Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lies and Truths of Enemy Radio

(Published in Corrispondenza Repubblicana, December 29, 1943)

By Anonymous

Enemy propaganda, in describing the internal conditions of that part of Italy not occupied by the Anglo-Americans, exaggerates isolates episodes and often invents others from scratch, painting the situation in such dark colors that one wonders why the "liberators" still have not yet managed to reach the Brenner. Revolts, massacres, battles with the relative use of tanks and airplanes are illustrated every day and served up to naive listeners in increasing doses, before and after meals.

The various enemy radio stations that compete with each other and try to outdo each other by coming up with the most sensational news do not know what to create to satisfy the audience, which, now accustomed to tall tales, can no longer be satisfied with medium-sized lies.

We will limit ourselves to reporting some of the most "widespread" news, selected from the radio broadcasts of the last few days.

In the first place they inform us that the so-called "rebels" — who, in reality, are bandits — who, in the name of an unidentified "patriotism", rob and kill people in ambushes and nocturnal sneak attacks, are acting under a single guide. According to one enemy broadcaster, they would be an "organic whole, with a commander for every military formation and with strong political and financial aid". An organization that closely resembles those gangsters whose methods, enterprises and personalities have been introduced to us by Hollywood.

According to enemy radio, even the civilian population would be taking part in large-scale operations against the Germans. So much so that in recent days massive riots are supposed to have broken out in numerous cities. They claim that a city district was even besieged in Florence, and that it required a week's time and the use of tanks in order to suppress it. German troops near Pistoia are alleged to have cleared out several villages, while in the surroundings of La Spezia — according to the usual musings of enemy radio — the peasants are alleged to have organized armed defense teams "against soldiers who were wandering around the countryside".

Then they claim that a battle between opposing armies took place on Lake Maggiore: on the one side would have been tens of thousands of bandits, reinforced by a large number of French, British, Russian, Greek, Yugoslav, American ex-prisoners, so on and so forth; and on the other side would have been two thousand Germans, desperately trying to overcome the pressure of the enemy.

Anyone who would like to learn precise details concerning this truly unique event — invented by the producers of Anglo-American propaganda — should ask the populations of the pleasant hills that overlook the very peaceful lake.

Then there are fake news stories that credulous listeners believe in because they mention specific names and places. Thus the strange story about the mayor of Salò, Domenico Milanesi, who, according to an official communication from Moscow Radio, was supposedly executed in the town square. Despite this report, which sounds like something out of a crime fiction novel, the mayor is alive and continues to exercise his normal duties without interruption.

Of course, even the legitimate acts of Italian justice are misrepresented and exaggerated to the point of making them look like mass killings done for no reason and on a large scale. There is, for example, an indulgent Swiss newspaper which announced that "two hundred Italian fathers, whose children have evaded military conscription, have been slain as hostages". The Swiss journalist, of course, got this news from an enemy radio broadcast.

By contrast, all that happens in southern Italy under Anglo-American occupation is either minimized or completely passed over in silence.

However, the English and Americans themselves have not been able to conceal the tragic situation facing the civilians of those lands which have been devastated and bled white as a result of their occupation.

Most of the wheat harvest was destroyed by those very "liberators" who, even before the invasion, demolished railways, mills, farmhouses, aqueducts and hospitals with ferocious and indiscriminate bombings.

In Naples the bread ration is one hundred grams per day; this is a great privilege compared to the seventy grams — when there are any at all! — in many other areas.

"It was hoped to increase the bread ration to 150 grams per day, but this was not possible," said Colonel Gleive, the head of the Economic and Supplies Commission of the infamous AMGOT, who added that "the supplies cover just ten and a half percent of what is needed" and that in Naples there is virtually no meat, milk, eggs or other food.

Hunger — and especially the lack of substantial elements — force the population to feed on whatever happens to fall into their hands: herbage (when they are not weeds) harvested where possible, spoiled fruit and even waste. For this reason the hygienic conditions have fallen to a very low level; and the first consequence was the outbreak of a violent epidemic of petechial typhus, which, according to what Reuters officially announced, caused General Clark to prohibit the entry of the troops of the Fifth Army into the city.

Throughout southern Italy, and particularly in the major centers, poverty is pushing children into begging and, in many cases, women are turning to prostitution.

The United Press writes that in Bari hordes of children surround American soldiers, asking them for a small alms and begging them for some money. And in order to paint a more clearer picture, the United Press correspondent uses this original comparison:
"The children of Bari have divided the city into so many neighborhoods, precisely as the alcohol smugglers of the United States used to do during Prohibition and, probably, as they will do again in the future."
And it continues:
"Every child you meet will ask you to give him something or to buy him something. These children ask for sweets, money and cigarettes, and, in return, they offer to get you wine, chicken lunch, beautiful young women. These children will sell you everything and anything, from almonds on up, running the gamut, which ends with a proposal to sell you their big sister."
And the sad picture continues on, with a tone of brutal cynicism so typical of American reporters.

These are the real "liberators" seen up close and according to what they themselves say and write. The unfortunate populations of southern Italy have learned to hate these "liberators" with a profound and tenacious hatred, which has already manifested itself in concrete expressions and which cannot fail to bring about an effective contribution to the liberation of the Fatherland from Anglo-American oppression. And this is so true that the United Press itself is forced to admit that the population "puts up with the Allied troops only because it has no choice".

In this way enemy propaganda, while on the one hand it is not always able to completely hide what is happening in the occupied territories, tries, on the other hand, to distort reality with attractive promises and imaginary inventions.

For what concerns the occupied territories, there are already millions of Italians who have had the opportunity to see and experience how things have been and are maintained. As regards the fanciful events that are supposedly occurring in that part of Italy not occupied by the enemy, it is not worth responding each and every time to every accusation made by the various radio stations of the so-called "united nations". We are responding today, and this suffices once and for all.

It is not surprising that enemy propaganda uses these means, since they are precisely the means that characterize it. On the other hand, it is surprising that a part of the Italian people can still believe in the claims of enemy radio.

However, it is comforting to hope that what happens every day in the occupied regions, at least, will finally open the eyes of those who are still deluded, and, above all, it is comforting knowing that in southern Italy they are now preparing testimonies for history.