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Broadcast Policy in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia

Power Structures, Programming, Cooperation and Defiance at Czech Radio 1939-1945

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Peter Richard Pinard

Hitler’s regime invested heavily into radio as the most modern media of its era. First in Germany, later in Austria and the Sudetenland, Joseph Goebbels motivated his Volksgenossen to become active radio listeners. But what approach did the regime take to the first non-German people occupied – the Czechs? How would Czech Radio’s staff and listeners respond to Nazi-dominated programming? What strategies of defiance and what options for cooperation existed? What role did Nazism’s core theme of anti-Semitism play? Which Czech societal groups did the Nazis try to reach most? This book casts a spotlight on the effects of the occupation authorities’ policies on specific programming content, as well as on radio as a medium in the so-called Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
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5. 1940 – Lothar Scurla in Prague

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In late-January/early February 1940,365 the situation changed somewhat. Wenzel appears to have returned to Berlin to take up a leading position in the Propaganda Ministry’s Rundfunkkommandostelle (“Broadcast Command Office”).366 Referat IV – Rundfunk received a new director in the person of 30-year-old Alt- Parteigenosse (“Old Party Comrade”) Lothar Scurla.367 Prior to moving into office number 158 of Prague’s Czernin Palace, Neurath’s headquarters in Prague,368 former opera singer Scurla had managed a singularly unspectacular career in the Party’s broadcasting bureaucracy. He had risen through the ranks of the NSDAP’s district party broadcasting organization, the Gau-Funkstelle of Saxony, to achieve the position of Sachbearbeiter (“administrative official”) in Goebbels Reichs Broadcasting Chamber.369 The choice of Scurla for such a responsible position, i.e., organizing broadcasting to what was essentially an occupied enemy population, was a considerable gamble. Scurla was neither a trained journalist, propagandist nor did he have any really meaningful radio experience. Prior to Prague, Scurla had not directed a Reichssender or worked actively in the production of radio propaganda. At most, he had contributed to the organization of some musical programming for the Reichssender Leipzig. Instead, his career had included collecting membership fees in the Reichs Broadcasting ← 129 | 130 → Chamber370 and occasionally writing articles for that organization’s official periodical Der Rundfunk. It is not surprising, therefore, that Scurla’s articles – although rich in National Socialist conviction – tended to lack any practical or useful information for broadcasters.371 Furthermore, and perhaps most critically, Scurla apparently had no intimate knowledge of the Czech language,...

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