1

There's a photo circulating online (examples 1,2) allegedly of a congress of the National Socialist Party of Germany (i.e. a Nazi congress) that took place at the Sportpalast in Berlin in late 1942 or early 1943 (sources differ). There's a banner on the wall saying "Never forget that England imposed this war on us" (in German: "Vergesst nie, dass England uns diesen Krieg aufgezwungen").

Is this photo genuine? (Some of the sources where I found it seem reputable, e.g. the Sueddeutsche Zeitung; a document hosted on the German Federal Archive also mentions the banner text).

And the bigger question: did Nazi propaganda really blame England for WW2? I'm looking for particular examples of Nazi propaganda that either support or disprove this claim and allow us to get a picture of the story that the Nazis were telling themselves.

11
  • 1
    I remember hearing in a documentary (I think it was The Nazis: A warning from history) that Hitler did not initially want to fight Britain as he admired what he thought of as the English character. The synopsis for Part 3 The wrong war says "A look at how Hitler found himself at war with Britain - a country whose achievements he admired - and allied to his ideological enemy, the Soviet Union." Jul 17, 2023 at 8:50
  • 10
    Well, it was Britain and France who declared war on Germany, not the other way around. Of course they were right to do it, but Hitler wasn't going to admit that last part, was he?
    – Ne Mo
    Jul 17, 2023 at 11:06
  • 3
    Who else were they going to blame? It is an invariant of all human behavior that nobody every blames themselves for any unfortunate event. Doubly so for Fascism.
    – MCW
    Jul 17, 2023 at 12:08
  • 1
    Read "German White Book" (the 3rd paragraph of the introduction is enough) published in 1940. Pdf file of the book is here. Jul 17, 2023 at 16:56
  • 1
    Unless somebody does it before, I will write a proper answer once the strike is over. Jul 17, 2023 at 20:27

5 Answers 5

4

Definitely, if we take into account that the Communist propaganda did claim in 1939-1941 that the war was initiated by the British and the French imperialists - up to the German attack against the USSR (June 1941). This was at its most grotesque in France: the French Communist Party was banned due to its position, during the Battle of France (May-June 1940) its leading members deserted to Moscow, and the party subsequently praised the armstice as a genuine effort for peace by the Petain's government, condemning simultaneously the de Gaulle's call for arms.

This Wikipedia article is unfortunately available only in French: Histoire du Parti communiste français pendant la drôle de guerre (History of the French communist party during the Phoney War):

La signature du pacte germano-soviétique le 23 août 1939 ébranle le parti, qui voit plus du tiers de ses députés se désolidariser de la nouvelle ligne de condamnation de la « guerre impérialiste » dictée par le Komintern. La direction, elle, suit les directives de Moscou et, après avoir justifié l'invasion de la Pologne par l'Union soviétique, soutient les propositions de paix de Moscou et de Berlin. L'appui du parti au pacte germano-soviétique entraîne sa dissolution en septembre 1939 par le gouvernement d'Édouard Daladier.

The signing of the German-Soviet pact on August 23, 1939 shook the party, which saw more than a third of its deputies dissociate themselves from the new line of condemnation of the “imperialist war” dictated by the Comintern. The leadership, it follows the directives of Moscow and, after having justified the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union, supports the peace proposals of Moscow and Berlin. The party's support for the German-Soviet pact led to its dissolution in September 1939 by the government of Édouard Daladier.

(emphasis is mine.)

Update
In response to the comments:

Communist claims
The French Communist Party was by no means an exception - nearly all the Communist Parties in Europe were founded and directed by Comintern, that is by Stalin. E.g., The Communist Party of Great Britain adopted a very similar stance:

By their deeds the British and French ruling class have shown that they do not stand for the defence of peace against aggression. If they did they would have agreed to the peace front, which would have prevented this war.

Hitler's "peace proposals"
Hitler in his speech on October 6, 1939 mainly blamed Poland for the hostilities, and pretended to propose peace to France and Great Britain, thus leaving to them the responsibility for continuing the war:

Shifting tone, Hitler then offered the olive branch of peace to France and Britain. He condemned war as an enterprise where all participants were losers after enduring millions of deaths and billions of lost wealth. That if war with France should continue, "One day there will again be a frontier between Germany and France, but instead of flourishing towns there will be ruins and endless graveyards", and seemed to suggest that another European peace conference be held

(emphasis is mine)

Anti-British propaganda
Wikipedia article Nazi Propaganda and the United Kingdom states specifically:

Special editions of Illustrierter Beobachter denounced Britain and France for starting the war.[37] Claims were made both that France and Britain had started the war, wanted to make a blockade rather than one that would actually hurt them, and also had actually invaded Belgium and the Netherlands and forced the Germans to forestall them. The discrepancy did not attract much attention.[38] A cigarette book announced the Germans' determination to face down "the war England has forced upon us".[16] The British intent was said to be preventing the social revolution in Germany from inspiring discontent with the plutocracy in Britain.[24] As France was falling, Goebbels wrote in Das Reich of the "missed opportunities" that Britain and France had for peace.[39]

The link about the "cigarette book" with the relevant explicit quote.

5
  • @ccprog it shows that blaming Britain for war and pretending that Germany was pro-peace is not an exaggeration. And some definitely did so. I thought it was relevant, but too long for a comment. Btw, not only French - all communist parties were run by Comintern at the time. In France it is more striking due to the occupation and the armstice.
    – Roger V.
    Jul 17, 2023 at 16:15
  • @ccprog sure, your opinion is as valuable as that of any other user. But please use the tools previewed for it by SE, instead of engaging in a debate in the comments section.
    – Roger V.
    Jul 17, 2023 at 16:56
  • I was following the advice in the "Be honest" section of Expected Behavior and told you why I downvoted, that is all.
    – ccprog
    Jul 17, 2023 at 17:13
  • @ccprog I expanded the answer to accommodate your complaints.
    – Roger V.
    Jul 18, 2023 at 8:40
  • @RogerVadim, It makes perfect sense to me that the Soviet's would blame the allies for beginning WWII when they were aligned with Germany. Beyond the Soviets and Pre 1941 communists, It was a wide belief in the U.S. even today that the root of Nazism and WWII lies in the punitive Paris Peace Treaty of WWI which France and Britain imposed on a defeated Germany. The treaty is blamed for impoverishing and radicalizing Germany. The US believed the WWI Paris Peace Treaty was so harsh they never signed it.
    – JMS
    Jul 20, 2023 at 14:06
3

I am not sure what counts as examples of Nazi propaganda from the asker's perspective. It is the nature of totalitarian regimes with a complete lack of freedom of the press that propaganda messages do not just appear in party newspapers like Völkischer Beobachter or rabid propaganda outlets like Der Stürmer but pervade all kind of media. I will offer three examples of the latter kind.

The first is from a sermon of January 1, 1940 by bishop Adalbert Paulsen from the Deutsche Christen movement within the Protestant church in Germany, as quoted in Helge-Fabien Hertz, Evangelische Kirchen im Nationalsozialismus, Band 1. Berlin: De Gruyter 2022, p. 714:

Ein Krieg von beispielloser Verantwortungslosigkeit ist unserem Volk von England aufgezwungen worden. Ein Krieg von unabsehbarer Auswirkung ist in das entscheidende Jahr 1940 eingetreten.

My translation: "A war of unprecedented irresponsibility has been imposed on our people by England. A war of incalculable consequences has entered the critical year 1940."

The second example is from an anthroposophic publication: Jürgen von Grone, "In memoriam Juli 1914." In: Wir und die Welt, Juli 1940, pp. 282-289. This is cited in parts directly and in parts indirectly in Uwe Puschner and Clemens Vollnhals (ed.), Die völkisch-religiöse Bewegung im Nationalsozialismus. Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht 2012, p. 485:

Angetrieben von "führenden Kreisen der Hochfinanz" sowie der "Freimaurerlogen" und "Geheimgesellschaften", welche die deutsche Weltmission mit allen möglichen Mitteln verhindern wollten, habe England den Deutschen den Krieg aufgezwungen, "trotz weitestgehender Vorschläge und Bemühungen von seiten des Führers".

My translation: "Propelled by 'leading circles of high finance' as well as 'masonic lodges' and 'secret societies', which were attempting to stop the German global mission by all means possible, England had imposed war on the Germans, 'despite extensive proposals and efforts on the part of the Führer'.

Lastly, an example from a publication in the field of (recreational) aviation: Flugsport, Vol. 32, No. 26, Dec. 1940, p. 447:

Ende 1939 wurde die Friedenshand des Führers zurückgewiesen und uns der Krieg aufgezwungen. Es blieb nur eins, dem Gegner die Waffe aus der Hand zu schlagen. Unsere Gegner im Norden und Westen, die Deutschland vernichten sollten, sind niedergeschlagen und entwaffnet. Unserer Luftwaffe beherrscht den Luftraum jetzt nicht nur bis zum Kanal, sondern weit in das Innere Grossbritanniens.

My translation: "At the end of 1939 the Führer's hand which had been extended in peace was rejected and the war was imposed on us. There was just one thing to do, knock the arms out of the hands of the opponent. Our opponents in the North and West, posed to annihilate Germany, have been crushed and disarmed. Our air force now rules the airspace not only up to the Channel, but far into the interior of Great Britain."

In William L. Shirer, The rise and fall of the Third Reich, the author notes in regard to Chamberlain's speech in the House of Commons on October 12, 1939:

The man of Munich could no longer be fooled by Hitler's promises. The next day, October 13, an official German statement declared that Chamberlain, by turning down Hitler's offer of peace, had deliberately chosen war. Now the Nazi dictator had his excuse.

I have not been able to track down the text of this statement. Goebbels's diary is short on specifics, basically just stating that around this time the Ministry of Propaganda was orchestrating sharp attacks in the German press against England, Chamberlain, and Churchill.

1

Yes, the Nazis did blame Great Britain for the war.

It is worth noting that anti-British propaganda took a sharp turn for the harsher when the Nazis realized that Britain was not willing to make peace after the fall of France.

Here is an excerpt from a 1939 article for Die Wehrmach:

Why are we fighting?

Because we were forced into it by England and its Polish friends. If the enemy had not begun the fight now, they would have within two or three years. England and France began the war in 1939 because they feared that in two or three years Germany would be militarily stronger and harder to defeat. The deepest roots of this war are in England’s old claim to rule the world, and Europe in particular. Although its homeland is relatively small, England has understood how to cleverly exploit others to expand its possessions. It controls the seas, important points along major sea routes, and the richest parts of our planet. The contrast between England itself and its overseas territories is so grotesque that England has always has a certain inferiority complex with respect to the European continent.

0

And the bigger question: did Nazi propaganda really blame England for WW2?

Yes, that was the main task of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, founded 1933-03-04. during the war.

In war (and sometimes after an ideological regime takes power) most countries have one that work similar to that of the Ministry of Truth.

"Never forget that England forced this war on us"

In this case statement is actually correct, since the United Kingdom did declare war on Germany on the 1939-09-03 (They just don't meantion the reason why, since it doesn't serve the propaganda purpose).


Sources:

6
  • 1
    I'm not sure that any of your sources actually back up your answer.
    – SPavel
    Jul 17, 2023 at 12:21
  • @SPavel Then I suggest you read them again. Start with the definition of Propaganda. Jul 17, 2023 at 12:30
  • 1
    I'm looking for particular examples of Nazi propaganda that either support or disprove the claim that the Nazis blamed England. Jul 17, 2023 at 13:04
  • @markjohnson the dictionary definition of propaganda is not actually evidence of historical propaganda making a specific claim, as it turns out
    – SPavel
    Jul 17, 2023 at 13:44
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson You might find some more info in Nazi_propaganda_and_the_United_Kingdom
    – justCal
    Jul 17, 2023 at 13:47
0

Question:
Did Nazi propaganda really blame England for WW2? I'm looking for particular examples of Nazi propaganda that either support or disprove this claim and allow us to get a picture of the story that the Nazis were telling themselves.

Britain and France did declare war on Germany, not the other way around. This doesn't fully elucidate what happened. It is understandable how this fact could be fixated upon by Nazi propaganda. Casting Germany as a victim was a near art form for the Nazis. Victimized by the Jews, Communists, the WWI peace terms, immigrants, gypsies, and general racial impurity; of course they blamed the British and French.

Hitler wanted the wider war, he certainly provoked it. Of course he would cast his victims as the aggressors, he always did.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.