History Reviewer

Doherty, M. Nazi Wireless Propaganda: Lord Haw-Haw and British Public Opinion in the Second World War Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000

ThisĀ  is the first book devoted exclusively to the analysis of the Nazis’ radio effort against the United Kingdom during the Second World War. It traces the development of the German propaganda service and looks to erode the myth surrounding Lord Haw-Haw -the ‘superpropagandist’. Propaganda is presented in context: the purposes behind it, the changing patterns, themes, styles, and techniques employed, and the impact upon the target audience and its morale. An analysis of the Nazi wireless broadcasts to Britain for the whole of the Second World War reveals a sophisticated and intelligent propaganda assault on the social and economic fabric of British society. In the end the British failed to succumb to the stupefying effects of Nazi propaganda and they traditionally congratulate themselves upon the national unity which immunised them against it. The author argues that this traditional view disguises a more complex, less appealing reality.

Edinburgh University Press Review. Further Details

The book looks at the organisation behind the broadcasts to the United Kingdom during the Second World War: the RMVP (German Propaganda Ministry). It considers the subjects used in broadcasts during the `Phoney war`, including the type of social problems in Britain upon which the Nazis focused. It also discusses the subject matter used during a time of seemingly `unstoppable victories` for the Nazis, and also reflects upon how they dealt with the issue of defeat. The book also considers how the British, including the state, the media, and the people, reacted to the broadcasts.

People often felt that they were not being given enough facts by their own government, so turned to `Lord Haw-Haw` for information. Along with other recent books by James Chapman ‘The British at War: Cinema, State and Propaganda’ (1998) and Mariel Grant ‘Propaganda and the Role of State in Interwar Britain’ (1994) this book is a converted, well-researched, PhD thesis dealing with an otherwise under-researched area in the ever-widening field of British propaganda studies, with a particular focus upon the highly mythologized figure of `Lord Haw-Haw`

An interesting extra to the book is a CD which contains a selection of wartime broadcasts by `Lord Haw-Haw` and other broadcasters from Germany, spanning January 1940 to April 1945. It is interesting that new media has allowed a wider circulation of such topics, with a reasonable sound quality.

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