important historical artifacts.
is difficult to underestimate the impact that propaganda had upon the
masses in history’s first modern war, which saw the mobilization and
regimentation of entire societies to an unprecedented degree.
WWI was a “total war” for its European participants, and that
totality was made possible in large measure due to the creation of an
equally modern propaganda as revealed in these cards. The
effectiveness of this propaganda in hardening the utter distinction
between “us” and “them” is seen in the aftermath of the war in
the harshness of terms dictated to Germany in the Treaty of Versailles.
It was this harshness and heavy-handed vengeance towards the
German people that lead directly to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the
Nazi Party, and ultimately the Second World War.
great British historian G.M. Trevelyan, identifies wartime propaganda as
a crucial factor in the disastrous “insults and injuries” heaped
upon Germany at Versailles in 1919. Writing in 1937,
almost twenty years after Versailles and at a time when Hitler’s
Germany was in a frenzy of re-armament, Trevelyan assessed the impact
that the themes of Allied wartime portrayed here had upon the people of
Britain, and of France. “When the War began in 1914
the mood of the country was that of an idealist crusade to save Belgium
and liberty in Western Europe; great material advantages for ourselves
were not envisaged, nor any gross revenge on the enemy. But
the increasing atrocity of modern war . . . aroused the deepest
passions; and war propaganda, considered necessary to hold mass opinion
on the Home Front concentrated in hate of the enemy, made the utmost of
such themes. The popular press, in perpetual frenzy,
painted ’the Huns’ as scarcely human, and all who thought them human
as traitors. . . . as the terrible years went by, [it] hardened their
hearts and darkened their minds. The prolongation of
such a war for four years destroyed the possibility of a reasonable
peace, because the terms of peace would have to be decided before the
abnormal passion would have time to cool.”
|Original Text :
Kosanovich and Paul Hageman
All cards shown are from the private collections of Paul Hageman and Jerry Kosanovich.
Copyright © Paul Hageman (NL) / Jerry Kosanovich (USA) 1999-2010
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