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20 October 2014
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Interpretation: Propaganda
How successful was propaganda in encouraging enlistment and ensuring public support?

The whole nation needed to be convinced to support the King's decision to enter the War. Despite the long-term causes, for a lot of people the War seemed to start very suddenly. In fact it was little over a month after the 'trigger' event of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination. What tactics did the British propaganda machine use to get that support?

Thinking point: How valid are these sources as good reasons for Britain entering the War?

Source A

'A third form of mutilation, the cutting of one or both hands, is frequently said to have taken place. In some cases where this form of mutilation is alleged to have occurred it may be the consequence of a cavalry charge up a village street, hacking and slashing at everything in the way; in others the victim may possibly have held a weapon, in others the motive may have been the theft of rings.'

The Bryce Report on Alleged German Outrages, Appointed by His Britannic Majesty's Government, 15th December 1914

Source B

'War is not all evil. It is a true tragedy, which must have nobleness and triumph in it as well as disaster... We must not begin to praise war without stopping to reflect on the hundreds of thousands of human beings involved in such horrors of pain and indignity that, if here in our ordinary hours we saw one man so treated, the memory would sicken us to the end of our lives...
To have something before you, clearly seen, which you know you must do, and can do, and will spend your utmost strength and perhaps your life in doing, is one form at least of very high happiness, and one that appeals - the facts prove it - not only to saints and heroes but to average men. Doubtless the few who are wise enough and have enough imagination may find opportunity for that same happiness in everyday life, but in war ordinary men find it. This is the inward triumph which lies at the heart of the great tragedy.'

'How Can War Ever Be Right?', written for the WPB in 1914 by Gilbert Murray, Professor and translator of Ancient Greek and Classical Literature

Source C

The Scrap of Paper: Can Britain Stand By While Germany Crushes An Innocent People?

Why do you think the government commissioned so many different types material?

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A -The war effort was a national cause that needed to be promoted everywhere people looked.

B - Many people did not read newspapers or leaflets, so pictures were important in persuading people.

C - Like advertising, propaganda was targeted at specific groups: women, young men, rich people, factory workers, etc.

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