The Council’s Propaganda
In actuality, the council was a tool of Soviet propaganda. Pastors were supposed to use their influence on the soldiers and the German populace, especially on women as well, for the NKFD’s ends. As Christians and German patriots, the Council’s members felt compelled to contribute to ending the war, the criminal nature of which they had recognized, and to planning for a postwar Germany. To this end, they were willing to work propagandistically. They did not employ any pseudonyms, even though this endangered their relatives in Germany.
In the ensuing months, theologians drafted articles and radio sermons, addresses and appeals as well as reports and memoranda. Nine articles by clergy of both denominations were printed in the newspaper “Free Germany” in 1943, thirty-five in 1944 and seven more by May of 1945. Radio “Free Germany” broadcast addresses and discussions, appeals and sermons, which were written and delivered by clergymen. Greetings from soldiers identified by name were conveyed to their relatives in the broadcasts in order to refute Nazi propaganda that the NKFD did not exist.
Appeals targeting specific groups addressed German soldiers and officers, German women, German youth, German farmers and others. They attempted to dispel soldiers’ fears of being held prisoners of war by the Soviets. They wanted to dispel the worries of Christians in Germany about the fate of their own churches in the case of Soviet occupation. Appeals also included recommendations for concrete action suited to the group targeted.
The pastors were still calling upon Christians and especially clergy in December of 1944 and January of 1945 to remain in their home parishes since they could thusly best protect their possessions and assure the continuation of parish life. They would be horribly mistaken.
Although the council members’ texts went through the editorial staff for approval, there was not any major interference.
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- © Christiane Godt-Schröder