Historian Claims ‘Associated Press’ Was In Bed With Nazis — Is History Repeating In North Korea?

The Associated Press has been around for 170 years and hails itself as the “marine corps of journalism” (“always the first in and the last out”). But a historian claims that the news organization was able to operate under the Third Reich because it cooperated and worked with Nazis.

The Associated Press has vehemently denied the claims from historian Harriet Scharnberg and insists that cooperation with the Nazis, if true, was done outside the agency’s knowledge, USA Today reported.

But Scharnberg has lodged some serious accusations in a recently published article, accusing the Associated Press of cowing to the Nazis propaganda machine and publishing photos chosen by Adolf Hitler himself.

She said the Associated Press effectively helped the regime “portray a war of extermination as a conventional war.”

The Nazis’ primary objective when it seized power in 1933 was to bring the national and international media under control. According to the Guardian, the Associated Press entered into a formal agreement with the Hitler regime in the 1930s, called the Schriftleitergesetz (editor’s law), in which the news agency vowed not to publish material “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home.”

As the only news agency operating under the Nazis, the Associated Press found itself in a unique position of being able to report inside the Hitler regime, but Scharnberg contends that reports and photojournalists reported the Germans’ side of the story.

She pointed to one incident that took place in June 1941, when the Nazis invaded a city in western Ukraine. They discovered mass killings committed by Soviet troops and inflicted “revenge” pogroms on the city’s Jews. Franz Roth — a Nazi SS officer in the propaganda unit who, under the agreement, worked for the Associated Press — took photos of the scene. Hitler cherry-picked and submitted pictures to the AP that ignored the Jewish victims killed in the pogroms.

“Instead of printing pictures of the days-long Lviv pogroms with its thousands of Jewish victims, the American press was only supplied with photographs showing the victims of the Soviet police and ‘brute’ Red Army war criminals,” Scharnberg said. “To that extent it is fair to say that these pictures played their part in disguising the true character of the war led by the Germans. Which events were made visible and which remained invisible in AP’s supply of pictures followed German interests and the German narrative of the war.”

The Associated Press denies that it cooperated with the Nazis and described the relationship as one of pressure. The agency claims the staff “resisted the pressure” while trying to gather objective news “in a dark and dangerous time.”

But the journalism community has been concerned that the news agency is repeating history in North Korea, where it has signed a similar agreement. In 2012, the AP became the first news organization to open a bureau in the country, but since then, reporters haven’t covered certain stories reported in other media. Among them, the disappearance of leader Kim Jong-un in 2014, the Sony hack, and a famine in 2012.

Website NK News, based in Washington, has accused the Associated Press of agreeing to distribute “state-produced North Korean propaganda through the AP name in order to gain access to the highly profitable market of distributing picture material out of the totalitarian state.”

And like it allegedly did with the Nazis, a draft agreement leaked to other news organizations revealed that the Associated Press let North Korea pick two journalists from its propaganda unit to work for them. The AP denied the agreement meant anything.

Nonetheless, a former Pyongyang bureau chief has said the regime is clearly confident they can “keep foreign journalists under control.” Former AP correspondent Nate Thayer sees links between his ex-employers’ relationship with the Nazis and the North Koreans.

“It looks like AP have learned very little from their own history. To claim, as the agency does, that North Korea does not control their output, is ludicrous.”

[Photo by Keystone/Getty Images]

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