It is little known that much of Britain’s wartime propaganda was prepared and delivered by foreigners, not least those officially designated as ‘enemy aliens’, and despite the problems that arose, such as internment, deportation and espionage, the relationship between the British authorities and the refugees proved to be mutually beneficial.
This apparent anomaly is addressed in the latest book by Charmian Brinson and Richard Dove, which explores the involvement of the German-speaking refugees in every aspect of the propaganda campaign, be it for the Ministry of Information, the BBC, or intelligence organisations (Electra House, the Special Operations Executive, the Political Warfare Executive).
Working for the War Effort considers the significant role of the refugees in propaganda designed for the Home Front, for neutral and Allied countries, as well as that directed at the enemy, and examines their contribution to the production of both ‘white’ and ‘black’ (i.e. covert) materials. The book looks at the preparedness of the British authorities to avail themselves of the talents of the ‘enemy aliens’ and the eagerness of many of the refugees to contribute to the British war effort. Aside from their obvious linguistic skills, the refugees brought with them knowledge of every aspect of their home countries, which could be usefully exploited for propaganda purposes. Refugee artists, writers, journalists, broadcasters, actors and academics were all drawn into different aspects of the British propaganda mill.