Bruchsal Französische Flugblätter


A balloon with French leaflets, the mechanism of which did not fire, is recovered.


Reference / film number :  LFS 00462 4
Coloration :  Black and white
Sound :  Mute
Timecode :  00:02:05
Running time :  00:00:00
Reel format :  16 mm
Genre :  Documentary
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis

The silent 16 mm black and white film with a length of around two minutes was shot in November 1939 in Bruchsal in fifteen sequences. The settings are calm and well chosen, which suggests a professional cameraman who documented important events in Bruchsal on behalf of the city. The propagandistic opening title "With leaflets the French believed to win the war, November 1939" describes the content very well. The first sequence shows a balloon caught on a hill on a tower or defensive position. Then you can see him in a detailed picture. Five soldiers and a representative of the NSDAP inspect the leaflet container and its mechanism more closely. The balloon with the leaflet container still intact is tied to a post in a meadow. The soldiers, two civilians - one with a chamois beard on his hat - and a policeman take a closer look at the ignition mechanism. A close-up shows the case, in which there are a lot of leaflets "That's why". A civilian takes out a leaflet. Then one of the men pulls the still intact explosive device from the ignition mechanism and shows it to the camera. Since it was not exploded, the entire package with the leaflets ended up at Bruchsal. One of the soldiers uses a pocket knife to cut a hole in the balloon so that the gas escapes and they can fold the balloon.

The text at the beginning shows that the film is against French propaganda measures. The date November 1939 refers to the period of the Second World War, which historians today refer to as the period of the 'war of seats'. After the German attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, France and Great Britain declared war on the German Empire. The Second World War began. Until May 10, 1940, there was almost no fighting on the Western Front. At the time, the French army had ninety divisions with more than 2,700 tanks. However, her commander in chief Maurice Gamelin judged this to be insufficient against the German troops. He also had respect of the 'Westwall', a German defense system that was built along the Upper Rhine, among other things. Gamelin thought he was insurmountable. The French troops instead concentrated behind the Maginot Line to defend France and were waiting for support from the British partner.

Even in conflicts of the 19th century, methods of propaganda were used. In the 'phoney war' (German: 'Sitzkrieg', French: 'drôle de guerre') along the Franco-German border took on a special form, namely that of mutual propaganda. Both the Germans with their propaganda companies (PK) and the Allies tried to influence the civilian population and to disrupt the opponents' morale. The PK included both cameramen of the "Deutsche Wochenschau" as well as photographers and draftsmen, as well as specialists to look after the troops with media and propaganda in occupied areas. There was close cooperation between French and British propaganda services and various forms of influencing. If two armies were not too far apart, posters, loudspeaker announcements and leaflets could be used. In addition, radio broadcasts and film recordings were used to mobilize their own population and to unsettle their opponents. For example, a kind of housing was attached to balloons, as can be seen in the film, in which one could put a large amount of propaganda flyers. The rack should be opened using an ignition mechanism and the leaflets should be distributed over a certain area. If this mechanism failed, the entire package ended up somewhere in 'enemy' area.

In "Bruchsal French Leaflets 1939", you can recognize French leaflets with the title 'That's why. War for Germany in vain." The antiquarian Frank Albrecht describes the contents of these leaflets in following words: "The inside [...] shows in words and pictures the strength of the war of the French and English army, navy and air force and asks why start a war that you cannot win. The two photo montages cover a total of five pages ”. In the film, German soldiers fold the balloon. They may even want to reuse it, which was common on both sides throughout the war, since the warfare led to an acute shortage of raw materials and food on both sides. Cédric Carvalho


ALBRECHT, FRANK. Antiquariatskatalog Nr. 45. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Propaganda und andere Neueingänge. https://www.antiquariat.com/antiquariat/kat/20072.pdf. p. 4. (Abruf 15.5.2020); HOFFMANN, KAY. ‚Kämpfer und Künder. Die Propagandakompanien. In: Zimmermann, Peter; Hoffmann, Kay (Hg.). Geschichte des dokumentarischen Films in Deutschland. Band 3 ‚Drittes Reich‘ 1933-1945. Stuttgart. Reclam 2005. p. 649-662; SCRIBA, ARNULF.Der „Sitzkrieg“ an der deutsch-französischen Grenze, Lebendiges Museum online, https://www.dhm.de/lemo/kapitel/der-zweite-weltkrieg/kriegsverlauf/sitzkrieg-193940.html (Abruf 15.5.2020); WILLIAMS, MAUDE. De la propagande au front au front de propagande, XVIIIe - XXIe siècles“, Encyclopédie pour une histoire nouvelle de l'Europe, https://ehne.fr/article/guerres-et-traces-de-guerre/fronts-de-guerre/de-la-propagande-au-front-au-front-de-propagande (Abruf 15.5.2020); WILLIAMS, MAUDE. Guerre de mots et d’image : propagande, communication et rumeurs lors des évacuations de la région frontalière (1939-1940). In: Exils intérieurs. Les évacuations à la frontière franco-allemande (1939-1940), Paris. PUPS 2017. https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01740487 (Abruf 15.5.2020); WILLIAMS, MAUDE. La coopération franco-britannique en matière de propagande chez l’ennemi (1939-1940). In: Relations internationales. Paris. Presses Universitaires de France 2015, p.45-62. https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01740490 (Abruf 15.5.2020)

  1. This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.