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Political Warfare Executive

From Academic Kids

During World War II, the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) was a British clandestine body created to produce and disseminate black propaganda, with the aim of damaging enemy morale.

The Executive was formed in August 1941, reporting to the Foreign Office. The organisation was governed by a committee initially comprising Anthony Eden (Foreign Secretary), Brendan Bracken (Minister of Information) and Hugh Dalton (Minister of Economic Warfare), together with officials Rex Leeper, Dallas Brooks and Robert Lockhart as chairman (and later Director General). Roundell Palmer (the future 3rd Earl of Selbourne) later replaced Dalton when he was moved to become President of the Board of Trade. Ivone Kirkpatrick, an advisor to the BBC and formerly a diplomat in Berlin, also joined the committee, while Leeper left to become British Ambassador to Greece.

PWE included staff from the Ministry of Information, the propaganda elements of the Special Operations Executive, and from the BBC.

The main forms of propaganda were in the form of radio broadcasts and printed postcards, leaflets and documents. PWE created a number of radio stations including Gustav Siegfried Eins, Soldatensender Calais and Atlantic Sender. In order to deliver its subversive messages, PWE also disseminated reliable news and information on events in Germany and the occupied countries, gathering intelligence from other services and agencies, including POW interrogations, and newspapers obtained from occupied countries, and bombing raid photo analysis. This latter source was used to broadcast lists of streets (and even individual houses) that had been destroyed, and on occasion to mock up faked "real time" reports of actual raids.

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