Permanent Civil War

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - Techniques of anti-Soviet propaganda that had been developed by Nazi officers, could serve today as a model for western anti-Russia psychological warfare operations, according to a semi-official publication from the entourage of the Bundeswehr. The current conflict between Russia and NATO has a "highly pronounced ideological dimension," analogue to the Cold War, explains the author Uwe Hartmann, a colonel in the German armed forces. According to Hartmann, the Russian side is using the "freedoms of Western open societies" to "influence" public opinion with the aim of "relativizing the value of rights and freedoms," "sowing discord" and "insecurity within the population." To counter this strategy, attributed to Russia, Hartmann recommends reversion to the methods of the so-called 'internal leadership' concept elaborated by Wolf Graf von Baudissin, who had been on Hitler's General Staff. This concept calls for preparing the armed forces as well as the society at large for a "permanent civil war" and for the leadership elite to convince Germans of the "worthiness of defending their country," while immunizing them against all "ideological temptations" and "propaganda attacks."

Destabilization

In a recent publication, Uwe Hartmann, a colonel of the German Bundeswehr, declared that Russia is applying a "hybrid" strategy in its conflict with the West. Analogue to the Soviet Union's approach during the Cold War, the direct use of military force does not play the decisive role. "Smashing enemy forces" has lower priority than the "destabilization of state structures and social institutions" and "weakening national coherence" in the NATO countries. This, in turn, shows clear parallels to activities, for example, of the Afghan insurgents, according to Hartmann. Whereas, in Afghanistan, the western occupation forces were trying to protect the "development of state and society," its enemy's "hybrid warfare" was aimed at "eroding statehood through the destabilization of the political, social, and economic situation" and "delegitimizing the government and elites."[1]

Western Values

Subsequently, the world is in a sort of "permanent civil war," according to Hartmann. Because of its strained relationship to Ukraine, "Russia, from a German point of view, poses a greater threat to the peaceful European order than the hybrid wars in the Middle East and other regions." This conflict's "highly pronounced ideological dimension" is a crucial point. "Russia considers the continued spread of Western values to be a threat to its vital interests." As in the Cold War, Russia is therefore using the "freedoms of Western open societies" to "influence" the populations living in NATO countries. Russian "propaganda," according to Hartmann, "aims primarily" at "globally relativizing the value of rights and freedoms, sowing discord among partnerships and alliances, as well as fomenting divisions within societies and insecurity among their citizens."[2]

Baudissin as a Model

To counter this alleged Russian ideological aggression against the West, Hartmann recommends resorting to the theoretical works of the German military officer Wolf Stefan Traugott Graf von Baudissin,[3] who, in World War II, had served on the General Staff of the Nazi Wehrmacht's "Africa Corps" under General Erwin Rommel. In 1951, he joined the staff of the "Administration Blank" - the predecessor to West Germany's Ministry of Defense, charged with the illegal re-establishment of the armed forces. He helped formulate the so-called Himmeroder Memorandum, in which former Nazi Wehrmacht generals laid down the conditions for their participation in the re-militarization of West Germany. The demands raised by the memorandum included the "liberation of Germans convicted of 'war crimes,'" the "termination of any form of defamation of German soldiers (including the Waffen-SS deployed, at the time, in the framework of the Wehrmacht)" and the introduction of the necessary "measures to transform both domestic and foreign public opinion."[4] Baudissin developed the Bundeswehr's concept of "internal leadership," aimed at preparing Bundeswehr troops for a "permanent civil war" against the Soviet Union - a concept, Hartmann now seeks to literally apply to the current political situation.[5]

Internal Leadership

As Hartmann explains, Baudissin had always placed "psychological warfare at the focal point of his concept of warfare." From the outset, the focus of "Internal leadership" was always the individual. "He must be protected and prepared, because the most used weapons of the Cold War ... were not those aimed at physical elimination, but rather those aimed at his 'spiritual exhaustion'." This is not unlike today's conflict with Russia, declares Hartmann. "Internal leadership helps soldiers avoid being 'intrinsically misled' ... by protecting them from the enemy's ideological propaganda. It is essential before, during, and following crises, conflicts, and wars."[6]

Enemy Narrative

Based on this assessment, Hartmann draws conclusions for how "strategic communication" aimed at German society and the Bundeswehr should be designed. On the one hand, "resistance to propaganda-induced insecurity and ideological temptations" must be strengthened and, on the other, readiness "to provide moral support to those using military or other forms of defense against these hybrid threats" must be enhanced, the officer declares. According to Hartmann, all measures capable of "exposing the enemy propaganda narratives" are of fundamental importance. This is particularly true, in cases where the enemy takes up "historically sensitive subjects" and, for example, criticizes actions of German soldiers on operation in regions, "where the Wehrmacht had once carried out operations and SS forces had ravaged."[7]

Fifth Column

Hartmann's recommendations concord with concepts elaborated by leading NATO and EU think tanks. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[8]) He believes that the threat is not only due to the fact that the West's enemies can "publically question" the "legitimacy and legality" of the use of military force. Even the "social cohesion" of combat units, themselves, is threatened. "Individuals from an immigrant family background are a specially targeted group for enemy propaganda. The objective is to induce them to propagate 'false truths' and create growing insecurity, and even possibly attacks against one's own troops."[9]

[1], [2], [3] Uwe Hartmann: Hybrider Krieg als neue Bedrohung von Freiheit und Frieden. Zur Relevanz der Inneren Führung in Politik, Gesellschaft und Streitkräften. Berlin 2015.
[4] See Krieg ist Frieden.
[5], [6], [7] Uwe Hartmann: Hybrider Krieg als neue Bedrohung von Freiheit und Frieden. Zur Relevanz der Inneren Führung in Politik, Gesellschaft und Streitkräften. Berlin 2015.
[8] See Media Cold War and Informationskrieg.
[9] Uwe Hartmann: Hybrider Krieg als neue Bedrohung von Freiheit und Frieden. Zur Relevanz der Inneren Führung in Politik, Gesellschaft und Streitkräften. Berlin 2015.