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How essential was the role of propaganda in the First World War?

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Introduction

How essential was the role of propaganda in the First World War? Propaganda is the deliberate spreading of stories or ideas, which are intended to influence, what people think. It can be said that it is a way of 'twisting the truth', and hence making people believe something that is very likely to be exaggerated. The definition of propaganda from the Oxford dictionary is 'chiefly derogatory information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.' The British government (like many other countries at the time) first started using propaganda during the First World War, as a method to help with the war effort. In 1914, the British government passed the Defence of the Realm Act, which came to be known as DORA. The reason for why this was an important factor in fighting the war effort was mainly because it gave the government a broad diversity of power to control many aspects of the daily lives of many people. For example, this act allowed the government to take over industries, buildings and land, which were important in assisting in the war effort. This was a method of controlling what the public were able to discover about the brutality and savageness of the war that was being fought through 'censorship'. DORA also gave the government power over the newspapers and other large level of media. This enabled the government to control what the people heard and saw. Hence starting a surge of propaganda sources corrupting the British society as well as many other societies across the world. ...read more.

Middle

This poster, as the first poster makes the person looking at it guilty that they are not helping with the war efforts, and due to this guilty conscience, they are very likely to end up joining the war effort. The third poster that will be looked at shows the image of Britannia (an image of British strength and pride) clutching onto a sword, with the image of the Lusitania behind her. The text reads, 'Take up the sword of justice'. This was a clever piece of propaganda by the government. The reason for this was that the Lusitania was a passenger liner, which was torpedoed by a German submarine. Nearly everyone on board died, including around a thousand British and around hundred Americans. There are many different stories to this tragedy, including that the ship contained ammunition and that was why it was torpedoed and that the British government committed this crime to get America on their side. However, this tragedy nearly got America on their side. Due to this tragedy, the poster is telling the person reading that they should avenge the Lusitania. This view would be very popular as both the American and especially British public would be angered by this hideous crime committed by the Germans, and therefore they would end up joining the armed forces to get their own back. The slogan that was used was also telling the public to avenge the deaths of the people in the Lusitania; by taking justice into, their own hands and fighting. Cinema films were another medium used by the British government as a method of propaganda. ...read more.

Conclusion

The government used leaflets, which contained rationing orders to supply to people. This in end tackled the problem. Propaganda overall helped the government recruit people for both the war and home front, the mostly exaggerated stories gave people more stamina to triumph over the enemy and lead their country into a new generation. Propaganda was significant in Britain's victory over Germany, to a certain extent. The reason for this is that propaganda helped the British public keep their morale and enthusiasm as high as possible for a longer period of time. This enabled them to work harder towards the war effort knowing (from mainly exaggerated stories) that they were making there country proud and also keeping the evil Germans at bay. Propaganda may have been an effective weapon against the Germans but however it was not the only weapon. For example, Britain's public stayed by their country as well as by the brave soldiers on the Western front, they supported (mainly the women) the war effort by joining the workplaces usually inhabited by men. I can now conclude that even though propaganda was an effective weapon in the war against Germany, it was not an essential weapon. The reason for this is that propaganda did help boost peoples confidence in the war effort but it was not the only weapon against Germany that was utilized. For example the triumph depended on how the war was fought, with the will and pride of every British soldier. It also depended on the involvement of the USA, who at the time had a very strong army. So it can be said that propaganda was a valuable weapon in the war against Germany but however was not the most important one. Usman Choudhry 11.05 ...read more.

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