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‘Misunderstood Monster’ & the attack of the Hun: By Alisha McCabe.

Australia has a long history of using propaganda throughout both WW1 & WW2 to convey a powerful message. These messages, whether
true or false, play on an array of human emotions, exploiting the viewer to feel emotions in which mind stir an uncomfortable feeling, or invoke
downright fear into the viewer. A simple cartoon has the ability to completely dehumanize and demonise the one in which the creator wishes to
target. Emily Robertson describes the use of ‘atrocity propaganda’ used by both England and Australia throughout WW1 “Atrocity propaganda
alleged that during the German invasion of Belgium in 1915, German soldiers committed appalling acts of violence against non-combatant
Belgians…It made its most forceful allegations through cartons that de-humanised the Germans and exaggerated the pure moral qualities of
the British and the Allies” (Robertson 2014) During this time one name is prominent of this ‘atrocity artwork’, Norman Lindsay who published
an extensive series of artworks through this period.
A key feature of this time was producing the enemy as the ‘Hun’ whether German or Asian these creatures always possessed un-human like,
‘the other’, and death-like connotations.
This illustrated essay will showcase numerous artworks created during wartime, and attempt to breakdown the matter and content of these
artworks that infiltrated Australian society at this time.

-The first truly modern propaganda “emerged during the First World War.
Governments utilised reportage,
literature, poster art, photography and film to influence their audiences hearts
and minds”. (Crawford 2003)
Pictured left is Norman Lindsay’s lithography detailing his key feature at the
time, the enemy as the ‘Hun’.
Titled ‘The Thing We Fight’ Lindsay’s work is hard to miss. His ogre, demon-like
creature representing what Australia perceived as the German throughout World
War 1. And as the blood soaked hands of the creature grasp over the war
riddled world, it is hard to picture this image not evoking emotion into the hearts
and minds of the people at this time, and creating intense panic and fear. At this
time of its unveiling the image was provoking and was considered to be
removed from parliament.

“It was the events of the First World War that changed the word ‘propaganda’
from having a reasonably neutral meaning to a word with sinister overtones”
(Robertson, 2013)

Fig.1. ‘German Monster’ (poster) Norman Lindsay, 1918.

The image to the right depicts Norman Lindsay’s ‘Will you fight
now or wait for this’. This poster was part of the First World
War Australian Government Recruiting Kit. This poster depicts
German soldiers intimidating a young man, the other victims of
the German soldiers appear to be an elderly man who has
been brutally shot, and a elderly women in the back who
seems to be pleading, un-answering to her merciless call
appear to be the German soldiers as they gather in the
masses. The red and orange fire rages in the background
depicting a scene of devastation, brutality and murder. This
poster in particular illustrates how desperate the recruiting
campaign became in Australia- the suggestion that Australia
itself was threatened by an invading German army was

Fig.2, ‘Will you fight now or wait for this’ (poster) Norman Lindsay, 1918

“During the First World War, cartoonists throughout the English-
speaking work responded to Allied allegations of German atrocities by
depicting the German soldier as a monstrous ogre and labelling him a
‘Hun”’. (Robertson, 2014) Imagine yourself looking at this image in the
year 1915. The war has been rampant for the past year. You are a
young child and your father has been conscripted to fight. How would
this image make you feel? The use of the ‘The Hun’ depicts an
unhuman like quality about it. This piece of propaganda by Lindsay
shows that with the power of religion and prayer your father may
return. The Hun consistently being dehumanised and placed in the
‘other’ category… How may have this moulded Australia’s views on
Germans at this time? Think about the implications in terms of racism
and discrimination for the years to follow. Propaganda has an evil way
of shaping and moulding the public’s minds, through fear and

Fig.3, God bless dear Daddy who is fighting the Hun

And send him Help’, (poster) Norman Lindsay 1915. “The essential thing to understand about war propaganda art is
that it seeks to appeal to emotion over reason” (Kaminski, 2015)
These images shown in this work were to MEET a criteria on
which the standards of propaganda where to be scaled upon and
created. Emotional manipulation and appealing to public fear via
the demonization of the enemy was 1 of the 3 main areas or
chambers of War Propaganda Art.

Fig.4, Recruiting leaflet, Norman Lindsay, 1918.

In keeping with the series of propaganda posters Lindsay published during The second image shows a German soldier holding a gun over Nurse Cavell-
this time, he also managed to produce many leaflets like the one above. A nurse who the German army executed. Blood pours for a wound in her head
This pamphlet was part of a recruitment kit compiled by the Australian As the soldier stands over her twisting his moustache. This image was used
government. These series of five pamphlets were designed to be easily Extensively in Australian and British propaganda throughout World War 1.
folded and delivered, aiming for maximum viewing and accessibility. Towards
the end of the war, the federal government failed to win the right to conscript
soldiers, so they hired Norman Lindsay to promote posters designed to shock
and terrify readers. How would the public have felt when this pamphlet aimed
to shock and terrify landed on their doorstep? Under the ‘German atrocities’
heading is a picture
  of the civilian ship sinking the Lusitania by the Germans. 2  
‘The trumpet calls’ shows a solider sounding his bugle for assistance on the front line as
He eagerly turns in desperation of help to his fellow Australians behind him. Four soldiers
Lay armed and ready and seen to be holding a variety of weaponry aimed at the enemy.
When assessing the background of the word ‘Hun’ and were indeed Lindsay deemed his
Inspiration for his attacks there has been multiple motivations of the emergence of the term
Hun as a nickname for Germans. “Wilhelm’s speech of 1900, the atrocities of the German
Invasion of Belgium in 1914 and Kipling’s war poem the same year” (Musolff, 2018)
The ramifications of Lindsay using and depicting these ‘Huns’ so un-human like, so devious
And devilish would have instilled the word ‘Hun’ with forever negative connotations in history.
Musolff has told of the ‘Hun-stigma’ “new uses of Hun, can be found up to the present day,
Often in contexts where anti-German stereotypes are criticised or ridiculed. (Musolff, 2018)

This series of posters and recruiting ballot cards were the most extensive and costly
Distributions of propaganda Australia had ever seen. “However, Australian atrocity
Propaganda played an important role in earlier conflict” (Robertson, 2016) this saw the
Highest recruitment number for the total war. This is perhaps due to in May, new of
Casualties in Gallipoli started to flow into Australia and this prompted many men to enlist.

Fig.5, ‘The Trumpet Calls’, Norman Lindsay, 1918  

‘Quick!’ by Norman Lindsay depicts two Australian soldiers at the mercy

Of the towering German army in the blue. The image shows one Australian
Soldier attempting to block the fierce wrath of the German soldiers, while
The other Australian soldier holds out an arm of despair, or perhaps a strange
Invitation into conscription and to further the fight against the enemy shown.
Furthermore, the ‘Hun’ is once again shown as the aggressor embroiled in
A violent and bloody battle. Ask the question, what was Australia like politically
At this time? And how did they become so desperate as to use such violent
Propaganda in their attempts to recruit men, and display the Hun in such an
Evil fashion.

Robertson has noted that what these posters represent are not
Shows of strength, but in fact quite the opposite. “Telling the story of a
Desperate government attempting to mobilise an indifferent and war-weary
Australian population”. (Robertson, 2016)

Personally, this level of propaganda shows desperation from the Australian

Government and an over-eagerness to send young soldiers of to war. To
Paint a German soldier in the light of resembling a ‘Hun’ shows how far off
From reality the artists back home really thought war would be like.

Fig.6, ‘Quick!’, Norman Lindsay, 1918.

Fig.7, ‘Fall-in!’, Norman Lindsay, 1914-1918.

When looking at the above image ‘Fall-in!’ ask yourself what Lindsay is trying to create this poster, rather then the posters featuring the
‘Hun’. Here the Australian soldiers march happily in tune. There clean khaki uniform, untouched from the horrors or bloodshed displayed
In Lindsay’s other works at the fault of the ‘Hun’. The look outwards, their gaze focused on the horizon, as they march weapons ready,
bright-eyed and innocent. When analysing Lindsay’s sphere on influence Robertson has likened it to this “Essentially, the ‘monstrous
Hun’ was a recognisable brand which was used to bombard the eligible man during most aspects of his waking day: when he caught the
train, posters by Norman Lindsay would be on the hoardings; when he got home, a pamphlet illustrated by Norman Lindsay would be
waiting for him in the mailbox…” (Robertson, 2016.) So my question is, how dangerous can propaganda be? As the title of this essay
suggests ‘A misunderstood monster’, what were the implications for the Australian population due to this constant bombardment of the
‘Hun’ as the destroyer? In this last image above, Lindsay tries so desperately to retain his idealist view on war. However his constant
pounding throughout the years of the war featuring his Hun as the devil like creature have completely shattered any sort of truthful
meaning behind the word ‘propaganda’ in Australian politics and war forever.

1.) Robertson, E 2014, ‘Propaganda and ‘manufactured hatred’: A reappraisal of the ethics of First World
War British and Australian atrocity propaganda, vol. 3, no.2, pp. 245-266.
2.) Crawford, R 2003, ‘an informed citizenry? Advertising and propaganda in wartime Australia, When
Journalism Meets History, RMIT Publishing, Melbourne, Vic.
3.) Robertson, E 2014, ‘Propaganda and ‘manufactured hatred’: A reappraisal of the ethics of First World
War British and Australian atrocity propaganda, vol. 3, no.2, pp. 245-266.
4.) Robertson, E 2014, ‘Norman Lindsay and the ‘Asianisation’ of the German Soldier in Australia during
the First World War, vol.103, no.2, pp.211-231.
5.) Kaminski, J.J 2015, ‘World War 1 and Propaganda Poster Art: Comparing the United States and
German Cases, vol.7, no.2, pp.64-81.
6.) Musolff, A 2018, ‘The afterlife of an infamous gaffe: Wilhelm II’s ‘Hun speech’ of 1900 and the anti-
German stereotype during World War 1 in British and German popular memory’ vol.9, no.1, pp.75-90.
7.) Robertson, E 2016, ‘A much misunderstood monster: the German ogre and Australia’s final and
forgotten recruitment campaign of the Great War, vol.13, no.3, pp.351-367.

Fig.1 Lindsay, N 1914-1918, The German Monster, Chromolithograph on paper, Australian War Memorial,

Fig.2 Lindsay, N 1914-1918, ‘Will you fight now or wait for this?’, Chromolithograph on paper, Australian War
Memorial, <>.

Fig.3 Lindsay, N 1914-1918, ‘God bless dear Daddy who is fighting the Hun and send him help, Chromolithograph
on paper, National Library of Australia , <>.

Fig.4 Lindsay, N 1918, ‘German Atrocities, Cavell, A Terrible Record’, Process letterpress blocks on paper,

Fig.5 Lindsay, N 1918, ‘The Trumpet Calls’, Chromolithograph on paper,


Fig.6 Lindsay, N 1914-1918, ‘Quick!’, Chromolithograph on paper,


Fig.7 Lindsay, N 1914-1918, ‘Fall-in!’, Chromolithograph on paper,