Political Warfare Executive

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The Political Warfare Executive ( PWE ; German Committee for Political Warfare ) was a secret British body used during the Second World War to spread propaganda. Officially, it acted as the Political Intelligence Department (PID).

PWE was formed in 1941 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs . The aim was to affect the morale of the enemy and to strengthen those in the countries he occupied.


The PWE was headed by a committee consisting of

The staff consisted of staff from the Ministry of Information , the propaganda sections of the Special Operations Executive and the BBC. Its headquarters were in Woburn Abbey near Woburn, Bedfordshire, with offices in the BBC's Bush House .


The main forms of propaganda were radio broadcasts, printed postcards, leaflets, and publications. For this purpose, PWE founded secret radio stations such as Gustav Siegfried 1 , Soldatensender Calais and shortwave transmitter Atlantik . In order to create its subversive messages, it referred to events in Nazi Germany and its occupied territories, intelligence information, prisoner-of-war interrogations, reconnaissance photos from bombing raids and local newspaper reports. The sources were used, for example, to broadcast lists of destroyed streets (and even of private houses) in alleged "real time" reports of current bombing attacks on the radio.

After D-Day , most of the staff was added to the Psychological Warfare Division (PWD / SHAEF) of the SHAEF . At the end of the war, PWE was given the task of re-educating German prisoners of war. As the propaganda itself was divided into white, gray, and black, PWE classified the prisoners as well. According to this, so-called “blacks” were dangerous and convinced Nazis, “whites” were considered anti-Nazi opponents and “grays” were simple soldiers.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Günter Brakelmann: Helmuth James von Moltke: 1907-1945. A biography , Verlag CH Beck , 2009 - page 246


  • Charles Cruickshank: The Fourth Arm. Psychological Warfare 1938–1945. Davis-Poynter, London 1977, ISBN 0-7067-0212-3 .
  • David Garnett: The Secret History of PWE. Political Warfare Executive 1939–1945. St Ermins Press, London 2002, ISBN 1-903608-08-2 .
  • Ellic Howe: The Black Game. British Subversive Operations Against the Germans During the Second World War. Michael Joseph, London 1982, ISBN 0-7181-1718-2 .

Web links

  • PWE , Activities around Milton Keynes