Volksbund für Frieden und Freiheit
[This article is partly based on the German Wikipedia article on the Volksbund für Frieden und Freiheit]
The "People' s Alliance for Peace and Freedom" (Volksbund für Frieden und Freiheit e.V., VFF) was a German anti-communist propaganda and news organization founded in 1950, whose activities were directed primarily against the GDR and the Soviet Union. Since there were personal and ideological continuities between the VFF's staff and the Anti-Komintern department of Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry during the Nazi era, which had similar objectives, the VFF is seen as a quasi-successor to the Nazi organization.
The VFF saw itself as "the central anti-communist organization of the Federal Republic,"1 1 and was subsidized2 by the Federal Ministry for Pan-German Affairs (the forerunner of the Federal Ministry for Inner-German Relations) as well as by the CIA.3 Friedrich Winterhager characterizes the organization as "taking care of McCarthyist business in Germany, i.e. fanatical anti-communism."4 The Volksbund tried to track down communist entanglements in bourgeois and nationalist parties and to brand them publicly. For this purpose it published numerous brochures and leaflets. For example, the organization accused Günther Gereke, then a member of the Lower Saxony state parliament, of having "made himself available to ultra-bolshevist Ulbricht for the bolshevization of the Federal Republic of Germany. The leaflet ends with the appeal: "Beware of Günther Gereke! Do not fall for his deception. Make sure that to put a stop to the game of this dangerous agent of Moscow!"4
Organizations equivalent to the VFF were also established in other European countries. In September 1950, the politician Jean-Paul David, with the help of Prime Minister René Pleven, founded the organization Paix et Liberté in France to counter the influence of the communist party in the country.5 In the Netherlands, the organization Vrede en Vriijheid (Engl. Peace and Freedom) was established in 1951 with official government support.5 In 1953, an Italian off-shoot, Pace e Liberta, was created.5 These organizations are seen as precursors to Interdoc, a transnational “clearing house” for organizations engaged in anti-communist psychological warfare, established in The Hague in February 1963.
The VFF emerged mainly against the backdrop of the foundation of the GDR in 1949, and the start of the Korean War in June 1950, giving way to the widespread fear among Western governments of a further spread of communism. However, its future co-founder, Eberhard Taubert (1907-1976), had already in 1947 "proposed the blueprint" for the VFF to the U.S. occupation in Germany.6
The VFF was founded on August 29, 1950, at a pub called "Zum Patzenhofer" in Hamburg. The initiative came from the Nazi publisher Franz Wilhelm Paulus (Hamburger Allgemeine Zeitung) and the former Ministerial Director in Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry, and secret service employee Eberhard Taubert under his pseudonym "Erwin Kohl."7 On the same day, the American High Commissioner, John McCloy, wrote a telegram to the State Department, in which he detailed the measures taken to intensify the fight against communism in Germany.8 Only a few days later, Jean Paul David founded the French anti-communist organization Paix et Liberté, an association which had the same goals and an almost identical name, however no details are known about the coordination of those organizations.8
According to Bernard Ludwig8 :
At the beginning of September , Dr. Arthur Ruppert, a founding member and vice-president of the VFF (1950-1953), announced the creation of the VFF to the Minister for Pan-German Affairs, Jakob Kaiser, and passed on its statutes. He also had a meeting with the Ministry's State Secretary, Franz Thedieck. At the end of the month, following a detailed discussion between a ministry advisor, Ruppert and Jürgen Hahn-Butry, president of the VFF, a long-standing ideological and financial cooperation began. At the end of October, Ewert von Dellingshausen was entrusted with the supervision of the VFF. The German Baltic born in 1907, who had just fled the Soviet occupation zone, gave the association almost unwavering support.
There was a considerable continuity between the Anti-Komintern, a department of Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry, responsible for anti-Soviet propaganda, which prompted historians, such as Matthias Friedel, to call the VFF a "replica" of the former.9 For example, Eberhard Taubert "had already practiced anti-communism as a profession in Goebbels' propaganda ministry, where he headed ... the "Antikomintern e. V."9 Taubert was a lawyer and anti-Semitic Nazi propagandist. He joined the Nazi party in 1931, and quickly became involved in both anti-communist and anti-Jewish propaganda. His nickname in Nazi circles was Dr. Anti. He worked on the script for the anti-Semitic propaganda film Der ewige Jude ("The Eternal Jew") in 1940, and was responsible for the law that required Jews to wear the yellow badge (Judenstern). Alfred Gielen, who had also worked for Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry in the Nazi era, became a functionary of the VFF, as well as of the "Federal Ministry for All-German Affairs " (Bundesministerium für gesamtdeutsche Fragen, BGF), which later funded the VFF.10
The VFF and the Anti-Komintern also shared the same objective, namely the production and dissemination of fiercely anti-Soviet propaganda. However, while one of Anti-Komintern's main objectives was to anchor the anti-Semitic trope that "Bolshevism was Jewish,"11 the VFF somewhat dropped that outright anti-Semitic element from its propaganda repertoire.12
1951 poster of the Volksbund für Frieden und Freiheit, saying: "Our children will never become communists."
In March 1952, the VFF was granted the status of a state-recognized organization.5 Presidents were Jürgen Hahn-Butry from 1950 to 1951, and Fritz Cramer from 1951 to 1966. The Volksbund was financed by the CIA,5 but between 1951 and 1956 it also received around 700,000 D-Mark annually from federal funds.10 Later, it received funds from the BGF.2
The VFF was one of the 102 associations and organizations that the BGF had supported, some of which are mentioned in a footnote in a 2004 book by Roland Wöller.13 With these funds, the VVF financed posters, brochures, films and a magazine entitled "The Truth" (Die Wahrheit), among other things.
In: 2004 Roland Wöller, Der Forschungsbeirat für Fragen der Wiedervereinigung Deutschlands 1952-1975 - Zur politischen und wissenschaftlichen Diskussion der Wiedervereinigung (Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 2004), 30.
In a Bundestag protocol of October 1952 it is mentioned that the VFF had transferred funds to the "League of German Youth" (Bund Deutscher Jugend), an extreme right-wing German association with anti-communist leanings founded in 1950.14 In the beginning of 1953 the BDJ and its paramilitary arm, the Technischer Dienst (BDJ-TD), were banned because of the formation of a secret organization involved in guerrilla training. Only later it transpired that the BDJ-TD was a CIA project (cryptonyme: LCPROWL).15
After the public disclosure of Taubert's Nazi involvement, in particular his participation in death sentences of the People's Court, he had to resign from his post as second chairman of the VFF on August 24, 1955. One week before his resignation, Ewert von Dellingshausen, the responsible officer in the "Ministry for All-German Affairs," who supervised and financially controlled the activities of the VFF, said in an interview: "I can assure you, the Ministry will not draw any such conclusions towards Taubert; because Taubert is a man we need and he is also indispensable. (...) Taubert has experience."16
As of 1957, the VVF was affiliated with the Asian Peoples' Anti-Communist League (APACL), which later turned into the World Anti-Communist League (WACL).17
In 1957, NTS head Vladimir Poremsky mentioned existing contacts between NTS, APACL and the VFF.
With the fundamental political changes that came with Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik, the VFF ceased its activities 1970.9
- Mathias Friedel, Der Volksbund für Frieden und Freiheit. Gardez! (Sankt Augustin: Gardez!, 2001), ISBN 3-89796-054-0, https://web.archive.org/web/20170108202238/http://www.gardez.de/htm-dateien/buecher/friedel_bild.htm.
- Torben Gülstorff, Warming Up a Cooling War: An Introductory Guide on the CIAS and Other Globally Operating Anti-communist Networks at the Beginning of the Cold War Decade of Détente (Cold War International History Project Working Paper Series #75), Washington 2015, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/publication/cwihp_working_paper_75_warming_up_a_cooling_war.pdf.
- Bernard Ludwig, "La propagande anticommuniste en Allemagne fédérale. Le " VFF ", pendant allemand de " Paix et Liberté " ? ", Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’Histoire, n°80, October-December 2003, pp. 33-42, https://www.academia.edu/20316908/_La_propagande_anticommuniste_en_Allemagne_f%C3%A9d%C3%A9rale_Le_VFF_pendant_allemand_de_Paix_et_Libert%C3%A9_Vingti%C3%A8me_Si%C3%A8cle_Revue_d_Histoire_n_80_octobre_d%C3%A9cembre_2003_pp_33_42.
- In the digital archives of Germany (Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) there are various posters and leaflets that the VFF had produced, https://www.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de/searchresults?query=%22Volksbund+f%C3%BCr+Frieden+und+Freiheit%22&thumbnail-filter=on&isThumbnailFiltered=true&rows=20&offset=0.
- 1 a b Kai-Uwe Merz, Kalter Krieg als Antikommunistischer Widerstand (R. Oldenbourg, 1987), 147.
- 2 a b "Gudrun Hentges im Interview mit Felix Klopotek," Kölner Stadtrevue, 12/2002, p. 33.
- 3In an interview on 21 November 1969, the managing chairman H. Hämmerle stated the budget from 1951 to 1956 was about 700,000 DM annually, from 1957 to 1967 about 1.1 million DM annually.
- 4 a b Friedrich Winterhager, Günther Gereke. Ein Minister im Spannungsfeld des Kalten Krieges. Biografischer Essay (Ludwigsfelde, 2002), 73.
- 5 a b c d e Bertrand M. Roehner, Driving Forces in Physical, Biological and Socio-economic Phenomena: A Network Science Investigation of Social Bonds and Interactions (Cambridge University Press, 2007), www.lpthe.jussieu.fr/~roehner/DRIVING/c7.pdf.
- 6Giles Scott-Smith, Western Anti-Communism and the Interdoc Network (London: Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series, 2012), 22.
- 7 Bernd Stöver, "Der Fall Otto John. Neue Dokumente zu den Aussagen des deutschen Geheimdienstchefs gegenüber MfS und KGB," in: VfZG. 47, 1999, 135, www.ifz-muenchen.de/heftarchiv/1999_1_5_stoever.pdf.
- 8 a b c Bernard Ludwig, "La propagande anticommuniste en Allemagne fédérale. Le " VFF ", pendant allemand de " Paix et Liberté " ? ", Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’Histoire, n°80, October-December 2003, 34, https://www.academia.edu/20316908/_La_propagande_anticommuniste_en_Allemagne_f%C3%A9d%C3%A9rale_Le_VFF_pendant_allemand_de_Paix_et_Libert%C3%A9_Vingti%C3%A8me_Si%C3%A8cle_Revue_d_Histoire_n_80_octobre_d%C3%A9cembre_2003_pp_33_42.
- 9 a b c Mathias Friedel, Der Volksbund für Frieden und Freiheit (VFF) (St. Augustin: Gardez!, 2001), https://web.archive.org/web/20170108202238/http://www.gardez.de/htm-dateien/buecher/friedel_bild.htm.
- 10 a b Matthias Ritz & Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, Im Schatten des Dritten Reiches: der BND und sein Agent Richard Christmann (Ch. Links Verlag, 2011), 117.
- 11Lorna L. Waddington "The Anti-Komintern and Nazi Anti-Bolshevik Propaganda in the 1930s," Journal of Contemporary History, 2007, 42 (4): 573–594.
- 12 Martin Finkenberger, "Antikomintern," in Wolfgang Benz (ed.), Handbuch des Antisemitismus, Band 5: Organisationen, Institutionen, Bewegungen (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2012), 28.
- 13Roland Wöller, Der Forschungsbeirat für Fragen der Wiedervereinigung Deutschlands 1952-1975: Zur politischen und wissenschaftlichen Diskussion der Wiedervereinigung (Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag), 30, https://archive.org/details/derforschungsbei0000woll/page/30/.
- 14"235. Sitzung," Deutscher Bundestag, October 23, 1953, 10801, https://archive.org/details/ger-bt-plenary-01-235/page/n18/.
- 15"Research Aid: Cryptonyms and Terms in Declassified CIA Files - Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Disclosure Acts," US Nationa Archives, https://www.archives.gov/iwg/declassified-records/rg-263-cia-records/second-release-lexicon.pdf.
- 16"Propaganda / Bonn: Es hat sich nichts geändert," Der Spiegel, August 17, 1955, https://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-31970992.html.
- 17Scope of Soviet activity in the United States. Hearing before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Eighty-fourth Congress, second session (Washington. U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1956-1959), 3806, https://archive.org/details/scopeofsovietact5861unit/page/3806/.