Curt Martin Riess

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Curt Martin Riess (June 21, 1902 – May 13, 1993) was a German journalist and writer. Reiss was born of Jewish-German origins in Wurzburg, Germany, and later fled in 1933 to Paris, France not long after Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933.


  • If the German Propaganda Ministry is trying to tell the world that there is even the slightest bit of liberty left to the editors in making up their newspapers, the newspapers themselves belie this completely. It is astonishing, to say the least, to what degree they resemble each other. On any one date all of them, in Germany and in the occupied countries, carry exactly the same headlines, talk about the same subjects. Of course, I am not referring to the news of the day. It is only natural that all of them should carry the news of the day or whatever is handed out as the news of the day over there. But the similarity extends even to general subjects, to subjects which are not timely, which could be published today or tomorrow or in four weeks or not at all.
    • “Visit on the Nazi Front,” Esquire, (December 1, 1942) p. 46
  • The thing that strikes you most: there is very little war news in German-controlled papers. There are, to be sure, all the notices of promotions: the new generals, the new commanders. There are also items listing decorations conferred for some distinguished service or other. And there are a lot of what they call in Europe feuilletons, colorful and gossipy essays or think pieces which have to do with the war. But there is precious little news. There are some very good reportages on the life at the front or in U-boats or in bombers, and some good photos. The Germans were always good at that. But when it comes down to actual information, if you really want to know something—you don’t get much.
    • “Visit on the Nazi Front,” Esquire, (December 1, 1942) p. 46

Total Espionage: Germany’s Information and Disinformation Apparatus 1932-41 (1941)[edit]

Fronthill, 2016

  • Total war necessitates total espionage. The leadership of a country must be capable of finding out about and calculating the entire force of resistance of in opponents, military and otherwise.
    • p. 7
  • The Nazis understood early that revolutionizing warfare meant revolutionizing espionage. An Intelligence Service which had been mediocre during the First World War was replaced by one which before and during the Second World War achieved enormous triumphs. The Nazis worked on the basis of total espionage.
    • p. 7
  • Goebbels was well informed indeed on some things the Russians were doing. He knew that the Communist had been the first to co-ordinate propaganda and espionage. He knew that Lenin himself was the inventor of total propaganda, and that he had even coined the word to describe it: agitprop—an abbreviation for agitation and propaganda. Propaganda had meant to Lenin persuasion of the masses, and agitation was the aggressive form of persuasion.
    • p. 25
  • Next to Goebbels, Himmler was the foremost connoisseur of Russian methods in the Nazi Party. But while the great propagandist was concerned mainly with the theory, Himmler studied the practice of the Bolshevists.
    • p. 28
  • One of the principal reasons for the enmity between Himmler and Göring was Himmler’s tireless scheming to infiltrate Gestapo men into the Army Intelligence Service, and thereby to get control of it.
    • p. 30
  • What does espionage cost? The question is certainly as old as espionage itself. It is one which has been discussed a great deal, but little definite information has been available. When Hitler came to power, all the sources became invisible. One of Hitler’s first governmental strokes was to abolish the fiscal report—under the Constitution the Government had to make an account to the people or their representatives of all expenditures. This eliminated all chance of checking espionage expenditures.
    • p.171
  • German army circles had never cherished any illusions about their Italian partner. It is said that even in the twenties the leading officers of the German General Staff—which by the Treaty of Versailles had no official existence— declared, ‘The next war will be lost by the country which takes Italy for an ally.’ A joke, of course, but it reflects the attitude of Germany’s military men. Their attitude was no different where espionage was concerned.
    • p. 192

The Nazis Go Underground (1944)[edit]

Doubleday, Doran and Co., Garden City, New York, 1944

  • At the end of August 1943 Dr. Alexander Loudon, Netherlands Ambassador to Washington, made a most interesting forecast about the outcome and aftermath of the war. He predicted that, with defeat, the German General Staff, the Nazi leaders, and in particular the Gestapo, would go underground to prepare for the next war. As for this war, he said, the Nazis knew that they had already lost it, and were willing and eager to get it over with.
    • p. vii
  • Generals usually know when a war is lost. The German generals had never been absolutely convinced that they could win World War II. They had only hoped to win it mainly because Hitler had promised them that the enemy armies would suffer amoral collapse and that they themselves would not have to fight a two-front war.
    • p. 35
  • By early 1943 Hitler had become perhaps the most isolated man inside the Third Reich, Every report was rewritten before it was given to him. He no longer saw the newspapers, though, to be sure, they contained little enough genuine information. He saw only clippings. The reason for all these precautionary measures was that nobody around Hitler fancied the hysterical outbreaks to which he was so addicted, and nobody wanted him to have any more brainstorms or intuitions of the kind which had already cost the army so dearly in Russia
    • p. 45
  • Only in exceptional cases have the Nazis ever used German citizens or former German citizens as agents in the United States. This is only logical. A man or a woman with a German accent would have small chance indeed of convincing a gathering of even the most stupid people that, in advocating America’s isolationism or withdrawal from the war now, he is motivated solely by patriotic feelings for America.
    • p. 134

Joseph Goebbels: A Biography (1948)[edit]

Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, New York, 1948

  • After the first few issues [of Nationalsozialistische Briefe] appeared most of its readers were convinced that Joseph Goebbels was a communist in disguise. In Rheydt, people had thought so for years. There was indeed very little difference between the language of Goebbels and the language of the communists. The Party ‘big shots’ became apprehensive.
    • p. 24
  • It is true that in the National Socialist Letters, Goebbels put the accent on Socialism rather than on Nationalism, to such an extent that he sponsored an alliance between a Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia; he also flirted with an ideological alliance with other rebellious ‘have not’ counties such as India and China.
    • p. 24
  • ‘We will never get anywhere,’ Goebbels wrote, perhaps remembering his discussions with Fledges, ‘if we lean on the interests of the cultured and propertied classes. Everything will come to us if we appeal to the hunger and despair of the masses.’
    • pp. 24-25
  • [Goebbels] specialized in articles on [[w:Bolshevism |Bolshevism of a decidedly pro-Russian tone. He worked on a speech, ‘Lenin or Hitler?’ In this comparative study he came to the conclusion that Hitler’s ideas were superior. Nevertheless, the comparison was not necessarily unflattering to the Russian.
    • p. 25
  • In a number of contributions published in the Voelkischer Beobachter [Goebbels] celebrated Lenin as the national liberator of his country. ‘The Soviet system does not endure because it is Bolshevist or Marxist or international, but because it is national—because it is Russian,’ he wrote to a leftist friend. ‘No Czar has ever aroused the national passion of the Russian people as Lenin did.’
    • p. 25
  • But Goebbels was not a Communist in any sense of the word. And he took pains to say so. ‘Communism is nothing but a grotesque distortion of true Socialist thought,’ he wrote to Count Reventlow, a rightist politician. ‘We and we alone could become the genuine Socialists in Germany, or, for that matter, in Europe.’
    • p. 25
  • Hitler and Goebbels also argued at length about Russia and the Fuehrer made it unequivocally clear that Goebbels was no longer to indulge in praising Lenin as a ‘national liberator’ nor to draw any parallels between the Bolshevists and the Nazis. On April 16, [1926] Goebbels noted: ‘His arguments are convincing, but I think he has not quite recognized the Russian problem. Still, I may have to reconsider some of its aspects.’
    • p. 31
  • Nobody knew better than Goebbels that a Propaganda Ministry was almost a contradiction in terms. Propaganda is the more effective the less people know that they are supposed to be influenced, and vice versa.
    • p. 101
  • For overnight the Russians and Germans had become comrades-in-arms. How could Goebbels explain this development to his audiences? If he had had more time, the problem would have been much simpler. But here, as many times thereafter, the real significance of the coup was its suddenness: Hitler struck without advance warning. As the Fuehrer wanted to surprise the world, Goebbels was unable to prepare the German people. Neither could he stop all anti-Russian propaganda weeks and months in advance.
    • p. 167

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