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20 October 2014
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Interpretation: Propaganda
What was the purpose of propaganda?
Britons: Kitchener Wants YOU!

Almost immediately after war broke out, David Lloyd George was charged with setting up a War Propaganda Bureau. The WPB had a big task ahead - Britain needed recruits for the army and navy. Lloyd George also understood that propaganda could be used for a number of purposes:

  • To keep morale up at the Home Front and encourage people to give their time and money to the war effort
  • To portray the enemy as an evil that needs to be fought
  • To recruit more soldiers
  • To stop information from being published which might help the enemy
  • To psychologically dishearten the enemy troops
  • To give civilians a government-approved version of the War

It was this final use that the British government felt the work of the WPB should be top secret. Some of the best writers in Britain (Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, among others) were asked to participate in a conference on how written propaganda should be used. They wrote stories and leaflets to persuade the public to join the war effort. Propaganda also took the form of posters, paintings, photographs, films, postcards, newspaper articles, medallions and books.

Why do you think it was so important for the government to have a extensive propaganda campaign?

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A - If public support for the war stopped, it would be impossible to maintain a state of total war.

B - Information about the position and condition of troops must be kept secret.

C - To cover up its own mistakes, and hide their failings from the people.

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