Operation Capricorn

This was a US operation by the Morale Operations Branch of the Office of Strategic Services for the transmission of accurately targeted radio propaganda (March 1945).

Comprising 61 broadcasts from the UK between March and 27 April 1945, the propaganda was akin to the 'Volkssender Drei' programmes transmitted from a location near Paris and purporting to originate from an anti-Nazi garrison commander named Hoffmann, allegedly the son of the German general who had signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Russia in 1918. 'Volkssender Drei' broadcast the fiction that Hoffmann, who lived in a mountainous region of Germany, had liberated his town from the Nazis and was waiting to turn it over to the Allies.

'Capricorn' was purported to have been originated with a German underground group led by a man named Hagedorn, who appealed to his compatriots to abandon the Nazis and avoid annihilation. He called for large-scale surrenders by the armed forces and also a Germany-wide revolt, and furthermore suggested that officials should rid their villages of the Nazis as he had done in a small, undisclosed Bavarian town.

After the first broadcasts, a Swedish newspaper reported Hagedorn’s existence.

In June 1945 Morale Operations interrogated three former German officers who were members of the anti-Nazi Bavarian Freedom Movement and now admitted to having listened to Hagedorn as well. They informed their interrogators of the differences between the genuine 'Capricorn' station and an obviously faked station. Hagedorn reflected their views and the feelings of all anti-Nazis. As far as they knew, he had not been captured by the Nazis, and they asked that the OSS find him since he could be of use to post-war Germany.