Working for the War Effort
‘Enemy Aliens’ in British Propaganda in the Second World War
Brinson, Charmian and Dove, Richard
This book explores a facet of British propaganda during the Second World War that has previously hardly been addressed or considered: the apparent anomaly that much of Britain’s wartime propaganda was prepared and delivered by foreigners, not least those officially designated as ‘enemy aliens’. German-speaking refugees were involved in every aspect of British propaganda: for the Ministry of Information; the BBC and for the intelligence organisations such as Electra House, the Special Operations Executive and the Political Warfare Executive. They played a significant role in propaganda designed for the Home Front, for neutral and Allied countries, and in propaganda directed at the enemy, and were engaged in both ‘white’ and ‘black’ (i.e. covert) materials.
The book considers the preparedness of the British authorities to avail themselves of the talents of the ‘enemy aliens’ and the eagerness of many of the refugees to contribute to the British war effort. They brought with them knowledge of every aspect of their home countries as well as their obvious linguistic skills, all of which could be usefully exploited for propaganda purposes. Refugee artists, writers, journalists, broadcasters, actors and academics were all drawn into different aspects of the British propaganda mill.
The relationship between the British authorities and the refugees proved a mutually beneficial one. Inevitably, however, problems arose, ranging from internment, through deportation to espionage. All in all, it examines and evaluates an intriguing aspect of British wartime propaganda, the hitherto largely unacknowledged contribution made by German-speaking refugees to the British war effort.
Paperback 304 pages