Deutscher Weckruf und Beobachter
Deutscher Weckruf und Beobachter ("Wake-up-Call and Observer") or Deutscher Weckruf was a weekly newspaper published by the German-American Bund from 1935 to 1941. The paper had both English and German text.
The paper was devised as a counterweight to the campaign of demonization against Germany which was already common in the mass-media. Its purpose was to rally Americans, especially those of German descent, to support the New Germany and help spread the ideas of National Socialism.
The first print-run came in July of 1935, nine months before the official establishment of the Bund. Seperate editions of the paper appeared in Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco containing local advertising.
20,000 copies were printed weekly by 1937. Following the success of its newspaper, it launched a youth magazine.
Severin Winterscheidt began the paper as managing editor. After 1937, the editor-in-chief was Walter Kappe, while Alex Guessefeld was in charge of advertising. Kappe would later return to Germany and played a key role during the war in launching two teams of saboteurs against America known as Operation Pastorius.
The paper was printed in the Philadelphia area by the firm William B. Graf and Sons. Graf approached his publishing work mainly as a business arrangement, but with some sympathies with the New Germany.
Starting from its December 14th, 1939 edition, the name was slightly altered to "The Free American and Deutscher Weckruf und Beobachter".
During the Mass Sedition Trial of 1944, prosecutors claim the publication changed its name to simply "The Free American", as part of a conspiracy to deceive readers. In fact, the paper never changed its name to "The Free American", but simply elongated the original name.
The final issue published bears the date December 11th 1941. Like the Bund itself, "Weckruf" was dissolved after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Nationalist Political Stance
Weckruf's editors and correspondents promoted a nationalist and pro-German viewpoint. They attempted to provide at alternative voice to the hostility and war-agitation of most other major media.
A sample Weckruf article is provided here:
- We are hearing a great deal these days about "aggressors" and violators of treaties, always -- observe -- either by Japan, Italy, or Germany. The picture presented by the press of these picaroons gives the impression to the uninformed that the practice of breaking treaties and aggression is something unique and confined solely to nations endowed with a black complex of moral turpitude altogether absent in the United States and in our partner, Great Britain.
- But contrary ideas have occurred to others besides ourselves, and we find this contrary opinion expertly expressed in a leading article by Lawrence Dennis in the May issue of American Mercury, which you should read from beginning to end.
- "Those who accept Mr. Chamberlain's view," he writes, referring to the savage criticism our conservative press has heaped upon the British premier for his "cautious policy", "are invariably confronted with what is thought to be a question for which there is but one answer, 'Do you propose to let Hitler and Mussolini get away with it!'"
- The logical answer from the point of view of American interests," Dennis continues, "is that Germany, Italy, and Japan are only doing what Britain, France, and we ourselves have done in the past. Have we forgotten our conquest of Mexico, or our conquest of the entire continent from the Indians? What of England's countless conquests in the past three hundred years? Even today, England is bombing defenseless Indians and Arab villages in wars of pacification. France has had on her hands a war of subjugation in Africa almost continuously since the end of the World War."
- "In March, Hitler united Germany and Austria virtually without bloodshed, and our press raved over 'the brutal rape of poor Austria.' Between 1927 and 1932, the United States Marines in Nicaragua, a country of 600,000 inhabitants, killed some 3,000 natives. Did the European press rave over the wilful slaughter in a futile, undeclared war of American intervention?"
- We have repeatedly drawn similar parallels, but it is some satisfaction to see the inconsistency of our national conduct, and that of England and France, presented by others.
Use by FDR Government in 1944 Sedition Trial
The above-quoted article was submitted as "Government Exhibit #4248" in the Mass Sedition Trial of 1944. Weckruf, along with 42 other publications, was deemed "seditious" by the U.S. government, because it had presented a viewpoint contrary to the black-propaganda of the mass media. Defendant Lawrence Dennis was quoted more than once in Weckruf over the years, and each instance was used against him in the trial.
- The Amerika Deutscher Bund in the Thirties and the Hounding of Fritz Julius Kuhn by Peter H. Peel, Journal of Historical Review, Volume 7, number 4 (1986).
- Hoods and Shirts: The Extreme Right in Pennsylvania, 1925-1950, by Philip Jenkins
- Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944, page 157-158. The Chief Prosecutor in his opening statement to the Court said: "Still another characteristic of the propaganda which the Nazi conspirators and defendants used was that of cloaking themselves with the highest motives. ...They sought to destroy, but they asserted that they were doing just the opposite. They sought to abolish out democratic, representative form of gvoernment, but they asserted that they were doing it in the name, of all things, of patriotism. They wanted to get us to hate some of our fellow Americans, in fact, to hang them from lamp posts, but they wanted us to believe they would be doing it in the name, of all things, of Christianity. ...The Bund, for instance, called its newspaper, in later years -- the early name of that paper was "Deutscher Weckruf und Beobachter"-- but in later years they labelled it with the high-sounding name "The Free American". [Several other examples subsequently provided]...
- Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944, pages 439-440 (Appendix 5)