BBC took war to the Nazis armed with coffee and cake
THE war against the Nazis was fought on many fronts. The BBC’s contribution involved a mouth-watering tale of Guinness, cake and coffee.
Documents from the corporation’s archives reveal how its German Service sought to weaken enemy morale by boasting of luxuries on offer in Britain.
While news programmes broadcast tales of Allied military victories to German listeners, a features strand aimed at women took a softer approach.
A programme broadcast in May 1943 poured scorn on the official Nazi line that the British were struggling by on rations by telling stories of cigarettes, alcohol, slap-up meals and hot baths.
The presenter, an unnamed Polish woman, explained that she had spent nearly three years living under the Third Reich before coming to Britain.
“I thought it would be frightful, after the tremendous German U-boat blockade about which they were always telling us, after the continuous air attacks and reprisal raids.”
Instead, she found Britain to be a land of plenty. “The English still have butter with their bread and milk with their coffee – not Ersatz coffee, mark you, but real coffee with sugar and milk,” she said.
“They eat cake, they drink tea, they smoke cigarettes and they fill their glasses with lager or Guinness.”
The typescript for the programme was unearthed by Prof Vike Martina Plock, of the University of Exeter, during research for her new book, Broadcasting to the Enemy: The BBC German Service during the Second World War.