The “Vietnam Legion” - West German Psychological Warfare against East German propaganda in the 1960s

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Abstract

Studies in the wake of the “cultural turn” in diplomatic history have shown that propaganda and public diplomacy were key aspects of Western Cold War strategy. This article expands recent literature by focusing on propaganda practices at the grassroots level. It makes use of West and East German archival records to trace information campaigns in relation to the Vietnam War. Apart from focussing on the organisation of East German propaganda campaigns, the article explores the methods used by the psychological warfare section of West Germany's ministry of defence. This section maintained an unofficial network that helped publish “camouflaged propaganda” at home as well as in France and Britain. Germany's Nazi past was an important aspect of East Germany's campaign that accused West Germany of having deployed a “Vietnam Legion”. Interestingly, Germany's Nazi legacy also cast a shadow over the methods West German psychological warfare experts to counter East German accusations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-189
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Cold War Studies
Volume16
Issue number3
Early online date14 Oct 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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