War Newspapers

title page of the first issue of 1 May 1915, company war newspaper
Wartime newspaper for the employees of the Great Leipzig Tram System, title page of the first issue of 1 May 1915, company war newspaper
German National Library, First World War Collection, signature: ZC 3782

War News­pa­pers

As an important part of propaganda, wartime newspapers also served to (self) mobilise the soldiers and the population. Their spectrum was wide-ranging, making it impossible to know all of the German periodicals in their entirety. 

In 1940 the wartime newspaper inventory of the Deutsche Bücherei from the period 1914/18 was over 600 units, including official and ordinance sheets issued by German military and civilian authorities in the occupied territories. Along with these, many large German daily newspapers in the neutral and occupied territories also published periodicals, in order to reach the civilian population in their own languages. 

So-called field and army newspapers with the intention of influencing the opinion of the troops continued to appear. These included the trench or trench newspapers, or the army newspapers printed and distributed by the military bases, of which there were probably more than 115 in the First World War. 

A completely different group comprised the prisoner-of-war or camp newspapers published by civilian detainees and prisoners in warring states. The number of such periodicals is equally unknown. It is a similar case with the group of field hospital and welfare newspapers. 

By far the largest group, however, was that of the Heimatgrüße [Greetings from the homeland], which were published by schools, universities, authorities, church parishes or companies for their members at the front on occasions such as Christmas or Easter. An overall figure for the number of this type of war periodical, which was equally subject to censorship, is also unknown. 

Today, no German library holds a complete record of all war newspapers published 1914/18. The Deutsche Bücherei maintained continuation and exchange lists even during the war itself, in order to supplement missing newspapers and individual booklets as well as possible. Despite initial bibliographical evidence of war periodicals that appeared after 1916, their inventory also remains fragmentary.