France Issues New Decrees in Drive on Propaganda As Racial Agitation Continues
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France Issues New Decrees in Drive on Propaganda As Racial Agitation Continues

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The Cabinet issued two new decrees today in its campaign against anti-French and anti-Semitic propaganda. One decree, designed to check distribution in the streets of anonymous pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish leaflets, makes it obligatory for printers to place their imprints on all literature intended for distribution in public places. The second edict extends to the French colonies the recent law controlling import of foreign press matter, which is aimed particularly against Fascist and Nazi propaganda.

New evidences of Nazi propaganda cropped out in France as the Government pressed its campaign against Hitlerite agitation. Latest developments were:

(1)Arrest of four Frenchmen in Dunkurque, military port on the English Channel, in an investigation of Nazi propaganda said to involve the possibility of espionage; (2) appearance of posters throughout Paris picturing Germany as a happy and peaceful country; (3) distribution in Paris of a large anonymous edition of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” discredited record of a purported plot for Jewish domination of the world; (4) sentencing of a Frenchman for distributing anti-Semitic pamphlets on the streets of Paris in violation of the decree prohibiting racial agitation.

The investigation in Dunkurque began, according to Le Petit Parisien, when the local postmaster drew the attention of the authorities to the fact that hundreds of letters from Germany, addressed to a Dunkerque inhabitant, had been piling up in the post-office, undeliverable because the addressee had moved, and the landlord at the address remarked on the pro-Nazi inclinations of his former lodger.

The postal authorities decided to open some of the letters before returning them to Germany, it was said. The authorities found that the letters held a clue to part of the Nazi propaganda setup in France. Four persons were subsequently arrested. Although the police refused to disclose the results of their investigation, Le Petit Parisien said it had learned that the affair might be more serious than propaganda, possibly involving espionage, which is a capital crime under a recent law. The leading suspect, the addressee of the hundreds of letters, was said to have been working in Havre, Brest and Dunkurque, all of which are important French military ports.

Meanwhile, Paris inhabitants awoke yesterday to find all main streets, subways and other public places placarded with elaborate posters, picturing the Reich as a land of joy and beauty. Soon after their appearance many of the posters had been smeared by indignant Frenchmen with anti-Nazi slogans and inscriptions.

At the same time, there suddenly appeared in Paris a “popular edition” of the “Protocols.” The volume, which is prohibited under the anti-racial law, has had several previous editions in France, but the current one, entitled “Peril Juive” (Jewish Peril), is apparently intended for mass circulation. Booksellers on the grand boulevards found stocks of the book at their doors this morning, delivered anonymously and gratis.

The latest sentence in the Government’s drive against racial incitement was meted out by the Paris Criminal Court to Francois Etienne, director of the news sheet, Pays Libre, for distributing anti-Semitic pamphlets in the streets. He was sentenced to a month in jail and fined 500 francs. The Court explained that a minimum sentence had been imposed because Etienne had promised not to repeat the crime.

Etienne, the leader of an extreme Fascist group, said he was not the author of the pamphlet but had been forced to distribute them by order of his party. He declared that he had destroyed many of the pamphlets following promulgation last April of the decree out lawing racialist propaganda. Newspapers today demanded an investigation into Etienne’s financial backing.

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