Propaganda

During World War One, propaganda was employed on a global scale. Unlike previous wars, this was the first total war in which whole nations and not just professional armies were locked in mortal combat. This and subsequent modern wars required propaganda to mobilise hatred against the enemy; to convince the population of the justness of the cause; to enlist the active support and cooperation of neutral countries; and to strengthen the support of allies.

This postcard uses the Union Flag and the icon of the Bulldog to show Britain, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa standing united against a common threat, 1915.

Propaganda for patriotism and nationalism

Article by:
David Welch

Professor David Welch explores nations’ reliance on propaganda in World War One, with a focus on symbols and slogans of nationhood and patriotism.

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Stamps from a set produced by the French league Souvenez-vous (French for ‘remember’), which aimed to perpetuate the memory of German crimes after the war.

Atrocity propaganda

Article by:
Jo Fox

Atrocity propaganda focused on the most violent acts committed by the German and Austro-Hungarian armies, emphasising their barbarity and providing justification for the conflict. Professor Jo Fox describes the forms that such propaganda took in the early years of the war.

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Raid of Vienna. Major Gabriele D'Annunzio and his pilot Natale Palli (detail)

Propaganda as a weapon? Influencing international opinion

Article by:
Ian Cooke

From the beginning of World War One, both sides of the conflict used propaganda to shape international opinion. Curator Ian Cooke considers the newspapers, books and cartoons produced in an attempt to influence both neutral and enemy countries.

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Clean fighters - advert for Gillette safety razors

Commercial advertising as propaganda in World War One

Article by:
David Clampin

Advertising and marketing historian David Clampin reveals how key propaganda messages were incorporated into commercial advertising for the Home Front and the battlefield, transforming consumer’s relationships with everyday goods.

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Published in London by the Dominion of Canada News Co., this book looks at the roles played by women in the First World War, 1915.

Women in World War One propaganda

Article by:
Jo Fox

Professor Jo Fox considers the use of women as symbols, victims and homemakers in World War One propaganda.

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Hurray! A war picture-book

Children’s experiences and propaganda

Article by:
Ian Cooke

Curator Ian Cooke discusses the ways in which propaganda influenced children’s perceptions of World War One, encouraging them to develop particular values and to contribute to the war effort.

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все для победы! [Anything / Everything to win!]

The legacy of World War One propaganda

Article by:
Jo Fox

Jo Fox explores the legacy of World War One propaganda, explaining the role it played in shaping the propaganda campaigns of World War Two for both Britain and Germany.

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Russian propaganda poster depicting Kaiser Wilhelm II, the ‘arch-enemy’, whose polices contributed to the outbreak of war.

Depicting the enemy

Article by:
David Welch

How did fighting nations depict the enemy? Professor David Welch explores the techniques used when creating atrocity propaganda.

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Further themes

Origins, outbreak and conclusions

How did World War One begin? Why did it escalate and what was the impact of both war and peace on the countries involved?

The war machine

How were the 65 million men who fought in WWI recruited, armed and organised?

Life as a soldier

What was life like for the millions of professional, conscripted or recruited soldiers?

Race, empire and colonial troops

Over four million non-white men served in WWI. Explore more about their lives and responsibilities.

Civilians

What was life like for civilians, women, children and those displaced by the fighting?

Representation and memory

In addition to poetry, what were the other creative responses to the War? How have these affected our memory and understanding?

Historical debates

How have the views of historians and our understanding of World War One changed over time?

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Image from the Propaganda exhibition book

Propaganda Power and Persuasion

Takes a close look at the range of propaganda used by different states – and their opponents.

£19.99

Image from Daddy, what did you do in the war framed print

Daddy, what did you do in the war mounted print

From a British World War I recruitment campaign.

£9.99