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Black propaganda is false information and material that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side. It is typically used to vilify, embarrass or misrepresent the enemy.

Black propaganda contrasts with grey propaganda, the source of which is not identified, and white propaganda (or White PR) in which the real source is declared and usually more accurate information is given, if also slanted or distorted.

Black propaganda in World War II


In Britainmarker, the Political Warfare Executive operated a number of black propaganda radio stations. Gustav Siegfried Eins (GS1) was one of the first such stations — purporting to be a clandestine German station. The speaker, 'Der Chef' purported to be a Nazi extremist, accusing Hitler and his henchmen of going soft. The station focused on alleged corruption and sexual improprieties of Nazi Party members.

Another example was the British radio station Soldatensender Calais, which purported to be a radio station for the German military. Under the direction of Sefton Delmer, a British journalist who spoke perfect Berliner German, Soldatensender Calais and its associated shortwave station, Kurzwellesender Atlantik, broadcast music, up-to-date sports scores, speeches of Adolf Hitler for "cover", and subtle propaganda.

There were British black propaganda radio stations in most of the languages of occupied Europe as well as German and Italian. Most of these were based in the area around Woburn Abbey.

David Hare's play Licking Hitler provides a fictionalised account based on the British black propaganda efforts in World War II.


German black propaganda usually took advantage of European racism and anti-Communism. For example, on the night of April 27, 1944 German aircraft under cover of darkness (and possibly carrying fake Royal Air Force markings) dropped propaganda leaflets on occupied Denmarkmarker. These leaflets used the title of Frihedsposten, a genuine Danish underground newspaper, and claimed that the "hour of liberation" was approaching. They instructed Danes to accept "occupation by Russian or specially trained American Negro soldiers" until the first disorders resulting from military operations is over.

The German Büro Concordia organisation operated several black propaganda radio stations (many of which pretended to broadcast illegally from within the countries they targeted).


The Tanaka Memorial, a document describing a Japanese plan for world conquest, beginning with the conquest of China, is now believed by most historians to be a forgery.

The following message was distributed in black propaganda leaflets dropped by the Japanese over the Philippinesmarker in World War II. It was designed to turn Filipinos against the United Statesmarker:

Guard Against Venereal Diseases

Lately there has been a great increase in the number of venereal diseases among our officers and men owing to prolific contacts with Filipino women of dubious character.

Due to hard times and stricken conditions brought about by the Japanese occupation of the islands, Filipino women were willing to offer themselves for a small amount of foodstuffs. It is advisable in such cases to take full protective measures by use of condoms, protective medicines, etc.; better still to hold intercourse only with wives, virgins, or women of respective character.

Furthermore, in view of the increase in pro-American leanings, many Filipino women are more than willing to offer themselves to American soldiers, and because Filipinos have no knowledge of hygiene, disease carriers are rampant and due care must be taken.

US Army

Black propaganda in domestic politics

Racist black propaganda

British media

  • In November 1995, a Sunday Telegraph newspaper article alleged Libya's Saif Qaddafi (Colonel Gaddafi’s son) was connected to a currency counterfeiting plan. The article was written by Con Coughlin, the paper's chief foreign correspondent and it was falsely attributed to a "British banking official". In fact, it had been given to him by officers of MI6marker, who, it transpired, had been supplying Coughlin with material for years.

United States media

United States Government

  • The FBI's Counter-intelligence program "COINTELPRO", was intended to, according to the FBI, "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalists, hate-type organizations and groups, their leadership, membership, and supporters." Black propaganda–that is, propaganda that disguises its source–was used famously on Communists and the Black Panther Party. It was also used against anti-Vietnam peaceniks, labor leaders, and Native Americans. COINTELPRO's use of black propaganda led to their creation of coloring books and cartoons. The FBI's strategy was captured in a 1968 memo: "Consider the use of cartoons, photographs, and anonymous letters which will have the effect of ridiculing the New Left. Ridicule is one of the most potent weapons which we can use against it."

See also

External links


  1. The Bletchley Park Reports: Report No. 17 Black Propaganda, John Pether, Bletchley Park Trust 1998
  3. Philip Graves, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: The Truth about the Protocols", 1921 (2000-03-22)
  4. Howard forced to fight off dirty tricks allegations - 22 Nov 2007 - Australian Election 2007: Kevin Rudd takes on John Howard - New Zealand Herald at
  5. Blog: Howard's speech overshadowed by race issues - 22 Nov 2007 - Australian Election 2007: Kevin Rudd takes on John Howard - New Zealand Herald at
  6. Fake flyers derail Howard - 23 Nov 2007 - Australian Election 2007: Kevin Rudd takes on John Howard - New Zealand Herald at
  8. Churchill & VanderWall, p. 187; Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project))

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