The Office

signaal_1_smSignal, March 2, 1941, pp. 24–25

signaal_2_smSignal, March 2, 1941, p. 26

The German periodical Signal was published by the Oberkommande der Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Germany, during World War II. First published in April 1940, it was intended as a propaganda tool specifically for readers in the allied, occupied, and neutral countries. It reached a maximum circulation of 2.5 million copies and was translated into 25 different languages. However, the publication was not accessible to everyone. The magazine was not translated for audiences in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine, or the Baltic countries, for example. According to the publishers, these groups should make the effort to learn the German language. People of these nationalities were considered Untermensch, “inferior people” whose cultures were unimportant.

The content and lay-out of Signal were based on popular periodicals such as Life and Picture Post, where political articles alternated with everyday stories, written in a lyrical style and illustrated with full-page color photographs. The Signal issue of March 2, 1941 published page-filling color images of Hitler’s office space. The captions meticulously describe the grandeur and decoration of the massive room in the language of a home decorating catalogue:

The 27 meter long, almost 15 meter wide and 10 meter high space is the core piece of the new Reichskanzelerei. The walls are built out of dark red, Ostmark marble, the wall pieces consist of dark brown ebony. The floor is constructed of marble as well and the coffered ceiling is built of rosewood. The window doors (left) are 6 meter high and 2 meter wide, which lead to a porch connected to the garden. Across from the Führer’s desk is a large marble mantelpiece constructed in the wall. Above hangs a painting of [First Chancellor of the German Empire Otto von] Bismarck made by the artist [Franz] von Lenbach. (Signal, March 2, 1941, p. 24)

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About claartjevandijk

Assistant Curator, Collections at the International Center of Photography, New York
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