By FOIA Research
on May 4, 2020 - Last updated: October 3, 2021

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,"11 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.

History

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 [1950], 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

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

With the fundamental political changes that came with Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik, the VFF ceased its activities 1970.9

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