Propaganda during world war ii


My aim through this written task is to expand my knowledge on the topic of propaganda that it is of utmost importance especially nowadays, since media have become an integral part of our lives. Propaganda can be used extensively to shape public opinion and manipulate the masses and for this reason I was attracted by the idea to examine some strong cases when propaganda was used. And as I realized the best examples are given during wartimes, when governments resort to propaganda as the most efficient way to control the public and achieve their goals.


According to Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell, "propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist"[1]. Generally, propaganda appeals to emotions rather than the intellect, thus subconsciously directing the decisions and actions of the people belonging to the middle classes, whose educational background is limited. Due to the fact that people are emotionally vulnerable during war times, propaganda is extensively used on the part of the governments to shape opinion in instances of conflict and national security. To that end governments apply a plethora of methods to serve their purposes. Two countries which used propaganda extensively during the Second World War are England and the United States and can serve as illuminating examples to show the methods used to influence society at large.

To begin with, England formed the Ministry of Information (MOI) on 4 September 1939. This Ministry was responsible for the publicity and thus propaganda during the war with a view to "presenting the national case to the public at home and abroad". The MOI was responsible for the film industry and during that time, all movie productions attempted to construct a suspense story which conveyed propagandistic ideas. For instance, in 1943 the movie "The Volunteer" was released, which was a kind of recruitment propaganda. Moreover, at that time, the Ministry of Information released many posters which were relaying messages such as "Britain needs you", so as to coerce the male population to conscript. The purpose of some other messages was simply to hide the truth.

But Britain was not the only country that applied propaganda during the World War II. As far as the United States is concerned, its purpose was to portray the Germans and the Japanese as anything but humane so as to stimulate detest and rage against them as well as unite the whole nation to their demise. For example, the US depicted the Japanese with monkey-like characteristics and a bloodthirsty stare in their eyes. Also, it depicted the Germans with features identical to Adolf Hitler. At the advent of the war, specifically in 1939, President Roosevelt employed the film industry to awake national feelings and thus obtaining a common front against the Axis. The play movies were not produced by a neutral agent but by the "War Activities Committee".

+150 WORDS: the importance of the consequences

+ 100 WORDS evaluation of post war era

Thus, it is obvious that propaganda was used extensively by the US and UK governments during the Second World War, so as to manipulate the masses by appealing to their emotion.

  1. Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell, PROPAGANDA AND PERSUASION, 4th ed. Sage Publications, p.7

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