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Black propaganda is propaganda that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side. It is typically used to vilify, embarrass or misrepresent the enemy. It contrasts with grey propaganda, the source of which is not identified, and white propaganda, in which the real source is declared. The term is also sometimes used as a synonym for particularly malicious wartime propaganda or falsification of information that is captured by an enemy.
Black propaganda may also be used on one's own side, generated by altering genuine enemy propaganda in such a way as to distort its message. This is a particularly powerful tool if the target audience has a poor understanding of the language of the enemy, and is often used to insult the intended recipients, leading to a rallying effect.
Black propaganda in World War II Edit
In Britain, the Political Warfare Executive operated a number of black propaganda radio stations. Gustav Siegfried Eins (GS1) was one of the first such stations — purporting to be a clandestine German station. The speaker, 'Der Chef' purported to be a Nazi extremist, accusing Hitler and his henchmen of going soft. The station focused on alleged corruption and sexual improprieties of Nazi Party members.
Another example was the British radio station Soldatensender Calais, which purported to be a radio station for the German military. Under the direction of Sefton Delmer, a British journalist who spoke perfect Berliner German, Soldatensender Calais and its associated shortwave station, Kurzwellesender Atlantik, broadcast music, up-to-date sports scores, speeches of Adolf Hitler for "cover", and subtle propaganda.
German black propaganda usually took advantage of European racism and anti-Communism. For example, on the night of April 27, 1944 German aircraft under cover of darkness (and possibly carrying fake Royal Air Force markings) dropped propaganda leaflets on occupied Denmark. These leaflets used the title of Frihedsposten, a genuine Danish underground newspaper, and claimed that the "hour of liberation" was approaching. They instructed Danes to accept "occupation by Russian or specially trained American Negro soldiers" until the first disorders resulting from military operations is over.
The Tanaka Memorial, a document describing a Japanese plan for world conquest, beginning with the conquest of China, is now believed by most historians to be an American forgery. The Tanaka Memorial was heavily used in American World War II propaganda as a justification for a protracted war against Japan.
The following message was distributed in black propaganda leaflets dropped by the Japanese over the Philippines in World War II. It was designed to turn Filipinos against the United States:
- Guard Against Venereal Diseases
- Lately there has been a great increase in the number of venereal diseases among our officers and men owing to prolific contacts with Filipino women of dubious character.
- Due to hard times and stricken conditions brought about by the Japanese occupation of the islands, Filipino women were willing to offer themselves for a small amount of foodstuffs. It is advisable in such cases to take full protective measures by use of condoms, protective medicines, etc.; better still to hold intercourse only with wives, virgins, or women of respective character.
- Furthermore, in view of the increase in pro-American leanings, many Filipino women are more than willing to offer themselves to American soldiers, and due to the fact that Filipinos have no knowledge of hygiene, disease carriers are rampant and due care must be taken.
- US Army
Black propaganda in domestic politicsEdit
Racist black propagandaEdit
Anti-Semites and white-supremacists have often used black propaganda to further their causes. For example, the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a discredited work which claims to be the secret protocols of a vast Jewish conspiracy, was often used as "evidence" by conspiracy theorists and anti-Semitic groups. Another example of anti-Semitic black propaganda was the book A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century, which was purported to be proof of a Jewish/Communist plot against White Americans, but was actually an invention of Eustace Mullins.
More recently, racists campaigning against immigration have produced black propaganda supposedly by the immigrant groups concerned, which describe immigration as a method of conquering a country without war. In Dreux in 1982 the National Front (France) distributed anonymous fake letters, supposedly from an Algerian living in France to a brother living in Algeria. These fake letters were instrumental in the National Front victory in the 1983 local council elections in Dreux.
Other black propaganda examplesEdit
- The Zinoviev letter was a fake letter published in the right-wing British newspaper The Daily Mail. It claimed to be a letter from the Comintern president Grigori Zinoviev to the British Communist party. It called on Communists to mobilise "sympathetic forces" in the Labour Party and talked of creating dissent in the armed forces. The Zinoviev letter was instrumental in the Conservative victory in the 1924 UK general election.
- During the 1972 U.S. presidential election, Donald H. Segretti, a political operative for President Nixon's reelection campaign, released a faked letter, on Senator Edmund Muskie's letterhead, falsely alleging that Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, against whom Muskie was running for the Democratic Party's nomination, had had an illegitimate child with a 17-year-old. Muskie, who had been considered the frontrunner, lost the nomination to George McGovern, and Nixon was reelected. The letter was part of a campaign of so-called "dirty tricks", directed by Segretti, and uncovered as part of the Watergate Scandal. Segretti, went to prison in 1974, after pleading guilty to three misdemeanor counts of distributing illegal campaign literature.
- The Secret Circular of the Brahmin Samaj of Balaghat is claimed to be a secret document produced by the Brahmin elders of Balaghat, India. It has been produced as evidence by Christian missionaries in India that Brahmins are conspiring against Dalit (outcaste) and Adivasi (tribal) communities.
- The Dossiers Secrets is a collection of forged documents purporting dating back to the time of Christ, which were created and compiled by Pierre Plantard and Philippe de Cherisey. Originally intended to authenticate Plantard's claims of his Merovingian heredity, they were subsequently used in the book Holy Blood Holy Grail as authentic sources of history, and as therefore demonstrating a plot by the Roman Catholic Church to hide the alleged fact that Jesus fathered children with Mary Magdalene.
See also Edit
- Sefton Delmer -Black Boomerang: Sefton Delmer was head of British Black Propaganda during WWII. His book Black Boomerang tells the story of his work.
- PsyWar.Org - Black Propaganda and propaganda leaflets database: A website with various articles on black propaganda and psychological warfare. The site has an extensive library of propaganda leaflets from WWI to the present day.
- WW2 propaganda leaflets: A website about airdropped, shelled or rocket fired propaganda leaflets. Has slideshow with many black propaganda leaflets of WW2.
- Gray and Black Radio Propaganda against Nazi Germany Extensively illustrated paper describing the Allied effort in WW II to undermine Germany through unidentified or misidentified radio broadcasts.