It is impossible to designate beforehand all that must be kept quiet in the interest of the Fatherland in the event of war. Circumspection and tact on the part of representatives of the press will make it possible to form a judgment about the matters that should be kept silent until further notice. [ . . . ]
The above principles refer to allied armies and navies as well. Publications about them in the above-mentioned sense remain forbidden even should war break out. The countries that are to be regarded as “allies” will be announced.
Information that newspapers discover after the outbreak of war via their foreign correspondents about the armies and navies of our enemies may be published only after the military authorities have issued their own relevant publications, since it will otherwise be easier for the enemy to draw conclusions about our military countermeasures. However, in order to make possible a timely evaluation of reports from enemy lands, editors who come into possession of such reports will do a great service to their Fatherland if they wire these reports – including the source of the information – as soon as possible to the General Staff in Berlin if they concern army matters, or to the Admiralty Staff in Berlin if they concern naval affairs. The resulting expenses will be born by the army and navy administrations.
It is desirable that none of the information contained under II of this memorandum be published.
As far as possible, every editor in Germany has received a copy of this memorandum.
Publication of a forbidden military report in a paper other than their own does not absolve other editors of the obligation to remain silent, which derives from the Chancellor’s prohibition on publications.
Source: Auszüge aus dem Merkblatt der Militärbehörden für die Presse betr. die Behandlung militärischer Nachrichten [Excerpts from the Memorandum from the Military Authorities to the Press concerning the Treatment of Military News], August 1, 1914, Bundesarchiv/ Militärarchiv Freiburg i. Br., MA/Adm, No. 2413, P 18, duplicate.
Reprinted in Wilhelm Deist, Militär und Innenpolitik im Weltkrieg 1914-1918 [Military and Domestic Policy in the World War 1914-1918]. 2 volumes. Düsseldorf: Droste, 1970, vol. 1, pp. 63-65.
Translation: Jeffrey Verhey and Roger Chickering