WWI Propaganda

Essay by scofowCollege, UndergraduateA-, June 2004

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As the United States was inevitably drawn into the First World War, President Wilson and his cabinet members were troubled by the question of whether or not the country would support a war that Wilson himself had been against. Would the immigrants from the countries which made up the Central Powers join them or fight along side the other Americans with the Axis Powers? Wilson had to take action and find the best method for influencing the minds of all American citizens. As a result, the Committee on Public Information was created with the intent to produce a mass amount of propaganda to influence as many people possible to be supportive towards the U.S. involvement in the war. The committee used several different tactics: the Germans were portrayed as malicious and offensive, American citizens were faced with posters and advertisements stressing the urgency and obligation to enlist, and people saw images that instantly compelled them to help in the war effort with the buying of War Bonds. The committee was relentless, and wanted to gain the full support of the public for the US involvement in the war.

Through almost every type of propaganda used the Germans were depicted as savage beasts which had no good intent. In the second source "Spies and Lies", all Germans were given the reputation of being conniving, scandalous, sneaky spies. The third source "Bachelor of Atrocities" goes one step further and focuses on the dangers of Germans. It tells of all the terrible events that took place at the University of Louvain, and implies that this is how all Germans acted. Not only are they a threat to us and the world, but they are heartless. In an advertisement appealing to history teachers, the committee actually asks teachers to manipulate the minds of...