[ Documents & Research ] → Deutscher Verlag memo dated February 15, 1945
This file note dates from the final months of the war, at a time when the greater number of Signal's editions had already been discontinued. The countries in which they were supposed to be distributed had since come under enemy rule. Even so, the Wehrmacht's High Command (OKW) and the Deutscher Verlag were still, in February of 1945, deliberating which editions should be published in the future. Surprisingly, this included languages to which there was no addressable readership anymore – unless, that is, we consider foreign volunteer formations.
Perhaps the greatest surprise in this respect is the possibility that a Spanish edition may have been published in 1945. While thought to having been discontinued in the summer of 1944, this document substantiates the chance that the edition may have been relaunched in 1945, quite possibly targeting the handful of Spanish volunteers still fighting on German side.
Document source: originally located in the Ullstein archives, it should now reside in the Unternehmensarchiv (corporate archive) of the Axel Springer publishing group. To this date, however, I have not been able to locate it. When still part of the Ullstein archives, the file was sent, in a xerox copy, to Italian researcher Stelio Millo, who used it for his "Signal-Dossier".
II. Transcript of the original German document
III. English translation of file note
IV. Analysis of D-V file note
1. The memo is dated February 15, 1945. Assuming the 1945 printing of Signal commenced right at the beginning of the new year, this should mean that, at the time the memo was written, issues 1/45 to 4/45 had already been published. This may not be too likely though, there is a rather high probability that printing was restarted considerably later – i.e. in January or perhaps even only in February of 1945. Since the relaunch was most probably ordered by the Propaganda Ministry or the Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office), it should be possible to establish the exact relaunch date through archival research; until then we have to work with assumptions.
The memo mentions a "fortnightly cycle" of publication, so no matter when exactly Signal was launched again, it had been, at least until this file note was typed, been published in the regular (twice-a-month) frequency again. There were considerations to alter this cycle in the future "in order to [...] prepare a greater number of editions for the typesetting."
2. In further consideration of the relaunch issue, there are conflicting clues which make it very difficult to agree on a likely assumption. The fact that Est and Let 4/45 were demonstrably produced and published may indicate they were printed before the memo was written, as the necessary typesetting material had been destroyed by then – the memo points out these editions could "no longer be composed". It is absolutely possible, however, that German ingenuity and improvisational skills found a way around this.
3. Another (conflicting) aspect is that several sources claim the last issue of Signal was only published on April 13, 1945. (Cf. Mendelssohn, Zeitungsstadt Berlin. Menschen und Mächte in der Geschichte der deutschen Presse, Ullstein 1959, pp. 468-493. Please note that I have no idea where this date originates from, and if it is reliable or not.) This very late date could indicate that the memo was written at a time when only issue 2/45 or 3/45 had already been published. It seems justified, then, to assume the memo was written at a time when issue 3/45 had already been published, but before 4/45 came off the presses. Based on this assumption all subsequent considerations will regard issue 4/45 as the first number of Signal to having been published after the memo was written.
5. In addition to this, we also know of issue 4/45 in an Estonian and Latvian edition by way of reproduction of their contents boxes in Stelio Millo's "Signal Dossier" (codes of these two editions are unknown, Est and Let perhaps?), both of which were definitely targeting volunteer units. It has been suggested they may have been shipped to the Kurland pocket (unverified rumor).
6. A Russian edition of 4/45 has not been confirmed so far, though it wouldn't be a major surprise: it was one of the largest groups of foreign volunteers, and the Russian edition probably wasn't dropped until the very end (also because there was an influential circle of Russophiles in the OKW attempting to maintain good relations with whatever pro-German Russian forces still remained at the time).
7. A Hungarian-only edition has, until very recently, been entirely unknown to us. First evidence for such a version of Signal (which we may expect to have had the edition code U) surfaced in January of 2004, when fellow collector Raimo Kotiranta submitted scans of a possible issue U 11/44. There is a news item on this posted in the news section, dated January 18, 2004.
9. Another intriguing aspect is that the sales department expressed interest in the Slovak and Danish editions. This implies they were to be sold to the civilian population in these countries, in order to generate revenue. (As this was, quite obviously, what the sales department was interested in, and not in the propagandistic influentation!) As noted above, both Da and Sl 4/45 have been confirmed. This brings us back to the question which issues of Signal had been published at the time. The file note clearly states that a Slovak edition could no longer be composed, so they either found a stop-gap solution for this, or 4/45 had indeed already been published when the memo was written. Personally I believe the first possibility is more likely than the latter.
10. As a final aspect that is noteworthy, the OKW expressed interest in several other editions: Bulgarian, Romanian, Latvian, Estonian, Croatian, Serbian, and Spanish. We can assume that these were all intended to be distributed to foreign volunteer units, as all the countries in which they had previously been published had since become inaccessible to German propaganda.
The handful of remaining Spanish volunteers, which in 1945 formed one or possibly two SS-Freiwilligen-Kompanien, never comprised more than 450 men. So it must appear curious that an edition of Signal was produced for such an exclusive readership – although it certainly is not impossible.
12. In summary, we may find that at this time during the war, Signal had become less of a magazine intended to influence civilian populations abroad, but rather a propaganda tool targeting the various foreign volunteer formations of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS.