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Silence speeds victory: The history of the United States Office of Censorship, 1941--1945

Thomas Harold Berg, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The Office of Censorship administered compulsory censorship of international communications and voluntary censorship of the domestic media during the Second World War. Capably led by Byron Price, a career journalist of more than twenty years, and extensively aided by the military, the agency came into being on December 19, 1941, and employed a diverse workforce of approximately 14,460 people at its peak of operations in February 1943. The Office of Censorship gained a hard-won reputation for professionalism, fairness, and tenacity. ^ Among the agency's accomplishments were devising standard voluntary and compulsory censorship codes, waging offensive and defensive censorship, and quickly self-terminating after the war's end. Though America dabbled with voluntary censorship in previous wars, only the Office of Censorship's program provided substantive leadership, inspiring the media's cooperation. As stated in its motto, “What does not concern the war does not concern Censorship,” the agency compulsorily censored only international communications. The agency waged offensive and defensive censorship, securing and interdicting information from the international communications; streams. Starting to craft its plans for self-termination in mid-1943, the Office of Censorship was one of first wartime government agencies to close its doors when the war ended. ^ The Office of Censorship's record is highly respectable. First, it promoted the greatest degree of Constitutional freedoms during history's most brutal war. Second, the agency contributed to the Allied victory by helping to preserve the security of various events and weapons. Two of its greatest achievements were maintaining the secrecy surrounding the Normandy invasion and the atomic bomb. Third, due to the media's cooperation and the Office of Censorship's performance, the media covered the nation's succeeding wars with minimal interference. ^

Subject Area

History, United States|Journalism

Recommended Citation

Berg, Thomas Harold, "Silence speeds victory: The history of the United States Office of Censorship, 1941--1945" (1999). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9929184.