German manipulation of terror in the Western Front, 1914 and 1940


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
LHK



Table of Contents


Chapter 5.1 , December 28th 2009
Chapter 5,2 , November 25th 2009
Chapter 4.2 , November 16th 2009
Chapter 4 : Manipulation of terror on the battlefield, 3rd draft , Ocober 1st 2009
References 2nd draft , October 1st 2009
Appendix - List of Relevant NYT, ToL Articles, 3rd draft , October 1st 2009
Chapter 3 : Manipulation of terror on the battlefield, 2nd draft , September 7th 2009
Working Table of Contents, 2nd draft , September 7th 2009
Appendix - List of Relevant NYT Articles, 2nd draft , September 7th 2009
References, 2nd draft , September 7th 2009
Chapter 3 : Manipulation of terror on the battlefield , July 5th 2009
Working Table of Contents , July 5th 2009
Appendix - List of Relevant NYT Articles , July 5th 2009
References , July 5th 2009



Chapter 5.2.1 . . Go to Teacher's Comment

5.2. Positions of the United States and Great Britain shown through newspaper articles

5.2.1 Zeppelin Raids

5.2.1.1 Relevant Articles

NYT Articles
        



Chapter 5.2.2 . . Go to Teacher's Comment

5.2. Positions of the United States and Great Britain shown through newspaper articles

5.2.1 World War I

5.2.2 World War II
         One of the most important sources of terror during the Blitzkrieg of 1940 was the massive strategic bombing; the newspaper articles regarding some of the most notorious air raids provide a lot to discuss in terms of their accuracy and neutrality. Among the articles that dealt with the German bombing of the city in May 14, those provided by New York Times and The Times of London showed noticeable differences. In both cases, detailed report on the incident was published more than two weeks after, and first reports on the bombing were brief; New York Times included them in the article of May 15 that dealt with the capitulation of Holland, while The Times mentioned the raid at the beginning part of the article ¡°The Fight in Rotterdam¡±.(1)(2) However, later reports on the incident clearly showed difference. From May 20, NYT published three major article on Rotterdam blitz; "One Report Puts Rotterdam Deaths at 300, But Dutch Assert 100,000 May Have Died", "Center of Rotterdam Devastated After its Commander Surrendered", and "Nazi Newsreel Shows Rotterdam in Flames" in chronological order, while The Times published one article on it; "Destruction in Holland". Major parts of the articles are shown below ;

         "One Report Puts Rotterdam Deaths at 300, But Dutch Assert 100,000 May Have Died:

         United Press, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, May 19 - ... Part of Rotterdam was bombed during the military operations in a battle for its possession. In this fighting it is estimated that 300 Netherlands civilians were killed and 360 wounded. About 6,000 civilians were evacuated from the city. ...

         London, May 19 ? Perhaps 100,000 were killed and a third of Rotterdam destroyed when the Germans bombed that Netherlands seaport before its surrender, a Netherland Legation communique from Paris, as quoted by British News Agency dispatches, said today. Two squadrons of Germans bombers with delayed-action bombs flew over Rotterdam in close formation, the communique said, dropping a deadly cargo of heavy bombs that "ploughed a veritable furrow of destruction." Scenes reminiscent of Dante¡¯s Inferno ensued, with fires and explosions everywhere, the communique related. Bombing operations were conducted from an estimated 4,500 feet. Buildings over an area of more than five square miles were destroyed, the communiqu? added. "A moderate estimate," it continued, "is that in this monstrous work of destruction, horrifying as a nightmare and absolutely without precedent, at least 100,000 people must have perished."(3)

         Center of Rotterdam Devastated After its Commander Surrendered: This beautiful Netherland city, principal shipping center for a far-flung Colonial empire, is today a sad skeleton of its former self. For on Tuesday, May 14, dive bombers of the German air force rained high explosives on approximately one square mile in the center of the city. The area bombed is a shambles with almost every single building so thoroughly razed that words cannot adequately describe the appearance of the wreckage. Amazingly enough, the bombing occurred after the commanding Netherland general had capitulated. Negotiations had been in progress between the two commanders on surrender or evacuation of the city by Netherland troops. The defending general, it is said, after having broken off negotiations, reopened them but failed to inform the Germans within the time specified by the latter¡¯s commander. Meantime, the Germans say, they instructed their air force to attack that portion of the city allegedly occupied by roops immediately after expiration of the time limit. When they learned of the decision to surrender, the Germans declare, it was too late to recall ¡°all the dive bombers that had set out to eject the enemy.¡± How many German planes were ¡°recalled¡± and how many attacked is not definitely known. It is suggested by German military officials that the havoc had been worked by twenty seven planes in nine and one-half minutes. The dive bombers did a thorough, accurate job. For they devastated and reduced to ashes the wide area they attacked without damaging at all streets in most places outside. The entire central section of the city situated on the north bank of the Maas was affected. All the buildings flanking the river on the north bank were destroyed. Today they are still smouldering in some places. It is not known how many civilians lost their lives in the holocaust-perhaps it never will be known. A German officer estimated the number at probably ¡°several thousand¡± while Netharland sources placed the figure between 10,000 and 15,000. Later German figures given to us declared that 300 persons were killed and 365 wounded while 6,000 had been evacuated into the country before the attack began. ..." (4)

         "Nazi Newsreel Shows Rotterdam in Flames: A German newsreel shown to correspondents today, revealed the appalling aspects of the destruction of Rotterdam. An astounding series of shots, taken by parachute camera men who jumped with the parachute troops, shows the landing in Rotterdam and the mounting of machine guns that everywhere blazed away at the defenders of the unfortunate city, supported by dive bombers from above. The pictures show Rotterdam burning and give the spectator the impression that there was not a single house that was left untouched by fire or some other instrument of destruction. Compared with the pictorial account of Warsaw¡¯s destruction, which was the previous high water mark in depicting war¡¯s horrors in the way of air and artillery bombardment, the Rotterdam series by far tops that earlier production forstark tragedy, in the opinion of persons who have seen both. The sound track commentary that accompanies these scenes remarks; ¡°The responsibility for this rests on a government that criminally did England¡¯s bidding and afterward cowardly left the peoples to their fate." (5)

         "Destruction in Holland: Information received by authoritative Dutch circles in London gives a distressing picture of the destruction in the Netherlands as a result of the ruthless German warfare. Rotterdam suffered most. After the fierce fighting to throw the Germans out of the central part of the city there was strafing by waves of German bombers in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 14. It was this bombardment, coupled with the threat to subject the town of Utrecht to the same fate, which led the Dutch High Command to surrender. Many thousands in Rotterdam were killed or wounded. An area in the centre of the town, three miles long and half a mile wide, was completely destroyed. All visitors to Rotterdam knew the central Coolsingel boulevard, with on one side cafes, hotels, shops, and theatres, and on the other the town hall, the general post offi,e. and the new stock exchange. All this has been laid in ruins. Of the houses along the famous Boompies - the picturesque northern quayside of the River Maas - not a wall is left standing. South of the river the harbour district has suffered, as well as the neighbourhood of the Waalhaven aerodrome. The Nieuwc Waterweg - the canal to the Hook of Holland-is blocked by ships which have struck magnetic mines laid by the Germans. Large stocks of raw materials, wheat, oil, and Military reserves round Rotterdam, have been systematically destroyed by the Dutch. It is estimated that the Netherlands had enough supplies for a year, even if they had been completely cut off. Very little of this has fallen into the enemy's hands, but the destruction could not always be confined to material of military importance. The town of Pernisse, for instance, is burnt out as a result of the setting on fire of the big oil tanks in the neighbourhood. ..." (6)

         From such articles, it is possible to estimate the neutrality and intentions of two press agencies of different countries. NYT reported the bombing of Rotterdam in detail after they had gained access to the city. In fact, since the United States was not in the state of war with Germany in 1940, NYT correspondents were able to visit the city and even hear briefings by the German army officials.(7) Article "Center of Rotterdam Devastated After its Commander Surrendered" provided the most detailed and broad summary on the raid. In specific, it focused large part on the fact that the bombing had occurred after the capitulation, perhaps in an attempt to emphasize the brutality of the Germans, since despite its neutrality the United States was in closer relationship with the Allied than with the Axis power. On the other hand, other two articles were written in rather neutral point of view. Article ¡°One Report Puts Rotterdam Deaths at 300, But Dutch Assert 100,000 May Have Died¡± showed the death toll estimation by both the Germans and the Dutch; German occupation forces told the correspondents that about 300 were dead, while Dutch communique claimed more than 100,000 were killed. In fact, German estimates were far close to the actual casualties; today it is estimated to have been about 800 to 900.(8) Considering such fact, it could be concluded that there was no distortion of statistics; the NYT did its best to depict accurate numbers, by mentioning the claims of both sides of the war. Third article further clarifies the NYT neutrality, since it quotes from the German officials; the article was written by Berlin correspondent, and even included the German claim that the responsibility for mass destruction belongs to Dutch government, which cooperated with the British and thereby risked its people¡¯s lives.
         In contrast, it seems as though The Times of London did not acknowledge the importance of Rotterdam bombing. Only one article was published, and only a part of that article dealt with the incident. Although it mentions that Rotterdam was inflicted the most damage among Dutch cities, it lacked more detailed explanation, including estimates on death tolls. In fact, in the report, the length of the part that dealt with Rotterdam was slightly longer than those dealt with other cities such as Amsterdam. Also, the source of the report was solely the "authoritative" Dutch circle in London. Although the fact that the British reporters were not allowed to enter German-occupied areas must be taken into account, it is odd that The Times did not even quoted from other news agencies, such as the NYT, for more detailed information.
         One possible explanation is that the British intentionally neglected the destruction of Rotterdam. Too much detailed report on enemy¡¯s superior firepower is likely to cause panic among the readers in homeland, thereby lowering the morale. Such ignorance on the Rotterdam could have been planned in order to prevent British public opinion turning against the war in mainland Europe. Similar pattern appeared against in reports on Paris air raid of June 3. Between June 3 and June 5, seven articles regarding the bombing of Paris were shown from NYT archives; ¡°17 Crafts Downed¡±, ¡°Bombing of Berlin Demanded in Paris¡±, ¡°Dud German Bombs Hits Near Bullit¡±, ¡°Berlin is Exultant over Raid on Paris¡±, ¡°Paris Toll 254 Dead, 652 Hurt; 20 Children among Bomb Victims¡±, ¡°German Newspapers Ironic about Bullit¡±, and ¡°Reprisals Taken¡±. On the other hand, The Times archives showed only two articles; ¡°Paris During the Raid¡± and ¡°Paris After the Raid¡±.
         Here, two British newspaper reports are relatively detailed compared to those on Rotterdam; this difference might have been caused from the fact that Paris, as the capital of France, had more influence than Rotterdam did. However, the contrast on the level of detail was again observed; while NYT published several separate articles which focused on the young victims caused by bombing of the schools and the French public reactions regarding the bombing, The Times mentioned such topics briefly in two articles that demonstrated the situation. (9)(10)(11)(12) In terms of neutrality, again two of the NYT articles were based on German claim. These articles depict German insists on weakness of French army, in statements such as ¡°Paris¡¯ anti-aircraft defenses, it is stated, were shown to be impotent to ward off or to hinder German attack.¡± and ¡°it is not the characteristic of German bomb not to explode in decisive moments.¡± (13)(14)In contrast, British articles¡¯ source was only their correspondent in Paris, and focused on how the French withstood the situation and responded calmly;

         "... Yet when the danger had passed everyone went about their business within the calm of veterans. Such fortitude, displayed after an exhibition of frightfulness, all the more stunning for falling suddenly out of a cloudless June sky, is really admirable. Henceforth it is certain that whatever trials are to come, the inhabitants of Paris will meet them calmly. Today the Parisians continued to go about their business in their beautiful city under a brilliant sun without a trace of fear or apprehension. They realize that yesterday was probably only the prelude to a series of raids, but everyone is calm and resolute. ..." (15)

         Indeed, such report largely exaggerated the morale of French. In fact, the French panicked and fled the city to form thousands of refugees. One report shows that only one-third of the citizens chose to remain in the city. Below NYT article written in a week later gives a clear contrast to the British claim;

         "The city, greatly deserted in the last few weeks and days, with only rare buses and taxicabs, was still and eerie. Neighbors gathered in little knots to talk, as people do in the waiting rooms of a hospital, caught between fear and hope and clutching at every human contact for comfort. For most of the great issue was whether to go or stay. Great grey trucks lined up outside public buildings showed that at least some of the public services were being evacuated. There were signs of packing everywhere ... As the day advanced the evacuation fever seemed to spread. More and more loaded trucks and cars began to drift toward the outlets of the city. At the railroad stations from which any trains are still running the crowds of refugees, mostly incomers from the east and north waiting to go elsewhere, grew hour to hour and never seemed to lessen." (16)

         Another factor of terror that was depicted in detail was the parachute invasion. Both New York Times and The Times of London articles during the invasion period showed dozens of articles from their archives. However, the content and point of view showed clear differences. NYT archives contained larger number of articles which dealt with the tactics and the history of airborne troops. While only two of The Times report was about how parachutists are deployed into action,(17)(18) Many of the NYT articles not only described the tactics of paratroopers but also interviewed and quoted US Army Air Force officials about the efficiency of them, and how such tactics are applied to US forces. Below are shown a report quoting from General H. Arnold, Chief of the Air Corps, and a responding article;

         "Arnold Doubts Value of Parachute Attack, But Says Air Corps is Prepared to Use It; The Army¡¯s two-year air expansion program is well up to schedule as the first year nears its end, according to Major General H. H. Arnold, Chief of the Air Corps, who is here on an inspection of air bases from Panama to Florida. Activity of air units in the European war is teaching the United States much which the Army will profit by in carrying out its air expansion plans, without delaying the national defense program, General Arnold said today. By this time next year, he asserted, America will have air bases to meet its program fully, the program¡¯s complement of pilots and mechanics trained and its forces of planes delivered and commissioned. But, he added because aviation was advancing so rapidly in the war, our planes when put in service will be far superior to those originally designed for the army and now being purchased by the Allies. ¡°We will profit from all the Germans, French and British are now learning,¡± he continued. ¡°But there is one thing we don¡¯t know and won¡¯t know exactly until the time comes. That is where we may be called on to exert the greatest defensive strength. We do know that we must be able to assemble more planes more quickly at any point where there may e an attack threatened. If we can¡¯t get there first with the most planes and planes superior to those of any possible opposing force we might as well not have an air force.¡± General Arnold stated that the Army Air Corps was not convinced of the value of the spectacular German parachuting technique. While much thorough study has been given by United States Army fliers to parachuting as a peacetime requirement of training, he said, there has been no aim to follow the war example of the Russians and Germans, but America¡¯s airmen could employ parachuting in actual conflict in the event the circumstances and the terrain indicated that it would be effective. When the air expansion program as now designed is completed, General Arnold said, United States Army planes will have self-sealing gas tanks, they will be better armored and they will have greatly increased firepower."(19)

         "Parachute Troops; The statement of Major Gen. H. H. Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Corps, that our own service is not yet convinced of the value of parachute troops in modern war is somewhat surprising in view of what is happening in the Low Countries. Such troops are plainly being used by Germany to great advantage. It is a hallmark of German military methods that they are based on new weapons, new strategy, new tactics. Our own army, the bulk of which is now manoeuvring in the Sabine River area, has recently displayed a refreshing receptiveness to new ideas. It is turing the recent lessons of modern war to its own purpose in Louisiana and Texas, and for the first time regulars are conducting a manoeuvre that has some close resemblance to relity. But the process has not gone far enough. There is, as yet, insufficient comprehension of the tremendous influence of air power. Our air forces are in no sense prepared to wage, or to cope with, such aerial ¡°Blitzkriegs¡± as those which have horrified the world and endangered civilization in Europe. We have o parachute troops, no ¡°doctrine¡± upon which their tactical employment could be based. Nor have we any carefully calculated defense against such tactics. The plain fact is that our air defense organization is rudimentary and inexperience." (20)

         Above articles are interesting, since they introduced a statement from USAAF official neglecting the importance of airborne troops, and a NYT article which criticizes The Army for being overly confident about its air power. Below are two set of articles which will clarify America¡¯s point of view on the parachutist matter;

         ¡°First Nazi Parachute Unit Formed In 1935 Out of Goering¡¯s Troops; The Germans told the tale today of how the parachute army of their air force came into existence. It is just this army that appears alone or in combination with diving bombers and tanks and offers the gravest danger to the enemy defense. The idea of these German parachute troops originated, it is said, here in 1935 when Chancellor Hitler, after long conversations with Field Marshal Hermann Goering, former Defense Minister Werner von Blomberg and the late commander in chief, Col. Gen. Werner von Fritsch, decided to organize such a unit with the greatest secrecy. As the nucleus for this new branch of the Reich¡¯s armed forces Marshal Goering suggested a battalion of his personal infantry regiment. The latter wa formed by Marshal Goering in 1933 and 1934 before the creation of the German Air Force from members of the Reich¡¯s police force. ... Marshal Goering and Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, it is said, had thought about this problem and the latter prepared a film showing the manoeuvres of Russian and other parachute units, which was shown to the men. Then a professional parachute jumper gave an exhibition. Unfortunately however he had an accident and was so badly injured that he had to be taken from the field on a stretcher. This caused some consternation in the ranks of the third battalion. ¡¦ Therewith, the German report declares, 108 men stepped forward and the German parachute arm was born."
(21)

         "Soviet Claims Credit for Parachutist Idea; Claims that the Soviet Union was the pioneer in the training of parachute troops, and that during the Red Army¡¯s manoeuvres near Kieff in 1925 mass parachute descents, used for the first time, were observed by delegates of many foreign armies, in cluding France and Britain, were advanced in the army newspaper Red Star today. It should have been obvious, says the writer, that the new weapon would be widely used in the future, but skeptics saw only the shortcomings and difficulties of this new method of warfare. He says that even after the German use of parachutist troops in Norway the Allies failed to draw the necessary conclusions. Equally, he argues, the Allies short-sightedly denied the possibility of the operations of independent mass tank formations, which, he claims, were also first demonstrated by the Red Army at the Kieff manoeuvres. ..." (22)

         These two articles show the reports from Berlin and Moscow on the history of airborne troops; one was a tale on the creation of German airborne corps, while the other was a Soviet claim on originality of the parachutist tactic. From this, it can be seen the American attitude on airborne invasion. For the Americans, who felt no immediate danger of being invaded, German airborne troop was both an interesting phenomenon to observe and a potential future of the US armed corps. A new and surprisingly efficient military technology which were dominating the battlefield overseas must have drove attention of American people, so that the newspaper such as NYT provides variety of articles which dealt with how they jump from skies with what kind of gears, and since when and in which country did such novel technology was applied to the military. As seen from above articles, some of the reports directly quoted from German and Soviet officials, despite the fact that such quotes might contain propaganda purposes and exaggerations on valor of their troops. Indeed, such reports were available because of American neutrality, being able to deploy correspondents anywhere and not involved in the ongoing war.
         On the other hand, in some articles, parachute troops were also shown not only as the focus of interest, but also as the future tactic that US should follow up with. Such attitude could be seen from above two articles quoting General Arnold. When Arnold said in the interview that although the USAAF was paying attention to the novel military techniques in Low Countries, he doubts their efficiency, NYT article published 2 days later criticized his comments, calling USAAF ¡°rudimentary and inexperienced.¡± In fact, an interesting phrase in that article shows how some Americans viewed the war in Europe; ¡°We will profit from all the Germans, French and British are now learning¡¦¡± Indeed, the war overseas was a perfect chance for Americans to learn military tactics without a single drop of blood.
         Situation in Britain was totally different; British, along with the Allies, actually had bled, and the fear for parachute invasion on England was imminent. Thus, The Times published many articles regarding countermeasures against paratroopers and various suggestions to implement such countermeasures; such articles never showed up in NYT archives. One of the articles is shown below;

         "The following is a further selection from a very large number of letters on this subject:- Sir,-If the Germans can drop parachutists under different disguises all over Belgium, Holland, and France, there is no reason why they should not do the same over this country. The object of these invaders is to create terror and commit acts of sabot- age in town and country. Not a moment should be lost in preparing a means of defense. Every town and village should have a posse of defenders. Fortunately there are in the British Legion many old soldiers who can be relied on to rally to the de- fence of the country, and who would be invaluable at the present time of crisis. No doubt the Government will take immediate steps to put the necessary machinery in motion to meet this danger. The first step would seem to be to get into touch with the British Legion in every county, and to invite all those who are willing to do so to volunteer at once. Yours faithfully, C. ADEANE. his Maiesty's Lieutenant for Cambridgeshire. Babraham, Cambridge, May 14." (23)

         In fact, a lot of countermeasures have been implemented in Great Britain in fear of parachutist invasion, and possible fifth columnist activities they might get engaged with. One of the most extensive and perhaps extreme measures was the internment of all male enemy aliens between the ages of 16 and 60 who were in certain regions of England and Wales, and imposing restrictions on all other male aliens, including Americans. Here again, the reports of NYT and The Times on the same incident showed somewhat different attitude; while the British article only contained necessary information on who is being placed under what kind of restrictions, American article provided a full-page report on history of such measures and the treatment toward the Americans living in Britain.(24)(25)
         Another interesting aspect in reporting the parachutist invasion is how the effectiveness of it is depicted. Since the Britain was in war against the Germans, and thus needed to disparage the effectiveness of German airborne assault in order to increase the morale and eliminate fear. While both press agencies published articles that mention the paratroopers¡¯ deployment across the Low Countries, The Times of London clearly intended to neglect the success of parachutists, and at the same time emphasize the foul aspects of them. Typical articles which described the German parachutist attack in Flanders are shown below;

         "German Treachery In Luxemburg; A first-hand account of the German invasion of Luxemburg shows that it was prepared with all the treachery and un soldierly devices with which the world had already been nauseated. There were the same activities of the infamous "fifth column" inside the country and the landing of parachutists in civilian clothes. When it became certain that the Germans were advancing through Luxemburg and along the Moselle, the French detachments on the frontier were ordered to move in. Almost at once they began to be harassed by members of the Nazi "fifth column," who, dressed in civilian clothes and armed with German submachine guns, fired on them from the woods and formed nests of resistance in the valleys. ..." (26)

         "Holding The Advance; German detachments continued to land by parachute, but, unlike those in Holland, they did not succeed in seizing a single aerodrome. The Belgian Suretc has warned the population that the German parachutists are in possession of civilian clothing and disguise themselves as workmen so that they may circulate alarmist rumours or commit acts of sabotage, and the public are asked to inform the military authorities of any occurrences of this kind. ..." (27)

         "Dutch Stand At Flooded Zone; ¡¦ The Dutch High Command communiqu?, published in the early hours this morning, announced that behind the flooded areas the authorities had the situation well in hand. Everywhere the parachutists and the firth columnists have been rounded up. The parachutists are often very young and usually surprised at the hostile reception they receive. No cases have been known of their molestation by civilians. Those in disguise are treated as spies."
(28)

         Above articles, and others regarding similar topic shared some common aspects; they tended to emphasize the paratroopers¡¯ treachery such as disguising themselves as civilians and committing acts of sabotage. In addition, these articles tried to show ineffectiveness of such attempts, by quoting Belgian and Dutch authorities who insisted that their forces are holding well against the parachutists. On the other hand, only two of the NYT article during the invasion period mentioned the disguise of the parachutists, only in brief sense. NYT rather tended to report the successes of German airborne army, perhaps out of need to satisfy Americans¡¯ interest in novel German military technique;

         "The story of how a daring parachute corps officer rushed straight to the Belgian Foreign Office when Brussels fell and seized archives that ¡®will make the world prick up its ears¡¯ was told to the writer today by an authentio German military source. Among the parachute jumpers who landed in the vicinity of Brussels, the writer was told, was a dashing officer who in peacetime served in Adolf Hitler¡¯s Chancellery as a liaison man to the Foreign Office. He also was an assistant chief of protocol. As soon as the Belgian capital surrendered he rushed into the city with the first troops and headed for the Belgian Foreign Office. Thus, twenty minutes after Brussels capitulated, the secret archives of the Belgian Government were in German hands. ..." (29)

         Above article was actually quoted from German military, which could have contained certain level of propaganda purpose. As such, regarding the reports on parachute assault, American press rather tended to maintain neutral, while providing the readers with interesting and astounding news of German assault. Considering America¡¯s close relationship with Britain, and tendency to be biased toward Britain in reports on other topics, the news on parachutists could be said even pro-German. On the other hand, Britain, under imminent danger of being invaded, published reports condemning the paratrooper¡¯s unmanly actions, while disparaging the effectiveness of their operations.
         While British news agency showed bias in many ways in terms of articles regarding aerial bombing and the parachute assault, it was relatively accurate and neutral in describing the fast phase of German advance, which was another important factor in inflicting panic toward the Allied forces. The first German breakthrough in Sedan was made in May 13; 1st, 2nd and 10th Armored divisions, under General Heinz Guderian¡¯s command, had crossed the Meuse River with fierce air support by dive bombers, and French 55th Infantry division was literally ¡®evaporated¡¯ in panic.(30) News of this assault was published the next day; both NYT and The Times articles described German plan of Ardennes breakthrough and fierce battle around Sedan. However, both media failed to cover the news to be serious, and also did not realize the fact that Germans have already crossed the Meuse River. Below are shown NYT and The Times articles, respectively, which briefly describes the situation in Sedan;

         "Paris is Confident; With the utmost violence of which they¡¯re capable and making full use of armored columns and airplanes, the German armies today began a mass attack from Arnhem in the Netherlands to the Moselle River, a front of approximately 200 miles. At all points fighting has been exceedingly fierce. ... The French sent into the Belgian Ardennes and Luxembourg advance guards consisting [censored] units that had occupied positions along the border for many months in the Ardennes. In the advance this Ardennes guard, after fighting delaying action, fell back on French soil as far as the Meuse which, says tonight¡¯s communiqu?, was ¡®reached by the enemy on part of its course¡¯. This pressure coincided with the very strong attack further to the east on Longwy, which is a small town located in the outworks of the Maginot Line. The attack had been heralded by intense artillery preparation; the fighting continued during the greater part of the day and by nightfall, says the communique, ¡®the attack had been repulsed.¡¯ The Germans launched attacks also east of the Moselle River and in the region of Saar River but were driven back. ..." (31)

         "Battle Joined Along the Meuse; ¡¦The German advance in the Ardennes seems to have been as rapid as their movement north of Lidge. Nlost of the eastern part of the region is already in their occupation, and they have reached the banks of the Meuse south of Liege at several points. At Namur their advanced guards are looking up at .th^ ancient citadel that dominates the river, and farther south, at Dinant, they are facing the steeply escarped slopes that rise behind the town. Fierce fighting is in progress in the neighborhood of Sedan. The town, which was the scene of Louis Napoleon's surrender to the Prussian forces in 1870, lies in a hollow and is difficult to defend. But there are important French forces in the region and a series of bloody battles may be expected. ..."
(32)

         The situation changed in May 16; both NYT and The Times reported that the Germans had succeeded to cross the Meuse and establish bridgehead around Sedan. At this time, the term ¡®Battle of Meuse¡¯ was used, with NYT referring to it as ¡®action, if successfully pressed, would doom Brussels¡¯, and The Times as ¡®situation the serious nature of which it would be folly to underestimate¡¯.(33)(34)However, both media¡¯s articles still did not give any hint that the battle was already decided; the battle at Sedan was referred as ¡®just begun¡¯, and expected harsh counterattack by French army ? statement in NYT article like ¡®for the first time since the beginning of their (German) offensive they encountered resistance commensurate to their own blow¡¯ or ¡®counter-attack with varying success¡¯ by The Times could be seen as the intentional exaggeration in order to give the Allies hope for repelling the breakthrough. On the other hand, regarding the fact that even the Allied commanders had believed in counterattack until May 15 afternoon, it might not be ¡®bias¡¯ but unintentional ¡®misunderstanding¡¯ which caused the reporters to focus on plausibility of countermeasures.(35)
         Below two articles by NYT and The Times, respectively, demonstrate that the Allied defeat in the Meuse became evident by then;

         ""A Second Marne?; The Germans have won the Battle of Meuse and in doing it they have struck at the heart of France. With crushing impact Germans drove across the Meuse, westward and southward from Namur to near Sedan; apparently routed the French in a titanic war of movement on the planes of Flanders; smashed through the trench systems, pillboxes, barbed wire and tank traps of the field fortifications along the Belgian frontier which form a weak extension of Maginot Line; skirted the fortified border strong points of Maubeuge, Hirgon, Givet and Mezieres, and last night Paris reported the situation as ¡®tragic¡¯ and generalissimo Gameline declared in Order of the Day that ¡®the destiny of the world depends on the battle now taking place. ..." (36)

         ¡°The Meuse Battle; ¡¦ It is evident that the French Command was to a considerable extent surprised by the strength of the assault launched through the Ardennes, with their scanty roads. It is also possible that rather less work than elsewhere had been put into defences which were covered by the barrier of the Ardennes. Another element of surprise was that the enemy succeeded in bringing through this difficult country a heavier and less vulnerable tank, known to be in his possession but not hitherto exploited on the battlefield. It is the tanks which caused the breakthrough on the Meuse; but the tanks without the accompanying aircraft, and above all without the dive-bombers, would not have been particularly formidable. In some cases the tanks did not persist in face of strong resistance" but they quickly returned to the assault directly they obtained fresh support in the air. ¡¦ The French are making the strongest efforts to seal up the sides and shoulders of the great salient created by this breach. The depth to which the German thrust may penetrate, though a matter of serious importance enough, is a minor consideration by comparison -with that of the breadth to which it attains, because once a bulge of this sort has reached a certain breadth its communications become relatively immune from ground bombardment. It is evident that this offensive constitutes the most serious menace to which France and Great Britain have been subjected since the German spring offensives of 1918-which were overcome by dour resolution. ..." (37)

         Clearly, by these articles were published, the situation was considered worse than ever; in fact, both articles compare the situation to that of World War I, fearing the worst situation for the Allies. In fact, other reports by two newspapers around May 18 show some discrepancies in attitude; while NYT published large number of articles which contained negative view on Allied victory, some of them quoted from German officials, (38)(39)(40) The Times articles rather tended to emphasize hope for counterattack, quoting from Allied communique.(41)(42)(43) Nevertheless, the overall phase of the breakthrough at Sedan was depicted in relatively neutral way without intentional exaggeration or ignorance on particular factor. Rather, the NYT showed slight bias toward the British, since most sources of its report was from the Allied officials until the German victory became evident.
         American press was not always sympathetic toward the French and British. Another astounding and bold breakthrough made by General Rommel around Avesnes, which was mentioned in prior parts of this paper, shows another example of unintentional inaccuracy of British newspaper, caused by its limited sources. On May 21, a few days after Rommel¡¯s panzer assault, NYT described the advance in detail, quoting from a German officer;

         ¡°A description of tank battle at Cambrai, as reported by Lieut. Col. Hesse of the German General Staff, is to be published in tomorrow¡¯s Voelkischer Beobachter. Colonel Hesse describes how, on the historic battlefield where the tank was introduced by the British twenty-three year ago, ¡°two enemy divisions were destroyed by a strong detachment of German panzers. ¡®Try to imagine,¡¯ Colonel Hesse relates, ¡®a stretch of twelve miles, at every ten or twenty yards of which is an auto, truck, tank or omnibus lying in the ditch smashed to bits and burned out, in many cases with dead bodies heaped around it. There must be more than 1,000 vehicles that, forsaken by their crews, mark the chaos that developed on this ninth day of the big operation on the road from Avesnes by way of Le Cateau toward Cambrai. A strong German tank detachment under the leadership of a daring commander stormed up here in a surprise raid, drove right through moving and parked vehicles, fought, so to speak, hand to hand with enemy tanks, fought them down, and threw them back. When in former times cavalry set in to attack, its victims probably shared a fate similar to that of French divisions at Le Cateau. ..." (44)

         Despite being part of German propaganda plan to the foreign correspondents, the content of this article is an accurate -if not curtailed- record of what happened in Avesnes during Rommel¡¯s advance. Since NYT was able to deploy correspondents in Berlin, it was possible for it to provide with accurate and neutral articles. On the other hand, since the Allied communiqu? was the major source for British newspapers that provided information on enemy advance, it was inevitable for The Times articles to contain inaccurate information on this matter. Below is the part of an article which describes the same German assault in Avesnes region;

         "The French communique issued on Saturday evening stated that the fighting had continued all day with the same violence, chiefly in the region of Guise and Landrecies, where the enemy, in spite of considerable losses, was attacking in a westerly direction with powerful resources. This morning's co1nntUniqud stated: - The battle continues in the same region with the same relentlessness During the night our aviation continued the bombing of the rear lines of the enemy, The battle in France continued with unabated violence over the week-end. notably north of the Aisne. Between Guise and Landrccies, in particular, the Germans have been throwing an enormous weight of men and machines backed by air action into the struggle, but although they inevitably made progress at certain points, they are being held up at others and counterattacked. It is reported that the French have brought up thousands of their famous ' 75" field- guns which arc engaging the heavy 30- and 70-ton tanks at point-blank range with great effect. At some places where the fighting has been fiercest German dead are said to be lying piled up in great heaps over which their own tanks grind their relentless way." (45)

         Clearly, the content includes false information. In fact, it would have been proper to say dead French rather than German were lying piled up in the region. However, the Allied command had no idea how swift and effective Rommel¡¯s advance was; even the German headquarters did not understand it for days, and wondered where and what was Rommel¡¯s division doing. (Rommel had advanced so much that he had exited the available communications range) (46) In addition, since several successful counterattacks were implemented by Allied, including that in Montcornet by de Gaulle, some of the account could have been true.(47) Considering such facts, it could be concluded that British inaccuracy was against caused by its limited sources. To be more accurate, the ¡®source¡¯ itself was in confusion and was unable to hand over proper information.
         To sum up, during the blitzkrieg of World War II, articles that featured the fear factors of German offense revealed different situations in America and in Britain. The largest difference was, like in World War I, that Great Britain faced imminent danger of being invaded by the Germans, while the United States was claiming neutrality and thus in position of spectator. Such situation is reflected well in the articles; The Times of London published many reports which intentionally exaggerate the brutality and treachery of Germans, while disparaging and neglecting the major successes of them. When the result of German offense was devastating enough to decay the morale, the articles provided only the minimum information. On the other hand, NYT articles depicted even the most horrifying results of German advance, and did not hesitate to portray novel and superior German tactics and weapons, perhaps in order to both drive readers¡¯ attention with interesting topic and to suggest such recent military technology to the US armed force; yet, many articles also tended to portray brutal nature of German offensive, probably owing to the fact that Britain maintained closer relationship with US than did Germany.
         Another factor which caused discrepancy between American and British reports was the difference in sources; since America was neutral, its news agencies were able to deploy correspondents in German territories, and some were given chance to be accompanied by German officials to the battlefield. This allowed NYT to report the claims of both sides and remain relatively neutral and accurate, while major source of The Times was limited to Allied communiques and eyewitnesses of civilians, which was inevitably biased in favor of the Allies.

Notes

(1)      Article: Holland Overrun, May 15, 1940, NYT
(2)      Article: The Fight in Rotterdam, May 15, 1940, The Times
(3)      Article: One Report Puts Rotterdam Deaths at 300, But Dutch Assert 100,000 May Have Died, May 20, 1940, NYT
(4)      Article: Center of Rotterdam Devastated after its Commander Surrendered, May 23, 1940, NYT
(5)      Article: Nazi Newsreel Shows Rotterdam in Flames, May 23, 1940, NYT
(6)      Article: Destruction in Holland, May 25, 1940, The Times
(7)      American Journalism 1690-1940, p.708
(8)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotterdam_Blitz
(9)      Article: Paris toll 254 dead, 652 Hurt; 20 Children Among Bomb Victims, June 5, 1940, NYT
(10)      Article: Bombing of Berlin Demanded in Paris, June 4, 1940, NYT
(11)      Article: Paris During the Raid, June 4, 1940, The Times
(12)      Article: Paris After the Raid, June 5, 1940, The Times
(13)      Article: Dud German Bomb Hits Near Bullit, June 4, 1940, NYT
(14)      Article: German Newspapers Ironic About Bullit, June 5, 1940, NYT
(15)      Article: Paris After the Raid, June 5, 1940, The Times
(16)      Article: Many flee Paris, but hope perishes, June 10, 1940, NYT
(17)      Article: Parachute Troops¡¯ Technique, May 15, 1940, The Times
(18)      Article: Parachutists¡¯ Method, June 8, 1940, The Times
(19)      Article: ?Arnold Doubts Value of Parachute Attack, But Says Air Corps Is Prepared to Use It, May 13, 1940, NYT
(20)      Article: Parachute Troops, May 14, 1940, NYT
(21)      Article: First Nazi Parachute Troops Formed in 1935 Out of Goering¡¯s Troops, May 17, 1940, NYT
(22)      Article: Soviet Claims Credit for Parachute Idea, June 7, 1940, NYT
(23)      Article: Parachutists in Disguise, May 14, 1940, The Times
(24)      Article: Arrests in Britain, May 13, 1940, NYT
(25)      Article: Internment of Enemy Aliens, May 13, 1940, The Times
(26)      Article: German Treachery in Luxemburg, May 15, 1940, The Times
(27)      Article: Holding the Advance, May 13, 1940, The Times
(28)      Article: Dutch stand at the Flooded Zone, May 14, 1940, The Times
(29)      Article: Belgian Archives Taken, Nazis Say, May 25, 1940, NYT
(30)      Blitzkrieg-Legende, p. 260-287
(31)      Article: Paris is Confident, May 14, 1940, NYT
(32)      Article: Battle Joined Along the Meuse, May 15, 1940, The Times
(33)      Article: Great Battle Fluctuates on 60-mile Front, May 16, 1940, NYT
(34)      Article: The Battle of the Meuse, May 16, 1940, The Times
(35)      Blitzkrieg-Legende, p. 409
(36)      Article: A Second Marne?, May 18, 1940, NYT
(37)      Article: Meuse Battle, May 18, 1940, The Times
(38)      Article: Crossing of Meuse described by the Nazis, May 18, 1940, NYT
(39)      Article: Direct Drive on Paris seen, May 19, 1940, NYT
(40)      Article: First Great Battle in the West Shows Power of the German Machine, May 19, 1940, NYT
(41)      Article: Heavy German Losses, May 20, 1940, The Times
(42)      Article: Heavy Tanks in Action, May 18, 1940, The Times
(43)      Article: RAF still attacking, May 18, 1940, The Times
(44)      Article: Fierce Tank Fight Described by Nazi, May 20, NYT
(45)      Article: Heavy German Losses, May 20, 1940, The Times
(46)      Blitzkrieg-Legende, p. 417-428
(47)      Blitzkrieg-Legende, p. 414



Chapter 4.2 . . Go to Teacher's Comment

4.2. World War II
         German assault on Flanders and France in May 1940 involved various schemes to arouse panic among civilians. Such plot included both military and psychological aspects. In addition to the development of the weapons technology, which allowed far effective and destructive aerial bombing against civilian population as well as deception through airborne assault, Germans also tried to corrode the morale in French home front through deliberate propaganda operations. Owing to such factors, French lacked will to fight even before the offense began; Belgians and Dutch followed same path after experiencing devastating assault for weeks.

4.2.1. Military factors
         There were two major military factors which caused terror among civilians; strategic bombing and paratroopers. In fact, the concept of strategic bombing already existed even before the World War I. As early as 1921, an Italian general named Giulio Douhet had suggested that massive air raid against major cities would cause horror and suffering among the civilian population, thereby destroying the social structure and ultimately deteriorate enemy¡¯s will to fight. (1) However, during the World War I, only aircraft which was capable of carrying out such operation was Zeppelin, which turned out to be vulnerable to enemy fighters, and thus only sporadic small-sized bombing was plausible. It was by the time of World War II when the development of aviation technology had allowed such concept to be realized. The Luftwaffe had more than 1,000 available bombers (He-111, Do-17, Ju-88) by the time the invasion of France had begun. (2)
         There are many reports of Luftwaffe bombing the civilian district of France, which were likely to have been intended. The direct air raid on the capital city of Paris, which was conducted on June 3 and killed 257 people (mostly civilians), had tremendous impact on the citizens of Paris. The following article describes Paris a few days after the raid;

         "The city, greatly deserted in the last few weeks and days, with only rare buses and taxicabs, was still and eerie. Neighbors gathered in little knots to talk, as people do in the waiting rooms of a hospital, caught between fear and hope and clutching at every human contact for comfort. For most of the great issue was whether to go or stay. Great grey trucks lined up outside public buildings showed that at least some of the public services were being evacuated. There were signs of packing everywhere ... As the day advanced the evacuation fever seemed to spread. More and more loaded trucks and cars began to drift toward the outlets of the city. At the railroad stations from which any trains are still running the crowds of refugees, mostly incomers from the east and north waiting to go elsewhere, grew hour to hour and never seemed to lessen." (3)

         As such, the raid against civilians caused the terrorized citizens to flee the city, generating thousands of refugees along with confusion. In fact, even the government officials were in panic that France's minister of the interior could only keep government officials from fleeing Paris by threatening them with severe penalties. (4) Such columns of refugees had more than mere psychological effect; just like in World War I, the refugees blocked the advance of allied forces, which made the counterattack far more difficult to implement. (5)
         The most notorious and effective strategic bombing campaign by the Luftwaffe during the blitz of 1940 was the bombing of Rotterdam. On May 14, total 90 of He-111 and Ju-88 bombers bombed the heart of the city. The raid, without any resistance from Dutch armed forces, killed about 800 to 900 people, mostly civilian, and caused more than 80,000 to become homeless. (6) Shortly after the bombing, the city of Rotterdam surrendered, and so did the Dutch government when the Germans threatened to do the same to the city of Utrecht. A New York Times report quoted General Henri Gerad Winkelman, the Dutch commander in chief ;

         "It is very likely that a large part of the Netherlands will have to be given up to the enemy. The Netherlands will be herself after this war ... To save the inhabitants and to prevent further bloodshed, I hold myself entitled to order all troops concerned with the defense of those towns (Rotterdam and Utrecht) to abandon the fight and keep order until the regular German troops arrive." (7)

         Indeed, the massive strategic bombing not only generated fear among the civilian population, but also succeeded to threaten a government to give up fight and surrender.
         Another fear factor which had great impact was the German paratroopers, also called Fallschirmjäger. Although the fear of so-called the fifth column always had existed during wartime, the possibility of disguised enemy soldiers dropping behind frontlines seemed like an imminent danger to the civilians. Such fear intensified when German paratroopers, using gliders, successfully seized Belgian fortress of Eben Emael, which was believed to be unconquerable by the time. (8) Following The Times of London article demonstrates the situation ;

         "A first-hand account of the German invasion of Luxemburg shows that it was prepared with all the treachery and unsoldierly devices with which the world had already been nauseated. There were the same activities of the infamous "fifth column" inside the country and the landing of parachutists in civilian clothes. When it became certain that the Germans were advancing through Luxemburg and along the Moselle. the French detachments on the frontier were ordered to move in. Almost at once they began to be harassed by members of the Nazi "fifth column," who, dressed in civilian clothes and armed with German submachine guns, fired on them from the woods and formed nests of resistance in the valleys." (9)

         Contrary to common thought, the airborne operations were not as effective as it was considered to be; despite the success in Eben Emael, Fallschirmjäger had experienced unexpected defeat in Battle of Hague on May 10, which was planned in order to capture airfields around the city but failed. (10) On the other hand, the psychological effect was indeed critical. In Netherlands, people began to suspect each other of being German paratrooper; it was reported that people were accused just because they used Dutch with German accent. (11) Such fear spread even to Britain, that various countermeasures had been suggested, as in following article ;

         "If the Germans can drop parachutists under different disguises all over Belgium, Holland, and France, there is no reason why they should not do the same over this country. The object of these invaders is to create terror and commit acts of sabotage in town and country. Not a moment should be lost in preparing a means of defense. Every town and village should have a posse of defenders. Fortunately there are in the British Legion many old soldiers who can be relied on to rally to the defense of the country, and who would be invaluable at the present time of crisis. No doubt the Government will take immediate steps to put the necessary machinery in motion to meet this danger. The first step would seem to be to get into touch with the British Legion in every county, and to invite all those who are willing to do so to volunteer at once." (12)

         In fact, the British government had arrested all German and Austrian adult males living in Britain in order to prevent them from supporting possible paratroopers. (13) Even among the refugees who had managed to flee to Britain, this fear for fifth column from above was prevalent. (14) As such, the fear of paratroopers exaggerated much the capability of the airborne assault, which caused terror among the Flanders, France and even across the channel.


Notes :

(1)      Reflections on Douhet: the classic approach, Col. John F. Shiner, Air University Review, Jan-Feb 1986
(2)      Blitzkrieg-Legende (p.95)
(3)      Article: Many flee Paris, but hope perishes, June 10, 1940, NYT
(4)      http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6473
(5)      France, 1940: Blitzkrieg in the West
(6)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotterdam_Blitz
(7)      Article: Holland overrun, May 15, 1940, NYT
(8)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eben_Emael
(9)      Article: German treachery in Luxemburg, May 14, 1940, The Times
(10)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_for_the_Hague
(11)      Article: Holland meets the war, May 14, 1940, The Times
(12)      Article: Parachutists in disguise, May 14, 1940, The Times
(13)      Article: Arrests in Britain, May 13, 1940, NYT
(14)      Article: Flight from Nazi terror, May 18, 1940, The Times



4.2.2. Propaganda operations
         Besides military factors, the Germans had deliberately prepared propaganda operations before the offense, or even before the war itself. Such scheme included direct propaganda by the German government and intelligence service, which tried to convince the French that Germany had no interest in the Western front, and that by the French communist, which included several sabotages in the industry.
         The objective of propaganda operations by Germany was to reduce the French will to fight and make them feel lax, by establishing peace mood between Germany and the Western nations. Hitler invited many influential politicians of Britain and France and convinced them that he had no intention to fight against the British and the French. In fact, in many times Hitler succeeded to give an impression that he was actually a peace-loving pacifist. The following article of The Times shows how Hitler deceived George Lansbury, a leading British politician, when Lansbury was invited to Germany in 1937 ;

         "Mr. George Lansbury, M.P. who has visited several leading statesmen, including Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini, on a mission of peace, told the National Conference of Friendly Societies at Southend-on-Sea yesterday that all those statesmen desired peace and all agreed that war was a futile, stupid, and blundering business. "'No one, not even Herr Hitler," he said, is as bad as his enemies say he is, or as good as his friends say." The first question Herr Hitler put to him at their interview was, ¡°Why do you think war is inevitable?¡± He replied that he did not think it was, but all Europe was full of combustible material which at any moment might throw them into the inferno of war. Herr Hitler's answer to that was, quite simply, "No, I think there is no statesman in the world who will willfully light the match which would set the world on fire, because there is not one of them but knows that another great war must end in barbarism, with no victors-all must be vanquished." (1)

         In this report, Hitler was depicted as if he would contribute to maintain peace in Europe. Considering that majority of French suffered from brutal memories of World War I, such efforts of Germany were extremely efficient; many peace activists of France urged that war against Hitler was futile and pointless, and people were convinced. (2) The slogan created by French politician Marcel Deat clearly depicted the mood: ¡°Mourir pour Danzig? (Why die for Danzig?)¡± (3) Such attitude of the French led to the terror when the Germans unexpectedly invaded; French people, both soldiers and civilians, panicked when the Germans invaded, and simply fled or surrendered without any will to fight.
         When Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (German-Soviet nonaggression pact) was signed in August 1939, French communists began pro-German propaganda operations. Many of pamphlets distributed by the communists included statements as "Who in France would want to fight to reconstitute a Poland of reactionary and Fascist colonels ?" or more directly, "Vive Stalin! Vive Hitler !" (4) To the communists, French government was the vicious capitalist regime, and French proletariats were to be liberated by the German army, a friend of Soviet Union. When communist party was officially banned in September 1939, some followers began sabotaging French arms industry. Planes produced by Farman industry mysteriously exploded during takeoff, and several communists were arrested and later executed for treason.(5) Similar sabotages occurred in production lines of Renault B.1 tank and 25mm anti-aircraft guns, which the French army needed the most. (6)
         The German intelligence service did not let go of such opportunity; underground radio services such as Radio Humanite were created in order to instigate communist activities. This station claimed to be broadcasting from within France, and promoted the listeners to participate in various sabotages. One of the statements said; "Use all your resources of intelligence and all your technical knowledge, prevent, delay, or make unusable what is manufactured for war". (7) Such activities spread the "fifth column terror" among the civilians even before the real war began. They were terrified at the fact that their family or friends could in fact be a communist saboteur who would willfully stab at the back. Later on, when German invasion began, such radios contributed to spread terror by exaggerating the French death tolls and German advances. (8)

Notes :

(1)      Article: Mr. Lansbury on his talk with Herr Hitler, September 18, 1937, The Times
(2)      Blitzkrieg-Legende, p. 506
(3)      http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/154409/Marcel-Deat
(4)      To Lose a Battle, p. 158
(5)      Article: Four French saboteurs get death sentence, May 28, 1940, NYT
(6)      To Lose a Battle, p. 160
(7)      http://onlygoodstuff.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/lies-through-the-ether-american-german-and-british-propaganda-during-world-war-two
(8)      http://onlygoodstuff.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/lies-through-the-ether-american-german-and-british-propaganda-during-world-war-two



Chapter 4 (3rd Draft) . . Go to Teacher's Comment

3. Manipulation of terror on the battlefield

3.1 World War I

         During the invasion of Belgium in 1914, in addition to the terror infliction through gigantic artillery barrage in the battlefield, Germans also tried to cause panic among civilians in the home front through variety of means. One of the most direct and efficient ways was the aerial bombardment against cities by newly introduced Zeppelins. Zeppelins, with large bomb load capacity and long flight range, successfully horrified the civilians in cities like Liege, Antwerp and Namur.(1) The following New York Times article depicts the impact of Zeppelin bombing run :

         "In the throng of refugees arriving this morning from Ostend were a dozen Americans, who succeeded in making their way out of Antwerp with hand baggage only. Among them was Mrs. George Sparrow of New York who had left Liege before that city was besieged by the Germans. She said: In Antwerp I was aroused one night by a loud boom. Which I imagined was caused by cannon firing in the fort. But looking out of a window, I saw a Zeppelin airship, apparently quite near. I could plainly hear the buzz of its motor. A bomb from it fell only a few blocks away, the explosion of which was followed by an outbreak of fire. Many people rushed from the house, panic-striken: some of the women were hysterical. It was a fearful night. I got out of the city the next morning with several other Americans and went to Ostend where I spent last night. Ostend is very quiet, with gendarmes walking about the streets. I saw no signs of Germans this morning."

         In fact, bombing aimed for unarmed civilian was unprecedented tactic in traditional warfare, and such tactic caused harsh reproach from international society.(2)(3) Regardless, Germans continued their Zeppelin runs on major cities of Belgium, especially on Antwerp since it was the last stronghold of the Belgians.(4) As siege on Antwerp continued until October 1914, bombardments using both Zeppelins and artillery were implemented on the city, inducing panic among civilian population and causing them to flee in chaotic manners.(5) Such situation is described in below New York Times article:

         "Having broken through the outer forts of Antwerp, the Germans are now bombarding the city and the second line of defenses. At the same time Zeppelins have appeared over the city dropping bombs, which are reported to have caused many deaths and added to the terror of the people, thousands of whom are fleeing from the city ... The condition of panic among the people was increased today by the appearance at 11¡¯o clock this morning and at 3 o'clock this afternoon of German aircraft, which dropped bombs, destroying seven houses and killing a score of people. On account of the Zeppelin's successful attack, the large avenue leading to the railroad station quickly became black with a struggling mass of people eager to escape from the city. Seized with an unreasoning, terrible fear of a bombardment or of a charge of German cavalry, the people are transporting invalids, cripples, and even the occupants of lunatic asylums."

         Such report shows that terror inflicted among the civilians in the city through Zeppelin bombardment was effective in lowering the overall morale, as well as in weakening the defense through causing chaotic struggle for escape.
         In fact, not only during the siege against cities but also in occupied areas the Germans have shown brutality against civilians and POWs, in an attempt to spread rumors among civilians which would certainly inflict panic. Among various newspaper reports from New York Times and The Times of London about German troops' atrocities, the following record about assault on Louvain clearly depicts the unnecessarily violence of German troops :
"The infatnous crime of the destruction of Louvain is without a. parallel even in the Dark Ages. The harmless civil population had been disarmed a week ago. The German garrison at the gates of the town fired upon another force of their own countrymen. To conceal their blunder, they laid the blame upon the lielpless townspeople. No denials were listened to. Some of the men of Louvain were shot, the rest were made prisoners, the women and children were flung into trains and carried off to an unknown destination, and the city was razed to the ground. Louvain has ceased to exist. A town of 41,000 inhabitants, bigger than Crewe or Dover or Colchester or Keighley, has been completely wiped out."

         Such German intentions were quite successful, since the rumors spread among the civilian population of Belgium clearly caused terror all over the region. As below NYT article shows, panic-stricken residents of Belgian villages located in path of German invasion would either disarm the local guards and surrender to make the advance easier, or flee the area in fear of marching Germans:
"Eight hundred refugees from Ostend arrived at Charring Cross Station tonight. The most of them were Belgians and only a few were Americans. According to the stories of the refugees Ostend is panic-stricken, fearing a German invasion, especially because of the stories of German cruelty which were widely circulated everywhere, and widely magnified in each telling. Several Americans reported that the Germans did not intend to go to Ostend, but had turned southwest between Brussels and Ghent, and were now moving down toward Lille. Despite such reports the authorities of Ostend disarmed the civic guard to minimize the trouble if the Germans arrived."

         The endless column of refugees would also eventually hamper the defenders to reorganize and prepare counterattack in favor of the Germans. The report quoted from French Ministry of War in Paris mention the problem of panic-stricken refugees encumbering the road to block the Allied forces from marching to the front.(6) Indeed, the terror among civilians were as influential as that inflicted among the soldiers fighting in the battlefield; the Germans clearly understood the fact that the disorganized, terrified civilians are only to add burdens to the army, and successfully hampered the defenders by inflicting terror on the home front. Zeppelin raids on city crowded with citizens and intentional actions of brutality to spread rumors were enough to cause the Belgian civilians to either surrender without any attempt to resist, or run away in chaos to make allied counterattack difficult.

Notes :

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeppelin
(2) Article: Belgium's Bomb Protest; declares Zeppelin attack violated fourth convention of the Hague, August 26 1914, NYT
(3) Article: Whitlock Protests Zeppelin Attack; similar representations to Berlin made by the other foreign ministers in Belgium, August 27, 1914, NYT
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Antwerp
(5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Antwerp
(6) Article: Brutality as a Policy, August 28 1914, The Times



Bibliography . . Go to Teacher's Comment

Blitzkrieg-Legende, Karl-Heinz Frieser
To Lose a Battle: France 1940, Alistair Horne
The Rommel Papers, Erwin Rommel
Eyewitness to History, edited by John Carey
The French Century: an illustrated history of modern France, Brian Moynahan
The Last Great Frenchmen: a life of General De Gaulle, Charles Williams
Petain, Charles Williams
The Decline of the Third Republic 1914-1938, Philippe Bernard, Henri Dubief
Belgium: The Official Account of what happened 1939-1940, Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs



Appendix : New York Times / Times of London Articles (as of October 1st 2009) . . . go to Teacher's comment

List of relevant NYT / ToL Articles


World War I : German Advances

Germany's Tactics Wasteful of Men August 2, 1914, NYT
American Talks of Liege August 16, 1914, NYT
Desultory Fighting Clears the Ground between the Two Great Armies August 18, 1914, NYT
Used Great Gun in Liege September 7, 1914, NYT

World War I : German brutality against civilians/refugees

American Girls Insulted August 9, 1914, NYT
Calls Prussians Brutal August 14, 1914, NYT
Bombs at Namur August 16, 1914, Times
Saw Zeppelins Drop Bomb in Antwerp August 28, 1914, NYT
Defends Zeppelins for Antwerp Raid August 29, 1914, NYT
Brutality as a Policy August 29, 1914, Times
The March of the Huns August 29, 1914, Times
Fate of Louvain September 4, 1914, Times

World War I : Fifth column terror

Daring Exploits by German Spies August 13, 1914, NYT
Had to Quit Brussels August 22, 1913, NYT

World War II : German advances

Holland Overrun May 15, 1940, NYT
Air Fights Raging May 17, 1940, NYT
Nazis Loose the Terrors of 'Total Warfare' May 19, 1940, NYT
Germany's Air Force: Its Power and Failings May 19, 1940, NYT
First Great Battle in the West Shows Power of German Machines May 19. 1940, NYT
Confusion Marks Battle in France May 21, 1940, NYT
A Battle for Survival May 22, 1940, NYT
French in Attacks May 25, 1940, NYT
Allies Undaunted; Reappraise Plans May 29, 1940, NYT
British Down 77 German Planes; R.A.F. Shields Retreat of Troops May 31, 1940, NYT
The Armies are Evacuated but the Civilians Remain June 1, 1940, NYT
France Undaunted June 7, 1940, NYT

World War II : German brutality against civilians/refugees

Refugee Attacks Laid on Germans May 16, 1940, NYT
Nazi Dive Bombers Terrify Refugees May 19, 1940, NYT
Fight Against Enemy Armoured Column May 28, 1940, Times
B.E.F. Rushed Forward: Germans Strike at Refugees June 17, 1940, Times
Refugees and Strategy June 18, 1940, Times

World War II : Report from German sources

Nazis Report Rout May 18, 1940, NYT
Nazi Claims Mild; Push Slows Down May 23, 1940, NYT
Berlin Factories Bombed in Air Raid, Paris Reports June 9, 1940, NYT

World War II : German disguised paratroopers

Holding the Advance: A Firm Stand on Belgium May 12, 1940, Times
Dutch Stand At Flooded Zone May 13, 1940, Times
German Treachery in Luxemburg May 14, 1940, Times
Holland Meets The War By an English Eyewitness May 14, 1940, Times

World War II : French communist fear, fifth column fear

Communism as a Nazi Weapon January 19, 1940, Times
Communists in France May 15, 1940, Times
The Luxemburg Campaign May 17, 1940, Times
Flight from Nazi Terror May 18, 1940, Times
Four French Workers to Die for Sabotage May 27, 1940, Times

World War II : German propaganda

Mr. Landsbury on his Talk with Herr Hitler September 18, 1937, Times
German "Kindness" Filmed May 24, 1940, Times
German Effort to Divide Allies May 28, 1940, Times
Facing the Facts May 29, 1940, Times
Hitler's Aims June 6, 1940, Times
Goebbels at Work in Belgium June 6, 1940, Times




Chapter 3 (2nd Draft) . . Go to Teacher's Comment

3. Manipulation of terror on the battlefield

3.1 World War I

         During the invasion of Belgium in August 1914, the brand-new heavy artillery of the Germans took the major role of inflicting terror on defending Belgians. These guns, specifically the Krupp ¡°Big Bertha¡± 420mm howitzer and loaned Austro-Hungarian Skoda 305mm mortars, effectively terrified the Belgians during the siege of Liege. Liege was heavily fortified, and withstood the first German line of offense for more than a week. In response to such unexpectedly strong and determined resistance, the Germans employed massive siege artillery. Several sources indicate the terror inflicted due to these unprecedented cannons. Lieutenant General Gerard Mathieu Leman, the Belgian commander of the 3rd Division and the Liege fortifications, writes:

         "Grenade wrecked the arcade under which the general staff were sheltering. All light was extinguished by the force of the explosion, and the officers ran the risk of asphyxiation by the horrible gases emitted from the shell. When firing ceased, I ventured out on a tour of inspection on the external slopes, which I found had been reduced to a rubble heap. A few minutes later, the bombardment was resumed. It seemed as though all the German batteries were together firing salvoes. Nobody will ever be able to form any adequate idea of what the reality was like. I have only learned since that when the big siege mortars entered into action they hurled against us shells weighing 1,000 kilos, the explosive force of which surpasses anything known hitherto. Their approach was to be heard in an acute buzzing; and they burst with a thunderous roar, raising clouds of missiles, stones and dust. ... We were driven back, half-suffocated. Looking out of a peep hole, I saw to my horror that the fort had fallen, slopes and counter-slopes being a chaos of rubbish, while the huge tongues of flame were shooting forth from the throat of the fortress."

         This report of General Leman points out a crucial factor of terror addition to that simply caused by artillery barrage: Belgian belief of the impenetrable fortification. The common belief of the contemporary time was that the biggest cannons that could be moved overland were 21cm howitzers, and the Liege fortification was designed to withstand them. However, the newly developed 420mm and 305mm guns, which General Leman describes as ¡°shells weighing 1,000 kilos¡±, easily penetrated the concrete sides and blew up the inside using delayed fuse. Such broken conviction caused the decrease of morale among the defenders, contributing to the capitulation of Belgians on August 16, only a few days after the introduction of giant artillery.
         After the fall of Liege, these cannons were deployed and aroused similar impact during the battle of Namur from August 21 and during the siege of Antwerp which lasted until October 9. A New York Times report referring to an escaped British prisoner to the Germans indicates an interesting chance to look on German point of view:

         "I have been all over the world, but have never seen any guns so big. I was told by a German officer that no soldiers of the army understood the guns. They were manned by men sent especially from the Krupps¡¯. These guns soon reduced the forts."

         From this report, it is possible to see how Germans regarded their cannons as important assets. They even called in special engineers from the maker Krupp to ensure the regular manipulation of the devise. With such unprecedented weapons, Germans were able to inflict serious feeling of confusion and terror among defending garrison during their advance toward Belgium in tactical scale, effectively lowering the morale of the defenders and ensuring their supremacy over the battlefield.

3.2 World War II

         During the Blitzkrieg of 1940, Germans successfully manipulated two major factors of terror against the French; massive aerial bombing and appropriate use of element of surprise. These methods were effective enough to crush the French resistance in only 6 weeks
         Unlike in 1914, Germans in 1940 suffered from lack of artillery support relative to the French. However, they deliberately overcame such disadvantage by using an effective alternative of air support. Unlike allied forces, which hesitated to actively employ its air force, Luftwaffe concentrated all available fighters and bombers in the Western front. During the blitzkrieg of 1940, Luftwaffe was able to deploy about 1,090 bombers, 316 Ju-87 ¡°Stuka¡± dive bombers, 38 Hs-123 close air supporters, 923 Me-109 fighters and 222 Me-110 attack fighters. In fact, despite such massive aerial bombardment, actual damage inflicted on the French was mostly insignificant; during the bombing of Sedan on May 13, which was the largest aerial operation conducted by Luftwaffe in Western Front, not a single bomb succeeded to hit French bunker and total French casualties were only about 56. In contrast, the impact of terror caused was indeed pivotal. Such effect is described in the report of French general Edmund Ruby:

         "The gunners stopped firing and went to ground, the infantry cowered in their trenches, dazed by the crash of bombs and the shriek of the dive-bombers; they had not developed the instinctive reaction of running to their anti-aircraft guns and firing back. Their only concern was to keep their heads well down. Five hours of this nightmare was enough to shatter their nerves, and they became incapable of reacting against the enemy infantry ..." (quote from Horne)

         The witness of General Ruby indicates how terrified French soldiers became incapable of fighting back against the German offensive. French artillery, which outnumbered that of German, was unable to function properly while the soldiers were in such panic. In order to maximize the psychological effect of its bombers, Luftwaffe mounted a device called ¡°pipe organ¡± on the end of the wings of Ju-87 Stukas, which produced a loud, horrible noise. The Times report referring to French officers indicates the effectiveness of this terrifying siren on the battlefield:

         "In their fight against the Allies in Northern France the Germans are employing the "terror" tactics which they used so successfully during the Spanish Civil War, particularly against the Basques. Their technique is to create a deafening din by ingenious devices fastened on to power-diving aircraft, and on tanks and other motorized units. Before attempting to advance concentrations of troops, the Germans first send over strong formations of Junkers 87 Bs, which are specially designed as dive-bombers. To each of these has been fixed a siren which emits a noise more hideous than half a dozen of the most powerful air-raid warning apparatus. Devices are also attached to the bombs so that when they fall they make a high whining sound which gives the impression that they are dropping from directly overhead. ... it is almost impossible to hear someone bawling an order a few yards away. The Germans obviously prepared the ¡°noise apparatus¡± specially for the assault on French territory, for they started using it in the first breakthrough in the Sedan region. ... I have heard bombs dropped from this type of machine. As soon as they are released they start to make a high moaning sort of whie and give the impression of falling much nearer than is the case. On one occasion, hearing the whine of a bomb, I dived for shelter, only to find that it had fallen at least 400 yards away ..."

         As such, the ¡°noise tactic¡± of Luftwaffe combined with the terror of massive bombing succeeded to arouse panic. French troops became terrified whenever they heard such horrible siren. According to a record of the French field ambulance, wounded French would repeat screaming about the noise. (Horne 1969) Indeed, the effect could be compared to that of ¡°Trumpet of Jericho¡±, a device mentioned in the Old Testament which supposedly destroyed the wall of Jericho castle only with its sound.
         However, some sources indicate that the Allied troops learned to respond properly after experiencing several pandemoniums. Following The Times article demonstrates that the effectiveness of noise terror tactic diminished as the Allied realized the trick behind deadly siren:

         ¡°French troops whom I met coming out of the line said that the German aircraft were to sonie extent abandoning their dive-bombing tactics. This may mean that after its initial success, aided by the "terror-noise " devices attached to aircraft and bombs, it has not been so successful as the enemy had hoped, and that it has proved too expensive to persist in ¡¦ It took a little time for the Allied troops to accustom themselves to this new form of attack, but after a while they found means of combating it. It was discovered that the dive-bomber was vulnerable to attack by machine-guns, and even by rifles and revolvers. The Junkers were travelling down at such a speed that the bullets fired at them took on a new penetrating power. They sometimes found a way through to a vital part of the engine: at other times they killed the pilot, as the machine came hurtling down to crash in flames. The cost to the enemy in machines and crews since then has been staggering. As long as these tactics were effective, the enemy did not seem to mind the exorbitant cost; but now that these tactics are no longer meeting with their original success, the Germans have obviously decided to abandon them in favour of operations which will not take such a deadly toll of the air personnel in which they stand in need.¡±

         It seems as though the Allied forces got to adjust to the Stuka and its noise tactics, and such tactics became not as effective as they were in the beginning of the offense. However, it is crucial for the readers to understand that articles can be unreliable to some extent; it is impossible for the reporter to understand the exact situation in the middle of war, and since The Times is an English newspaper, it is likely to be biased in favor of the Allies. In fact, article above also shows some level of exaggerations, claiming that even revolvers can critically damage the airplanes. Besides, even if the Allied found out how to shoot down Stukas effectively, it might have been too late to affect the phase of war; the article was written in June 13th, when the French defeat became almost evident. Indeed, by the time the Allied had learned to overcome the terror of the noise, the war in the Western front was almost over.
         Another important factor which Germans implemented in order to manipulate terror among enemies was the element of surprise. The Germans would penetrate deep inside the French territory, using its highly mobile forces including panzers. When the French forces deployed for rear service unexpectedly encountered German panzers, they usually panicked and lost ability to resist. The most noticeable victory by surprise attack was the breakthrough led by General Erwin Rommel. A group of panzers led by General Rommel advanced into the very rear of French territory. A description by a panzer commander depicts how this unexpected presence neutralized the French even without any fight;

         "Many willingly follow this command (to throw away weapons), others are surprised, but nowhere is there any sign of resistance. Several times they asked, hopefully, ¡®Anglais?¡¯ " (quote from Frieser)

         Understanding his advantage, General Rommel continued advancing, and whenever he encountered the enemy, he just demanded them to surrender. French never hesitated to comply, and Rommel¡¯s small group of panzers achieved victory over much larger French troops without any battle. General Rommel himself recalls the situation in his report:

         "A short distance east of Marbaix a French car came out of a side-turning from the left and crossed the road close in front of my armoured car. At our shouts it halted and a French officer got out and surrendered. Behind the car there was a whole convoy of lorries approaching in a great cloud of dust. Acting quickly, I had the convoy turned off towards Avesnes. Hanke swung himself up on the first lorry while I stayed on the crossroad for a while, shouting and signaling to the French troops that they should lay down their arms the war was over for them. Several of the lorries had machine guns mounted and manned against air attack. It was impossible to see through the dust how long the convoy was, and so after 10 or 15 vehicles had passed, I put myself at the head of the column and drove to Avesnes. Shortly before the worn we had to make a detour across country where the road was closed by burning vehicles." (quote from The Rommel Papers)

         As a matter of fact, even after noticing German breakthrough deep inside the frontline, the Allied had expected that counterattack would be easy regarding that such deep and fast offense would necessarily lead to poor communications and lack of supply. Below The Times report on May 29th shows that such attitude was prevalent among the soldiers and civilians of the Allies:

         ¡°The violence of the German assault in Northern France was still unabated yesterday. The enemy succeeded in widening the base of the great bulge that he has driven into the French line, by breaking through still more of the prepared positions along the Belgian frontier, and by the capture of the blockhouse at the extreme left of the Maginot Line itself. To that extent he has rendered the bulge less vulnerable to counter-attack. His advanced columns have been successfully withstood on the Aisne and elsewhere; and between St. Quentin and Land- recies the two armies are locked in a vast melhe of tanks and armoured columns, which sways this way and that, but of which the resultant movement must be acknowledged to be on the whole in the enemy's favour ¡¦ But while the German advance continually leaves new tracts of open country exposed, and at the same time menaces the position of the Allied troops on either side of the formations that have to fall back, it is equally true that the position of the German advanced columns becomes itself ever more difficult to maintain, that their communications, on which their mechanized units with their voracious appetite for petrol are so dependent, become constantly longer and more precarious, and that the onrush that threatens to turn our flank only does so at the cost of presenting-a vulnerable flank of its own to eventual counter-attack. It would be folly not to re- cognize that the position is dangerous; but it is dangerous for both sides.¡±

         Above article shows the Allies¡¯ hope for successful counterattack that would surround and isolate the German offensive located around the bulge area. Unfortunately, they had neglected the psychological effect which would haunt the morale of their men. The Allied troops, which were expected to reorganize and cut off German supply line, actually became terrified at unexpected appearance of German forces and lost ability to strike back.
         As such, in the battlefields of Western Front during the blitzkrieg of 1940, terror was one of the major factors that led to the German total victory over the Allied. The concentration of massive air strike by Luftwaffe created panic among the defending Allied troops and made them vulnerable to the following ground offensive, and such impact was enhanced by special noise-making devise attached to the Stuka dive bombers. In addition, because the Germans advanced so fast into the French territory, the Allied forces frequently got shocked by the unexpected presence of German troops in the rear front. Rommel¡¯s panzer division used such psychological effect to induce French to surrender without any resistance, despite the fact that French could have easily outnumber and surround Rommel¡¯s small group if they had not been terrorized. Indeed, the Germans overcame their vulnerability such as lack of firepower through dexterous manipulation of terror among the enemy.



Working Table of Contents . . Go to Teacher's Comment

I. Introduction
II. Situations of European nations prior to the offensive
II.1 World War I (1914)
II.2 World War II (1940)
II.2.1 German preparation
II.2.2 French and Belgian situation
III. Manipulation of terror on the battlefront
II.1 World War I
III.2 World War II
IV. Manipulation of terror on Allied command
IV.1 World War I
IV.2 World War II
V. Manipulation of terror on home front
V.1 World War I
V.2 World War II
VI. Comparison between the Two Periods
VI.1 Influence of Terror on the Total Phase of the War
VI.1.1 World War I
VI.1.2 World War II
VI.2 Factors regarding enhanced role of terror in 1940
VI.2.1 Social factor
VI.2.2 Technological Factor
VI.2.3 Military Factor
VII. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography



Appendix : New York Times Articles (as of September 7th 2009) . . . go to Teacher's comment

List of relevant NYT Articles


World War I : German Brutality

Bombs at Namur August 16, 1914
Brutality as a Policy August 29, 1914
The March of the Huns August 29, 1914
Fate of Louvain September 4, 1914

World War I : German Siege of Forts

Used Great Gun in Liege September 6, 1914

World War II : German Disguised Paratroopers

Holding the Advance: A Firm Stand on Belgium ? Parachutist Danger (Parachutist Invasion: German Technique Described) May 12, 1940
Dutch Stand At Flooded Zone May 13, 1940
German Treachery in Luxemburg May 14, 1940
Holland Meets The War By an English Eyewitness (Englishman accused of German paratrooper for using German accent Dutch) May 14, 1940

World War II : French communist fear, fifth column fear

Communism as a Nazi Weapon January 19, 1940
Communists in France May 15, 1940
The Luxemburg Campaign May 17, 1940
Four French Workers to Die For Sabotage
May 27, 1940

World War II : Refugees and witnesses of German brutality

Flight from Nazi Terror (Fifth column fear) May 18, 1940
Fight Against Enemy Armoured Column May 28, 1940
B.E.F. Rushed Forward: Germans Strike at Refugees June 17, 1940
Refugees and Strategy June 18, 1940

World War II : German propaganda

Mr. Landsbury on his Talk with Herr Hitler September 18, 1937
German "Kindness" Filmed May 24, 1940
German Effort to Divide Allies May 28, 1940
Facing the Facts May 29, 1940
Hitler¡¯s Aims June 6, 1940
Goebbels at Work in Belgium June 6, 1940




Bibliography . . Go to Teacher's Comment

Blitzkrieg-Legende, Karl-Heinz Frieser
To Lose a Battle: France 1940, Alistair Horne
The Rommel Papers, Erwin Rommel



Chapter 3 . . Go to Teacher's Comment

3. Manipulation of terror on the battlefield

3.1 World War I

         During the invasion of Belgium in August 1914, the brand-new heavy artillery of the Germans took the major role of inflicting terror on defending Belgians. These guns, specifically the Krupp ¡°Big Bertha¡± 420mm howitzer and loaned Austro-Hungarian Skoda 305mm mortars, effectively terrified the Belgians during the siege of Liege. Liege was heavily fortified, and withstood the first German line of offense for more than a week. In response to such unexpectedly strong and determined resistance, the Germans employed massive siege artillery. Several sources indicate the terror inflicted due to these unprecedented cannons. Lieutenant General Gerard Mathieu Leman, the Belgian commander of the 3rd Division and the Liege fortifications, writes:

         "Grenade wrecked the arcade under which the general staff were sheltering. All light was extinguished by the force of the explosion, and the officers ran the risk of asphyxiation by the horrible gases emitted from the shell. When firing ceased, I ventured out on a tour of inspection on the external slopes, which I found had been reduced to a rubble heap. A few minutes later, the bombardment was resumed. It seemed as though all the German batteries were together firing salvoes. Nobody will ever be able to form any adequate idea of what the reality was like. I have only learned since that when the big siege mortars entered into action they hurled against us shells weighing 1,000 kilos, the explosive force of which surpasses anything known hitherto. Their approach was to be heard in an acute buzzing; and they burst with a thunderous roar, raising clouds of missiles, stones and dust. ... We were driven back, half-suffocated. Looking out of a peep hole, I saw to my horror that the fort had fallen, slopes and counter-slopes being a chaos of rubbish, while the huge tongues of flame were shooting forth from the throat of the fortress."

         This report of General Leman points out a crucial factor of terror addition to that simply caused by artillery barrage: Belgian belief of the impenetrable fortification. The common belief of the contemporary time was that the biggest cannons that could be moved overland were 21cm howitzers, and the Liege fortification was designed to withstand them. However, the newly developed 420mm and 305mm guns, which General Leman describes as ¡°shells weighing 1,000 kilos¡±, easily penetrated the concrete sides and blew up the inside using delayed fuse. Such broken conviction caused the decrease of morale among the defenders, contributing to the capitulation of Belgians on August 16, only a few days after the introduction of giant artillery.
         After the fall of Liege, these cannons were deployed and aroused similar impact during the battle of Namur from August 21 and during the siege of Antwerp which lasted until October 9. A New York Times report referring to an escaped British prisoner to the Germans indicates an interesting chance to look on German point of view:

         "I have been all over the world, but have never seen any guns so big. I was told by a German officer that no soldiers of the army understood the guns. They were manned by men sent especially from the Krupps¡¯. These guns soon reduced the forts."

         From this report, it is possible to see how Germans regarded their cannons as important assets. They even called in special engineers from the maker Krupp to ensure the regular manipulation of the devise. With such unprecedented weapons, Germans were able to inflict serious feeling of confusion and terror among defending garrison during their advance toward Belgium in tactical scale, effectively lowering the morale of the defenders and ensuring their supremacy over the battlefield.

3.2 World War II

         During the Blitzkrieg of 1940, Germans successfully manipulated two major factors of terror against the French; massive aerial bombing and appropriate use of element of surprise. These methods were effective enough to crush the French resistance in only 6 weeks
         Unlike in 1914, Germans in 1940 suffered from lack of artillery support relative to the French. However, they deliberately overcame such disadvantage by using an effective alternative of air support. Unlike allied forces, which hesitated to actively employ its air force, Luftwaffe concentrated all available fighters and bombers in the Western front. During the blitzkrieg of 1940, Luftwaffe was able to deploy about 1,090 bombers, 316 Ju-87 ¡°Stuka¡± dive bombers, 38 Hs-123 close air supporters, 923 Me-109 fighters and 222 Me-110 attack fighters. In fact, despite such massive aerial bombardment, actual damage inflicted on the French was mostly insignificant; during the bombing of Sedan on May 13, which was the largest aerial operation conducted by Luftwaffe in Western Front, not a single bomb succeeded to hit French bunker and total French casualties were only about 56. In contrast, the impact of terror caused was indeed pivotal. Such effect is described in the report of French general Edmund Ruby:

         "The gunners stopped firing and went to ground, the infantry cowered in their trenches, dazed by the crash of bombs and the shriek of the dive-bombers; they had not developed the instinctive reaction of running to their anti-aircraft guns and firing back. Their only concern was to keep their heads well down. Five hours of this nightmare was enough to shatter their nerves, and they became incapable of reacting against the enemy infantry ..." (quote from Horne)

         The witness of General Ruby indicates how terrified French soldiers became incapable of fighting back against the German offensive. French artillery, which outnumbered that of German, was unable to function properly while the soldiers were in such panic. In order to maximize the psychological effect of its bombers, Luftwaffe mounted a device called ¡°pipe organ¡± on the end of the wings of Ju-87 Stukas, which produced a loud, horrible noise. The Times report referring to French officers indicates the effectiveness of this terrifying siren on the battlefield:

         "In their fight against the Allies in Northern France the Germans are employing the "terror" tactics which they used so successfully during the Spanish Civil War, particularly against the Basques. Their technique is to create a deafening din by ingenious devices fastened on to power-diving aircraft, and on tanks and other motorized units. Before attempting to advance concentrations of troops, the Germans first send over strong formations of Junkers 87 Bs, which are specially designed as dive-bombers. To each of these has been fixed a siren which emits a noise more hideous than half a dozen of the most powerful air-raid warning apparatus. Devices are also attached to the bombs so that when they fall they make a high whining sound which gives the impression that they are dropping from directly overhead. ¡¦ it is almost impossible to hear someone bawling an order a few yards away. The Germans obviously prepared the ¡°noise apparatus¡± specially for the assault on French territory, for they started using it in the first breakthrough in the Sedan region. ... I have heard bombs dropped from this type of machine. As soon as they are released they start to make a high moaning sort of whie and give the impression of falling much nearer than is the case. On one occasion, hearing the whine of a bomb, I dived for shelter, only to find that it had fallen at least 400 yards away ..."

         As such, the ¡°noise tactic¡± of Luftwaffe combined with the terror of massive bombing succeeded to arouse panic. French troops became terrified whenever they heard such horrible siren. According to a record of the French field ambulance, wounded French would repeat screaming about the noise. (Horne 1969) Indeed, the effect could be compared to that of ¡°Trumpet of Jericho¡±, a device mentioned in the Old Testament which supposedly destroyed the wall of Jericho castle only with its sound.
         Another important factor which Germans implemented in order to manipulate terror among enemies was the element of surprise. The Germans would penetrate deep inside the French territory, using its highly mobile forces including panzers. When the French forces deployed for rear service unexpectedly encountered German panzers, they usually panicked and lost ability to resist. The most noticeable victory by surprise attack was the breakthrough led by General Erwin Rommel. A group of panzers led by General Rommel advanced into the very rear of French territory. A description by a panzer commander depicts how this unexpected presence neutralized the French even without any fight;

         "Many willingly follow this command (to throw away weapons), others are surprised, but nowhere is there any sign of resistance. Several times they asked, hopefully, ¡®Anglais?¡¯ " (quote from Frieser)

         Understanding his advantage, General Rommel continued advancing, and whenever he encountered the enemy, he just demanded them to surrender. French never hesitated to comply, and Rommel¡¯s small group of panzers achieved victory over much larger French troops without any battle. General Rommel himself recalls the situation in his report:

         "A short distance east of Marbaix a French car came out of a side-turning from the left and crossed the road close in front of my armoured car. At our shouts it halted and a French officer got out and surrendered. Behind the car there was a whole convoy of lorries approaching in a great cloud of dust. Acting quickly, I had the convoy turned off towards Avesnes. Hanke swung himself up on the first lorry while I stayed on the crossroad for a while, shouting and signaling to the French troops that they should lay down their arms the war was over for them. Several of the lorries had machine guns mounted and manned against air attack. It was impossible to see through the dust how long the convoy was, and so after 10 or 15 vehicles had passed, I put myself at the head of the column and drove to Avesnes. Shortly before the worn we had to make a detour across country where the road was closed by burning vehicles." (quote from The Rommel Papers)

         As such, in the battlefields of Western Front during the blitzkrieg of 1940, terror was one of the major factors that led to the German total victory over the Allied. The concentration of massive air strike by Luftwaffe created panic among the defending Allied troops and made them vulnerable to the following ground offensive, and such impact was enhanced by special noise-making devise attached to the Stuka dive bombers. In addition, because the Germans advanced so fast into the French territory, the Allied forces frequently got shocked by the unexpected presence of German troops in the rear front. Rommel¡¯s panzer division used such psychological effect to induce French to surrender without any resistance, despite the fact that French could have easily outnumber and surround Rommel¡¯s small group if they had not been terrorized. Indeed, the Germans overcame their vulnerability such as lack of firepower through dexterous manipulation of terror among the enemy.



Working Table of Contents . . Go to Teacher's Comment

I. Introduction
II. Situations of European nations prior to the offensive
II.1 World War I (1914)
II.2 World War II (1940)
II.2.1 German preparation
II.2.2 French and Belgian situation
III. Manipulation of terror on the battlefront
II.1 World War I
III.2 World War II
IV. Manipulation of terror on Allied command
IV.1 World War I
IV.2 World War II
V. Manipulation of terror on home front
V.1 World War I
V.2 World War II
VI. Comparison between the Two Periods
VI.1 Influence of Terror on the Total Phase of the War
VI.1.1 World War I
VI.1.2 World War II
VI.2 Factors regarding enhanced role of terror in 1940
VI.2.1 Social factor
VI.2.2 Technological Factor
VI.2.3 Military Factor
VII. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography


Appendix : New York Times Articles (as of July 5th 2009) . . . go to Teacher's comment

List of relevant NYT Articles


World War I : German Brutality

Bombs at Namur August 16, 1914
Brutality as a Policy August 29, 1914
The March of the Huns August 29, 1914
Fate of Louvain September 4, 1914

World War I : German Siege of Forts

Used Great Gun in Liege September 6, 1914

World War II : German Disguised Paratroopers

Holding the Advance: A Firm Stand on Belgium ? Parachutist Danger (Parachutist Invasion: German Technique Described) May 12, 1940
Dutch Stand At Flooded Zone May 13, 1940
German Treachery in Luxemburg May 14, 1940
Holland Meets The War By an English Eyewitness (Englishman accused of German paratrooper for using German accent Dutch) May 14, 1940

World War II : French communist fear, fifth column fear

Communism as a Nazi Weapon January 19, 1940
Communists in France May 15, 1940
The Luxemburg Campaign May 17, 1940
Four French Workers to Die For Sabotage
May 27, 1940

World War II : Refugees and witnesses of German brutality

Flight from Nazi Terror (Fifth column fear) May 18, 1940
Fight Against Enemy Armoured Column May 28, 1940
B.E.F. Rushed Forward: Germans Strike at Refugees June 17, 1940
Refugees and Strategy June 18, 1940

World War II : German propaganda

Mr. Landsbury on his Talk with Herr Hitler September 18, 1937
German "Kindness" Filmed May 24, 1940
German Effort to Divide Allies May 28, 1940
Facing the Facts May 29, 1940
Hitler¡¯s Aims June 6, 1940
Goebbels at Work in Belgium June 6, 1940




Bibliography . . Go to Teacher's Comment

Blitzkrieg-Legende, Karl-Heinz Frieser
To Lose a Battle: France 1940, Alistair Horne
The Rommel Papers, Erwin Rommel