By RICHARD FERGUSON-BRANDON, Reuters German propaganda is everywhere, in the shops and the streets.
Some posters boast about the Nazi past, while others are in favour of democracy and tolerance.
But how can you tell if you’re seeing propaganda from a foreign government, or whether it’s just another attempt to spread misinformation?
It’s difficult to determine whether the posters are actually propaganda or just the product of a well-funded propaganda machine.
A German intelligence agency called the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) has published its own propaganda poster.
The poster was designed to promote a German-made toy and is intended to appeal to children, says BfV spokeswoman Katrin Fuchs.
“We hope the poster is useful for educating people, but also to inform people about the threat of terrorism,” she says.
Fuchs says the posters were not made by the BfT or Bundesamtsverfassenheit (BSA), the German agency that is responsible for distributing propaganda.
But it could be a case of propaganda being sent by a foreign agent.
“If the poster was not created by the agency but by another entity, then it is a very different matter,” says Fuchs, who did not want to give her last name.
“A lot of the posters we see are simply used by a propaganda organization,” says the director of the German Institute for the Study of War, Jürgen Wehner.
“This is why I think it’s very important to make sure we understand what is being said.”
BfT spokesman Martin Schulze says that propaganda posters are usually put up by the same agency in multiple countries, with the aim of encouraging support for a foreign military or security presence.
“When someone posts a poster in another country, it is always the same,” he says.
But he also says the BSA has not put up any posters in Germany, even though the agency has a responsibility for the distribution of propaganda.
“I’m not aware of any BfS posters being put up in Germany,” Schulzes says.
“But in any case, we have not seen any posters from the BsfV in Germany.”
But there are signs that Germany has been using the BFS as a propaganda arm.
Last month, the BfsB released a poster which showed a young boy holding a flag with the words: “No to racism, Islam and xenophobia.”
In a similar way, in December, the German BfR released a video, entitled “Die Für die Nationale”, which showed the slogan: “We are the German people.”
The BfB also released a short video in February, titled “Schnelle der Verfasstern,” which was made by a BfA group in partnership with the German Defence Ministry.
In that video, a young man with a shaved head and a beard walks through a city, holding up a sign reading: “Stop racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and xenophobic hatred.”
In a statement, the government said it was not in the business of producing propaganda, but that it had taken measures to ensure the public could determine if a poster was from a BfsA organization.
The BfsFV is responsible, for example, for distributing German propaganda leaflets, while the BftB supervises the distribution and promotion of foreign propaganda.
The government is also responsible for the dissemination of propaganda materials through the German military.
The BfSpD, which includes the BAF, BfD, BFS and BFSB, distributes material to the Bundeswehr and is responsible in principle for the printing and distribution of leaflets and posters.
But its director, Martin Schulte, says that there is no legal obligation for BFS members to distribute their own propaganda.
(The BFS is a separate organization, the BundesspD, with its own board of directors.)
“The distribution of material from the Bundesnetzagentur, or the BFNetzagenturo, is regulated by the military authorities,” he said.
“In practice, this means that BFS employees are responsible for this distribution.”
But the BBSV, which has the same goal, is not regulated.”BBSV has no formal responsibility for this dissemination, as this is not a BFS mission,” Schultes said.
He says the Bundesbank has a legal duty to distribute the propaganda materials in accordance with its mandate.
“The BBS is responsible only for the content produced by the BundesNetzAgentur, which is also a legal responsibility of the BundesSpD,” he adds.
“There is no responsibility for distributing the BbsNetz agentur, as the BFT is the legal body responsible for that distribution.”
It’s not clear why the BFsB and BfNetz agents are not allowed to distribute propaganda materials.
According to Schult, the responsibility lies with the BSpD