Propaganda is a form of persuasion that is aimed at influencing, manipulating and controlling the behaviors of people; usually towards a cause or position. Many trends of propaganda can be detected throughout world history. In 1939, Hitler used anti-semitism propaganda to help unite the country against the Jewish. In 1861, Americans used propaganda against African-Americans during the civil war. Even dating back to 1622, the Roman Catholic Church used propaganda against the Protestants. Propaganda has made it possible for humans to act in such ways, we never thought possible.
During World War II, some believe the goal for Hitler was to spread the Aryan race, invoke German culture and in the end, take over the world. With Hitler being a man of authority, he was able to impose his views on the German people. Although his views may be seen as erroneous, his way of words were convincing. Hitler used the Jewish as a scapegoat; the reason for Germany losing World War I. Hitler preyed on the weaknesses of his country’s people; how broken they were after losing the war. Germans were angry, hurt and felt betrayed by their prior leaders; He was going to change it all. Hitler promised the German’s a life of freedom, a life without poverty, and a life where their culture would become dominant. Propaganda was the easiest way to gain everyone’s attention, from one side of the country to the other. Hitler stated, “Controlling information was just as important as controlling the military and the economy.”
The slander against the Jewish culture was so extensive, German’s actually believed the Jewish to be of lesser value, subhuman and dangerous. All of the films, newspapers, posters and even comics were so convincing, it brainwashed the Nazi’s into believing their mass genocide was for a good cause.
Another so called ‘good cause’ people fell trap to, was in our own country. During the Civil War, American press from both the North and the South, published propaganda. The South used propaganda to help convince the American people slavery was acceptable. The North used propaganda to attempt to unify the people. Southern states used propaganda to place fear into the American people; stating that ‘mixing races would be the end of mankind’. The South also targeted American’s patriotism, stating African-Americans were incapable of being good soldiers. The South claimed, if an African-American were to fight against another black individual; they would side together instead of fighting for the cause. The North also played on American’s patriotism, but in the sense that unity of all mankind would be most beneficial. The North demonized the South, making them all appear immoral and evil. One way the North used propaganda was on envelopes; stamping pictures of either enslaved black men or naming the South’s best soldier, a ‘thief’. The South created propaganda drawings of black men becoming friends on the battlefield. Furthermore, both sides depicted one another as a truth, which was incorrect.
Truth is seen either one way or another, in religion. In 1622, during the Reformation, the term propaganda, was actually coined by the Catholic church, in efforts to discredit the Protestants. The Catholic’s started by responding to the first strike of propaganda; from the works of Martin Luther. Martin Luther, a priest, broke off from the Catholic religion to change the way the church was ran. He started creating pamphlets against the Catholic church, picturing people ‘showing their rears’ to the Priest, stating they didn’t need another man to interpret the Bible for them. The Catholics were outraged; they responded with another form of propaganda.
The Catholic Church blamed the Peasant War (a war in which 100,000 to 300,000 peasants and farmers were killed), and all the turmoil caused by it, on Martin Luther. The Catholic Church was less successful in spreading their propaganda, than the Protestants. Catholic’s tried to spread their views by using word of mouth; influential people preaching at congregations. The Protestants had more gain with their use of propaganda; printing pamphlets that could not be easily made extinct. Both religions had views they tried to impose on individuals; it depended on their execution with how far it spread.
Propaganda is a very powerful tool that has been used throughout centuries. It is a technique of fear; gaining the trust of individuals based on lies or exaggerations. Propaganda encourages a particular response, usually presented in facts that are selective; lying through omission. Commanders have influenced their troops in wars; creating more destruction if there were never to have been propaganda slander. Religious leaders, convincing their clergy on the ways the Bible is viewed. Stereotyping and bias can create the widespread of hate; manipulating the minds of people to despise one race, or religion. “By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even Heaven as Hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.” -Adolf Hitler. With every propaganda trend, there is more hate and disgust to follow.