'Plain, unvarnished news'? : the BBC German service and Chamberlain's propaganda campaign directed at Nazi Germany, 1938–1940
Title: 'Plain, unvarnished news'? : the BBC German service and Chamberlain's propaganda campaign directed at Nazi Germany, 1938–1940
Author: SEUL, Stephanie
Citation: Media history, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 378-396
ISSN: 1368-8804; 1469-9729
Established during the Sudeten crisis in September 1938, the BBC German Service played an important role in Chamberlain’s appeasement policy and warfare towards Nazi Germany. Yet the BBC’s employment for official propaganda, especially in peacetime, raised delicate issues of its independence from government control and of the objectivity and credibility of its broadcasts. This paper discusses, first, the origins of the BBC German Service and its role within Chamberlain’s policy. Second, it analyses the relationship between the BBC and Whitehall. Third, it traces the evolution and development of the British propaganda strategy towards Germany and investigates how the concepts of ‘truthfulness’ and ‘objectivity’ were internally understood and employed by the BBC and Whitehall in their propaganda campaign. Finally, the paper argues that Chamberlain’s propaganda strategy towards Germany collapsed during the Allied campaign in Norway in April 1940 precisely because it no longer conformed to its self-proclaimed principles of ‘truth’ and ‘objectivity’. As a result, the credibility of the BBC German Service suffered a significant, if ultimately temporary, setback.
Published online: 02 Mar 2015
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