Public Domain / Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivering Fireside Chat number six, September 30, 1934.

War by Radio

RADIO, as the most effective method of disseminating propaganda, has taken its place alongside diplomacy, economic pressure and military power as one of the accepted instruments of foreign policy. In this Russia was the pioneer, sending round the world glowing accounts of the Soviet régime. Hitler took it over. Just as he tested out his new airplanes in Spain, so he experimented in the Saar and Austria with radio techniques later to serve him in France and Britain.[i] In the Sudetenland he made the Germans conscious of Czech "tyranny" by impassioned radio messages from Munich. Italian short-wave programs from Bari meanwhile stirred up the Arabs against the British. And there have been many messages from Rome and Berlin designed to turn the people of Latin America against the United States.

Prior to the present conflict, radio propaganda was peculiarly a weapon of totalitarian power politics. But since the war actually began all the belligerents, totalitarian and democratic states alike, have made departments of radio propaganda integral parts of their war machines.[ii] On the home front, both armed forces and the public are exhorted to unity and spurred on to sacrifice. To neutral countries are transmitted skits, topical talks and news, while enemy firesides and cantonments are bombarded with arguments, facts and allegations calculated to weaken morale.


Radio propaganda has been employed, not merely as a gradual process of molding the minds of peoples, often far from the scene of conflict; it also has become an instrument in actual battle. Thus the Nazis have used the radio as a dynamic weapon, a practical aid to attack and invasion. On the eve of battle the enemy's morale is weakened when radio broadcasts from Germany demonstrate that German spies are everywhere, seeing all, knowing all, reporting all.

Thus a French hydroplane unit located near Paris, and which was suffering from German bombing, learned from the "Traitor of Stuttgart" the first news of the decision to

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