Sweet home

If the Liberation Front of Vietnam knew well how to take away the incentive for U.S. troops in the war, it was not a secret either for the Wehrmacht. The German field propagandists distributed to the enemy not only “safe-conduct passes”, but whomever they could not persuade to voluntary surrender, wanted at least break his military morale by reminding him of his sweetheart left at home.

Only our American readers could tell how familiar the name of Broadway rang for the conscripted small-town and farmer boys, or it was rather an European topos for evoking the America of the dreams, just confirmed by Robert Taylor and Eleanor Powell’s acclaimed 1938 Broadway Melody. However, such phrases as “While you are getting ready for an assault, one of the newly made profiteers is probably kissing your sweetheart” certainly could not remain without effect on them. In addition, these flyers were printed in series, on the model of the collectible postcards packed with coffee and chocolate: “Georgia series comprising 6 pictures. Have you got the others?

The longing for the sweetheart is combined with the venom of the green-eyed monster in the other collectible series, which recounts the story of poor little Joan, left at home by Bob. This series also explicitly states who are those profiteers who grab at the soldier’s girlfriend: the Jews, in this case Sam Levy (a speaking name), who in the meantime made a “personal secretary” of the shop assistant girl.

The third leaflet also inweave a new by-subject in the propaganda: why should you become cripple at the front, when women just need a healthy man?

But when there is no Jew iin sight, even the soldier’s best friend can take advantage of the opportunity. Like Bob of the absence of the brave John.

And if the Americans do so even to their best friend, what can their Brit neighbors expect from them, who are perishing in the front, while the Americans have fun for double salary in London? This topic is unfolded in detail by the leaflets distributed to the British soldiers by the German propaganda – in this case, the SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers propaganda unit in 1944 on the Southern Italian front.

In addition, the text confirms its message with an insolent comingout: “You don’t believe it, you think all this is only German propaganda? Surely – but the Americans help us in making this propaganda. They furnis us with the facts, and we only need to write the corresponding texts. Ask your pals, and you will be astonished to learn how many happy marriages in England have been wrecked, thanks to the Americans.” That there was really a dose of truth in it, is illustrated by such works on the period as Rosamunde Pilcher’s bestseller The Shell Seekers.

But the English are no angels either. The postcard with the inscription “Where is the Tommy lagging?”, distributed in 1940 by the Germans on the Northern French front, gives us the answer if we hold it up to light: the Tommy, that is, the British ally, is having fun in Paris with the wife of the French soldier dying in the front.

And if there is no other nation on the horizon, the propaganda embroils the private soldier with the officer.

But the creativity of the German propaganda can be best judged from the leaflet, which recently appeared on the Russian net. This one was distributed with the same purpose by the Soviet army among the German soldiers. But it is almost certain that its creators were either captured, or voluntarily defected German propagandists. This is shown above all by the re-use of the already common motifs.

Left, a German private: “He can only go to vacation / When he is of no benefit to anyone.”
Right, an SS officer: “He is a rare guest in the front / And goes home whenever he wants.”

The thorough knowledge of German bureaucracy is demonstrated by the genre of the multi-page pamphlet: “Reichs-Kußkarte”, that is, “Reich Kiss Ticket”, and the deeply ingrained terms of this bureaucracy are felt in the formulas of the ticket. The variety of types of kisses refers to a German native speaker, and the user manual to the fact that there were propagandists who were able to preserve their sense of humor until the end of the war, even in Soviet captivity.

“Reich Kiss Ticket. Valid from the date of issue until cancellation.” The numbers refer to special rations: weekend, Sunday, birthday, front vacation, and so on.

“The Reich Kiss Ticket must be carefully preserved. Replacement is not possible. Kisses given to persons above 70 are mark-free. Kisses changed between engaged and newly married persons do not fall under restrictions on the day of the betrothal or wedding. Pretty young women can require an additional ticket. No supplementary dose can be required even in the case of a greater exploitation of the ticket. The ticket can be used only for its owner’s personal needs. Any abuse of the ticket will be punished. Serious abuses involve the life-long withdrawal of the ticket.”

The types of kisses available

And the whole composition also suggests a knowledge of domestic psychology. It is very imaginable, that after ten years of the Reich’s drill such a document, legitimizing the need to take out the “ration” in the language of this bureaucracy, did not remain without every effect on the German soldier.


Москва drew attention to a few more Kußkarten from 1941 with the indication “humorvolles Dokument für Fronturlauber” (humorous documents for front soldiers in vacation). Probably the above ticket was also one of them, and only the leaflet representing the private soldier and the SS officer bears witness to the borrowing of the motifs of the German propaganda.

4 comentarios:

MOCKBA dijo...

A search of the internet turns numerous surviving examples of Reichskarten, including a few for kisses which seem to be taken as a benign joke rather than as enemy war propaganda?

Even a regular foodstuff Reichskart for teenage youth has its perfect match in a wartime kiss-card. Does it mean that the source of kiss-ration cards may have been domestic rather than Russian?

Two more notes of German ration cards. The font is Gothic, weren't the Germans completely abandoning it mid-war? And the color of the cards is bland, but I definitely recall a story of French Resistance fighter using one of the earliest color copy machines in the administration of occupied Paris to print mass quanities of counterfeit ration cards? The story I recall mentions even that the most successfull color was green. Is there truth to that early-Xerox success tale?

MOCKBA dijo...

PS - link for kiss-card for youth under 18:

Studiolum dijo...

Yes, they also might be domestic jokes. But the cover of the exemplar found by me was the typical propaganda leaflet made by/for Germans. I mean if they really belong together.

The Fraktur font was officially abandoned by the Nazi government as “Jewish”, but it has long survived as an “official” or “bureaucratic” font. So long, indeed, that it was the obligatory typeface for the mock release documents produced for each other (I mean by a skilled designer for the others) in the army.

Studiolum dijo...

I have included the above example (plus another one) in an appendix.