"Mocking" cards

General Introduction

Wartime propaganda is like the face of Janus- it presents two faces. It embodies both positive and negative aspects in order to indoctrinate the people to support and sacrifice for the war effort. Propaganda must not simply elevate and energize the people in a positive manner to sacrifice "For King and Country". Wartime propaganda must also belittle and mock the enemy, thereby diminishing them. As the enemy is diminished, the home nation's people and leaders are elevated and raised up as superior. "Negative propaganda", the propaganda of mockery, hatred and fear, was a powerful tool in the arsenal of patriotic forces on both the Allied and Central sides in World War One.

The face of

A study of WW1 mocking propaganda reveals some clear distinctions between the negative propaganda of the Centrals and Allied nations. We believe that these differences emerge primarily from different political realities of the two camps and a difference in the war aims of each group of combatants.
While most of the Allied nations were democratic constitutional monarchies or republics, Germany and Austria-Hungary, though also officially constitutional monarchies, were lead by reactionary "divine rightist" sovereigns whose governments were responsible directly to them, not to their putative parliaments. During the war these monarchs and their appointed representatives exercised near absolute power and were little restrained by the representatives of the masses. There is also a pronounced racialist element in Central propaganda. The peoples of the Central empires were indoctrinated that a motley and mongrel aggregation of nations, each individually inferior to the Germanic brotherhood, sought to diminish and confine their national aspirations. This message of enemy inferiority was coupled with the reflective superiority of the Germans and Austrians.

A second fundamental distinction that helps to explain the differences in their negative propaganda was the war aims of the two camps. The people of Germany, at all levels of society were thoroughly convinced that the war was defensive in nature. Even such political parties of the "left" as the Social Democrats accepted as fact that in 1914 Germany was surrounded by Powers large and small which actively sought to deny Germany the position of political and economic preeminence to which her industry and military entitled her.

For the Austro-Hungarians the war was justified as being in defense of the very integrity of that heterogeneous empire. The masses were warned of the rapacious Russians, Serbians (and later Italians) who sought to carve up the very body of the nation state.

Among the Allied Nations it was played out that the war was one of liberation and law. For the western Allies, World War One pitted the political philosophy of nation state integrity versus Germanic absolutism. Germany and Austria-Hungary were portrayed as enemies of the "liberalism" and "nationalism" which swept Europe from the 1840's and resulted in the creation of nation states such as Italy, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Germany itself! This "liberalism" advocated statehood based upon ethnic grouping, parliamentary government and resolution of international conflicts by arbitration rather then the use of force. Germanic and Austrian militarism were seen as the antithesis and enemy of these noble aspirations.

In summary, Central mocking propaganda is primarily directed at portraying the Allies as inferior. Allied propaganda incorporates this but is more political in tone and strikes at the Germanic political philosophy and focuses sharply upon their leadership as symbolic of that "evil".

Mocking cards of the Centrals

Mocking cards of the Allies

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