BBC took war to the Nazis armed with cof­fee and cake

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Anita Singh ARTS AND EN­TER­TAIN­MENT EDITOR

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.

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