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Propaganda and Censorship

Propaganda in Britain
The war introduced a torrent of publishing aimed at keeping British attention
focused on the war effort.
The propaganda was aimed to promote the values the government wished to put
across such as: Careless talk costs lives attempting to encourage people not to
discuss war matters in case of spies or enemy reconnaissance.
The BBCs production at the beginning of the war was poor. They began
cancelling programmes, however they learnt their lesson and after the rise of
private radio sets to 10 million by 1945 they began to create new radio
programmes aimed at entertaining and informing the public such as Workers
Playtime. This created a massive rise in morale.
Traditional forms of propaganda such as newspapers and posters were joined by
new media including cinema, newsreels and radio.
The cinema also had a golden age with a rise in feature films that incorporated
war themes as they cooperated with the government to create entertaining
films to keep people happy and carry the right messages.

Feature films
Feature films were also used as another source of propaganda such as
Mrs Miniver a film about a gallant British housewife coping with the Blitz.
Winston Churchill credited Mrs Miniver with increasing American support for the
war effort as Hollywood finally took a stance against the Nazis.
Went The Day Well? a film about English villagers taking on a secret German
invasion. It served as unofficial propaganda for the war effort as the film
reinforced the message that civilians should be vigilant against fifth columnists
and that "careless talk costs lives.

German Propaganda
Prior to 1938, while Hitler tried to make an alliance with Britain, Nazi propaganda
praised the British as proficient Aryan imperialists. Later, as they realised that
they would have to fight them, their propaganda criticised the British as
oppressive, German-hating plutocrats and sought to drive a wedge between
Britain and France.
One of the major themes of the anti-British propaganda campaign was alleged
British human rights abuses.
Germany also subjected the British to propaganda via the English language
propaganda radio station Radio Hamburg with the programme Germany calling.
It is estimated at its height in 1940 it had six million regular listeners. The
broadcasts urged the British people to surrender and had a sinister side. It was
ran by American-born, British Fascist politician William Joyce (aka Lord Haw-Haw)
who fled to Nazi Germany in 1939 after calls for his arrest. He would later be
executed for high treason in 1945.

Source A

Propagandas impact on society (Source A)


The aim of the source was to encourage the British people to contribute to the
war effort. We know that the fighting and total war impacted on all society as it
required the effort of everyone, highlighted by conscription.
Propaganda was an effective medium during the war as it was universally viewed
by all members of society, often being plastered on street corners or other public
areas. As a result, it would have had a significant impact on society as it tried to
influence the population towards support for the war effort.
Propaganda was also used to shape international opinion as well as those at
home.

Censorship
The 1939 Emergency Powers (defence) Act allowed for the government to
enforce restrictions to secure defence of the realm. One measure which may be
expected more so in Stalinist Russia was the prevention of people expressing
defeatist thoughts. This controlling measure ensured universally morale
seemed high in favour of the war effort.
Newspapers particularly were subject to censorship to ensure anything published
would avoid reducing morale or be useful to the enemy. When scrutinised by
the censor anything with potential military significance, from weather reports or
location of troops, was removed.
Articles reporting on air raids also often avoided facts, not stating the number of
casualties etc. Instead the reports tended to focus on the success of the
emergency services and anti-aircraft guns, portraying a positive spin on the raid.
The left picture of a raid in Newark in 1941 was censored with the one to the
right being published. It ensured the public felt that authorities had the situation
under control, show through the clean-up efforts.

It is thought, due to strict censorship, many British civilians had a desire to listen
to what the other side were saying via broadcasts such as Germany calling. At
the start of the war it is likely German broadcasts were more informative than
them of the BBC. The BBC, whilst acknowledging setbacks as well as triumphs,
did so in such a way that lacked specific detail. This was undoubtedly to maintain
public morale but also to ensure the Germans didnt find out which missions
were successful.
The relationship between the BBC and the Government (Ministry of Information)
was at times difficult, disagreeing on what the nation needed to know. Namely
Frank Gillards report of the futile assault on Dieppe in 1942 where over 3000
Canadian troops were killed was heavily censored, preventing Churchills
mistakes from being known.
Letters were censored from soldiers so that they avoided any mention of
location, next area of battle, battle
content or movement of other units. Most
knew of the restrictions and stayed within
the boundaries. Anything the censor
didnt deem suitable would be simply cut
out leaving a gap in that area.