Jump to content

Most unusual document dropped on the Maginot line 1939!

Recommended Posts

Dear Forum I have recently acquired a ww2 medal group to a British Officer who served in the ranks with the BEF 1939 evacuated at Dunkirk. Commissioned he was awarded the TEM named to him as a Lieutenant, however amongst his documents and papers I came across this?


It turns out this "Autumnal leaf" was dropped on the French troops manning the Maginot Line by the Luftwaffe just before the invasion of France, during the so called "Phoney War" period. It is recognised as the very first of these so called "Leaf Leaflets" and the practice was taken up by the allies and they are found being used in all theatres of WW2.

see: http://www.psywarrior.com/leafleaflets.html

The message translates into this rather depressing but apparently highly effective message!


The leaves fall. We fall like them.
The leaves fall because God wills it,
but we fall because the English will it.
In the coming spring,
nobody will remember the dead leaves
any more than the dead soldiers.
Life will pass on over our graves.

The Germans printed 500,000 copies of the maple leaflet, and the Luftwaffe dropped them over the French lines in late November to December 1939. The back is blank.

The code, if any, is unknown. The Falling Leaf, Volume 2, No. 6, adds, "Some propaganda experts have considered this the most effective single propaganda leaflet ever dropped." Margolen says in Paper Bullets, "This Nazi leaflet was one of the most effective leaflets ever dropped and did more to break France's will to resist Germany than any other single piece of propaganda."

I wonder how many of these survive? I would imagine a fairly scarce item and a superb example of the effectiveness of pyschological warfare!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very interesting and very clever verse, I would not have thought many would have survived if only 1/2 million produced and dropped. I remember 'doing areas' (picking up rubbish) on the Gun position near Kuwait somewhere in the middle of bloody nowhere and there were a lot of similar things that the US syops had dropped on the Iraqies, I kept some of them but have since given most of them away. At the time many of them were already degraded due to blowing around in the desert for only a short time so in Europe with a bit of rain?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Blog Comments

    • As a theology student my professor, a much published former Naval chaplain, set us an essay, saying that if we could answer that successfully we would be guaranteed  a good degree "Which of the gospel writers was the biggest liar, discuss."   I got a good mark, but  don't want to be burned for heresy.   P
    • As my father used to say: "Tain't so much Pappy's a liar - he just remembers big."  
    • Brian: First, let me say that I always enjoy reading your blog and your "spot on" comments.  Another fine topic with such a broad expansion into so many different facets.  I had watched this a week or two ago and when reading your blog, it reminded me of this great quote.   There is a great video on the origins of "Who was Murphy in Murphy's Law"   Anyway, about mid way through this video, there is this great quote and I think it sums it up quite well to your statem
    • I've received word from the Curator that she has permission to re-open this summer.   We're already making plans for a November event at the Museum.   Michael
    • I recall I did the same on hot days at Old Fort York back in 1973-74 - wool uniforms, and at 90F they would let you take your backpack off.   Michael
  • Create New...