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Paul Carell (born Paul Karl Schmidt; 2 November 1911, Kelbra – 20 June 1997) was an Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) in the civilian Allgemeine SS. He worked as the chief press spokesman for Nazi Germany's Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. After World War II ended in 1945, he became a successful author.
Paul Karl Schmidt became a member of the Nazi Party in 1931 and a member of the SS in 1938. He graduated from university in 1934, and became an assistant at the Institute of Psychology of the Universität Kiel in Germany. He held several positions in the Nazi Student Association.
In the SS, Schmidt was promoted to the rank of Obersturmbannführer in 1940. During the same year, he became the chief press spokesman for foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. In this position, he was responsible for the German Foreign Ministry’s news and press division.
The main task of Schmidt was the chairing of the daily press conferences of the ministry. He must therefore be seen as one of the most important and influential propagandists for National Socialism during World War II. Recent studies confirm that his influence was at least on the same level as that of Otto Dietrich (Reichspressechef of Adolf Hitler) and of Hans Fritzsche (Pressechef the Reichspropagandaministerium). Schmidt was also responsible for the very well done German propaganda magazine 'Signal', which was published in several languages to tell the German side of the story in neutral and occupied countries during the war.
That Schmidt justified the Holocaust through his propaganda is now seen as certain. In May 1944, he even gave advice on how to justify the deportation and murder of Hungarian Jews, to counter the potential accusation of mass murder:
The planned undertaking (against the Jews of Budapest) will create significant attention, and lead to a strong reaction because of its scope. Those who are against us will scream and talk of a hunt on humans, and will try to use terror propaganda to increase feelings against us in neutral states. I would therefore like to suggest whether it would not be possible to prevent these things by creating reasons and events justifying the undertaking, e.g. finding explosives in Jewish association buildings and Synagogues, plans for sabotage attacks, for a coup d’etat, attacks on policemen, smuggling of currency in significant amounts to destroy the fabric of the Hungarian currency. The final piece of this should be a particularly heinous case, which can then be used to justify the dragnet.
Schmidt was arrested on 6 May 1945 and interned for 30 months. It was left open for a long time whether he would appear as one of those indicted, or as a witness for the prosecution, during the war crimes trials. During the trial of the German Foreign Ministry (Wilhelmstraßen-Prozess, part of the Nuremberg Trials), he finally appeared as a witness for the prosecution, and disingenuously portrayed himself as a fighter for democratic freedom of the press.
After World War II, Schmidt became an author. Starting in the 1950s, he wrote for the magazine „Kristall“, which then had a very high circulation. He first used the pseudonym "Paul Karell", and later "Paul Carell".
From 1965 to 1971 the Office of the State Prosecutor of Verden in Germany investigated him for murder. But the investigation, which should have clarified his role in the genocide of Hungarian Jews, ended without an indictment. Schmidt never had to face a trial for his activities during the war.
In parallel with this investigation, Carell’s second successful career as a writer commenced, aided by the network of 'old comrades' working in the publishing industry. He worked as a freelance author under various noms de plume for newspapers such as Die Welt and Die Zeit (e.g., as P. C. Holm). He also wrote for the magazines Norddeutsche Rundschau and Spiegel, and published some accounts of war stories for Landser. He was seen as an influential adviser to the German Axel Springer AG, where he wrote speeches for Axel Springer.
The success of his books "Unternehmen Barbarossa (Hitler Moves East)" and "Verbrannte Erde (Scorched Earth)" made Carell a leading post-war chronicler of the German side of World War II on the Eastern Front through mid-1944. His book "Die Gefangenen" 1980, dealing with German prisoners of war in the Soviet Union, was published by Ullstein-Verlag. These books generally had a positive media reception (e.g., Die Welt wrote: „Helps to reduce the dislike between Germans and Russians (...) qualified as an historian.“ Or the Düsseldorfer Mittag: „Someone for whom the seriousness of the source and the value of documentation are more important than going for cheap thrills – that is Paul Carell!“ Carell also wrote THE DESERT FOXES (about Rommel) and OPERATION: INVASION! about the Allied invasion of Normandy.
In 1992 Carell claimed, that even after the Battle of Stalingrad there was a possibility for Germany to win the war. In his view, it was primarily the command of Adolf Hitler that lead to the defeat. The leadership of the Wehrmacht and very competent commanders such as Erich von Manstein could have achieved victory if not for Hitler's interference. Carell claimed that the invasion of the Soviet Union was a preemptive attack to forestall an invasion of Germany by the Red Army, a claim that has been supported by Viktor Suvorov and Mark Solonin.