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Susan Erony and Erika Marquardt; Have We Gone Too Far; one of one-thousand paintings; mixed media on canvas framed in lead; 5” x 7”; 1998-2008)

Listen, Hans by Dorothy Thompson (72,000 words)

In the spring of 1942 Dorothy Thompson began broadcasting to Germany via shortwave radio in an anti-Nazi propaganda campaign commissioned by CBS. There was no central coordination of propaganda during that first year of America’s involvement in the war; radio producers and networks were encouraged to develop their own programs with the “advice and consent” of the Office of War Information.

Dorothy thought of her speeches as sermons on the evils of Nazism and the inevitability of German defeat. They were addressed, in German, to a fictional Prussian Junker identified only as “Hans.” Hans was really
Helmuth von Moltke, a Christian and a pacifist, and the leader of the so-called Kreisau Circle, “the foremost think tank” of the German resistance. In 1944, he would lose his life in the mass executions that followed the plot to assassinate Hitler.

These weekly speeches, broadcast from March 27 until September 4, 1942, combined argument, history, analysis, polemic, and what her publishers called “a few Dorothyish shrieks.” In his own radio broadcasts Goebbels denounced Dorothy Thompson as “the scum of America.”

Dorothy Thompson’s friend Ernestine Evans had the idea of publishing the broadcasts “as a dollar-book.” In August 1942, Dorothy composed a 150-page essay to introduce the speeches. She called it “The Invasion of the German Mind” and poured into it her twenty years of knowledge of the German nation.

“A brilliant textbook of timely propaganda.” —
New York Times, November 29, 1942

“The Dorothy Thompson whom I have always particularly admired and enjoyed — the Dorothy Thompson who does not confuse writing with oratory... Writing carefully and exactly, she seeks to isolate the quarreling elements that go to make up the mind of the average German individual.” — John Chamberlain,
New York Times, November 28, 1942

Listen, Hans introduction is] one of the best, if not the very best analysis ever written about the German people — written by a non-German.” — Carl Zuckmayer

(Adapted from
American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson by Peter Kurth)