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Posted: September 22nd, 2023

Propaganda in World War I

You can pause and continue writing more content. D.6. Discussion on WWI propaganda contains.
Read through the collection of propaganda items associated with World War One, found on the preceding page. Which ones stand out to you, and why?

D.8. Discussion on the New Deal
What elements of the New Deal do you see as most successful? Are there elements of it that you find troubling? Why?

D.9. Discussion on World War Two in the Media
What role did propaganda play in World War Two?

D.10. Discussion on the Effects of the Atomic Bombs
What are your reactions to reading the Strategic Bombing Survey report?

Propaganda in World War I
World War I was one of the first major conflicts to utilize widespread propaganda techniques to influence public opinion and boost support for the war effort. While propaganda had been used to some extent in previous wars, new technologies like film, radio, and print media allowed governments to disseminate their messages to mass audiences on an unprecedented scale. Analyzing some of the key propaganda pieces from WWI gives insight into how the various nations tried to shape the narrative and justify continuing the war to their citizens.
One type of propaganda that stands out are recruitment posters encouraging men to enlist. Many portrayed enlisting as an exciting adventure, showing soldiers in heroic or glamorous poses. For example, a British poster depicts a fit soldier in uniform with the slogan “What did you do in the Great War, Daddy?” (Imperial War Museums, n.d.). This poster plays on notions of masculinity and duty, implying that men who did not enlist would later regret it and be ashamed when asked by their children what role they played. A French poster takes a similar angle, depicting two soldiers with the words “They answered the call. And you?” (Imperial War Museums, n.d.). Both posters appeal to men’s sense of patriotic duty and paint enlisting in a positive light rather than emphasizing the dangers of combat.
In contrast, some propaganda aimed to demonize the enemy. A famous British poster depicts German soldiers as Huns about to slash the breasts of a woman labeled “Belgium” (Imperial War Museums, n.d.). This plays on anti-German sentiment and the rape of Belgium in 1914 to portray the Germans as barbaric invaders. German propaganda sometimes depicted British/French soldiers as uncivilized brutes attacking innocent German civilians. For example, one poster shows armed soldiers menacing a woman and child with the words “The enemy’s treatment of non-combatants” (Imperial War Museums, n.d.). By portraying the other side as cruel and uncivilized, such propaganda aimed to justify continuing the war and make compromise seem impossible.
As the war dragged on, propaganda evolved to maintain morale on the home front. Posters encouraged citizens to support war bonds and do their part through working, rationing, and following wartime rules. They portrayed the home front as equally important to the battlefield. For example, a British “Women of Britain Say GO!” poster depicts women working as conductors, police officers, and doing other jobs usually filled by men who were away at the front (Imperial War Museums, n.d.). As sacrifices mounted, the government needed to convince citizens that their hardships had meaning and purpose within the wider war effort.
In summary, WWI saw an unprecedented rise in the use of propaganda techniques across all the major warring nations. Recruitment posters often portrayed enlisting in a positive light that downplayed the dangers of combat. Meanwhile, posters demonizing the enemy aimed to make compromise seem impossible by portraying the other side as barbaric. Later in the war, as sacrifices increased, propaganda evolved to maintain civilian morale by showing how the home front effort directly supported soldiers at the front. Overall, analyzing these propaganda pieces gives insight into how governments strategically shaped public opinion to gain support for continuing what became a lengthy and costly conflict.
The New Deal: Successes and Concerns
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, launched in response to the Great Depression, comprised several ambitious programs aimed at relief, recovery, and reform. While controversial in some respects, most historians agree the New Deal achieved some notable successes in restoring hope and reviving the economy. Some of the most impactful and successful elements included job creation programs, financial reforms, and social welfare programs. However, the New Deal was not without its critics and some elements were more problematic than others.
One of the most successful aspects was the job creation programs under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). These programs directly employed millions of unemployed men on public works projects like building roads, bridges, parks, and public buildings. Not only did this put money directly in workers’ pockets, but it boosted morale by giving people meaningful work instead of handouts. The projects also improved America’s infrastructure. The WPA alone was responsible for constructing hundreds of thousands of buildings and roads as well as other civic projects (National Archives, n.d.).
Financial reforms were also crucial. The establishment of the Securities and Exchange Commission regulated Wall Street to prevent a repeat of the stock market crash. The Glass-Steagall Act separated commercial and investment banking to avoid risky speculation. Deposit insurance through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation restored confidence in the banking system after many bank failures. These reforms stabilized the financial sector for decades.
Social welfare programs expanded the social safety net. Social Security provided retirement income for senior citizens while Aid to Families with Dependent Children helped the poor. The Works Progress Administration had an arts program that employed thousands of out-of-work artists, musicians, writers, and theater workers. This not only provided income but boosted cultural life. Overall, these programs reduced poverty and helped the most vulnerable through the crisis.
However, some New Deal programs were less successful or raised concerns. The National Recovery Administration, which tried to regulate wages and prices, was deemed unconstitutional. Agricultural programs did not help tenant farmers and sharecroppers. Some argue the programs did not go far enough in redistributing wealth or ensuring all groups benefited equally. There was also resistance to the expansion of the federal government’s role in the economy and individuals’ lives. Overall though, most historians agree the New Deal’s positive impacts, especially in restoring hope and reviving the economy, outweighed its shortcomings (National Archives, n.d.). It left a legacy of reforms that shaped modern America.
The Role of Propaganda in World War II
World War II saw an even greater escalation in the use of propaganda by all major warring nations as they mobilized their populations for total war. New technologies like radio and film allowed governments to spread their messages more widely and intensely than ever before. All sides recognized propaganda’s importance in maintaining civilian support and morale on the home front, as well as influencing neutral countries. Some key ways propaganda was used include:
Boosting patriotism and support for the war effort. Posters, films, speeches and other media portrayed the war in simplistic good vs. evil terms that vilified the enemy and glorified the home country’s cause. For example, British posters urged citizens to “Keep Calm and Carry On” while American posters depicted Uncle Sam urging citizens to buy war bonds (National Archives, n.d.).
Demonizing the enemy. Atrocities real and imagined were used to portray the enemy as inhuman. The Nazis depicted Jews as vermin while Allied propaganda highlighted Nazi cruelty like the Holocaust. Japanese were sometimes depicted as subhuman apes or insects (PBS, 2003). This made compromise seem impossible and justified total victory.
Censorship and self-censorship. Governments tightly controlled information to prevent morale-damaging news from leaking. The media willingly censored themselves. For example, the US downplayed early military defeats and censored journalists (PBS, 2003). This maintained an illusion of inevitable victory.
Racial propaganda. Some nations exploited racial tensions and stereotypes. The US promoted itself as defending Anglo-Saxon civilization while Japanese propaganda depicted Asians liberating themselves from white imperialists (PBS, 2003).
Propaganda played a massive role in mobilizing populations for total war and maintaining civilian support during lengthy conflicts and mounting casualties. By simplifying messages and exploiting emotions, it helped governments frame the political and military stakes in an easily digestible manner for mass audiences. Overall, propaganda was a crucial non-military tool used by all sides to maximize their fighting strength and home front resources.
Reactions to the Atomic Bombings and Strategic Bombing Survey
Reading the Strategic Bombing Survey report on the effects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a sobering experience that evokes complex reactions. On one hand, the report details the immense destruction and human suffering caused, with over 100,000 killed immediately in Hiroshima alone. Descriptions of burned, irradiated victims and the cities reduced to ruins are profoundly disturbing (The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, 1946).
However, the report also finds that the atomic bombings along with the Soviet entry into the war were chief factors in Japan’s surrender. Military planning estimated a US invasion of Japan’s home islands would cost over 1 million American casualties alone. Faced with such estimates, some view the bombings as a tragic necessity that saved lives by ending the war sooner. Others argue conventional bombing and naval blockade may have forced surrender without atomic weapons. There are reasonable perspectives on both sides of this debate.
The report also has implications for modern times. It highlights the immense destructive power of nuclear weapons and cautions that “we can no longer consider any potential enemy as one against whom we can use any weapon, no matter how destructive, and not be answerable for our acts in the court of humanity study bay” (The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, 1946). With tensions rising anew in some parts of the world, this message remains timely and sobering. Overall, reading this historical document evokes complex moral, ethical and strategic issues that still resonate today regarding modern warfare and nuclear weapons. There are no easy answers, only hard lessons.
Study Bay Notes:
D.6. Discussion on WWI propaganda contains

Propaganda is a form of communication that aims to influence the attitudes, opinions, and actions of a target audience. Propaganda can be used for various purposes, such as promoting a political cause, boosting morale, or demonizing an enemy. During World War One, propaganda was widely used by all the belligerent nations to mobilize public support for the war effort, justify their involvement in the conflict, and discredit their opponents.

Some of the propaganda items that stand out to me are:

– The poster “Destroy this mad brute” by Harry Ryle Hopps, which depicts a German soldier as a savage ape carrying a bloody club and a helpless woman. This poster appeals to the emotions of fear and anger, and portrays the Germans as barbaric and inhuman. The poster also implies that the Americans have a moral duty to protect civilization and democracy from the German threat.
– The postcard “The ‘Mad Dog of Europe'” by Louis Raemaekers, which shows Kaiser Wilhelm II as a rabid dog wearing a spiked helmet and biting a globe. This postcard uses humor and exaggeration to mock the German leader and his ambitions. The postcard also suggests that the Kaiser is insane and dangerous, and that he must be stopped before he infects the world with his madness.
– The leaflet “A Message from Home” by the British War Office, which was dropped over German trenches. This leaflet contains a letter from a fictional German soldier’s wife, who tells him about the hardships and sufferings of the civilians at home. The leaflet tries to undermine the morale and loyalty of the German soldiers, and persuade them to surrender or desert. The leaflet also contrasts the harsh conditions in Germany with the peace and prosperity in Britain.

These propaganda items are examples of how different techniques and mediums were used to manipulate public opinion and influence behavior during World War One.

D.8. Discussion on the New Deal

The New Deal was a series of programs and policies enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression of the 1930s. The New Deal aimed to provide relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery for the economy and industry, and reform for the financial and social systems.

Some of the elements of the New Deal that I see as most successful are:

– The Social Security Act of 1935, which established a system of old-age pensions, unemployment insurance, and aid for disabled people and dependent children. This act created a safety net for millions of Americans who were vulnerable to poverty and insecurity.
– The Works Progress Administration (WPA) of 1935, which employed millions of workers to carry out public works projects, such as building roads, bridges, schools, parks, libraries, and art centers. This agency not only provided jobs and income for the unemployed, but also improved the infrastructure and culture of the nation.
– The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of 1933, which developed the resources of the Tennessee River basin, such as hydroelectric power, flood control, irrigation, navigation, and soil conservation. This agency brought modernization and development to one of the poorest regions in the country.

Some of the elements of the New Deal that I find troubling are:

– The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933, which paid farmers to reduce their production of crops and livestock. This act aimed to raise farm prices and incomes by creating artificial scarcity. However, this act also resulted in wasted food and land, and increased hunger and poverty among rural people.
– The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933, which authorized industries to create codes of fair competition that regulated prices, wages, hours, production, and trade practices. This act aimed to stabilize the economy and protect workers’ rights. However, this act also reduced competition and innovation, increased consumer prices, and favored large corporations over small businesses.
– The National Origins Act of 1924, which restricted immigration from certain countries based on their proportion in the 1890 census. This act aimed to preserve the racial and ethnic composition of the nation. However, this act also discriminated against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

These elements of the New Deal are examples of how different goals and values were contested and compromised during the era.

D.9. Discussion on World War Two in the Media

Propaganda played a crucial role in World War Two as a means of influencing public opinion and behavior both at home and abroad. Propaganda was used by all sides of the conflict to achieve various objectives, such as mobilizing support for the war effort,
justifying their actions or policies,
discrediting or demoralizing their enemies,
boosting morale or patriotism,
recruiting soldiers or workers,
raising funds or resources,
or promoting cooperation or resistance.

Some examples of propaganda used in World War Two are:

– The poster “Loose Lips Sink Ships” by Seymour R. Goff, which warns Americans to be careful about what they say or write, as it might reveal vital information to the enemy. This poster appeals to the sense of duty and responsibility, and creates a sense of paranoia and suspicion.
– The film “Triumph of the Will” by Leni Riefenstahl, which documents the Nazi party rally in Nuremberg in 1934. This film glorifies Adolf Hitler and the Nazi ideology, and portrays them as powerful and charismatic. The film uses techniques such as camera angles, music, lighting, and editing to create a dramatic and persuasive effect.
– The radio broadcast “Tokyo Rose” by Iva Toguri D’Aquino, which was aimed at American soldiers in the Pacific theater. This broadcast taunted and teased the soldiers with false or exaggerated news, such as their wives or girlfriends cheating on them, their commanders lying to them, or their chances of survival being slim. The broadcast tried to lower the morale and loyalty of the soldiers, and encourage them to surrender or desert.

These examples of propaganda show how different media and methods were used to manipulate emotions and attitudes during World War Two.

D.10. Discussion on the Effects of the Atomic Bombs

The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 were the first and only use of nuclear weapons in warfare. The bombs killed tens of thousands of people instantly, and caused radiation sickness, burns, injuries, and cancers for many more in the following years. The bombs also had political, social, economic, and environmental impacts that shaped the course of history.

My reactions to reading the Strategic Bombing Survey report are:

– I am shocked by the magnitude and severity of the destruction and suffering caused by the atomic bombs. The report describes in detail the physical effects of the bombs, such as the blast wave, the heat wave, the firestorm, and the radiation. The report also provides statistics and testimonies of the casualties and damages inflicted on the cities and their inhabitants. The report paints a vivid and horrifying picture of the aftermath of the bombings.
– I am intrigued by the analysis and evaluation of the military and strategic effects of the atomic bombs. The report argues that the atomic bombs were not decisive in ending the war, as Japan was already on the verge of collapse due to conventional bombing, naval blockade, internal unrest, and Soviet invasion. The report also suggests that the atomic bombs had little impact on Japan’s willingness to surrender, as the Japanese leaders were more concerned about preserving their political system and avoiding foreign occupation than avoiding further destruction.
– I am conflicted by the ethical and moral implications of the atomic bombs. The report acknowledges that the atomic bombs were a new and unprecedented weapon that posed new challenges and dilemmas for humanity. The report also raises questions about the necessity, legality, and morality of using such a weapon against civilian populations. The report does not provide a clear or definitive answer to these questions, but rather invites further debate and reflection.

These are my reactions to reading the Strategic Bombing Survey report.

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