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World War 2 Propaganda: Critical Essay

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Propaganda is a simple but very effective tool used throughout history. This simple term turned winning sides into wars. What is little known, is how it is used and what made it so effective. Let’s dive deeper into World War 2 where one of the biggest impacts, of propaganda, takes place. This is one of the first major wars in which propaganda was heavily used and affected so many. Propaganda strongly influenced the American people, and the American soldiers' support for the war and negatively affected the opposing side, all of which helped in the United States' victory.

The Second World War included all of the world's major powers, like the Axis Powers: Hitler, Italy, and Japan; and the Allied Powers: France, Britain, and Russia. The fighting was a horrific battle; but the conflict was not only waged on the ground, sea, or water. There's been a more discreet battle being waged between actors and graphic artists from the Axis and Allied regime. These men and women played an important role in formulating those views about their enemies and the war by transmitting these kinds of thoughts to their fellow citizens in order to provide some sort of solidarity for their country. Through the force of persuasion, these psychological soldiers attempted to foster a passion for their country.

The best way to understand how propaganda works is by knowing the different types of propaganda. There are three main types of propaganda, Black, Grey, and White. White propaganda is factual evidence used in a way to get the audience to conform to its side, usually opinionated. Grey propaganda uses factual information but does not reveal its source. It usually is credible but with a heavy bias. Black propaganda is sometimes false information to persuade a person or a group. The source is not found or is not the true source and it is not factual. These different types of propaganda are used in different ways depending on the outcome the intent sender wants.

Propaganda's first major benefit was the impact on a sender state's own citizens. It helped boost the morale and production of necessities during the war. According to scholar David Welch, patriotism and nationalism were two of the foremost important themes played on by the propaganda of the time. In 1914, the nation's army was made of professionals furthermore as volunteers, causing the govt. to rely heavily on propaganda as a tool to justify war to the general public eye. This propaganda was wont to promote recruitment into the military and furthermore to convince civilians that if they joined, their sacrifices would be rewarded. one of the foremost impressionable images of this First Warfare is that of the “Your Country Needs You” poster, a particular recruitment poster of Lord Kitchener pointing at his British audience, convincing them to affix the war effort. All of these things helped in making sure the countries' people supported their side and didn’t try and help the other side.

So while some governments try to suppress and diminish the say of their people, others try to boost that up and make their citizens happy. In some cases, propaganda is used as a scare tactic not against the enemies but against the people of said nation. This puts fear into the people and it keeps them working for the goal of the government. This isn’t a very moral way to use propaganda, but it can be effective. This same concept can be used against the enemy too.

When enemy troops don't have contact with their side, or even if they do, they can sometimes question why they are fighting. Adding negative propaganda, just makes them feel as if they can’t win. This has been shown to lead to a less alert and active military. This is a great, non-lethal weapon that can sometimes do more damage than a conventional weapon. When a state's troops don’t want to fight, how are they going to win with no effort? Likewise when a state's troops are wanting to fight and have a reason they have that much more of an advantage over the enemy. Warfare is not always about who can get the most kills, but whose side is justified and right. When one side can prove to the other that they are right they win. This method doesn’t seem to have many flaws, as it can either degrade the morals of the opposing force or switch them to their side.

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Propaganda as a weapon is quite destructive. It can undermine the opponents and build support because the state will be winning. Wartime diplomacy is focused on five main ideas. The first is that propaganda campaigns are used to shape news reports and commentary, defining and redefining the war goals, luring neutral nations into the coalition by offering slices of enemy territory, and encouragement by the Allies of nationalistic movements inside the Central Powers. These ideas are great for influencing all sides of a war. Depending on what type of propaganda is used it can strongly dictate the outcome of wars.

When the war started oceanic communication cables were cut making it much harder to communicate. What came out of this was better propaganda. Countries could use black propaganda with false stories or ideas and get away with it. Communications were blocked so no one could know the whole truth. Also, countries could use sympathy to back their side, because war is sad. The sympathy of the backer, from this backers, could get many things for the chosen side. In the case of the United States, it allowed wealthy individuals to invest in the war industry. Which, indeed, did help the United States in a victory.

Women also played a major role in propaganda. Since women couldn’t fully serve in the war, other tasks including making propaganda were their roles in the wartime. Also, some propaganda, like British propaganda said the enemy threatened women and families. This gives more reason for the soldiers to work harder to protect the ones they love. In this case, terror was thrown on Britain's own side, but it works and is effective. They have more drive and motivation through this fear, which is a good thing. There was also propaganda directed toward women to have them more motivated to work. Before the war women mainly stayed at home. During the war, through propaganda, women were encouraged to join the workforce. This directly impacted the economy and war. By making supplies and helping boost the United States economy, it helped make more money and supplies for the soldiers.

The part of propaganda was atrocity propaganda. This is when the propaganda focuses on the bad things other nations do instead of trying to boost their own morals. This drives hatred among soldiers and citizens, making them want to win the war even more. It is extremely effective when there are major crimes committed by opposing forces. This uses morals to boost confidence in one's side and makes one fight harder. It also affects the populace of the said nation. It will make the ordinary people think their country is morally correct, and that the reason behind the war is valid. Because the German's treatment of some people was so bad, this was very easy for the United States to achieve. Many knew the Germans were in the wrong, but by telling the specifics to the american people, their anger could grow. Like before, when one's anger is escalated it makes it much easier to be motivated towards a situation. This is exactly the case with Americans during World War 2, they were so disgusted by the Nazis, that their motivation to win skyrocketed.

What started propaganda in America? The answer is President Wilson, as he created the Committee on Public Information. The Committee on Public Information was responsible for producing films, commissioning posters, publishing numerous books and pamphlets, purchasing advertisements in major newspapers, and recruiting businessmen, preachers, and professors to serve as public speakers in charge of altering public opinion at the communal level. This program made sure Americans knew that America was essential in winning World War 2. The morals of Americans are essential, especially in a capitalist economy. This is because if people don’t feel the need to work then the economy might fail. The economy is very important during wartime, as it is essential to have currency to use during the war. People need to want to work and help the economy. The biggest thing about war is motivation, without that why would there be a fight?

The United States also took advantage of the influence of film production to encourage nationalistic beliefs among Americans. When films were seen in the theatres, newsreels were seen and after the conflict, several of these reels convinced civilians to participate in the ongoing battle. The Pearl Harbor model is a Newsreel picture called Avenge December 7 (page 13). It is a political item that encourages us to seek vengeance on the Japanese for their awful assault on Pearl Harbor and it's been transmitted almost a year since the strike. 7 December: Avenge Promotes individuals to purchase bonds and coins, allowing Americans to offer their part and support win. The film's narrator states, 'Avenge Seventh December on the triumph. One will also recognize the utter pleasure and excitement of taking part in this show. Sure you've purchased bonds and stamps, but write in your mind as you shop this week that they're bonds of revenge. Stop this theater before you quit and recall the pearl morning only a year earlier '(Avenge December 7). The writers reach out to the American people and in a vulnerable position they land. This was like driving the knife further right through the American people just to force them to purchase bail bonds. The governments of the fighting nations need their countrymen to support them throughout the time of the battle, and the usage of advertising to convince the people to aid in the fight is one of the main arms utilized. How powerful have America and Germany been and who has had the largest influence on their countries? Both Germany and America have done a really effective job in the way that by utilizing deception, they have accomplished the objectives that they were looking for. Dehumanizing thoughts were installed towards the Jewish nation by Germany and a strong sense of nationalism developed. Nazi Germany made up one of the world's most effective forces, but they weren't large enough to conquer the US masses. The United States, on the other side of the coin, became more active in the war strategy. Via advertising, Americans encouraged output so the American army would be properly equipped, and the American people would have employment as well. Ultimately, the war was won by The United States and the Coalition Forces, and that means they were more successful in their effort. Among the American people, they developed a deeper sense of identity which contributed to a greater desire to fight. The American people will go to the ends of the world to fight this battle, and that's why America became more effective than Germany. Propaganda played an important role for Germany and the United States in the Second World War and the ability to manipulate such a powerful instrument was the best asset that all nations might ever have had.

As shown, propaganda is a simple but very effective tool used throughout history. This simple term turned winning sides into wars. What is little known, is how it is used and what made it so effective. This tool was vital for the victory of the American forces. Propaganda strongly influenced the American people, and the American soldiers' support for the war and negatively affected the opposing side, all of which helped in the United States' victory.

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World War 2 Propaganda: Critical Essay. (2023, November 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from
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