Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wartime Wednesday: Censorship During WWII

Wartime Wednesday: Censorship During WWII

The Office of Censorship was a wartime agency set up during the weeks following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 with Executive Order 8985. Chartered with the mission to protect sensitive war information, the organization walked a fine line to maintain constitutional freedoms. Executive News Editor at the Associated Press, Byron Price was appointed under the condition he would report directly to President Roosevelt. A Censorship Policy Board was created to advise the director on policy coordination and the integration of censorship activities.

Issued by the Office of War Information on January 15, 1942, the “Code of Wartime Practices for the American Press” gave strict instructions on the handling of news. Surprisingly, the manual was quite short: only seven pages for broadcasters and five for the print press, and explained in simple terms the subjects that contained information considered valuable to the enemy, which therefore shouldn’t be published or broadcast in the U.S. without authorization by a qualified government source. Sensitive topics included factory production figures, troop movements, damage to American forces, and weather reports.

During Director Price’s tenure, the responsibility for censorship was entirely on the journalists, depending heavily on patriotism and voluntary cooperation. At one point, there was discussion about merging his office with the Office of War Information, but he was able to prevent the action, believing that a merger would prevent the public from receiving truthful information.

Great Britain, Canada, and the U.S. signed an agreement providing for the complete exchange of information among all concerned parties and created a central clearinghouse of information within the headquarters of the Office of Censorship. In early 1942, Army and Navy personnel engaged in censorship responsibilities were transferred to the Office of Censorship where they monitored the more than 350,000 overseas cables/telegrams and 35,000 international telephone calls. Offices in LA, NYC, and Rochester, NY reviewed films.

The official closure of the Office didn’t come until November 1945, but the day after the Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945, Director Price is said to have hung a sign on his office door that read Out Of Business.


A secret mission. A fake bride. A run for their lives.

According to the OSS training manual, the life expectancy of a radio operator in Nazi-occupied France is six weeks. Partnered with Gerard Lucas, one of the agency's top spies, newly-minted agent Emily Strealer plans to beat those odds. Then their cover is blown and all bets are off. The border to neutral Switzerland is three hundred miles away-a long way to run with SS soldiers on their heels.

Will Emily and Gerard survive the journey and get home?

And what about their hearts? Nothing in the manual prepared them for falling in love.

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