Go South to Sunny Germany
The collection of the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum is as vast as it is interesting, encompassing the breadth of U.S. military history from the War of 1812 to the current armed forces. Part of my role as military and arms curator, is to identify interesting stories and artifacts from the collection for the new exhibits being created as part of the Museum’s revitalization. This process has led to many great discoveries.
Recently, I was shown a pamphlet with a smiling, bikini-clad blonde woman on the cover, with an idyllic mountain resort setting at her back. Above her it read “Go South to Sunny Germany.” The pamphlet first struck me as an actual travel pamphlet, collected by many soldiers in their postwar travels, but on closer examination I discovered it was something much different—it was Nazi propaganda.
During World War II, Germany distributed propaganda leaflets across Allied countries via their V-1 rockets, which were able to fly at great speeds and were unmanned. The leaflets were stored in canisters that ejected prior to the rocket descending onto its target and detonating.
This leaflet’s designation is SK 467, and it comes in the form of a travel brochure. The leaflet was created by Skorpion West (SK), the German propaganda organization for the western front. The interior of the leaflet consists of two lists. The list on the left page is titled “Germany from without” and tells of the perils that await the invading Allies, ending with “See Germany and Die.” The list on the right page is titled “Germany from within” and tells of the good life of a POW in Germany; it ends with a quote attributed to Mark Twain, “Winter in Germany is the Perfection of the Beautiful.” The back page features a photo of a jovial couple skiing.
Considered a rarity among German propaganda, this leaflet shows the desperation with which Germany was fighting the war on all fronts, hoping their efforts would convince Allied servicemen to surrender and become POWs in “Sunny Germany.” It also provides a glimpse into the complexity of the Nazis' propaganda machine and the extent to which it reached—all the way to the shores of Great Britain.
The work of the Soldiers Memorial team will continue to turn up fascinating stories and amazing artifacts from military history. For me this is the fun part, picking up a leaflet or uniform, discovering the deep and rich stories they tell, and knowing there are many more stories yet to be uncovered.
—Patrick Allie, Military and Arms Curator