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STAFFS HOME GUARD WEBSITE - GENERAL INFORMATION
THE OFFICIAL NAZI ATTITUDE
TO THE HOME GUARD
William L. Shirer - who later wrote
"The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" - was the
CBS correspondent in Berlin. From 1938 onwards he broadcast
almost daily radio reports to the U.S.A. whilst his colleague
in London, Ed
Murrow, was presenting the other side of the coin to the American
people (Murrow to the left,
Shirer to the right in the adjoining picture).
Shirer remained in Berlin during the Polish and Norwegian
campaigns, the victories in the West and the Battle of Britain.
He was then of course, and would remain for more than a further
year, a citizen of an officially neutral country.
Initially, despite heavy censorship,
he was able to give his audience some glimmer of the truth.
But by the second half of 1940 he had lost all scope for irony,
nuance and colloquialisms in his reports and he increasingly
found himself, to his frustration, little more than a mouthpiece
for news issued by Goebbels's Ministerium für Propaganda
und Volksaufklärung (Ministry for Propaganda and Public
Enlightenment). These restrictions on his reporting and a
growing suspicion of his activities by the Gestapo led to
his departure from Berlin in late 1940.
On July 24th 1940 he reported the official
Nazi attitude to the Home Guard. This is what he told the
This is Berlin.
Germany today gave warning that it would
treat members of that Home Guard which the British are forming
as franc-tireurs (guerillas). And the German short-wave
station broadcast in English the following warning:
"German official quarters once more
warn the misled British people and remind them of the fate
of Polish franc-tireurs and gangs of murderers. Civilians
who take up arms against a German soldier are, in accordance
with international law, no better than base murderers, whether
they be priests or bank clerks. British people, you would
do well to heed our warning!"
This was what the German short-wave radio
Since the people in Britain are permitted
to listen to foreign radio stations, I suppose quite a few
Britons heard that German warning. It would be interesting
to hear from Mr. Murrow some time as to their reaction.
(Do we know if Ed Murrow ever broadcast a reaction?)
The above extract is
William L. Shirer Literary Trust 1999 and appears within
"This Is Berlin" published in 2000 by Arrow Books,
London SW1V 2SA - ISBN 0 09 940517 2
This matter was taken
very seriously by those responsible for the Home Guard at the
There was of course no
reason whatsoever to trust the Nazis in their behaviour in the
event of an invasion, especially in view of what was already
known about the experience of the unfortunate Poles.
Nevertheless the possibility of Home Guards being regarded as
falling outside the protection of the Geneval Convention
because of the semi-civilian nature of the service, and,
earlier on, the lack of a formal uniform, was clearly one
which exercised attention.
This press cutting gives
an indication of this concern, even after everyone had
received an official uniform.
(Grateful acknowledgement to Matt Felkin)