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April 21-23, 1940 – Radio Berlin – Radio Paris – EIAR, Rome – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
April 22, 1940 – News from Germany this day, via Radio Berlin told of the situation unfolding in Norway and how it was now down to a battle between ships and airplanes. Reports that British ships were attempting to retreat into open waters was met with waves of German fighter planes and bombers, thwarting attempts at landing more Allied troops in the area. Stifled too was the attempt by British and French forces to cut off lines of communication in Norway. And in turn, Berlin also reported that waves of German troops were arriving in Oslo “unhampered by efforts from France and England”, as well as a much publicized mining of strategic ports by Britain was characterized as “a bluff” by the German Radio and that Narvik, despite reports to the contrary, was still in German hands.
From Rome – news of the 2,695th anniversary of the city’s founding, and so war news was relegated to the back pages of most newspapers. Crowds lined the streets and Mussolini was busy giving speeches and handing out awards. The war news that was reported consisted of abbreviated summaries of German victories in Norway. Otherwise, most Romans took the day off, and the weather made for visits to the beach or the golf course. Very little of the war was discussed, but what little there was focused on anti-Allied propaganda, even though Italy was trying to stay neutral at this time.
From Paris – Anxiety over the anticipated German invasion of Sweden, which reports said could take place in a matter of hours. With German supply lines to Norway cut off by Allied forces, Germany asked Sweden for permission to cross their territory and to use their telephone and telegraph systems for their direction. The Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister said no. To which Germany immediately began applying the heat. For four days, German fighter planes had been flying across Swedish territory to maintain contact with troops in Norway, thus avoiding Allied patrols and being able to use different air fields, from those which the Royal Air Force had attacked. Meanwhile, German forces were heading towards the Swedish border and at the point where Swedish officials were asking foreigners to leave.
Three different takes on news from the same day; all having to do with the war and each tackling their own country’s censorship. But it’s interesting to see just how an event, or series of events are interpreted to their respective audiences. Germany would broadcast to North America daily until we entered the war. Once we entered, the broadcasts stopped, or were less available.
To get an idea of how events were covered by different countries, here is a sampling of news from April 21-23, 1940 as presented by Radio Berlin, Radio Paris and the EIAR Network in Rome.