German Historian's Allegation: AP 'Willingly Cooperated With the Nazis' From 1933-1941

Those who have noticed that the Associated Press, even to this day, tends to be sympathetic towards leftist causes, leftist protesters, leftist and totalitarian governments, and even terrorists in its coverage of domestic and world events won't be surprised by what follows. Others who still believe that the AP has always at least tried to be a paragon of objectivity will be stunned.

The UK Guardian addresses evidence found by a German historian who claims that AP, alone among international news agencies, was allowed to remain in Germany after Adolf Hitler rose to power because it was willing to cooperate with his Nazi regime (HT Times of Israel; bolds are mine):

Revealed: how Associated Press cooperated with the Nazis
German historian shows how news agency retained access in 1930s by promising not to undermine strength of Hitler regime

The Associated Press news agency entered a formal cooperation with the Hitler regime in the 1930s, supplying American newspapers with material directly produced and selected by the Nazi propaganda ministry, archive material unearthed by a German historian has revealed.

When the Nazi party seized power in Germany in 1933, one of its first objectives was to bring into line not just the national press, but international media too. The Guardian was banned within a year, and by 1935 even bigger British-American agencies such as Keystone and Wide World Photos were forced to close their bureaus after coming under attack for employing Jewish journalists.

Associated Press, which has described itself as the “marine corps of journalism” (“always the first in and the last out”) was the only western news agency able to stay open in Hitler’s Germany, continuing to operate until the US entered the war in 1941. It thus found itself in the presumably profitable situation of being the prime channel for news reports and pictures out of the totalitarian state.

In an article published in academic journal Studies in Contemporary History, historian Harriet Scharnberg shows that AP was only able retain its access by entering into a mutually beneficial two-way cooperation with the Nazi regime.

The New York-based agency ceded control of its output by signing up to the so-called Schriftleitergesetz (editor’s law), promising not to publish any material “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home”.

This law required AP to hire reporters who also worked for the Nazi party’s propaganda division. One of the four photographers employed by the Associated Press in the 1930s, Franz Roth, was a member of the SS paramilitary unit’s propaganda division, whose photographs were personally chosen by Hitler. AP has removed Roth’s pictures from its website since Scharnberg published her findings, though thumbnails remain viewable due to “software issues”.

... Scharnberg, a historian at Halle’s Martin Luther University, argued that AP’s cooperation with the Hitler regime allowed the Nazis to “portray a war of extermination as a conventional war”.

Read the whole thing.

AP's full response, mostly reported in the Guardian but found at the wire service's web site:

In February 2015, historian Harriet Scharnberg sought information from The Associated Press as part of her research and AP shared with her a large amount of material from its Corporate Archives, including oral histories done by World War II era employees.

Her recently published report, based also on other source material outside AP, describes both individuals and their activities before and during the war that were unknown to AP.

As a result, AP has been reviewing documents and other files in and beyond AP Corporate Archives, in the U.S. and Europe, to further our understanding of the period.

How the wire service can claim to have "resisted the pressure" while acquiescing to exclusively employing "reporters who also worked for the Nazi party’s propaganda division" is a mystery for the ages.

My goodness, CNN's Eason Jordan caught intense and well-deserved flak in 2003 when he admitted that CNN stayed in Iraq during the previous decade-plus and often softened its reporting from that country for the sake of access and because because doing otherwise "would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff." But CNN, by all accounts, never allowed Saddam Hussein to dictate that all of its people had to be Ba'ath Party members.

The current lesson for those who try to stay informed is that one should never presumptively trust "news" coming from areas controlled by authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Sadly, the Associated Press itself, in how it has covered recent events and news in North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and other areas hostile to press and personal freedoms, has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate the need to heed that lesson.

Cross-posted at

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.