The 326th Night of Memory -1

Morale Machine

Compiled by: Iranian Oral History Website
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad

2021-10-26


Note: The 326th Night of Memory program was held in person on the Thursday of 29th July 2021, in the open space of the Arts Center, with the performance of Mr. Davood Salehi. In this program, with the theme of "Morale Unit"; a narration of the warriors of the War Propaganda Unit ", General Mohammad Ali Asoudi, Mr. Ismail Mahmoudi, and Dr. Mohammad Ghasemi shared their memories.

At the beginning of the first part of the Night of Memory, Mr. Davood Salehi read a text about the Front's Propaganda Unit to the audience. He said:

"In the eyes of young people like teenagers who have not seen and experienced the war front, the Propaganda Unit of the front depicts in their minds the image of a young warrior in khaki clothes, with a brush and a container of color in hand, who was painting or doing calligraphy in the corner of the barracks. As the matter of fact, this is not the propaganda of the front. The strangest thing about the War Propaganda Unit is that it did not do propaganda duties well, and the new generation does not know how important and effective the front's propaganda has been. Front propaganda and war start from behind the war front; the youth should be informed of that day and motivate them to join the front, and on the other hand, accompany the families to help the fronts. Some of the work of the front goes back to itself; that is, the operation and during the operation and after the operation; But, some of the work of the Propaganda Unit goes back to the space outside the front. For example, the unit should reflect the news of the resistance, self-sacrifice, and courage of the fighters to the enemies and the news agencies and archive this news. Now think that the Propaganda Unit must have a plan to strengthen the morale of the fighters in a time when there is no operation; it must stand alone against an enemy whose job is to destroy the morale and beliefs of the people and the fighters, and of course hundreds of other actions of the propaganda that are less paid.

Mr. Salehi, then, invited General Mohammad Ali Asoudi to recount her memories.

The first narrator of the program, General Asoudi, after greeting and congratulating Eid al-Ghadir,[1] said to the audience: "As the presenter of the program also mentioned, attention to the war Propaganda Unit has been neglected. The propaganda unit of the front and the war was one of the most important and effective units which can still be seen after the sacred defense era. At that time this unit was known as "War Propaganda" in the camp, and it was called "propaganda" in divisions and brigades, and we had it to the battalion level. Recently, working groups have reviewed the activities of this unit, which included behind the front, inside the front, at the regional level, and at the international level, and about 350 titles of these activities have been listed, and each title has different sub-categories.

The narrator then mentioned the martyr Haj Qasim Soleimani and continued: He was one of the commanders who defended propaganda a lot. In May 2012, with the follow-up I had, the first memorial of the propaganda martyrs was held for the propaganda of the 41st Sarollah Division and it was well-received. Although General Soleimani was the commander of the Quds Force and had no responsibility in the province, because of her sensitivities and attention to the 41st Sarollah Division until the last day, I asked her to be both a speaker and a propagandist. I will tell you parts of the interview that he had on May 1, 2012, at 3:20 PM, so that we can understand the importance of propaganda from the words of martyr Soleimani. He said: "Propaganda was one of the units that, due to its importance, covered all levels of battalions and combat units, from the smallest to the largest. Arguably the broadest unit in the structural and organizational dimension - and not in the number and manpower dimension - was propaganda. We had a structure and organization from the battalion to the base, and the propaganda in the division had about one hundred and fifty forces in different dimensions. In another part, martyr Soleimani had stated that Propaganda Unit was the first unit to enter the front line with the backup unit. Some people think that this unit was only present in the battalion and the headquarters, but this is not true. Our cameraman, photographer, calligrapher, morale machines were on the front lines with the intelligence forces. We gave nearly one thousand four hundred martyrs in the propaganda unit. These are in addition to the martyrs of the clergy who martyred nearly 4,000 people. The propaganda unit was the first unit to come in line with the support unit. In the films of the war front that you see, where there is conflict and the noise of whistles and mortars, the role of the propaganda unit is seen to create emotions and raise the morale of the fighters. Therefore, the role of the propaganda unit, in addition to the development of Shiite and religious knowledge, had a serious and fundamental role in the belief and emotional generalization, as well as the morale of the warriors. Martyr Soleimani stated: This was a valuable role that he undertook in propaganda and turned the front line into a mosque.

Referring to the structure and organization of the Propaganda Unit, Asoudi continued: "This unit had a large scope that reflected news and announcements. Journalists from many radio stations and various series, such as the IRGC itself, formed this unit. For example, Haj Sadegh Ahangaran was a member of propaganda. For each operation, we selected and produced a lament with a special rhythm with the late Mr. Moalemi, who was a poet and wrote Mr. Ahangaran's laments. Then we coordinated with the radio for recording, which also had different dimensions and we had to consider all of them. In one sentence to express the role of propaganda, it should be said: everything that is visible, such as movies and photos, and everything that can be read, such as memories and various issues, is considered as the role of propaganda. Be sure, if it weren't for the propaganda kids at the time, you wouldn't have anything to see and read now from the sacred defense era. All these films, photos, and battle scenes from the war front lines to the back of the front recruiting and dispatching forces, funerals, and memorials of martyrs and the like, which are very extensive, were among the efforts of the propaganda forces.

The narrator continued his speech: "One of our duties was to invite journalists from 5 continents to Iran in coordination with the Ministry of Guidance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We would take them to the area after the operation to see what happened. After Operation Beit-ol-Moqaddas, the first group arrived in front of the Khorramshahr Grand Mosque at 9:00 AM on the 3rd of Khordad. We had conquered Khorramshahr and captured more than 19,000. This issue is also present in the films that bring the gang of prisoners, this was a very high number. When Iraqi forces arrived in Khorramshahr, they wrote everywhere, "We have come to stay here." Saddam was also sensitive about Khorramshahr and had strengthened his foothold so much that he said that if the Iranians could capture Khorramshahr, I would give them the key to Baghdad. This news was very complicated at that time. But the fighters captured the whole area of Khorramshahr. An Iraqi commander said that Saddam had come to the area and was in command by himself. Three or four days passed. The world said Iran told lie because Saddam had claimed that Iran told lie; "Khorramshahr was in our hands" the world also believe the words and claims of Saddam.

The narrator continued: "We went to the base to the commander; we said to Mr. Mohsen Rezaei and martyr Sayad Shirazi that said we should do something. Although our journalists and radio were doing their job, the world did not accept their words. We suggested inviting foreign reporters. This was a security and protection issue, as many journalists were spies. We said that it was better we did our duties and the protection forces did their duties. It was the first time we invited and they came and reported, and by the time thirty, forty percent of the work was reflected, the world finally accepted our victory. After that, we tried to bring these into each operation. For example, in the Khyber operation, it was recommended that we bring them out in the sun and return them quickly. We took a helicopter to the North Island, where there were a rig and oil wells. The bombing was reported to have intensified. The night before, we always had a briefing with them. General Mehrabi, who is now in charge of intelligence operations, explained them. They also boasted that we were a World War II reporter, and we said, "Look at the difference between here and there tomorrow." I remember a French reporter on the north side of the North Island holding up a watchtower, crying and saying, "Bring me back." Most of them were scared.

The narrator went on to say: "The same thing happened in Operation Dawn 8. The bombing was very heavy and the planes Tupolevs came and bombed heavily. The earth shook like a cradle. We got them off. A Tupolev bombardment took place 24 km from the town of Al-Bahar, and the bombardment was so heavy that they were all sitting on the ground. We said what happened to you who was a war correspondent. We picked them all up, but one did not. He was a reporter for Der Spiegel, Germany. We told one of these comrades that we would go and he would take him to the emergency room and then come back. We were waiting for him at the Umm al-Qasr three-way intersection to the Salt Factory to do the justification work. When we got there, General Mehrabi was explaining to the reporters that you can see in the picture. Our friend came and asked:" what happened? He said:" he died." We said that no quiver would lead to his death. He said the doctor had commented that he had died of a stroke for fear. In this way, we brought in foreign reporters from different countries to cover various operations.

At the end of his speech, the narrator spoke about the morale machine: "As the presenter said, propaganda unit was known as the spirit unit. Encouragement was done with marches, slogans, pilgrimages[2] and so on. These were all factors and elements of inspiration. We had a moral machine. All our battalions had morale machines. These morale machines were vans mounted on speakers and played with tapes made of marches and lamentations. This had a great effect on people's morale. When the fighters heard the sound of the march Mr. Ahangaran's lament after two or three days operation they came to life again and refresh themselves.

All the battalions had morale machines, we also had the initiative. For example, in the operations we carried out in the northwest, we also created morale mules. That is, we put the pods on the mule, and put the horn, the speaker, and the amplifier in it. One also rode this mule so that the mule does not escape. The first time nobody rode the mule, and the mule went to the mountain and the sound of the speaker disappeared; we saw that there had to ride on the mule to steer it. We also had the morale boats needed in the Badr, Khyber, and Dawn 8 operations, which were carried out in water and land. These cars and boats and mules were very effective. The great Imam said, "We exported our revolution to the world in the war." We also invited foreign guests to see these things. Among them, I can mention the Friday Imam of Los Angeles or Maher Hammoud[3] from Lebanon. Once or twice a year we did these important international events. Some commanders sometimes asked us what role we played in the war. In response, I said we had missions from the front lines to New York and Washington, and we worked to Europe. We owe all these efforts to all the forces, especially the martyrs of the Propaganda Unit. It is appropriate to remember all those who attended and those who could not attend due to the coronavirus not to be tired. The comrades of propaganda were the most oppressed but the most prolific and effective warriors. The martyr of the Propaganda Unit is the most oppressed martyrs that we have been pursuing for several years to be able to hold a congress for these martyrs and we have not succeeded yet. We hope that the martyrs will pray and this will happen.

At the end of his speech, General Asoudi thanked Mr. Ghadami and the members of Arts Center and said that the Night of Memory program is the best program about the war and sacred defense.

 


[1] It is an Islamic commemorative holiday and is considered to be among the significant holidays of Shia Muslims.

[2] Zabihullah Bakhshi (1933-2011) known as Hajj Bakhshi was one of the famous members of the Basij during the Iran-Iraq war. He was sent to the war front at the age of 47 and played an important role in propaganda for the war until the end of the war.

[3] He is one of the Sunni scholars of Lebanon. He is the president of the World Union of Resistance Scholars and has clear positions against the Zionist regime.



 
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