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Tag: The Great War

Censorship and Propaganda in World War I: A Comprehensive History

Reviewed by Pip Gregory.

Eberhard Demm’s Censorship and Propaganda takes on a vast task in attempting to provide a comprehensive insight into First World War propaganda. There is an abundance available out there, across all combatant nations, and its relationship with censorship adds further levels of complexity. There are studies that address aspects thereof, but tying that all together is a daunting task. Demm’s new book builds upon his fabulous articles for the online encyclopaedia 1914-1918, plus a number of other works. This new and highly comprehensive volume presents a depth of analysis around propaganda; its design, influence and those who controlled and contributed to it, as well as considering its impact, and legacy that has otherwise been lacking in other studies. Naturally, within Demm’s study of both censorship and propaganda there are aspects for which there is more evidence available, namely the propaganda, and others less so, but what evidence Demm has found he has utilised effectively to demonstrate the value of the widespread of wartime propaganda and its partner in (avoiding) crime, censorship.

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Monarchies and the Great War

Reviewed by Mario Draper.

The First World War has frequently been described as a watershed moment. Arthur Marwick, for instance, famously put forward the notion that the resultant social, economic, and political change qualified it as the first total war. The impact on the institution of monarchy was no less dramatic, with the abrupt demise of the Romanovs, the Hohenzollerns, and the Habsburgs, as well as the resultant fall of the Ottoman dynasty a few years later. Nevertheless, a systematic study of monarchy’s role and influence during the First World War has received relatively little attention. This is all the more evident in terms of comparative history, where even The Cambridge History of the First World War only tackles the question of monarchy within the framework of civil-military relations (the autocracy vs democracy debate), which naturally extends its scope to include a study of the participating republics. To this end, Matthew Glencross and Judith Rowbotham’s conference and ensuing published proceedings, Monarchies and the Great War, provides a useful addition to the plethora of publications that have accompanied the Centenary of the First World War.

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Reflections on the Centenary: An Important Moment for Education and the Memory of the First World War

Written by Natasha Silk.

As the Centenary of the First World War ends, it is time to reflect on the conflict as a whole and consider how the commemorations have unfolded. We are likely to see a raft of new literature in the coming months discussing the impact of the Centenary on British collective memory of the war. It is undeniable that the events of the last four and a half years have influenced the way we, as a society, view the war. Some have argued that we have allowed the story of the dead to overwhelm the way we have approached the Centenary. Certainly, the commemorations and remembrance services for the dead have been centre stage. However, many have used this opportunity as a platform to educate the wider public about the war, including more marginalized areas. It seems that these two aspects of the Centenary commemorations have gone hand in hand. This post considers how education and remembrance have worked together to create the Centenary’s own legacy.

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The Merci Train: Remembering the World Wars in 52,000 Objects

Written by Ludivine Broch.

It is well-known that France and the French are haunted by the Second World War. Numerous studies have shown how memories of resistance, collaboration and deportation have risen, fallen and clashed since 1945. Yet these studies generally explore memory through the lens of political, judicial and cultural elites. How did people feel at the grassroots level? Did the French Resistance dominate their history and memory of the war, like it did at the national level?

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A Very Noisy Silence: British War Films of the 1920s

Written by Mark Connelly.

Silence is absolutely crucial to our remembrance of the Great War. The thousands of sepia images we have of men queuing up to enlist, marching away to war, slogging through mud encumbered with kit, of women and children reading casualties lists pasted to billboards are curiously hypnotic due to their arresting power framed by, and etched into, the sepulchre silence of the tomb. As we know, everyone in the Great War is dead. In fact, the way we perceive it, they were preordained-doomed-dead in 1914 long before the first shots of the armies had been fired. Never such innocence again is synonymous with the crushing weight of silence; the silence of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday; the supposed silence of all memory – ‘dad never spoke about the war’ or ‘mum never spoke about dad or how he died’. ‘There we stand, alone in the world, mute before the meaning of the events that befell our generation’, as R.H. Mottram wrote in his article, ‘In Those Two Minutes’.

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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.

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