A Decade of Propaganda: Great Britain and Germany, 1935-1945 – Part 1, by B.P.

As an United States citizen surviving in the modern era of propaganda, possessing the contextual knowledge of any situation, whether it be at the voting booth, in class, or church, or rebuilding after a collapse, places that citizen in an advantageous position. Thus, it is imperative for all citizens to have a knowledge of history and varied methodologies of propaganda.

Propaganda Leading Up to World War II

In any mode, to win the hearts and minds of people, a propaganda operation must present the information in a method that inspires and persuades the consumer. As propaganda production grew leading up to World War II, the world witnessed an intensification of such manipulating schemes.

Great Britain Instituted the British Broadcasting Company

In 1922, Great Britain instituted the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). The intent was to provide, “an informed and enlightened electorate”, via a modernized radio transmission system as a means to compete with outside influence.[1] By 1935, the British Ministry of Information added new, but classified, procedures to their directorate.[2] Additionally, alongside an enormous increase in cinema infrastructure, by 1940 the majority of the British populace tuned in on their radios for their daily dose of informative medication.[3] The British provide an example of a more democratic approach to propaganda policies.

Dissimilarly to the British, the Nazis exemplify the power that propaganda possesses. Arguably more successful, due to their propaganda methods providing the platform for the regime’s assent and continued control of the nation,[4] the Nazi’s incorporation of education into their propaganda apparatus and their superior use of symbols constituted for a more persistent outcome.

Advancing War Strategies and Change in Means for Disseminating Information

Agreed on by many scholars, World War I (WWI) supplied the major source of advancing war strategies, tactics, and the methodologies used in World War II (WWII). According to propaganda-historian and author Nicholas Reeves, the, “core principles of [British] wartime propaganda were identified [during the] pre-war period”.[5] In WWI, radio broadcasts and print constituted the main forms of disseminating information. However, by the start of WWII, most first world countries had multiple sources of communication that included film. For the first time England instituted and controlled a mass media system.[6]

Increase in Governments’ Ability to Inform and Persuade

With the creation of the BBC, the governments’ ability to inform, and therefore persuade, the populace increased exponentially. In less than fifteen years after its birth, the number of radio subscribers scaled from 10 percent to “over 70 percent” of the populace.[7] At last, the ruling class had a modern instrument of mass influence. As Reeves concludes, “[the BBC] made a real impact on the nation’s sense of its own identity”.[8]ee to the desires of those in command, a risk not worth taking.

British Censoring of Public Media

After estimating “over a million civilian casualties” and for three times as many cases of psychological anguish during “the first six months of [the] war”, the British leaders realized the importance of censoring public media.[9] Britain’s Ministry of Information’s (MoI) determination over the need for a propaganda campaign and new public media policies came to full realization. In late 1935, the MoI produced “secret guidelines” to dictate the dissemination of information. Accordingly, the MoI censored “the news at the source”, which allowed for the complete control of information. Moreover, due to zero unapproved facts reaching “the public domain, the media” appeared to operate as normal.[10]

In addition to the “control of information” from a security rationale, the British government also sought to manipulate its populace by providing a scripted “truth” and twisted reality of the world, both from within and beyond its own border.[11] In other words, merely dictating the definitions of classified and unclassified did not fit their needs. Hence, the government placed an extreme importance on rallying the populace for war. Because censorship inhibits one from accumulating a complete picture, the spectator must speculate as to the true means and true ends of his or her country committing to war.

Money Suffices

Though a simple one, but often right, money suffices for many. As famous WWI Major General Smedley D. Butler argues in his book, “War is a Racket”, “out of war a few people make huge fortunes”. Butler continues with highlighting that according to the tax return records, “at least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during [WWI]”.[12]

Britain’s Domestic Marketing Schemes and International Propaganda

Like any successful business venture, the British did not stop with only domestic marketing schemes. Britain rather expanded its propaganda realm into international frontiers. In a 1984 newspaper article, D-Day Propaganda, author Caroline Reed writes, “[the] Royal Air Force had commenced [propaganda] leaflet raids over Germany on September 3rd, 1939, and the British Army’s Psychological Warfare Branch had used medium with some success against enemy forces in North Africa and Italy”.[13] From then on through to the end of the war, Britain “[dropped] morale boosting literature to the imprisoned peoples of northern Europe”, and continued to censor, augment, and create mass media.[14]

Monopolized National Media and “Great Britain” Propaganda

Interestingly, Julius Yourman’s journal, “Propaganda Techniques within Nazi Germany,” argues that possessing any form of a monopolized national media suggests a dictatorial government.[15] Nonetheless, the most successful use of British propaganda remains the simplest form thereof, titles: Great Britain! Their name alone propagates a certain message.

German Mass Propaganda Campaign to Wield Power

While the British use of propaganda suffices as an example of attempting to obtain complete control and manipulation of information, the fascist German state plays as the historic case of a regime grasping and wielding power over the people through a mass propaganda campaign.[16] Unexpectedly, a campaign that first started in 1917 Russia, with Lenin’s Soviet Union (SU). By 1928, the SU equated to a propaganda-state, which provided Adolf Hitler the perfect playbook for rising to supremacy.[17] Propaganda directly correlated to the success of the Bolshevik regime’s take over. Likewise, the Nazi regime’s assent to power rested on the success of its propaganda campaigns.[18] Mainly adapting two of the SU’s propaganda tactics as his own, Hitler desired “direct, simple, [and] clear” messages and placed an emphasis on education.[19]

Deliberate Burning For Propaganda Against Political Rival

As a devout propagandist and in a very straight forward way, Hitler ordered for the deliberate burning of a building, only to then blame the act on his political rival. Because the blunt and easy to understand propaganda played a heavier influence on Hitler’s view towards the perfect form thereof, his desires and in your face attitude lead to failed cinematic productions.

“The Eternal Jew”

Beginning production in late 1939, the “The Eternal Jew” released in late 1940. It portrayed the average Jew as an inferior people by comparing them to rats and therefore society’s pests. As Reeves contends, it placed at the top of failed performances.[20] Though Hitler urged for the films production, approved the final cut, and eluded to the “perpetual parasite” theme, in some documented cases the audience dismissed themselves early from the viewing.[21] Nevertheless, other popular accounts cited men chanting along with the drama, shouting names, and displaying the Nazi salute.[22] Perhaps surprisingly, this form of propaganda directly contradicted Joseph Goebbels’ ideal formula.[23]

Goebbels Formula for Propaganda

Counter to Hitler, Goebbels placed his emphasis on reinforcing predispositions through means disguised as simple entertainment.[24] Thus, his productions and ideas constituted the majority of viable propaganda. Goebbels’ propaganda tactics became a cornerstone for the Nazi administration’s success, with his legacy resting within the myth he created that preceded Hitler.[25] He believed that propaganda should never “weigh and ponder the rights of different people, but [used] exclusively to emphasize the one right which it has set out to argue for. Its task is not to make an objective study of the truth … its task is to serve our one right, always and unflinchingly”.[26] To accomplish this, Yourman argues that the Nazi propaganda machine’s incorporation of seven persuasion techniques insured its domestic propaganda success: name calling, plain folks, glittering generalities, testimonials, transfer, band wagon, and card stacking.[27]

Technique #1: Emotional Manipulation, Name Calling to Classify and Dehumanize

Through emotional manipulation, the propagandist uses “name calling” as a means to classify and eventually dehumanize a targeted group or class of people. By “[appealing] to [a person’s] hate and fear”, the producer attempts to induce a predisposed “judgment without [fully] examining the evidence.”[28] This facilitates the society to become motivated and unified in the cooperation of a perceived justified cause. Simply, name calling enables the propagandist to create an enemy of the state via appealing to the emotions of the subjects. In this way, the vast majority of the German populace judged the Jewish folk from a predetermined position. And the production of propaganda documentary films, such as “The Eternal Jew”, only reinforced the preconceived notions name calling incites.[29]

Tomorrow, we will continue looking at the remaining six persuasion techniques of domestic propaganda and more.


[1]Reeves, Power of Film Propaganda, 137.

[2]Ibid, 138

[3]Ibid, 137.

[4]Ibid, 83-86.

[5]Ibid, 86.

[6]Ibid, 138.

[7]Ibid, 137.


[9]Ibid, 138.

[10]Ibid, 139.

[11]Ibid, 138-139.

[12]Butler, War is a Racket, 1.

[13]Reed, “D-Day Propaganda”, 27.


[15]Yourman, Propaganda Techniques within Nazi Germany, 143-167.

[16]Ibid, 148.

[17]Reeves, Power of Film Propaganda, 46.

[18]Ibid, 44, 83.

[19]Ibid, 83.


[21]Hippler. Blackthorn, The Words of Hitler, 11.

[22]Reeves, 114. Hippler.


[24]Reeves, 128. Hippler.

[25]Reeves, 129.

[26]Hitler, Mein Kampf, 164-167.

[27]Yourman, 143-167.

[28]Ibid, 149.

[29]Reeves, 114-115; Yourman, 149.

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  1. Somewhere in hell, Hitler’s propaganda minister Goebbels is crying because he didn’t invent the Internet political blog and the phrase “our terms of service”.

    In which a misleading facade of a political debate can be conducted but with inconvenient facts and opposing points secretly deleted and annoying opposition banned. Well, other than a few token opposing views that are allowed as strawmen to be knocked down by the favored view as a way to add credibility.

    Only in America, home of Democracy.

  2. The U.S.A. is a Republic and few understand what that is about. One clue that most miss is very suttle: Democrat is a Party – democratic is a process. The “change” is a snow job. Be careful and think.

  3. TV programs and Movies have long been propaganda machines in the US, but now the News Media and TV commercials are now the main propaganda tools. It seem Men no longer have Sons, every commercial now has a Father and Daughter or Mother and Son. We now have some man showing his daughter how to shave her legs or some whimpy boy wrecks the car comes in and his mother tells him he can’t use the car for 2 weeks while the father lays there and says nothing, BS. And every commercial now has a bi-racial couple. Nuff said. Trekker Out

    1. Here’s a good example of TV network propaganda: The fairly recent FOX show 9-1-1. The basic subject matter of emergency situations looked to make it a pretty good show. But, from the very first episode they incorporated elements of the homosexual/sodomite agenda and it has gotten more blatant in each episode. As of the last episode (broadcast last night), the show has expanded the plot line with the “normalization” of sodomy and looks like it will continue to regularly incorporate homosexuality as a major part of the plot.
      The show looked to be somewhat worthwhile but the homosexual/sodomite angle killed it for me. I tolerated it until last night’s episode. I’ll no longer watch it. I would imagine most of the current network TV shows are pushing similar agendas. I only watch a couple of other shows and now one less. Slightly off subject, the TV show “SEAL Team” hasn’t gotten too far off the rails, so I’ll continue to watch that one.

  4. I see it everywhere today. An uninformed head-in-the-sand, American watching the protesters holding signs and chanting ‘we are all immigrants’ is partial to agreeing with them.. however add to that the word “illegal” and it changes the message. The ability to set the narrative is a guarantee you are going to win. It works in almost every situation from the immigration debate to the ” driving is a privilege”, message. Another example is being charitable. It used to mean you simply gave to the needy, or to a good cause.. It has now been twisted in to ” Giving back”. implying that somehow, you are undeserving of the by-products of your hard work and dedication, and you are now “giving back”. To me, this is passive coercion. If Giving back is mentioned, I insist to the recipients receiving my charity that I am in fact not giving anything back, as that would imply that i have taken something.. I am simply giving out of both the goodness of my heart, and the biblical teachings instilled in me.

  5. The BBC was funded by a direct tax”licence” on all radios,tv. So they were forced to pay to be lied to. The BBC maintained some credibility until the “Gilligan” incident when they were exposed as fabricators and liars. The Russian comment is odd in that the Bolshevicks were funded by the Bank of England through the US branch the Federal Reserve,using the Red Cross as a cover. Did the Brits learn propaganda from the Brit controlled USSR?

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