Psychological Warfare Division

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Safe Conduct Pass - Probably PWD/SHAEF's most famous and successful propaganda leaflet. Many German soldiers surrendering waved copies of this leaflet and treated it as an official document and promise of good treatment. The reverse listed various points from the Geneva and Hague Conventions on treatment of prisoners of war.

The Psychological Warfare Division of SHAEF (PWD/SHAEF) was a joint Anglo-American organisation set-up in World War II tasked with conducting principally 'white' tactical psychological warfare against German troops in North-west Europe during and after D-Day. It was headed by US Brigadier-General Robert A. McClure who had previously commanded the Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB/AFHQ) of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower's staff for Operation Torch.

PWD was formed from staff of the US Office of War Information (OWI) and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the British Political Warfare Executive (PWE).

The Division used radio and leaflet propaganda to undermine German soldiers' morale.

PWD operated the Voice of SHAEF radio station as well as taking over Radio Luxembourg.

The bulk of the aerial propaganda leaflets were printed in the United Kingdom and a dedicated Special Leaflet Squadron of the US 8th Air Force disseminated the leaflets from its base in Cheddington in south-east England.

Tactical Combat propaganda teams were also attached to the Army Groups to produce leaflets in the field on mobile printing presses for shell firing over the frontline and to conduct loudspeaker operations to talk enemy soldiers into surrendering.

PWD/SHAEF was also responsible for consolidation propaganda in recently liberated European countries.

'Black propaganda' continued to be controlled by the Political Warfare Executive's Sefton Delmer.

The famous director Alexander Mackendrick, who later went on to enjoy considerable success at Ealing Studios, had some of his earliest experience of working in film with the division. John Huston and Eric Ambler, as a token British representative, also made a film for the PWD about civilian Italy under its new conquerors.

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Psychological Warfare Division Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force - An Account of its Operations in the Western European Campaign, 1944-1945. 1945.  Modern reprint available here
  • Publicity and Psychological Warfare 12th Army Group, 1943-1945. United States Army. 1945. 
  • Lerner, Daniel (1971). Psychological Warfare Against Nazi Germany - The Sykewar Campaign, D-Day to VE-Day. M.I.T. Press. ISBN 0-262-12045-3. 

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