I t’s always encouraging for a writer to receive compliments for his contributions. Such was the case, back in October 2005 when Bob Silverthorn e-mailed MT in regards to an earlier article of mine about the Australian “Rising Sun” badge. As nice as the compliment was though, (and I thank you, Bob) there was some good objectivity to his letter, which gave me food for thought. In part, he spoke about the “ordinary” and “poor” collectors who read MT and about the type of articles he would like to see. He made some interesting points. In any case, it inspired me to have a “rethink” about militaria collecting in general and about that big issue that affects most of us–affordability!
As an average collector myself (and amateur writer to boot), I understand what it’s like to have to balance a household budget with a keen collecting interest. Sometimes it isn’t easy to resist a tremendous offer on some Internet auction or on a dealer’s Web site. Alternatively, if you’re a young guy with limited funds, it can be difficult to collect anything that seems to be meaningful. However, since MT’s October issue, I came across some items–quite by accident–that were both interesting and affordable: “Flugblatter.”
The word “Flugblatt” is German for “leaflet” or “flyer” (“Flugblatter” is the plural form). These propaganda pamphlets formed part of the paper war which all sides waged against one another. Those that were directed against the Germans by the English, Americans and Russians were written (of course) in German. This may be a bit limiting to those who read little or no German, but don’t be discouraged! Some enthusiasm and a rudimentary German dictionary can do wonders into unlocking the jingoistic messages.
Today, reading them is fascinating, as they not only reflect the changing circumstances of the war, but they also give much insight into the psychological aspects of it. How must ordinary Germans have felt when reading such discouraging, sometimes threatening, literature? Delivered mostly by aircraft, these propaganda leaflets could be spread for miles and be read by thousands. Certainly, propaganda pamphlets must have given some people room for thought. After all, propaganda notwithstanding, they were receiving news which would not have been reported by the Nazi press.
As in most areas of collecting, prices for these propaganda leaflets can vary. Illustrated leaflets seem to be more desirable than ones containing a lot of text. Size, quality, condition and theme are other determinants of price. Generally speaking, however, most are priced from as little as $5 up to around $50. Certainly, one can encounter some over these prices, but the majority reviewed for this article were within this price range.
The pictures in this article represent what the author found in a few short months. It will give you some idea as to what is available to the interested collector. This small, yet meaningful, collection was put together during the past four to five months for about $160.
The items were bought chiefly through ebay.com, ebay.de (the German ebay Web site), militaria321.com and manions.com. But other dealers and Web sites can be found to stock such items too, like weitze.net and epier.com. Simple terms like “pamphlet,” “propaganda” or “leaflet” can be used in the search engines. The words “Flugblatt” and “Propaganda” can be used for German language search engines. It may take a bit of surfing, but the combing and scouring of Web sites and markets can be very rewarding. It goes to show, too, that an item doesn’t need to be expensive, or even hard to obtain, in order for it to have an interesting story to tell.
Now, even though I’ve penned this article on propaganda pamphlets, I do not claim to be an expert! The pamphlets I purchased came from various–but reliable–sources. To my eye, at least, they all appear to be genuine. While it’s logical to assume that no one would bother reproducing an item that sells for a comparatively small price (in comparison to badges for example), there are probably some very convincing fakes out there. Simple advice, therefore, is to start small and to deal with someone with a good track record, either a dealer or fellow collector. And perhaps there is a reader out there with more helpful information to offer. If so, there would be many who would love to hear from you… myself included!–MS
This pamphlet was dropped by aircraft of the RAF over Germany in the wake of their successful raid on the city of Cologne in May of 1942. It reads, in part, “More than 1,000 bombers deployed at the one time.., The heaviest attacks by the Luftwaffe have been far exceeded by the RAF. A new offensive of the RAF has begun!” It measures 8-1/2″ by 10-1/2″.
This unusual pamphlet, measuring 17″ long by 5-1/2″ contains a rather lengthy message from Air Marshall Arthur Harris, the Commander in Chief of the RAF Bomber Command. His message for the German reader was that bombing raids will keep on occurring until Germany is unable to continue the war.
Goering said; “No Bombs!” This 5″ x 8″ pamplet ridicules Goering’s assurances that no bombs would fall on Germany. It says that between the RAF and the AAF more than 55,000 tons of bombs were dropped in March (1944) alone.
The reverse of the “No Bombs!” pamphlet portrays the value of promises made by Goering and Goebbels. Bearing the facsimile signatues of both, the “note” is of no value as both the Americans and English were obviously increasing their raids upon German industry and cities.
This Soviet-made pamphlet mentions the German defeat at Stalingrad. It measures 9″ x 6-1/2″ and gives the German soldier a chance to surrender. “German soldiers, take advice and call to the Russians, ‘not to shoot, Comrade, I want to surrender!'”
In contrast to what German war industry was suffering due to air raids, this picture shows an American tank manufacturing plant remaining illuminated during the night as the U.S. built the war materials needed for victory.
The collection of propaganda pamphlets that took a few months and $160 to assemble. Paper items can often be overlooked or perhaps seen as uninteresting. Like many things though, it only takes one to set the collecting bug into action.