Tarnschriften is a German word meaning hidden writings.
In Nazi Germany, Tarnschriften referred to anti-Nazi, illegal leaflets and pamphlets camouflaged as everyday publications. Groups such as the German Communist Party, Social Democratic Party, and the German Popular Front created Tarnschriften to spread their message and inspire
against Nazi rule. Some Tarnschriften were also produced anonymously and have no named author.
To avoid repercussions, any anti-Nazi material circulated in the Third Reich had to be easy to conceal. As such, the front and back pages of Tarnschriften were usually disguised with non-political content, such as advertisements for shampoo or disinfectant. Many of the disguises used for the Tarnschriften were designed with a specific audience in mind and, as such, concealed as a product that would be easily associated with this audience. An instruction manual for fixing cars, for example, might hide material aimed at mechanics.
Another method of hiding illegal writings from the Nazis was to conceal pamphlets or leaflets inside genuine products or publications, such as packets of tea or vegetable seeds, or inside pro-Nazi newspapers. Both of these methods cleverly concealed the anti-Nazi messages hidden inside.
In total, more than a thousand Tarnschriften were published on a variety of topics, with many thousands of copies per title. Most were published before the war, between 1933 and 1939, although some were published later. With 488 pamphlets, The Wiener Holocaust Library in London holds the largest collection of Tarnschriften outside of the Bundesarchiv in Berlin.