Winning French Minds
Radio Propaganda in Occupied France, 1940–42
World War II was very much a war of the radios. A relatively new technology, radio as a tool was exploited by all of the participants of the war to win the hearts and minds of the people and to steer public opinion.
The period 1940 to 1942 was the most volatile of the war, with the Nazis capturing large parts of western Europe and dominating on the Eastern front. At this time France was separated into two nominally independent zones, and public opinion could easily have been swayed in favor of the New German Order. This could have had potentially disastrous consequences for any future Allied attempt to liberate Europe, and so the battle for French minds was launched using the new technology of radio.
This narrative of that campaign develops chronologically through a series of topics including major military incidents, youth, food, family, psychological warfare, sports and work, as presented by different radio stations – in particular Radiodiffusion, controlled by Vichy France; Radio Paris, controlled by the Nazis; and the BBC – offering a systematic comparative analysis of radio propaganda messages and building a vivid picture of the evolution of broadcasts in the context of the complex political and social impact of the war on the French population.
Using original primary sources from archives in Britain and France, broadcast recordings, radio magazines, and interviews conducted by British Intelligence with those arriving from France during the war, this is a fascinating and unique insight into wartime radio propaganda from 1940 to 1942.