World War II HIstory: Nazi Propaganda Exploited Sherman’s March as “Lost Cause”


In the months before the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe, the Wehrmacht’s propagandists warned those living under German occupation that America’s armies would not be as forgiving.

In the pages of Signal, a bi-weekly magazine funded by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and intended for foreign audiences, the Nazis invoked William Tecumseh Sherman’s march across the Confederacy during the American Civil War as a sign of what to expect.

Sherman was, according to the Nazis, the quintessential American general. “The cruelties of the Marquis de Sade and the atrocities perpetrated by Jack the Ripper have never led to mass suggestion,” Signal editor Walther Kiaulehn wrote. “Sherman’s strategy, however, has been acclaimed as classical.”

The Nazis heavily invested in Signal. Around 10–15 editors and 120 translators produced articles in 20 languages with an annual budget in the tens of millions of dollars in today’s currency. Deliberately modeled on Lifemagazine, Signal emphasized visual stories aggregated from the German army’s combat photographers equipped with state-of-the-art color cameras.

Signal was, of course, heavily censored propaganda designed to present a sympathetic view of life under German military rule. At its peak circulation — some three million copies — in 1943, Nazi-controlled Europe stretched from the Atlantic coast in the west, deep into the Soviet Union in the east and north into the Arctic Circle.

But the war, at this late stage, had decidedly turned in favor of the Allies.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring


2 thoughts on “World War II HIstory: Nazi Propaganda Exploited Sherman’s March as “Lost Cause”

  1. I find that both ironic and hypocritical. Not only because the Nazis committed atrocities of their own, but also because Hitler had tried to enact a ‘scorched earth’ policy throughout Germany before his suicide.

    Also, this claim was nicely rebutted after the war by the Berlin Airlift and the Marshall Plan. If anything, this is probably what was to be expected by the SOVIETS, as evidenced by the conditions in East Berlin and East Germany in general.

    Thanks for sharing this. What an interesting glimpse of enemy propaganda!

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