Skip to content

Tag: Propaganda

Keeping the Pot Boiling: British Propaganda in Neutral Turkey during the Second World War

Written by Edward Corse.

Neutral Turkey was geographically surrounded by the Second World War. The Germans occupied land to the north and west; Italy occupied parts of Greece; the British were to the south in places such as Cyprus, Egypt and Iraq; the French were in Syria; and Russia, Turkey’s traditional enemy, loomed in the east in the form of the Soviet Union.

To try to keep itself out of the war, Turkey signed a number of agreements: a Treaty of Friendship with Britain in April 1939 followed by a Tripartite Agreement with Britain and France in October 1939; then later a Treaty of Non-Aggression with Germany in June 1941. Working to balance the interests of the warring parties was the very essence of maintaining neutrality.

However, being neutral did not mean that the war had no impact. Both Britain and Germany had Ambassadors in Ankara – Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen and Franz von Papen, respectively – and the cities of Ankara and Istanbul were awash with their spies and propaganda.

Leave a Comment

Mapping the Future: The Diercke Atlas in the Third Reich

Written by Mike Anderson.

Cartography has only become a tool for historical research in the past few years. Traditionally, geography and history have been separated – the old adage ‘geography is about maps, history about chaps’ meant that there were few interdisciplinary crossovers. However, in recent scholarship maps have begun to be viewed as tools to understand the worldview of historical cultures and historical actors in and of themselves. When applied to Nazi Germany, this new perspective on cartographic agency reveals a hitherto largely ignored method of instilling propaganda. This article examines how the portrayal of the conquest of Lebensraum in Eastern Europe in geography classrooms and the Diercke Schulatlas für Höhere Lehranstalten, the most popular German school atlas, eclipsed any scholarly or factual analysis of the area.

Leave a Comment

ANNUAL LECTURE 2017/18: Commissars in the Republican Popular Army during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

Written by James Matthews.

On 17 July 1936, a faction of the Spanish army rose up against the Second Republic, triggering a violent conflict that developed into the Spanish Civil War as groups loyal to the government rallied to its defence. The military plotters essentially considered themselves to be defending traditional Spain from the threat of social revolution and regional separatism. In the days following the partially successful coup d’état, the two antagonistic camps scrambled to generate stopgap armed support. The forces available to the Republic immediately after the uprising were a disjointed combination of party and union-based volunteer militia, reinforced and at times led by members of both the Spanish security and armed forces. In Republican-held territory, the regular pre-war conscript army disintegrated and government authority in many places collapsed. Although some of these former soldiers joined the conflict as volunteer militiamen, the army effectively ceased to be a tool at the state’s disposal.

Leave a Comment

Preaching to the Converted?: Boys’ and Girls’ Fiction as Propaganda, 1914-18

Written by David Budgen.

Children growing up in the era of the First World War were encouraged to help with the war effort in a number of ways; between 1914 and 1918 they collected conkers and wool from hedgerows, gathered salvage, and worked in war industries and on the land.  Much of their leisure time too would also have been taken up with the war.  In particular, a wealth of fiction – novels and story papers – utilised the war as a setting.  ‘Perhaps,’ argues Niall Ferguson, ‘the grim truth about war propaganda was that it had the greatest influence on the social group which mattered least to the war effort: children’.  This influence can be seen in the aforementioned ways in which children partook in the war effort.  And yet, although children’s books were undoubtedly topical responses to relatively contemporary events, the extent to which these works functioned as propaganda is worthy of some discussion.

Leave a Comment

Serial Propaganda: Replicating the Trope of ‘Barbarous’ Germans in British Boys’ Story Papers during the First World War

Written by Thomas Stephens.

British boys’ authors writing during the First World War embraced the conflict as a new arena for their fictional heroes. Stories about the war were at a premium from 1914 onwards, and many authors also took the opportunity to use their publications to mobilise youth to help in the war effort. Those writing about the war for boys got information about the conflict using information from a combination of newspapers, official propaganda, personal knowledge, rumour, and imagination. In 1914 and 1915, a flood of stories focusing on the conflict appeared in boys’ literature. But by 1916, many story papers such as the Boys’ Own Paper, Magnet, and Boys’ Friend returned to primarily running humorous public-school stories or colonial adventures. These topics gave readers an escape from the sombre matter of industrialised warfare. Wartime inflation and loss of staff also made returning to easily reprintable stories a sensible idea. Many novels and some adventure serials, like Chums, continued to feature narratives about the front throughout the conflict.

Leave a Comment

Imperialists Like Us: British Pamphlet Propaganda to the USA in the Great War

Written by Rebecca Berens Matzke.

In the Great War, the British government modernised and systematised propaganda for the first time. From the beginning in 1914, it aimed not only at domestic and enemy audiences, but also at the most powerful neutral country: the United States. The Propaganda Bureau, operating secretly from Wellington House, recruited popular British authors to write or compile persuasive information in pamphlets. Their provenance disguised, these pamphlets were then mailed directly to thousands of ‘opinion makers’ in the USA—professionals, political and church leaders, academics, and journalists. They aimed to influence American public opinion toward preserving the nation’s benevolent neutrality and later to recruit the USA to Britain’s cause.

Leave a Comment

Heligoland, Propaganda and the Anglo-German Relationship

Written by Jan Rüger.

What role did Heligoland, Britain’s smallest colony for much of the nineteenth century and a German naval stronghold in two world wars, play in Nazi propaganda? The island outpost, 50 miles off the North German coast, signalled Germany’s determination to turn past defeat into future victory, but it left open the question what sort of a war the Nazis were preparing for. Behind the bold front, Hitler’s attitude towards Britain remained ambivalent. He was keen to keep Britain at least initially out of a war in which he anticipated Germany would suppress Western Europe and conquer much of Eastern Europe. His belief in the possibility of an Anglo-German accommodation was premised on ideological and strategic assumptions about Britain and Germany which were shared not only amongst the Nazi leadership: ideas about cultural and racial affinities; fantasies about the division of the world between a land-based Nazi empire and a sea-based British empire. The Anglo-German naval agreement, signed by Joachim von Ribbentrop and Sir Samuel Hoare on 18 June 1935, was welcomed by Hitler as an important step in that direction. This was little more than an arms limitation treaty, establishing that the German navy would not expand beyond 35 per cent of the Royal Navy’s tonnage. Still, the agreement was hailed in the German press as putting to rest the historic rivalry between the two nations. According to Ribbentrop, Hitler called the 18th of June ‘the happiest day of his life’.

Leave a Comment

Great Britain’s Danger: The Navalist Propaganda Campaign of 1888

Captain Lord Charles Beresford speaking in the Commons in 1888 (Memoirs, 1914, Volume II, p. 160)

Written by Peter Keeling.

On 10 May 1888 a notice headed ‘STRICTLY NON-POLITICAL – GREAT BRITAIN’S DANGER’ appeared in The Times. Placed there by a group of naval officers and city businessmen led by Captain Lord Charles Beresford and Admiral Sir Geoffrey Phipps Hornby, it asked ‘Englishmen of all classes and politics’ to consider the truth of the following statements:

The Naval and coast defences are quite inadequate to the absolute requirements of the nation.

The country is to-day unprepared for war, and would risk a serious reverse were such to occur.

Our commerce would be at the mercy of an enemy in the present weak state of the Navy.

Leave a Comment

The Age of Propaganda

Written by Piers Robinson. Although widely recognised, theorised and researched during the first decades of the twentieth century, propaganda has slid from scholarly attention. With the rise of Public Relations (PR) studies in the academy and the dramatic growth of the global PR industry our appreciation of the ways in which our minds can be manipulated has been diminished. Of course, none of this has been an accident. As Edward Bernays, the founding father of…

Leave a Comment