Gradually, much of the scaffolding of the influential, but historically inaccurate, depiction of British opinion during the First World War, reflected in countless novels as well as older historical studies, is being dismantled. The disillusionment of the war poets is no longer seen as typical of soldiers’ attitudes and the fortitude of British society is increasingly recognised. The view of public opinion in 1914 as overwhelmed by war hysteria and unthinking jingoism has been replaced by one of a reluctant but resolute nation convinced of the justice of the war. But the question remains as to how morale was maintained as the conflict dragged on and the casualties and deaths mounted. David Monger addresses this question in a detailed examination of the role of the hitherto unexplored history of the National War Aims Committee (NWAC), a semi-official parliamentary organisation set up with cross-party support in the summer of 1917.
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Having come across ‘The Art of War‘ at the National Archives (which they hadn’t realised was written by me), and then I guess coming across my website, I have just been in talks with them about being an expert for an episode on government propaganda (before they talk about black propaganda). I am anticipating talking about:
- The MOI and its production/planning of posters. What purpose they thought it would achieve.
- The artists who produced these posters, professionals, but civilians, encouraging people to partake in war.
- Digging around in my research for reference to competitions held in factories/schools re posts.
- Why were particular ‘famous faces’ chosen for some posters in The People’s War
- Stats which demonstrate any effectiveness of posters, or why this can’t be established!
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Tuesday 1 March 2011
London Transport’s war posters used modern design to convey essential information to passengers and staff. Thoughtful passenger behaviour was encouraged in the humorous cartoons of Fougasse and David Langdon. More direct appeals for co-operation, or advice on sheltering and the ‘blackout’ were expressed in easy to read layouts. Other posters celebrated LT’s contribution to the war effort and London’s resilience. Seeing it Through was a series of posters commissioned from Eric Henri Kennington by London Transport in 1944; they commemorate the everyday acts of heroism by civilian workers during the Second World War. Head Curator David Bownes, and art historian Jonathan Black, discuss London Underground’s poster campaign during the Second World War, from morale boosting propaganda to visions of post war society.
Time: 18.30 (talk lasts approximately one hour)
Tickets: Adults £8.00; senior citizens £6.00; students £4.00
Events Site. I’m guessing much of this material will come from my book chapter, so be interesting to see the angle. I’ve just been given a comp ticket, so I’ll come along and try to remember what I wrote!!Tweet
A good primary school book, one of many Reynoldson has written. The book is well illustrated with photographs and poster illustrations, accompanied by clear text which, of necessity, is simplistic. There are several quotes from key figures in the war, which, if the subject is developed at a later age, will become well known!
The ‘Home Front’ is often a popular topic in schools, as so many areas of the National Curriculum can be covered. For instance, one of the topics suggested in this book is that the children are set to designing a propaganda poster of their own, based upon what they have learnt.
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Although this book is derived from an American collection of posters, the range of posters shown is very wide-ranging. After a brief general poster history pre-1914, the book contains many posters from most (if not all) of the belligerent nations involved in warfare during the twentieth century – a century in which propaganda and the art of advertising has flourished. Most of the posters are accompanied by useful snippets of information which tries to set the context for the poster, and discusses the significance of some of the symbolic imagery used in the designs.
The book deals with the First and Second World Wars, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the rise of the Nazis and briefly considers the use of posters post-1945, an era in which the television became the prominent medium, and the poster largely a support medium.
A must-have (for at least a view) for anyone interested in the history of wartime poster design.
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McLaine, I. Ministry of Morale: Home Front Morale and the Ministry of Information in World War Two London: George Allen & Unwin, 1979
A key work for this project which fully considers the administrative history of the Ministry of Information, the lead government department for propaganda. He argues that for two years, the measures taken by government propagandists were:
- Unnecessary and inept
- Based on misunderstanding and distrust of the British public
- Products of the class and background of the propagandists themselves.
- He feels that after two years:
- The Germans were still characterised as irretrievably wicked.
- Efforts were made to separate Communism from the ‘Russian’ (not Soviet) war effort.
- Propaganda was intermittently prompted by doubts about people’s martial stamina and devotion to Parliamentary democracy.
McLaine felt that the achievements of the Ministry of Information were that:
- The MOI realised importance of full and honest news as a factor
- They recognised that in the fight against totalitarianism, it was important not to disregard one of its main weapons, although within a democratic context.
- With benefit of Home Intelligence, the MOI came to regard the British people as sensible and tough, and so entitled to be taken into the government’s confidence
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This work is converted from Grant’s PhD thesis, and is obviously largely concerned with the inter-war propaganda, although the starting point taken was the initial ‘failure’ of the Ministry of Information at the beginning of the war. She feels that most other works have concentrated too much upon the negativity which surrounded propaganda after its use in the First World War, and upon staffing problems, with little or no consideration of peacetime propaganda which affected wartime propaganda.
The work considers inter-war developments, such as the development of publicity bureaux in many government departments, which caused problems in the formation of the Ministry of Information as they did not want to give up their independence to a centralised publicity bureau in the war. By 1937, there were seventeen publicity departments, which shows a rise in the acceptance of the idea of publicity as “legitimate function” of government departments, even if it was not fully accepted by the Second World War.
She considers propaganda developments in other countries, and debates about propaganda in the period in order to understand how, why and to what degree propaganda became an acceptable activity of government.
Purchase from Oxford University Press
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To describe this book as a ‘scrapbook’ is oversimplifying it rather a lot! There is a lot of good quality text also within this work, although the information is not referenced! The book IS aimed at the younger reader, or those with a general interest, and is well illustrated with many well-known (and not so well known) black and white photographs.
The book deals with life on the Home Front during the Second World War, maintaining a chronological layout as far as possible, but much of the ‘Home Front’ wartime life was ‘ongoing’ and therefore there are thematic chapters devoted to rationing, salvage, to life on the land, entertainment, all the while promoting the ‘Blitz spirit’.
A good book for schools!
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Doherty, M. Nazi Wireless Propaganda: Lord Haw-Haw and British Public Opinion in the Second World War Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000
This is the first book devoted exclusively to the analysis of the Nazis’ radio effort against the United Kingdom during the Second World War. It traces the development of the German propaganda service and looks to erode the myth surrounding Lord Haw-Haw -the ‘superpropagandist’. Propaganda is presented in context: the purposes behind it, the changing patterns, themes, styles, and techniques employed, and the impact upon the target audience and its morale. An analysis of the Nazi wireless broadcasts to Britain for the whole of the Second World War reveals a sophisticated and intelligent propaganda assault on the social and economic fabric of British society. In the end the British failed to succumb to the stupefying effects of Nazi propaganda and they traditionally congratulate themselves upon the national unity which immunised them against it. The author argues that this traditional view disguises a more complex, less appealing reality.
The book looks at the organisation behind the broadcasts to the United Kingdom during the Second World War: the RMVP (German Propaganda Ministry). It considers the subjects used in broadcasts during the `Phoney war`, including the type of social problems in Britain upon which the Nazis focused. It also discusses the subject matter used during a time of seemingly `unstoppable victories` for the Nazis, and also reflects upon how they dealt with the issue of defeat. The book also considers how the British, including the state, the media, and the people, reacted to the broadcasts.
People often felt that they were not being given enough facts by their own government, so turned to `Lord Haw-Haw` for information. Along with other recent books by James Chapman ‘The British at War: Cinema, State and Propaganda’ (1998) and Mariel Grant ‘Propaganda and the Role of State in Interwar Britain’ (1994) this book is a converted, well-researched, PhD thesis dealing with an otherwise under-researched area in the ever-widening field of British propaganda studies, with a particular focus upon the highly mythologized figure of `Lord Haw-Haw`
An interesting extra to the book is a CD which contains a selection of wartime broadcasts by `Lord Haw-Haw` and other broadcasters from Germany, spanning January 1940 to April 1945. It is interesting that new media has allowed a wider circulation of such topics, with a reasonable sound quality.
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