Compelling Question: To what extent did the long term causes of World War One also cause World War Two?
MAIN Topic: Nationalism
The Exhibition of Past Nationalism: A Walkthrough
A Closer Look
The primary source is a postcard from Britain during the First World War. The postcard uses the common British icon, the bulldog, and the Union Jack to express nationalism to the general British public in 1915. The centre bulldog represents Britain, while the smaller bulldogs that surround ‘Britain’ consist of nations that include: Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and New Zealand. One reason the authors used the common icon of the bulldog and using differing sizes is that, in a colonial sense, Britain is the motherland of all of the smaller nations listed in the postcard, and as a result, those nations will protect the motherland from harm, which is what the government wanted the audiences to believe. Another reason why Britain was made larger than the rest of the bulldogs was to show that Britain was more powerful than the other nations, while they were made smaller to convey that they were inferior to Britain. As a whole, the bulldogs represent the unity that was formed when all were faced with a common threat, however Britain, in this case, is being guarded by the other bulldogs, showing that the other nations have Britain’s back. The authors convey nationalism through this postcard for two main reasons. Firstly, the authors designed the bulldog that represents Britain to be larger than the others to convey to the audience that Britain is more powerful and dominant. This instils a belief of nationalism into the people because they now believe that nothing can harm them during the war because they not only have other nations defending them, they also have their own nation which is more powerful than anything else to defend them. Lastly, the defending bulldogs stand on the Union Flag, which represents the people’s pride in their nation. If that is defended, then the people are defended, which is what the authors want the audience to believe. As a source, it isn’t very reliable, mainly because it doesn’t have any credentials or affiliations posted on the card itself. There’s also no evidence of copyright on the card either. There is also evidence of bias and as a result, the source isn’t that reliable.
The source comes from The Evening Star, which was a newspaper company that was stationed in America during the First World War. This newspaper article was posted in April 1917, around when America joined the war. The article’s purpose was to inform the public that the Senate and the House of Representatives had resolved to declare war on Germany. The information presented in the article was informative, unlike the propaganda posters that were popular at the time. However, the article used several appeals to pathos and patriotism to grab the reader’s attention, which suggests that the article’s purpose was to both inform and persuade. One example is the headline itself. It strikes fear into the reader because “WAR” is a concept that is well-known in this time period. Locals most likely don’t want another war, so seeing “WAR” in print is purposed to strike fear into the reader’s mind. However, the word “PRESIDENT” unburdens the reader of that fear because the President is seen as a symbol of hope. By using “PRESIDENT” in the headline, the article reminds the people that the President is a person they elected, and that person has the back of America. If the President gives reassurance, there is no reason to fear, which is what the article is trying to persuade the readers to believe. Another example is the subheading that states, “Hundred Million Special War Fund Voted By Senate.” By using this figure in the subheading, reader’s will feel a sense of safety and gratitude towards the government because they’re spending this much money for a cause that works for their safety. The reader will feel like they specifically are being called up, which in turn will make them feel important, which ultimately will lead to them believing their country is the best. The reason for this is because when someone feels important because someone else who’s important is acknowledging them, they’ll begin to ask questions like, “What other country does this?” This, in turn, will lead them to believe that their country is the only one who’s leader individually acknowledges them, and will allow them to believe their country is the best, which is what the government wants the readers to believe. Regarding the credibility of the source, the article was published by a news agency, which under assumption could mean the article was written by professional reporters. That also means that the article has potential biases. However the article’s purpose was to both inform and persuade, so it is probably neutrally credible.
This primary source was created by J & W Ross, who worked for Biz Graphics back in the 1940s. The poster was created and published in Australia during 1939-1945, which was during the Second World War. However, information about these two poster designers is scarce, since they only designed one poster together which a poster which was identified as a wartime propaganda poster. Biz Graphic’s signature can be located in the top right-hand corner of the paper. The poster’s purpose poster was to persuade the public or people whose family members are in the war to think and carefully choose the words that they speak, under the impression that loose talk will end up killing soldiers. This was a common theme during World War Two, since radio eavesdropping was a popular method of intel gathering during the war, which is indicated on the poster by the small radio waves extending from the Australian continent to the Japanese general’s ear. Under these circumstances, the fear of Japanese invasion and the fear of killing their Australian soldiers motivated the audiences to keep silent about important information. The people also felt motivated by the fact that they wanted to help those in the armies as best they could from home. By giving them a purpose, the authors instilled internal and national pride into the people by making them feel like they were part of some common cause with the soldiers. The poster conveys nationalism because of its bias towards Australia. By making Australia one of the central focuses of the sign, the authors depicted Australia as being dominant amongst its surroundings. However, by also drawing a commanding general that looms over the continent, the authors created an opposing theme that threatens the continent’s control over its surroundings. As a result, the Australian’s alike will feel obligated to protect Australia’s pride and dominance. The authors call out to the people indirectly, to fight for the belief that Australia is the better and more dominant than any enemy they face. Which in other words, fight to protect their national pride. Since the source is a propaganda poster, it is very biased, because the source was made to persuade, not to inform. However, since affiliations and credentials are provided on the poster, it is more reliable than Source 1.
Who is to blame for the War!
Taking on a different perspective, Source 4 is a propaganda poster made in Germany during the 1940s. It has no credentials on the poster nor is the author known. The poster shows a finger descending from above, pointing down at a person in an accusatory manner. The person being pointed at has a Star of David badge on his suit, which is labelled “Jude”, which directly translates to “Jew” in English. From the general message on the poster, “Who is to blame for the War,” it’s inferable that the Germans, who are represented by the hand in the sky, are blaming the cause of the war on the Jews. From the government/author’s perspective, it appears that they want to unite their people against a common enemy, the Jews, by depicting them to be evil in order to gain power and control in their own nation. A sense of nationalism is also indicated on the poster, by the colour scheme that surrounds both “the Jew” and the hand. Surrounding the Jew is a collection of deep, dark reds, which marks the Jew as evil, unto like a devil or demon, whereas the hand is surrounded by bright yellows and whites, which suggests that the hand/Germans are pure good, and are capable of passing judgements of the Jews. By making the public feel like they’re pure and ultimately better than the rest of the world, the government ties a common issue the nation is facing towards a common threat, and through this connection, the government persuades the public to unite against the threat that is causing such chaos. If the audience listens, then the government succeeds in uniting the people. Concerning the limitations of the source, it is not very reliable for many reasons. Firstly, the author’s names aren’t given on the poster. Secondly, the affiliations of the publishers aren’t provided and lastly, the poster is filled with bias with no actual facts/evidence to back up the claims made.
“Your fatherland is in danger! Get in touch!”
Source 5 was designed by Lucien Zabel, who got his poster published by Dinse & Eckert. The poster was made in Germany in 1918, during World War 1, and it targeted civilians to convince them to join the army. The poster shows a German soldier is carrying weapons in both hands while standing on a chaotic battlefield. Above the soldier is a statement that says, “Your Fatherland is in Danger!” While targeting the reader’s sense of ethics and morale, the author attempts to persuade them to join the army by making it seem it is their responsibility to protect their fatherland. The poster reflects nationalist beliefs because from a reader’s perspective, it seemed like an obligation to protect their fatherland because the authors are telling them so, but at the same time, the reader would’ve felt trusted by their government to protect the homeland because it was their responsibility. As a result, their morale will improve if they believe they are helping to protect their fatherland, which is why the poster reflects nationalism. A limitation of the source can include its bias in the poster, that deeply reflects German propaganda. Some elements of the poster are exaggerated, which also limits the source.
Alamy Limited (2017). Stock Photo – 1940’s Nazi Germany anti-Semitic propaganda poster with finger pointing at a Jewish stereotype male banker wearing a Nazi designated Star of David. Anti-semitic racist German. [online] Alamy. Available at: https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-1940s-nazi-germany-anti-semitic-propaganda-poster-with-finger-pointing-173406762.html [Accessed 14 Jan. 2020].
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Emmitsburg.net. (2020). The Great War – World War 1 – WW1 – News Reports From the Front – April 1917. [online] Available at: https://www.emmitsburg.net/archive_list/articles/history/100_years_ago_ww1/1917/april.htm [Accessed 14 Jan. 2020].
Govt.nz. (2020). Loading… | Collections Online – Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. [online] Available at: https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/714766 [Accessed 12 Jan. 2020].
The British Library (2020). “Are we afraid? No!” A propaganda postcard depicting the British Empire. The British Library. [online] Available at: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/are-we-afraid-no [Accessed 14 Jan. 2020].