ganz im Dunkeln getappt: Nazi News in Manchukuo

Another find from the Bundesarchiv in Berlin.  This a document from the German news agency in Berlin, April 15, 1941, to Hsinking (present-day Changchun, in northeast China), capital city of Manchukuo, expressing frustration at a number of conditions present for German propaganda efforts in East Asia.  “Tapping around in in the dark,” or “being in the dark,” as it were.   Speaking now directly and across the ages to his sponsor: Bassler!  I’m on the quest, intermittent and straggling though it may be, to find you and your cronies in Manchukuo!


  1. This letter was not sent to Hsinking, but from the head (Wilhelm von Ritgen ?) of the foreign office of the DNB (German press agency) in Berlin to Hilmar Bassler (?) (in charge of NAZI propaganda for East Asia in Ribbentrop’s ministry of foreign affairs) in Berlin.
    The contents of this letter in short:
    Following a conversation between Bassler and von Ritgen, the DNB asks (Bassler) once more to help to solve some problems of the DNB in Hsinking. These problems are:
    1. The German diplomatic mission (not an embassy at that time) does never react or respond to informations sent from the DNB to Hsinking.
    (That ‘s why the DNB says: “Wir tappen im Dunklen …”
    2. The DNB asks Bassler to allow an agent of the DNB to work in the German diplomatic mission in Hsinking (to handle the communication equipment)
    3. The DNB asks the Bassler to provide a room for the DNB in the German mission in hsinking.
    Finally, the DNB writes, there is a very good cooperation between the DNB and the German embassy in Tokyo, and hopes to improve the poor situation in Hsinking.

    Remarks: This letter contains the technical terms: HELLDIENST, HELLSENDUNG and HELLAUFNAHME. No German can understand these words and that makes it more difficult to understanf the text.
    By chance checked in google the word HELLSCHREIBER, to find at least some information on that antique method of communication.

  2. Werner, Thank you very much for the comment, corrections, and summary! My own grasp of the rather bureaucratic prose construction in the original of this and other documents remains slight, so the assistance is greatly appreciated.

    Bassler shows up in a great deal of other documents I worked in last month in Berlin, but I have yet to find a solid accounting in either English or German by a historical scholar of this man’s activity. In general, I think the National Socialist propaganda efforts in East Asia during the war haven’t received very much attention, although I am slowly working my way through a reading list which I hope to post at some point in the future…

    And very interesting not on “Helldienst,” etc.

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