12 JANUARY 1940, Page 10


By DOROTHY L. SAYERS [Being extracts from the war-time letters and papers of the Wimsey family] Letters to the Ministry of Instruction and Morale (various dates).

Dept. Public Opinion (Home); Sub-Dept. Propaganda (Enemy) ; Section Radio ; Sub-Section Hamburg.

File Ref. M1M IQX7945 I ak 1722683 ; Cross-Ref. BBC 10L31 zp/999334 (Copies to BBC).

Room 569 (2) Duchess of Denver.

Passed to you for information and comment please. (Sgd.) BEETLE OF OAKWOOD.

Dear Sirs,—I welcome the suggestion to reply to the German propaganda from Hamburg. Anything for a change from the everlasting drone of cinema organs.

Incidentally, why is the news-bulletin broadcast to the Empire on the short wave at 11.3o a.m. always so much fuller of interesting and detailed information than those on the Home Service? Are we considered mentally inferior to our cousins overseas? Or is this a class distinction in favour of plutocrats who can afford expensive wireless sets?—Yours faithfully, J. WETHERIDGE (Maj. Retd.), Bellona Club, W.

Dear Lord Beetle,—Do try and stop this suggestion that the B.B.C. should broadcast an answer to Haw-Haw. It would merely encourage my husband to turn the man on, and the creature's voice gets on my nerves, so monotonous and genteel, like a shop-walker. We need not, surely, add to the horrors of war ! —Yours very sincerely, AMELIA TRUMPE-HARTE, Bridge House, Mayfair.

Dear Sirs,—I see that Mr. Harold Nicolson is rousing up the House of Commons to make a good debating reply to the German propagandist they call Haw-Haw. I am a member of the Primrose League and do not agree with Mr. Nicolson's political views, but I think this is an excellent idea and hope you will see that it is carried out. I have written to my M.P. and told him he is to support it or lose my vote. Is there anything further I can do in the matter? I am a church- warden, and run the Boy Scouts in this neighbourhood.- Yrs., &c., J. SMITH, Gt. Pagford.

Dear Sirs,—I read in my paper that the B.B.C. have decided not to broadcast any reply to " Lord Hee-Haw " for fear of making the man too important. I say, if he's important enough to have headlines in the papers he's important enough to be answered, and either the B.B.C. or the papers ought to have more sense. Why can't you make up your minds one way or the other and get the whole thing straightened out? I enclose my card and remain,—Yours faithfully, PLAIN CITIZEN, East Croydon.

Dear Sirs,—I see Mr. Harold Nicolson wants to run a series of replies to Haw-Haw. This is all very well and a fine idea, but for pity's sake don't make it one of your College Professors but somebody as understands what is a good debating speech. There is nothing like a good controversy for Entertainment but it must be good Lively stuff. I am a working man myself and wireless is my hobby I have a set gets all the foreign stations. I think Haw-Haw is very dangerous for ignorant people and there's plenty with posh wireless sets more ignorant than the working class by a long chalk. If anybody was to make a good fighting speech in answer I would be pleased to listen into same but see it is a good one. We have speakers in our W.E.A. Debating Circle could give these Professors and Govt. speakers five yards and a beating.—Yours faithfully, A. CARPENTER, Walbeach, Norfolk.

Dear Sirs,—I am a social worker, and I find that a great many of the people I come in contact with take the line that much of the German propaganda about social conditions here is true, and they point out that he gets it all out of the English papers. I always tell them that that is the great difference between us and Germany—their papers are not allowed to say how bad their social conditions are, and so cannot be quoted against them. I find they are impressed by this, and also by the revelations of the miserable condi- tions in the Russian Army as compared with the glowing accounts of the " Workers' Paradise " in the Soviet controlled Press. I think that any reply to German propaganda would be most effective if done along these lines.—Yours faithfully, SYLVIA STANNIFORTH, Sheffield.

My dear Lord Beetle,—With regard to the suggested broadcast in reply to " Lord Haw-Haw," I have noticed in the course of my researches that a great many people, while listen- ing-in to his remarks are instinctively moved to utter derisive ejaculations, such as: " You dont say!" " What about Old Gobbles?" " Have a nice cup of bramble-tea!" " What's become of the ' Deutschland '?" and so on, according to the subject he is discussing. This makes me think that it would be amusing, and afford relief to irritated feelings if a running commentary could be broadcast SIMUL- TANEOUSLY with his on the same wave-length, so as to give the effect of a speaker being HECKLED at a public Meeting ! The listeners could JOIN IN with shouts and cheers, and a GOOD TIME would be had by all. This to be immediately followed, of course, by a reasoned reply, in which the Germans could heckle too ! This would, I am sure, appeal greatly to the SPORTING INSTINCTS of our people! But perhaps there is some technical difficulty ! —Yours sincerely, ALEXANDRA KATHERINE CLIMPSON, Oxford Street, W.

Dear Beetle,—What's the good of complaining about the publicity given to Haw-Haw? Do you imagine anything c is going to stop the British Public from taking cock-shies at an enemy alien? Last war the Stage and Press were full of Little Willie and the Kaiser's moustache, and in the Boer War it was Oom Paul's beard. Now that Hitler seems to have taken a back seat, they've got to make an Aunt Sally of some one. By all means answer the fellow and give the nation its money's worth. Undignified be damned!—Yours ever, DENVER, Bredon Hall, Norfolk.

Dear Lord Beetle,—Since our conversation during your visit to Oxford last term, I have given some thought to the question of Propaganda, and the current controversy about the advisability, or otherwise, of issuing a public reply to the statements broadcast from Reichssender Ham- burg affords a convenient occasion for putting my (very tentative) conclusions on paper.

Generally speaking, I am inclined to think that propa- ganda defeats its own object, by arousing a spirit of opposition in the hearer, and thus suggesting to him counter- arguments to the propositions advanced. (I remember a very entertaining essay on this thesis written a good many years ago by Miss Rose Macaulay.) Thus, I always recommend the President of any Religious Society among my own students to encourage her members to read The Freethinker—an organ whose quaintly old-fashioned Victorian atmosphere I personally find most refreshing.

This leads me to suppose that the most effective form of propaganda might very well be a reasoned reply to propaganda by an enemy speaker—the audience being caught in a receptive frame of mind occasioned by a recoil from the position suggested by his arguments. The reply should not be too lengthy (for rear of provoking a counter- recoil), and the tone should be brisk and humorous. Under these conditions, I can imagine that a broadcast on the lines sketched out by Mr. Nicolson might be very effective. —Believe me, yours sincerely, M. BARING (Warden), Shrewsbury College, Oxford.

Dear Sirs,—Since the identity of the German broad- caster known as " Haw-Haw " seems to be arousing some public interest, may I offer a suggestion? His accent seems to me to resemble very closely (particularly in the vowel- sounds) that used by (a) an actor of insufficient breeding and experience when impersonating an English aristocrat, or (b) (more subtly) an experienced actor of good social standing impersonating a man of inferior breeding apeing the speech of the English aristocracy. It is, in fact, very like the accent I use myself in the character of the self-made " Stanton " in Dangerous Corner, which I have played with marked success in the West-End and in the Provinces (photograph and press-cuttings enclosed, with stamped addressed envelope for return). If it is decided to broad- cast a reply to this propaganda, would you consider me for the part? By exaggerating the accent and thus showing up the German speaker in a ridiculous light a very good comedy entertainment might be provided. I should add that I have had several broadcasting engagements and can be trusted to give a good performance from a script at first . reading.—Yours truly, ALAN FLOAT, Ground-Row Club, Soho.

Covering Note to the Above File—HD 1191-4/1/40 Ref.MIMIQX7945Iak1722683.

Spirit of the nation as shown by these letters seems quite excellent. Cannot see that there is any general demand for reply to German propaganda. Advise no action. (Sgd.) H. DENVER (Return to Ld. Beetle.. Room 6).