It's all Propaganda!
To Huddersfield yesterday - I'll explain why in a moment - and the second time of late that I've been there on a Saturday and so shopped at the excellent tat stalls in the glorious town centre open market.
What you need to remember about flea markets is most of it is complete rubbish - bags of assorted screws, scruffy VHS copies of unsuccessful films, chipped coronation mugs. All those were there - plus some Northern Soul singles, a touch of militaria, and, and ...
Well, look above. I was well pleased to find this - a wartime propaganda leaflet, German, and dropped over Britain, says this specialist website, in June-July 1941, when it did indeed seem that we might be losing the war,
It's cleverly done - much more sophisticated than much wartime psyops material. It proclaims that German bombers and U-boats were decimating allied shipping across the Atlantic, and that as a result: 'If the war is continued until 1942, 60% of the population of Britain will starve!'
'All this means that starvation in Britain is not to be staved off. At the most it can be postponed, but whether starvation comes this year or at the beginning of next doesn't make a ha'porth of difference. Britain must starve because she is being cut off from her supplies.'
Did you pause on 'ha'porth'? Half-penny-worth. It will have struck readers then as now that the Germans were going to some effort to communicate in everyday language.
You do wonder how this fragile sheet of paper came to be picked up, kept (and well kept), and a lifetime later ends up on a stall at Huddersfield market. But whoever kept it safe for so many years. thank you! I don't like Nazi memorabilia at all - but this telling remnant of the most difficult days of the Second World War is a welcome addition to my collection.
And what takes me to Huddersfield? Watching Town, of course. It's an enthusiasm I share with my son. And yesterday they won 2-0 against Ipswich - thanks for asking! Huddersfield Town are currently standing third in the Championship. Third! Just one place off automatic promotion to the Premiership.
And what's particularly nice about travelling by train to Huddersfield is arriving there - one of the most elegant stations around. I've seen some Parliament buildings with less grandeur.
Thank you, Colorado! This wonderful piece of wartime ephemera landed on my mat this week, unexpected but very welcome, from an address in Brush (population 5,463) in north-east Colorado. Whoever my benefactor may be, I'm very grateful.
It's a very delicate, almost tissue thin, propaganda handbill issued by the Germans during the Second World War. It would have been dropped over British troops fighting in Italy in the summer of 1944. The image of the city is memorably sinister. The text reads:
Just prick up your ears to this and guess what!
For months your politicians have been telling you that the new secret German weapon is just a bluff of propaganda, a mouthful of bombastic talk.
However, since June 16th, your so-called free press has been put under the most rigid censorship.
Because since June 16th plain facts are speaking:
V NUMBER 1
V Number 1, those roaring monsters of the air, are smashing London and the supply bases in England with dreadful precision.
Regarding V Number 1 the First Lord of the Admiralty Alexander made it plain that England is facing hard times, that the new German weapon is the most modern and the most deadly form of attack from the air.
You fellows on the Italian front are lucky to be far away from that hell turned loose over England.
The American Jew Baruch gave orders to "Bomber" Harris to indiscriminately kill German women and children, our women and children.
V NUMBER 1 is giving the answer.
And this from Wikipedia provides the context:
The V-1 flying bomb ... — also known as the Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug — was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile. The ... first V-1 was launched at London on 13 June 1944, one week after (and prompted by) the successful Allied landing in Europe. At its peak, more than one hundred V-1s a day were fired at southeast England, 9,521 in total, decreasing in number as sites were overrun until October 1944, when the last V-1 site in range of Britain was overrun by Allied forces. This caused the remaining V-1s to be directed at the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, with 2,448 V-1s being launched. The attacks stopped when the last site was overrun on 29 March 1945. In total, the V-1 attacks caused 22,892 casualties (almost entirely civilians).
Do you remember hearing of the crude wartime squib about the four things wrong with American GIs stationed in Britain: 'over paid, over fed, over sexed and over here'.
Well, this wonderful German propaganda leaflet builds on that theme. It was printed on cheap newsprint style paper, with a story on the back (see below) of Dorothy and her dalliance with an American officer. I imagine these leaflets were dropped by air by the thousand on British troops.
It builds on a sense of resentment that while British soldiers were fighting in Europe, Americans - just some of them of course - were on base in Britain. And on the look out for casual sex.
There's a marvellous website on sex and wartime propaganda which features this among many other leaflets and images. It was produced in April 1944 for use against British troops in Italy. The leaflet is coded with a small triangle and the numbers 126/4 44 - which apparently shows that this was printed by the Propaganda-Einsatz-Fuhrer organisation of the German 14th Army.
I've been given the leaflet by a good friend. Thanks!
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