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Most unusual document dropped on the Maginot line 1939!

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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!




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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?

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