 1918, to remind Germany of its terrible losses in WWI. The card is coded Y. 5,000 of these postcards were printed. Hitler says:
Each comrade of the people has a right to his own piece of land
And the postcard reminds the reader:
Hitler in his Reichstag speech of March 8, 1938
Those German SS Troopers got their own soil, 6 feet deep in a graveyard. German specialist Wolfgang Baldus pointed out that Hitler did not hold a speech on that day. Two weeks earlier, on 20 February he had proclaimed the Pan-German Reich, and, a few days after 8 March Germany annexed Austria. There was no Reichstag speech on March 8, and the given date is therefore wrong or the comment is completely bogus. This image also appears on a leaflet coded 43. That leaflet has the added text at the bottom:
Hitler and Himmler were defeated in the East!
The war serves only them!
For us, for the people the motto must be: dare!
The immediate peace is the victory of the people.
This was not the only OSS propaganda postcard vilifying Hitler. An OSS memo dated 3 August 1943 from Eugene P. Harper recommended a set of postcards that would show Hitler dancing. There would be a deck of such cards. Some of the embarrassing fake images would be: Hitler receiving dance instruction from a man, both smiling coyly; Hitler dancing with children; Hitler dancing with wild abandon with a fat woman and laughing joyously; Hitler doing a dance in his office with generals stand by scowling; Hitler dancing in Goebbels back yard while his children clap; and Hitler in an exotic pose wearing a male ballet outfit. I have never seen these cards and do not know if they were ever printed.
The use of music in warfare goes back to Biblical times. Joshua won the battle of Jericho using trumpets. The ancient Greeks went to war led by flutists playing songs of patriotism and praising the Gods and their military heroes. Legend says that Athena created the flute to imitate the wailing of the Gorgons when Medusa was killed. The Spartans marched to war to the sound of flutes and used bugles to signal military commands. On the attack, the Spartan Army moved forward while their king sang one of their many marching-songs. He was complemented by pipers. According to Thucydides, the songs and tunes kept the marching line in order, which helped the Spartans close in a solid, unbroken line. There is reason to believe that when the Aztecs went to war they played a "death Whistle" that made piercing noises resembling a human scream. Music has been a form of psychological warfare as long as men have been fighting.
The Office of Strategic Services in Berne printed a 5-stanza anti-Nazi song called Die Freiheit Ruft, (Freedom Calls) and disseminated it in Germany and wherever German troops were stationed. The leaflet was coded 23. The song was to be sung to the tune of the patriotic Horst Wessel Song, the anthem of the Nazi Party. Some of the text is:
After the Horst Wessel song
Freedom is calling, the hour has come
for the revenge that we have awaited so long.
Finally the bigwigs are in for it
and Hitler prepares for his last walk.
A free Germany has to be created now
the dark tyranny is broken.
We dont want to see the Nazis again
Goering, Goebbels and Ley will be hanged.
And Himmler, this most dreadful hangman
will soon experience first hand
what he did in the land of the poets and philosophers
we will do the murderer in now !
I note that although the song is coded 23 on a bright red paper above, it was also found on a plain white paper on the back of OSS leaflet 22, entitled: How does it look on the Eastern Front! Geographic truths. That leaflet bears a map of the Russian gains against Germany from the start of the war until November 1943.
I selected this small leaflet with just a few words of text because it is what we call a slogan slip. Often a group of the enemy will march by one of these slips and be able to read the propaganda without bending over and picking it up. This is very important in some armies where reading enemy propaganda is considered a sign of disloyalty and will bring swift punishment. The OSS printed many such small leaflets, this one is coded 24. Any German walking along a road or country trail could see this on the ground and without moving his head causally read the text:
Total war? Total misery!
It was not only Hitler that was attacked and ridiculed by the OSS. In this leaflet coded 52, Air Marshal Hermann Goering is quoted as bragging about forcing the enemy to use German tactics, and then thanked for teaching them how to bomb major German cities. Goering had told his Luftwaffe in September 1939 that No enemy bomber can reach the Ruhr. If one reaches the Ruhr, my name is not Goering. You can call me Meyer. One wonders if after the massive day and night bombings by the Americans and British many Germans secretly called him by the Jewish name of Meyer? The text on the leaflet is:
The Essen National Newspaper of October 21, 1941.
It is Goering's great pride that the tactics employed by the enemy in air warfare were forced upon him by us, and that the German Luftwaffe created the new method of military warfare, which the enemy imitates...
Rhineland, Frankfurt, Hannover, Hamburg, Bremen, Braunschweig, Berlin!
Thank you for the hostile air raids
I strongly ask you again, Adolf
This leaflet depicts Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler in a ruined Berlin building. Adolf seems to have a headache. The leaflet is one of many on a bright red paper guaranteed to catch the eye of a passerby. The leaflet is coded 57. The text is:
I strongly ask you again, Adolf: We should declare Berlin an open city.
In theory an open city was undefended and the Russians might have walked right in. However, Hitler being a megalomaniac was determined to fight to the bitter end and bring all Germany down around him. He succeeded!
The reader might wonder if there was any OSS plan to attack Hitler. There was. One OSS document titled Morale Operations Campaign Against Hitler says this in part:
It has been agreed by the various German experts of the OSS that the time is now ripe for an expensive Morale Operations campaign operation against Hitler. To achieve this goal, certain main lines of attack have been agreed upon.
To destroy the Hitler myth and bring him down to the level of an ordinary party leader. To do this we must stress the human failings of the Fuehrer. Some suggestions are for instance, despite the paper shortage, Hitler has refused to halt compulsory purchases of MEIN KAMPF by newly married couples. Hitler keeps his 40% royalties, war, or no war. Hitler personally profits 1 reichsmark for every kilometer of road built during the war. Hitler is terrified of air raids and has never visited an area which had just been bombed and might be bombed again.
There is an old saying that if you give a man a fish; you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed Him for a Lifetime. These seed packets fall into that general concept. The Americans were dropping seed packs to people in the occupied nations of Europe and Asia. The OSS knew that the German people were starving because of the war so they sent them seed packages that I am sure were opened with great joy. The problem is that these were part of a propaganda campaign and in reality contained the miniature American propaganda newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung in the German language. The first packet (tomato) had issue number 454; the next packet (cabbage) had issue number 456, etc. There are a number of seed packets, all coded 92. Among them are: tomatoes, cabbage or white cabbage; white icicle radish; carrots and summer and autumn radish. This actually seems rather cruel and I cannot help but think it would turn more Germans against the United States than for it.
Germanys last Secret Weapon
I chose OSS leaflet 104 because the image reminds me of the 1935 German propaganda movie Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will). In that movie we see Hitler flying to Nurnberg through the clouds and as he reaches the city the sun come out. It is Fuehrer weather!
The Hitler Youth
Triumph of the Will
He takes part in a parade to screaming thousands and later visits his Hitler Youth where close-ups of young uniformed drummers and buglers show them almost in rapture. It is the German dream in action, The world belongs to us. In the leaflet, a young man of perhaps four or five years old has been dressed like a senior Nazi storm Trooper by his proud parents. Hitler is suitably impressed. Schuhl reminds the Germans of the failure of all their secret weapons to change the direction of the war and cynically tells them that their children will be Hitlers next weapon. This was a true prophecy. As the war neared its end the Germans armed children and old men and sent them to protect Berlin and face the Russians. This leaflet also appears in red coded 104A. The text is:
Our very last secret weapon: born in 1937
The Only Place
I like this gummed sticker a lot because I did an entire article once on the vilification of enemy leaders. This label falls so perfectly into that group. Adolf sits on the toilet but seems troubled. Perhaps the war is not going so well for him. Because it is gummed, it could be stuck on tables and walls wherever the people congregated. The text on this leaflet coded 124 is:
The only place where he did not make mischief !!
The war is not bad for Goebbels
Josef Goebbels was a true believer and the Nazi Minister of Propaganda who worshipped Hitler. He was in charge of the German movie industry and was known to sleep with young starlets who needed his approval to be in a movie. He owned a hideaway villa called Waldhof Estate, set in woodlands 40 kilometers north of Berlin where he invited a string of film starlets to the casting couch, including his mistress the Czech actress Lida Baarová. Goebbels is said to have asked Hitlers permission to leave the Nazi Party and divorce his wife Magda for his beautiful mistress, but the Fuehrer rejected the request. Other glamorous visitors included the Third Reich actresses Zarah Leander and Marika Rökk. The OSS prepared this leaflet coded 125 depicting the little club-footed Propaganda Minister with a willing young female on his lap. It could be stuck on tables and walls wherever the people congregated. The text is:
The war is not bad for Goebbels
He is looking for a star for a film
While others bleed to death
He busies himself with prostitutes
Charles de Gaulle Photograph
This OSS photograph on cardboard shows a wonderfully heroic pose of Free French leader Charles de Gaulle. The Allies could barely put up with de Gaulle's arrogance and often had to threaten or cajole him to act in certain ways or say certain things. Still, he was the face of the French resistance and Roosevelt and Churchill understood that they had to put up with de Gaulle to keep the loyalty of the occupied French.
This photograph was certainly meant for the French people to hide away from the Germans and to look at when they needed a patriotic boost. In the Vietnam War two decades later the Americans would give the Vietnamese people photographs of their President Nguyen Thieu on a calendar hoping it would replace the secret picture of Ho Chi Minh that many of them hid away. This leaflet is coded 145 and has the text:
This is not the moment for divisions or quarrels.
This is the moment for the complete union of all the French people of goodwill.
Charles de Gaulle, speech of 12 November 1943.
National Enemy No. 1.
I have seen a dozen propaganda items vilifying Hitler and showing him with a deaths head for a face. This gummed sticker coded 165 is one of the few OSS images that use the skull image to attack SS leader Heinrich Himmler. Because it is gummed it could be stuck wherever the people congregated. He sits with a satisfied smile behind a symbol of the German State Police (Gestapo) with the text:
National Enemy No. 1
The gentle Henry
A cold killer of the people!
His Glorious Regime
I thought it might be interesting to point out that a good idea never becomes old. Schuhl printed this leaflet coded 163 depicting Hitler sitting on a pile of skulls in the 1940s. The text is:
His glorious regime is enthroned on this
The OSS became the CIA and about 50 years later the United States fought Iraq in Operation Desert Storm to free the occupied nation of Kuwait. The CIA prepared a limited number of leaflets for clandestine use and this one depicts Saddam Hussein sitting on a similar pile of skulls. What comes around goes around. The text implies that Saddam does not care how many of his people are killed because he is well fed and well protected. The text is:
I can live for 20 years.
The Hitler Birthday Sheet
I did not want to write about this item because I have written about it numerous times in the past. In fact, readers with more interest might check my article on Operation Cornflakes. I only write about it because of its amazing value.
On 5 April 1937, Germany issued a souvenir sheet in honor of the 48th birthday of Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler. In the center were four identical dark green 6-pfennig stamps showing the face of the German leader. An inscription at the bottom of the sheet read:
He who wants to save his people must think heroically.
Schuhl produced a propaganda parody of this sheet meant to attack and ridicule Hitler and the Nazi Party. It depicts a skull-like Hitler over a field of crosses. In 1946, H. R. Harmer Inc. auctioned off the Franklin Delano Roosevelt postage stamp collection. This was the first time anyone saw the OSS sheet. The catalog said:
Propaganda in Germany, faked Hitler sheet, dark red, showing skull and crossbones design, printed in Switzerland and sent to widows and next of kin of German casualties.
In general, an American propaganda leaflet might be worth from $20 to $30 dollars. But it was not leaflet collectors that wanted this stamp souvenir sheet. It was philatelists. They went positively insane for this postage stamp rarity.
The OSS parodies have sold at auction for anywhere from $360 (the very first one in 1946), to $42,700 in 1995 at the height of its value. As additional sheets were discovered the price dropped to $17,400 in 1967 and as little as $5,046 in 2009 when three sheets came on the market at the same time.
Let me tell you a true story. I bid $34,000 for one sheet and did not get it. It sold for $44,000 and then the buyer changed his mind. The auctioneer offered me the sheet but I had regained sanity by then and refused and it eventually sold for $42,700. The last sheet I saw sold was offered in a September 2014 auction, and went for just over $14,000. The sheet is coded 192 and they are still rare though we now know of 28 sheets extant.
The OSS Green Hitler Sheet
There is also a green version of the OSS Hitler birthday sheet. Unlike the red sheet it is not perforated. Instead, the stamps are separated by rouletting. It is one of the great mysteries of espionage philately.
No copy of a green sheet has ever been found bearing an OSS 192 code number. Those that have been found in OSS files are suspicious. On several occasions, where the red sheet should have been there was a note saying Supplies of this number exhausted and a green sheet inserted. One specialist wonders if the green sheet was not reprinted from the old plates simply to be placed in files because of the shortage of red sheets.
At present, we have seen ten of the green sheets that appear to be genuine OSS products. One was sold in 1991 for $2,100. Another green sheet is known as the Staple Hole sheet because it had allegedly been stapled to an official memorandum. Since the owner refused to show anyone the alleged memorandum, there was doubt that it even existed. That sheet was offered for $6750 in 2004 and sold for $4000. In 2012, another sheet sold to a German collector for $22,605. In 2007, the price stabilized and a sheet was sold for just over $8,000. At least four green sheets were found in various OSS archives, none bearing a code.
There was one such green sheet in the Schuhl file. We cannot say that he made it, but the fact that it was in his files next to a red OSS sheet would certainly imply that both sheets were printed and available in Switzerland at the end of WWII when Schuhl put his packet of documents together.
An OSS Counterfeit sheet of a German 12 Pfennig Hitler-head stamp
Several printings exist of the OSS forgeries of the German Hitler head stamps of 1941-1944, with minor differences. We think the stamps were printed at various times in both Rome and Bern, on different paper, with different perforations, with slight changes in color and the texture of the gum. The forgeries can be immediately recognized by their perforations, anywhere from 11 up to 13. The genuine stamps are perforated 14. The exact number of forged stamps printed by the OSS is unknown, but one official OSS Rome document mentions the production of 726,550 facsimile German Postal Stamps, with 516,118 distributed. We see where most were sent: Bari; Brindisi; North Italy; Algiers; France and some simply marked special. Notice that we do not see Switzerland.
We know the OSS was forging German stamps in Rome. We have never understood why they would duplicate their effort in Switzerland. Why not just forward fakes from Rome? In late 1944, Schuhl was told to prepare his own envelopes containing propaganda to be taken into Germany through the railway and then placed in the regular mail. At the time he was given German stamps that we assume were Rome counterfeits. About the same time Donovan sent Roosevelt some stamps and said:
The Hitler stamp was printed in Berne, Switzerland and is one of many different types of propaganda introduced into Germany
We mention Kermit Roosevelts comments near the start of this article:
Salembier Millions of pamphlets, leaflets, cards, postage stamps and every form of literary propaganda were printed and smuggled into Germany and Fascist Italy.
And remember, David Lerner also said:
[Bernes] material appeared as simulated German newspapers (Mainly the Frankfurter Zeitung), simulated German postage stamps, seed packets, wall stickers, pamphlets and brochures
There has been an argument that the Rome plates were sent to Switzerland but the Rome forger Ed Lindner once told me:
We didnt share our plates with anyone and didnt use anyone elses plates.
So, there will always be an argument about OSS Berne counterfeiting German postage stamps. There are some counterfeit stamps that are quite different (called type one and type two) but those who do not accept a Berne origin call them postwar forgeries or printers waste. I dont know if Schuhl personally counterfeited the above sheet, but I do know it was found in his personal papers so I think we must show it.
This leaflet has a really stunning image. A NAZI vulture is depicted on top of a pristine German boy, about to tear out his vital organs. The German war machine was running out of soldiers and arming children of the Hitler Youth and asking them to defend the country. The text is:
The "Hitler Vulture" is feeding on German youth
Hitler promised his people that the war would be won by his wonderful Vengeance weapons. Here the OSS has some fun with the German rocket program. They depict the weapons as balloons that burst without causing any real damage. The text is:
Empty promises! V2, V3 in progress The V1 has already burst!
It was not only Hitler and Himmler that were attacked by the Berne printers. Here they take on Air Marshal Hermann Goering. His body bedecked in medals, Goering stands over a poor worker. The text is:
Work, work, all day and night to grant Goering his millions!
Propaganda gummed label coded 279, Da-a-a-wn
I had no intention of adding this little OSS gummed label making fun of Adolf Hitler. It is just one of so many similar ones. Hitler is depicted in a state of shock and the text is a long drawn out dawn, the opening of a famous sad song about a soldier before a battle.
Fake Propaganda Postage Stamp
What made it interesting is that apparently some enterprising forger used the image to produce a brown Futsches Reich propaganda stamp. I know nothing about this stamp except German researcher Wolfgang Baldus came across it in February 2019 and it did not come from Schuhls studio. It is a good looking stamp and I assume the forger has been studying the propaganda websites.
A Page of Gummed Labels
Because there are over 300 items and many are small labels, the OSS people when filing would often just stick a group on a page. Here you see five labels on page numbered 284-288. This was not a good idea because collectors prefer the labels to have full gum on the back, but of course the agents were not thinking in term of future sales. Another problem is that over 7 decades the pages and the cellophane covers will shrink and warp. You can see the paper has shrunk and wrinkled on this page. Still, historically it is a wonder to see a page like this with such rare items.
The five labels feature Hitler leading the German people falling off a cliff, a skeleton with scythe, Himmler manipulating Hitler, a broken sword, and Hitler in a rather feminine pose. The tests are:
The most stupid guy realizes that this old banger is going to go to hell!!!
Death has no troubles any longer The Gestapo has done all the work for him
The gentle Heini. The puppet master has him under control.
There are no miracles! The German sword is broken! Only reason can help
Now he risks his head ! How nice it was in those days when auntie Röhm was still alive!
Note: Heinrich Himmler was called "Heini Himmler" by most of the SS. (Heini means a little boy who's afraid of everything. This is due to the fact that Himmler never fought in any war). He is shown as a gentle puppeteer who controls Hitler.
Ernst Julius Günther Röhm was a German military officer, a homosexual, and an early member of the Nazi Party. He was a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung (SA), and later was its commander. By 1934, the German Army feared the SA's influence and Hitler had come to see Röhm as a potential rival, so he was executed during the Night of the Long Knives. The homosexuality is likely why Hitler is shown in feminine attire.
There was a rumor, no doubt spread by the NAZIs that they would fight on from an Alpine Fortress. The OSS ridicules the rumor and points out that the only ones in the mountains will be the party bosses. The text is:
Escape to the mountains? The German redoubt is only for the bosses!
A brief word about the rarity of these OSS Berne leaflets. They are very rare. I had a friend tell me that the operation must have been a failure because he hardly ever sees OSS leaflets. Schuhl says the total they did from early 1943 to early 1944 was 1,269,500 leaflets. The U.S. Army Air Force dropped hundreds of different leaflets over Germany and to give some examples: they dropped 8,624,000 copies of USG 17 (Every five minutes a new airplane is built in America!) and 16,800,000 copies of USG 34 (Do you want total war?).
An American airplane could drop millions of leaflets on a single trip while the OSS was smuggling in dozens or hundreds of leaflets in sardine cans and metal cylinders. A German finding the leaflets knew that if he was caught with them he was going to a concentration camp. He certainly threw them away, buried them or burned them. As a result, most of the leaflets we see today are from OSS or German police files. They are extremely rare.
An OSS Fake Fashion Magazine The Fashion of Today
Schuhl forged more than just leaflets and newspapers. Among Schuhls personal papers is a page from a fashion magazine in the German language. It is apparently a forged Swiss magazine because on another page we see Swiss Fashion House Zurich and the title: The Fashion of Today.
The pages are untitled and undated, but on the page in question we see the following stories: White vests for young girls; A healthy sport; Tranquility in the household; and Once upon a time. In the lower right corner there is a short book review. Every story on the page contains propaganda. The book review refers to the novel Sommermond in Flandern (Summer Moon in Flanders) by Bruno Schwietzke, issued by the Bertelsmann publishing house first in 1939, and again in 1941 and 1942. The OSS misspelled Schwitzke and Bartelsmann. The book is one of many attempts of the NAZIs to emphasize the ties and affinity of the Germans to Flanders. The text is:
Our newspapers tell us about all the heroic deeds and actions committed by our men and sons on the Western Front. But they do not tell us how many bled to death in the West and they don´t tell us anything about the hundreds of thousands of victims who perished in the campaign against Poland. Don´t give credit to them. Germany will perish because not only food is lacking but also all key products required for the armament industry.
The White vest for young girls story attacks the Arbeitsjahr (one year of work) that was obligatory for every young girl.
The article A healthy sport is about bicycle riding. After explaining the positive effects on health the restrictions are listed that makes bicycle riding difficult: obligatory rationing coupons for new bicycle tires, etc. The text then adds:
Did you, German women, ever think about how many car tires your bigwigs and their women and mistresses have at their disposal? Why not economize on the tires of the many luxury cars Do you realize how many cars the wives of Goring, Goebbels and Himmler call their own? Defend yourself, German women, otherwise you will lose everything. Defend yourself before they break your back.
The article Tranquility in the household is about Germany's defeat. It says in part:
The neutrals have to recognize that once again German competence has created great things, but in vain. You can't handle the impossible The situation created by the British-French alliance is untenable. We are irretrievably lost. Not a word about the 80% of our submarines that lay on the bottom of the sea with all their crews All our weapons failed. Our enemies are superior to us in all respects. Why continue fighting? Let's make peace and get rid of the individuals who led the German people into ruin.
The article Once upon a time is in the form of a fairy tale. A child is asking the grandmother if it is true that at one time everyone could buy all the goods they wanted at the market without being punished, and why this is no longer possible.
Why were times better then?
The grandmother says:
Be silent, my dear, don´t ask. If you continue asking, foreign men will come and catch me and you, dear, will no longer have a grandmother!
Fashion and Taste
The British also produced propaganda fashion magazines. Lee Richards told me that the American magazine was similar to one produced by British Section D in 1939/40 titled Mode und Geschmack, (Fashion and Taste). The title of the story above is A three-minute fashion show!
The U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom
After the war Schuhl received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Harry S. Truman and was very proud of this award, among many others. France awarded Schuhl the Commander de la Legion dHonneur and the Croix de Guerre avec Palmes for both WWI and WWII. He died in Paris on 11 July 1958 of a heart attack.
Dulles did fight for Schuhl. I have seen a letter dated 20 December 1946, where Allen Dulles recommended Schuhl for a military medal. Dulles was a great admirer and wanted to do something for his wartime propagandist. His request said in part:
Decoration for Raymond A. Schuhl, generally known as Salembier, an Alsatian who did some outstanding work for Gerry Mayer and me during the war
The request was rejected. The U.S. Army was not about to give a French national a medal for producing black propaganda, forgeries and counterfeits in Switzerland in violation of Swiss neutrality. Schuhl did, however, receive a letter from President Roosevelt dated 30 October 1944 thanking him for efforts on behalf of the Allied nations. Roosevelt said in part:
My sincerest compliments for your valuable labors and efforts in the cause of the Allied Nations. We cannot know all the risks and dangers to which such friends are exposed for the Allied cause. It is only when reports such as those you have kindly sent us arrive that it is possible for us to understand the actions of our friends who are engaged in the struggle to free the world of Nazi oppression. You have my personal thanks. I join with the people of the United States that continues this fight with a single thought: Victory!
In Later years Schuhl kept his medals in a place of honor. One visitor to his home told me:
I remember that, being a child my sisters and I, when visiting Schuhls apartment in Paris, liked to look at the glass case where his medals and awards of various kinds and origins were displayed.
I remember that, being a child my sisters and I, when visiting Schuhls apartment in Paris, liked to look at the glass case where his medals and awards of various kinds and origins were exposed.
Schuhls Legion of Honor Awards
Hayem told me that Schuhl was awarded three of the five grades of the Legion of Honor:
The Légion dHonneur has five grades, Chevalier, Officier, Commandeur, Grand Officier and Grande Croix.
Raymond SCHUHL was awarded by the grades of Chevalier, Officier and Commandeur. He got the grade of Chevalier on 28 December 1918; that of Officier on 30 July 1932 and of Commandeur on 12 April 1947.
The Leaflet Collections
As I said before, although these leaflets were highly classified at the time, there are many collections put together by the forgers and propagandists that still exist today. The people that prepared these colorful leaflets wanted to collect and keep them as souvenirs. One who secretly kept samples was the British forger Ellic Hull, who was ordered to turn in all his leaflets to the government under the Official Secrets Act at the end of the war. He claimed to have done so and once visited me in New York to ask to take pictures of his products for his book The Black Game. That was simply a ploy. He had kept personal albums which was later used to partially illustrate Lee Richards book The Black Art and then donated his albums to the Imperial War Museum upon his death.
There is also the possibility that there are Berne sample booklets prepared for government and military officials that visited the OSS Morale Operations headquarters. In OSS Rome, books were prepared and were given to visiting officials that controlled their purse strings. Many were found in attics and place where the Rome agents lived during the war. OSS Rome produced books for Operation Cornflakes and Operation Sauerkraut. General MacArthurs Psychological Warfare Branch in the Philippines seems to have made sample books for almost all of its members.
The Berne collections can contain anywhere from 300 to 400 leaflets. They are sometimes found in a binder with the leaflets inside cellophane sheets. One collection was found in a binder with Berne - 35 on the cover. This could mean that this was the 35th book prepared, but we have no proof of that. I illustrate some of the pages of one of the Berne collections here.
These pages depict a genuine German Hitler birthday sheet at the upper right; at the left an OSS fake sheet in red and at lower right an OSS fake sheet in green.
Cigarettes and Seed Packets
These pages show the anti-Nazi OSS newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung and cigarettes with propaganda messages on the left; and fake packets of seeds on the right that also contain copies of the Frankfurter Zeitung.
So what do we know about the Berne books? I have accumulated some data and here is what we know so far:
Berne OSS Morale Operation Leaflet Collections
A French collector named Bernard Hayem bought an OSS Bern collection put together by the OSS forger Arthur Schuhl. He bought it in France in 1983, in 50 kilograms of old papers bought from a scrap-rag merchant. The leaflets were in disorder inside a cardboard box and nothing was written on the box.
Hayem researched the history of Schuhls collections and found a book called Tracts et papillons clandestins de la Resistance (Clandestine fliers and leaflets of the Resistance), that said Schuhl gave the French National Library (BNF) a complete collection of leaflets produced by the US services in Bern in 1952. A second book called Le Livre et lArt (The book and art), is a collection of articles honoring library director Pierre Lelievre. One article is written by Paul Roux-Fouillet with the title: The leaflets distributed during the Second World War. Essay from the collection of the National Library. This article mentions Schuhl and says that the Alsatian Reserve Colonel Schuhl, who had participated in the drafting of the leaflets launched on the German troops in 1917-1918 and the French anti-German propaganda in 1939-1940, in 1952 gave the BNF a collection of newspaper, flyers and leaflets he had printed by the American News Service of Bern, for distribution in France and especially in Germany by metal floats on the Rhine, in Reich mailbags or in official envelopes.
The Hoover Institute at Stanford University contains a collection of about 400 leaflets. It was originally in an album. The collection contains both OWI and OSS propaganda as might be expected from Berne, since both agencies worked closely together and used the same printing shops.
Gerald Mayer donated a collection to the University of California, at Berkeley. The collection was studied by author William Warren Wertz Jr., who in 1949 published a 256-page Masters dissertation about the theory of propaganda analysis, entitled: Clandestine propaganda from Berne (1942-1945): United States leaflets subverting Hitler. The Mayer collection is no longer at Berkeley and apparently its fate is unknown. That probably means that at some point it was sold by the university. Below you will see a collection sold by Richard Thorner. This could be the Mayer collection that has disappeared.
George Meyer, former director of services for the French War Ministry of Press and Information, had a personal collection of propaganda. Meyer allegedly made a gift of the OSS Berne propaganda material to a French military museum Service Historique de lArmee at Vincennes. It is believed that they later sold it to the German author Klaus Kirchner who later sold many pieces to a British collector. Kirchner, who died in 2018, wrote over 20 large books on the leaflets of WWII. As far as we know he never wrote a book on the OSS leaflet collection.
There are two collections in files in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in Washington DC. The two OSS collections were spread over three boxes.
The Berne leaflets in the Allen W. Dulles Digital Files Series were scanned and redacted by the Central Intelligence Agency after Dulless death and provided to Princeton University in PDF format after their declassification in 2007. The original documents remain in the possession of the CIA. Dulles headed OSS Berne. This collection is stored at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
The Thorner Book
In 2017, Richard Thorner, a collector of old documents acquired an OSS Berne book containing over 300 printed items to include leaflets, gummed labels and newspapers, all in cellophane pages.
Out of stock notification
7 of the OSS leaflets were out of stock at the time the book was prepared indicated by typed inserts that said: The following numbers are exhausted.
17 other leaflets were missing and may have been removed by the original owner of the book. Of the 21 known issues Frankfurter Zeitung, 10 were missing from the book. The binder has 35 BERNE SWITZERLAND 1942-45 written on the spine of the cover.
I was informed by Lee Richards who often does research at the National Archives that the two collections they have are in the same sort of old cellophane pages:
See how the cellophane sleeves have shrunk and wrinkled the backing paper.
In January 2019, Bartleby's Books, Chevy Chase, MD, offered the Thorner collection for $35,000. The store called it a "Gerry Mayer collection," so it could well be the missing collection we mention above.
OTHER OSS STATIONS
In this article we have discussed the OSS Berne Stations in Switzerland. The OSS also had major stations in Washington DC, Rome, London, and Stockholm. The War Report of the OSS says about Stockholm:
STOCKHOLM MORALE OPERATIONS: A two-man MO unit arrived in April 1944, and, using Office of War Information equipment, began production of black propaganda. Some 250,000 pamphlets, leaflets, stickers, posters, letters, and seductive booklets and postcards were turned out. The unit produced and distributed the Harvard Project Newsletter, HANDEL UND WANDEL. This was a weekly business publication containing largely financial news, together with editorial matter frankly angled from a German industry viewpoint. Its purpose was to hold out the hope to German businessmen that if they acted to throw out the Nazi leaders, Allied business interests would cooperate with them in building a bulwark against Bolshevism. Limited distribution of this publication was made mostly through agents in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Germany, the bulk being distributed through OSS, Stockholm, the remainder through Lisbon. One pamphlet in late August 1944, following the Finno-Russian armistice, was distributed among the German troops in North Finland urging them to escape to Sweden. Swedish officers stated that many soldiers deserted, most of them carrying the leaflet. Rumors were also spread in Stockholm, some of them reaching, through friendly news reporters, the front page of Swedish papers.
Let us now discuss the Station in Washington D.C.
I once asked the head of the Washington OSS unit in charge of printing documents to be used by agents in the field if he ever counterfeited enemy documents? Master Printer Major Willis C. Reddick told me:
So far as I know the OSS never did any counterfeit currency in London, Rome, or Washington D.C. Some of the propaganda of that type that was printed was likely printed in the field. I was once asked to go through a great pile of papers taken from German prisoners of war. It was a tedious task of over a week. I found nothing of any merit for the Allies to use against the enemy. The only interesting thing I found out was that all German soldiers like pornography.
Long after the war my friend was still practicing operational security (OPSEC), or he was lying through his teeth. The OSS had produced hundreds, maybe thousands of documents, but usually not in their actual headquarters building. For instance, Switzerland was neutral and war propaganda was illegal, so they had a secret place to print their documents away from their headquarters in Berne. They wanted every piece of paper they could get because the Germans loved their documents but constantly changed them and the many rubber stamps and cancels, they used on them. Every piece of paper was valuable.
HOW TO DERAIL A LOCOMOTIVE
Frederick “Bert” Johnston was born in Atlanta and at later the family moved to Tampa. After high school he went to the University of Florida and received his degree in chemical engineering. After college he moved to Rochester and worked for Kodak, which is where he met and married Jean Bonham. While at Kodak he worked with lithography, engraving, and photography and received several patents. He sold the right of those patents to Kodak for $1 each.
Bert joined the army during WWII, and as because of his knowledge of printing and engineering was invited to join the OSS. He worked in the documents section on the OSS in Washington D.C. during WWII. He was a master engraver and printer by trade, so his skills were used for counterfeiting passports, watermarks, stamps, Japanese propaganda notes, etc. He spent the war in Washington DC. At one time there was a plan to send him to Europe, but he was probably too valuable to lose. While in Washington he did much, if not all the detailed work on many of the counterfeit printing plates that were made. At one point he claimed that he had difficulty telling the counterfeit from the genuine products because of their quality and the fact that the exact same paper and inks that were used to create the originals were used in his reproductions.
Unlike agent Riddick above, Bert Johnston was proud of his wartime work for the Office of Strategic Services. He told his grandson Chuck Wynn that he enjoyed visiting schools and organizations and telling them about his counterfeiting career. Because he often told his audience that he had counterfeited banknotes during the war, he was occasionally visited by the secret service at his printing shop. They kep a close eye on known counterfeiters, even if a government employee and they knew he had the ability and tools to counterfeit American money.
In at least one case we know that he tried his hand at planning some field work. His main work was in forgery, but his degree was in Chemical Engineering. He put forward a plan that was never implemented. According to the story, about 90% of Tokyo's water supply at the time came from 3 lakes. He thought an incredibly powerful laxative that would be hard to detect could be dropped in those lakes by a few bombers. The Japanese government and military command would be highly inconvenienced for quite some time, therefore making the war (and probable invasion) easier for US forces. The plan was rejected on the grounds that this would be considered chemical warfare.
[Authors Note] During the war the OSS sent a foul fecal-smelling spray to China to be sprayed on the back of the pants of Japanese military officers. It was a foolish idea, but the concept was that they would be embarrassed, lose “face,” and perhaps commit hari kari.
Just before he left the OSS at the end of the war, he was ordered to systematically destroy everything he had worked on. He was a patriot but did not want to erase all evidence of years of hard work. He decided to bring home some of his products each day.
[Author’s Note] Years ago in an article called Conversation with a forger I mentioned meeting with the head British counterfeiter of WWII. I said in part:
I answered the telephone one day and a mysterious voice said, "I am the man who was in charge of Britain's forgery operation during World War Two." It was Ellic Howe. He was in the USA on a brief research visit. He was about to write a book about his wartime activities, which was later published in 1982 by Michael Joseph, London, as The Black Game. He told me that just two days after the end of the war, he had been ordered to destroy all the files in his office. An incredible amount of irreplaceable material about wartime operations had gone up in smoke. Now, certain officials in Her Majesty's Government were unwilling to let him study his own archived official reports and memoranda, which were still classified. As a result, he was having a difficult time documenting all the work he had done. He was here to gather the information from me that I had hoped to obtain from him. I gave him about a dozen articles I wrote about British forgeries and parodies and nine photographs of his wartime work. Ellic Howe was kind enough to acknowledge my efforts by stating in his book, "I am grateful too, to Mr. Herbert A. Friedman for lending me copies of the American philatelic publications in which he so carefully described and analyzed some of our more exotic productions."
Johnston saved samples of many of the products that he had designed, photographed, and printed for the OSS but they were not kept in any order. It was never organized, and it was stored in different ways.Some items were loose, some taped down in scrap books, and some glued to poster board.
When the war ended, he continued to use the skills he had perfected in the OSS. He worked for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, NY, where he helped develop color film. His formal education was as a research chemist, so he maintained a laboratory business on the side while operating the families printing shop. He later returned to Tampa and ran the families printing business until he retired. Over the years he also owed a laboratory where he did research on several items, including medicine, fertilizer, and arson investigation. He died in 1998 at the age of 80.
San Koh Flour Mills
This is an interesting, forged label, or decal to be placed on a flour bag. Why would the OSS make such a counterfeit? Perhaps they wanted to move weapons or cash behind enemy lines disguised in Flour bags. Or perhaps there were explosives that might sink the ship or blow up a train carrying the bag. The possibilities are endless.
I got a lot of help with this article. Some of the material was from the collection of an old friend, Bernard Hayem and my own files. British researcher Lee Richards and German researcher Wolfgang Baldus also helped out with images and translations. Rare book dealer Richard Thorner allowed the use of some of his documents and some of my old Psywar Society friends, Belgian Freddy Dehon and Frenchman Michel Girard offered their help. The willingness of all these folks made this story rather easy to write.
This concludes our brief report on Raymond Schuhl who led the U.S. Office of Strategic Services printers in Switzerland. Readers who want to talk more about this article are encouraged to write to the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.