Political Geography Blog Assignment 1 – 2015

Here is the first blog post for the semester. The specific charge for this assignment is to discuss the use of flags and maps in these propaganda posters from WWI; with specific reference to this weeks class information on state nationalism 

Please comment on this blog post directly, if you do now wish to use your name, or have an email address that is not obvious, please email me with your pseudonym. Blog is due by midnight on Sunday September 6th

Political Blog post 1

28 thoughts on “Political Geography Blog Assignment 1 – 2015

  1. Looking at the historical context of these posters and the era they occurred in (World War I), one wonders whether the suffrage movement in the US and Britain as well as the Balfour declaration, which both occurred during the period of World War I, were more successful because of the conflict and propaganda which was occurring in the world at the time (please see the interactive timeline at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, https://theworldwar.org/explore/interactive-wwi-timeline, for an entertaining and graphical reminder of historical events of the period).

    Britain, after all, was at this time taking over the ‘Near East’ as battles waged on next door in the Ottoman Empire (in Turkey) and eastern Europe. Is it possible that the British sought a European entity to insert into this Southwest Asian region to complement what were probably containment efforts taken by them to close off avenues for German and Prussian conquest of the ‘Near East’? Led as it was by the Ashkenazim (European Jews), the Zionist movement probably appealed to British leadership as a potential client and proxy, even if they would be a small minority of the population, even amongst Jews. Perhaps a ‘stratified society,’ as mentioned in class, was their intent, similar to what they established in India.

    These posters testify to the fears of the western European allies during WWI, characterizing Germany and Prussia, identifying them by their flags, in their propaganda as an octopus grabbing real estate across Europe, and this probably indicates their desire to contain the arms of such a Leviathan. Meanwhile, Germany and Russia, characterizing the British as an equally large but flag-coated spider whose, stabbing, pointy legs reached across to Turkey, Egypt, and encirclement of Germany, expressed a similar sentiment in their propaganda from the opposing side of a conceptual bipolarity. Us verses them is the dominant theme through the medium of national flags symbolizing each nation-state. Similarly France, adjacent geographically to an expanding Germany, appealed to its citizens to give wartime national defense loans to the state to literally liberate France and bring it ‘freedom’ from Germany’s grasp.

    In this era, of course, territorial rights were paramount, and territory was sovereignty, whether homeland or colony. But the ability to ship goods without attacks from German submarines would seem to be another sovereignty battle, perhaps almost as important as the battle for drawing new borders in Europe. Lucrative trade routes at risk between Britain and her colonial possessions, and between her allies and their far-flung lands (perhaps thought of as functional extensions of their territories, similar to the six miles of airspace over countries in our day in age, or the three miles offshore of all nations) might have bound the allies together against Germany more solidly than anything else, but would not have been as effective as fodder for propaganda directed at their domestic populations. Perhaps the mythos of the loss of the homeland was touted more aggressively as a result. The map with the octopus highlights the loss of the Alsace-Lorraine to French citizens, a painful memory only a few decades old, stating that ‘invasion is the industry of the Prussian’. Perhaps this was to make war more compelling and control of the citizenry more effective during wartime, as part of the national religion, secularism, and this would also support the ability of the state to reinforce, as Professor Davidson mentioned in class, “the designation of who in society can use force;” and to “legitimize the use of force” by the state against other nations. “All France stood for victory of the right!” – as the poster says.

    And the suffrage movements in Britain and the U.S.? Wartime would have brought into the workplace women from their homes, and this would give greater power to the gender, during times when their sudden absence from the jobs they held (if they, perhaps, went on strike?) might cripple a war effort. So it makes sense that it was during wartime these suffrage movements were most successful.

    And what of the fourth classification mentioned in class, the ‘state society’ and the sovereignty of such states at the time of the start of World War I? The killing of an ambassador (played here by the archduke of Austria-Hungary), similar to the killing of soldiers, was by that time an encroachment upon the sovereignty of a state under the new state society of the world and therefore an act of war. What if there had been no citizenship, but only world citizenship, in 1914? Would World War I not have occurred? Would the Westphalian system of nations have devolved back to frontiers, lack of definitive borders, and a system of countless states the size of a county in present-day USA if World War I had lasted much longer (see Okhonmina, 2010)?

    Hope that wasn’t too much over the top. I let out my inner Mary Jane Colter and her Apache husband, LOL. The above thoughts are, of course, mere fantasms and wild ideas, probably not to be taken seriously. It’s healthy to question ourselves and our cultures, and think of history sideways, once in a while. Thoughts are based on the posters, notes from our Political Geography class, the articles I’ve mentioned above, and translations of French on the posters from Google Translate (2015).

    • I’m with you, and that I believe that these posters “testify to the fears of the western European allies during WWI”. Well said. It seems, based on everything we know now, that their fears were, for the most part, legitimate. I’m sure there are some stories that have been made out to be much worse than they actually were or have been downplayed for certain purposes, but so many people who lived through all of this have similar stories of the horrible actions of the Nazis.

  2. During World War I, the use of propaganda became a force in societies such as Germany, France, Russia, and Britain, that manipulated the thoughts and the behavior of the masses. It had quickly become an integral part of the war: representing a solution to some, and a threat to others. This new technique of persuasion featured famous faces to provide authority and often included flags and maps to show a sense of nationalism, like those shown above. However, what might have started as a poster for nationalism, quickly turned into a fight for supremacy.
    In 1914, after declaring war on Germany and later Austria-Hungary, the British government began to face a challenge of trying to convince the people of Britain to support a war that was costing them much more money, lives, and resources than they had originally planned for. With the idea that the government needed to be able to directly talk to their people and influence their support, the British introduced a modern tactic that we call propaganda. The top right propaganda poster shows a soldier with the British flag in the background with the words, “Rally around the flag”. This picture is used to try and bring a sense of nationalism to the British while hoping to bring in more support from their people. However, not all propaganda was positive like this one. Like in many of the pictures above, propaganda was often used to devalue countries that were not their own and create and us versus them effect.
    In 1904, France and Britain signed a diplomatic agreement called the Entente Cordiale, which ultimately lead to the Anglo-French co-operation against the German expansion. This deal got brought back up during World War I with the propaganda poster shown on the bottom left. The poster shows Britain as a spider with the German eagle watching from above and men tied up in the web behind. This was intended to show how much control Britain thought that they had over the German expansion. This form of propaganda generally has a negative connotation and leads to superiority, not nationalism. However, the theme of superiority was growing in this era due to the idea that territory was sovereign. Showing the world what was your territory became common during World War I and lead to expansion of maps, especially used for propaganda.
    After 1917, the French were upset with the amount of power that Prussia had gained. The propaganda poster in the middle depicts the fear that the French had and the strength that Prussia was gaining. There was a lingering war that took many French lives because of the power Prussia had over the German land and this map was made to give the French the idea that with the war, they would gain freedom against Prussia. The octopus represents the large threatening power that is spreading across Europe and influencing the nations near by.
    As we look back onto these propaganda posters from World War I, it is easy for us to laugh and make fun of what is being shown. However, these posters were influential to get support from the people. Looking back at how powerful these posters were, it is incredible to see what an impact such a simple modern invention had on World War I, especially in Germany, France, Russia, and Britain.

  3. In almost every sense British nationalism brought its’ own demise into play. With newspapers and speeches fueled by the dominance of British rule and the aftermath of their imperialistic conquests, the national mindset for a Brit during this time was very high of itself. Anti-German literature was being produced and fed into the minds of British citizens which would soon lead to a distrust in the Germans and poor mindset towards the country itself. As well as Germany itself fearing Britain was out to take precedence upon the European states at the time. In ways the European countries at this time were much like gorillas pounding their chests trying to be the Alpha male of the jungle. Sooner or later it was going to all collapse and conflict would arise.

    British propaganda used it’s flag as a tool to assimilate all of it’s citizens into one cohesive mindset that people could connect under. Through the use of the British flag, the citizens unified and the imperialistic mindset that was being pushed upon the people soon trickled its way down into all corners of society. Much in a way comparable to the ridiculous Texan mindset in today’s culture. Although it may be tongue and cheek, there is an indefinite claim through Texan citizens that their state is better than the rest of the nations, and that everything is better in their state. Much to the point where citizens in Texas will go as far to put “secede” on the bumper stickers to their motor vehicles. It seems as if this was how the European nations were acting at the time predating the first World War, and without a doubt this acted as one of many catalysts for the event itself. I myself believe that a nation should have some pride in itself but not so much to the extent where is like that kid in high school telling you how much he can bench press every chance he gets to. It needs to be conducted in a more professional subtle manner. A way in which residents of the nation will still be proud of the things they produce and the culture they conduct, but not trying to force it upon others through whatever way is deemed right by them. Sooner or later an alpha male attitude in the world of politics will collide with someone else’s.

    The poster depicting the spider claiming its stake upon all other European nations is perhaps the epitome of the British imperial mindset at the time. With it’s legs holding up flags towards France and a captured Uncle Sam in the U.S, it represents a nation attempting to take over the world. At the time this obviously offended many other nations (as it no doubt would do today), but mainly the fact that this was put out and accepted by the British media is a great example of how Britain was pushing its emblem upon territory it did not belong in. With most of the world at this point being developing nations trying to gain their personal independence and culture with newfound sovereignty, the imposing threat of British culture (or Germanic) was much of a threat to their eyes. The culmination of these things eventually led to the World War we all know of today.

    • Good analysis, although the spider poster is actually anti-British propaganda, no country however arrogant would depict itself as a predatory spider, they would use a much more noble symbol of domination (like a lion) …

  4. In the first picture we have what looks like the German Kaizer kneeling down with a broken sword. This is obviously not a propaganda piece from the German perspective. This must an Ally propaganda piece. This shows that the Germans will be defeated against numerous opponents. This is symbolized by the numerous flags placed behind him. What I find interesting is the flags themselves mimic weaponry and look as if they are about to be thrust into the back of the Kaizer.

    The second picture is another Ally propaganda piece. This is displaying all the territorial increases by the Germans and then symbolizes them like a great kraken stretching out its tentacles to claim more territory. I essentially see it saying, “Hey the Germans got all this land now they’re coming for yours”.

    The third one I find pretty straight forward. Each of the people are caricatures of the countries they represent. It is showing all the allied forces united together. What’s interesting is that this must be from a British perspective due to the fact that Great Britain is the one in the center leading the group. This is also before the US got involved, since they are not featured in this cartoon.

    The fourth one is more straightforward then the last. It is a British soldier standing in front of a British flag. This was a way to help enforce the war cause and get people enrolled in the military. The flag is a symbol of the country. If you stand with the flag you are standing with the country.

    The last one I find much more interesting. There is a ton of symbols here. This one is a tad bit more complicated than the previous ones. I am assuming that this is a perspective of the Germans. They are represented by the eagle on the cliff overlooking the “British menace”. The eagle is wearing a Byzantine style type crown on its head. This is the crown of Caesar and invokes memories of the Holy Roman Empire. The Eagle itself is a symbol of the Roman Empire and represents power and majesty. The British is represented as a giant sprawling spider. This is very accurate considering where the spider has its legs. Britain at this point was all over the globe and was continuing to spread its influences. Egypt was a big deal at the time due to its route to India. Britain is also represented as the biggest enemy with the other countries being just controlled by the British. In the background you can see Uncle Sam wrapped up in the British web. Britain was also stretching out towards the Ottoman Empire which is foreshadowing of what was to come. Not only does the spider symbolize the British and it’s Empire but it dehumanizes them in the shape of a man-eating spider. If you notice in the spider’s mouth it is devouring the remains of a soldier. This helped to reinforce the point that the Germans were pure and right, while the British were monsters and inhuman.

  5. Hello everyone. My thoughts on the propaganda posters aren’t complicated. I think these posters were the start of how we do politics today. Some of them inspire others to rally together for the cause, boost morale, cause division and some demonize the enemy. Two of the posters, “L’ EMPRUNT DE LA LIBERATION” and “The Allies—“Onward to Victory” seem to say “We’ve got others on our side, we can do this with your help.” Which is a very unifying message. The British poster, “RALLY ROUND THE FLAG” actually says something at the bottom as well. It is not visible on the blog post, but if you look it up the bottom says “WE MUST HAVE MORE MEN”. I’m sure that showing the flag and soldier in the poster tugs at the heart strings of any patriotic citizen of Britain during that time and probably did encourage a few more men to enlist in the military.
    Two of the posters, “L’Entente Cordiale 1915” (the one with the spider) and “LA GUERRE est L’Industrie Nationale de la PRUSSE” (The one with the octopus) were obviously meant to keep citizens of france believing that the Prussians were trying to take over Europe and keep the German citizens believing that Britain and the allies were wrongfully trying to stop the expansion of Germany and that the British were big “bullies”, so to speak. When you give a large group of people a common enemy, you will see them unite in ways they wouldn’t have before. I can imagine that many France was especially weak as a state during WWI and used propaganda posters which vilified the enemy while creating a sense of unity among it’s citizens more than once. With the industrial revolution causing the need for more territory and workers, one can imagine that state sponsored nationalism was the only way to keep the people in check.
    The German’s couldn’t have taken over so much of Europe and been able to get away with the taking of so many innocent lives if it hadn’t been for the support of its people. In order to get people to support the things you do, you absolutely have to give them a sense of being a part of what you are doing and to believe that your actions are justified. Propaganda played a huge role in helping the war machine to move forward during WWI and in every war since then.
    These days, I believe propaganda posters are used more in politics than anywhere else. When I lived in California, I registered as an independent, so the local democratic party took the liberty of filling my mailbox with dozens of political propaganda flyers every day in the weeks leading up to the election. I had flyers with everything from Sarah Palin chasing a gay couple with a hockey stick to John McCain in a casket. Mind you, I only registered as an independent because I had to choose something, and couldn’t stomach the idea of backing either one of the ridiculous major parties, so I wasn’t impressed. I am lucky, in that I don’t have to bother with any of it. I’m a happy, unashamed, single issue voter. (No, it’s not marriage based, religion based, money based, health care based, war based or any of those things, so don’t bother trying to pin me down.) . Maybe a more impressionable person, who doesn’t have a television or can’t read the news would make decisions about their allegiance based on a propaganda poster. I think the primary purpose of many of them was to send a message visually to those who wouldn’t otherwise read the news. Thoughts? Please excuse my typos, I’ve had sick children all over me since Friday.

    • Good analysis, remember that this is propaganda from a time when very few people had access to visual images at home, even newspapers were text only, so images had a much more powerful effect than they do now when we are saturated with them.

  6. Political Geography Blog Assignment 1 – September 6

    Nationalism in the 20th century was achieved in a few ways. These ways included mass conscription, mass communication, and large scale use of photographic, radio, and film propaganda. As depicted in the 5 photographs/posters in this assignment, 20th century propaganda was commonly used for two things: the first being to promote your country and its allies’ identity and unity, and the second being to attack the “other” – in this case being either Germany or the allied powers (depending on the propaganda poster) in World War I.

    The first propaganda photograph (top left) is a French poster (L’Emprunt de la Libération – Borrowing From Liberation or The Liberation Loan) designed to attack the “other”. This propaganda poster depicts Kaiser Willhelm II wearing a white hat and cloak kneeling with the allied powers (being represented by their respective flags) bearing down on him from behind. This image is a clear use of propaganda to promote the unity of the allied powers against Germany during the First World War.

    The second propaganda photograph (middle left) is a typical example of western nationalistic propaganda. It is another French poster designed to attack the “other”, which in this case depicts an octopus (Germany) violating the territorial sovereignty of nearby countries with a massive land grab. This depiction of Germany grabbing territory from surrounding countries is important because at this time territory was sovereignty and Germany was clearly violating the sovereignty of all European countries it invaded.

    The third photograph (bottom left) depicts many of the First World War allied countries (in this case Great Britain, France, Russia, Belgium, Japan, Servia, and Montenegro) standing together in unity against Germany while holding their nation’s flag. This poster is designed to increase nationalistic feelings and unify the people of the allied countries against the Germans. Interestingly, the United States is not included in this poster. This is probably because it was made before the United States entered the war.

    The fourth photograph (top right) depicts a British soldier standing proudly in front of Britain’s flag with the call to “rally round the flag” above him. This type propaganda associating your country’s flag with patriotism and strength is a very typical depiction of 20th century nationalism. It is used to unify the country and make its’ people work together under one flag.

    The fifth and final photograph (bottom right) is the only German propaganda in this series of propaganda photographs/posters. This poster is another example of typical western nationalistic propaganda. In this poster, Germany is attacking the “other” (Great Britain in this case) by depicting Great Britain as a spider (with a British flag on its’ back) on a web covering (possible oppressing) most of Europe, and a foot in multiple countries/regions. This could possibly be viewed as Germany saying that Britain has also broken the sovereignty of other nations in the region, and what Germany is doing is perfectly okay. All they’re doing is stopping the British oppression and expanding their influence.

    Overall, these propaganda posters are all typical examples of 20th century propaganda trying to unify and strengthen the allied powers (being represented by their respective flags/iconography in each propaganda piece) to defeat Germany. (Or the other way around in the case of the last photograph).

  7. Michelle is right to point to the historical context of the posters and how propaganda was able to advance the war aims of the state (e.g., governments imploring citizens to invest in war bonds, equating financial support with victory on the battlefield, essentially state survival).

    Mobilizing wartime support is perhaps the most fundamental aspect of each poster. Two of the posters feature maps where the enemy is symbolized as aggressors encroaching upon the other’s territory. Like Michelle pointed out above, territory is equated with sovereignty. The modern state contains fixed borders, enforced by state-level institutions and recognized by a consensus of other states. War threatens the sovereignty of the state. As Dr. Davidson highlighted in class, World War I coincided with the development of mass communication. Propaganda posters became an effective vehicle for securing the support needed for adequate wartime defense – whether it be the conscription of soldiers, the payment of war bonds, or encouraging women to enter the industrial workforce.

    The aims of these posters are to unify state citizens behind a common cause. Basically…the existence of “them” is a threat to “us.” External threats to state security are heightened as identity becomes based on notions of statehood. The flags in each of the posters capture a fundamental representation of state identity and can be used as expressions of “who we are” or “who they are.” This type of identity is not something that it is physically seen, but “imagined and invented” (Anderson, Hobsbawm and Gellner) – a mechanism adopted by the ruling classes (the elites) that functions as a means to secure the support of the masses. Fighting a war with internal divisions can be disastrous. War must be fought with resources, i.e., soldiers, weapons, and capital; these resources are managed by the state, but for the purposes of efficiency, the general population (who are very much connected to these resources in some way or the other), must buy into the state’s plan for management. State sponsored nationalism ensures that the intentions of the state and the peoples’ role in the state’s actions are one in the same.

    During wartime, propaganda is very effective at reinforcing notions of statehood identity. Patriotism becomes tied to nationalism. Support for your country becomes a way of expressing your identity. But, according to Charles de Gaulle, a distinction exists between these two ideas – “Patriotism is when love of your people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” The pro-British posters proclaim Britain’s position as the leader of the Allied cause, a notion that the Germans would not disagree with. Reiterating the same claim, but with a different message, Germans express in their own posters that the British menace is a threat to the European continent. The British have the other Allied nations under their thumb; “we”, the Germans, are responsible for checking the expanding influence of British interests – or more generally, “them” – the British people.

    Propaganda simplifies. When employed by the modern state, it allows for the concerns of the state to also become the concerns of the people. As we discussed in class, in the western sense, words and phrases like “us” and “the people” are inclusive terms built upon concepts of statehood identity. State controlled media reinforces citizens’ support for state objectives. More importantly, however, identity becomes centralized. It is more abstract; it is socially constructed; allegiance does not belong to a particular group of people; it belongs to the state as long as potential sources of contention are suppressed (i.e., media, political dissidents) – which is a conversation worth having, but for another time since it doesn’t particularly relate to the WWI posters that we’ve examined.

  8. When I look at the vulgar propaganda posters from the early 20th century during WWI I sometimes giggle to myself. Not in the sense that what I think they are depicting is funny, but the fact that they can sometimes be so audacious with their view of another country. During class on Thursday we were shown a picture of a German soldier who had killed a woman and was kicking a baby. Really?? At some point during the war that might have happened, but I think it is extremely far-fetched to try and depict an entire country as women-killing baby-kickers. I have a very good feeling that if the United States released a poster of a Russian soldier killing an American woman, the US would have to publicly apologize after the uproar that it would bring within its own country, and not to mention Russia’s. Yet while I sit here and deride the use of some propaganda posters, how else was a country supposed to rally its troops to the cause? Back then when there was no internet or TV even, it was very easy for a country like Germany to inform their citizens that Great Britain was a monster taking control over Europe and other parts of the world, which in turn, would cause a great swell in nationalism in Germany and cause German citizens to back their country in all their actions. While this type of propaganda was used to attack the enemy there were other forms of propaganda that were just as effective.
    Two of the pictures above are promoting a sense of unity amongst the allied forces and like the other types of propaganda posters, they too bring about a sense of nationalism, but in a different way. They don’t show any monsters or angry soldiers doing unspeakable acts, they show soldiers peacefully standing as one with their flag’s encouraging a unified nationalism. These pictures don’t just want the citizen’s loyalty to their own country’s flag, but also to the allied forces as a whole, which I think causes “allied nationalism”. During WWI and WWII there was a very strong sense of this allied nationalism, such as the Axes of Germany, Italy, and Japan, that brought all of the countries with the same idealism together as one force. While this type of propaganda brought countries together, I believe that it also strengthened one’s own individual nationalism. If a person from Great Britain were to see their countryman leading the allied forces on a poster, I think it would give him or her a great sense of pride for their country for being the leader of the allied forces.
    The final two types of propaganda that I believe to be very prominent in creating strong nationalism are the guilt-trip posters and the nice and sweet “everybody can do it!” posters. The first of the two aims at men who didn’t enlist in the army and in a sense are attacking men for not being a “man” and fighting for their own country. The second type aims at women and children to do their part in helping the country.
    No matter how vulgar or sweet some of the propaganda posters were during the early 20th century, I think that they played a vital role in the war and were very good at creating nationalism.

  9. Bryson Hall
    I noticed during the five pictures that were assigned to me that in all of the five pictures, the Great Britain flag is in the front and center. The l’Emprunt De La Liberation, you have what looks like a priest bowing down to the countries counting America and Great Britain. The next picture has rally around the flag. The picture is of a solider; he is carrying a Great Britain flag. He is most likely doing this because the country and people are wanting to get everyone behind them and try to win the war is what it looks like. Next, the spider with Great Britain’s flag appeals to some people senses as provoking fear. It is perceived as something most people would not like. With the spider showing that he is on the Great Britain’s side, he also shows that he is almost eating someone? On my computer it is not that clear but it shows him eating someone. Also, there is a crow looking into the distance. The crow has the France flag behind it. This is showing to me that they are about to be allies. All of the pictures shown have lead me to believe that all of these are from world war one! They are all trying to get people to get one a side and support one side of the army.. These are very influential in my life especially since I have relative that fought in the war and that served our country and tried to protect this land which is what they did. I have the outmost respect for the people that have fought for this land and have done the best they can.

    Bryson Hall

  10. When I look at these images, I immediately think of the collective identity that each of these countries are trying to cultivate within their citizens. The idea of assembling with your country in hopes to be a part of something “greater” by definition of the state is a typical form of (what we’ve learned to be) civic nationalism, which is generally extremely easy to assemble behind and often flourishes in the minds of the masses (and those who are informed by their surroundings within their sovereign state). When I think of the treaty of Westphalia and the formation of what we first see to be a “modern state system”, I can’t help but look at the shift in the way nationalism has changed since before state-like systems and led to the point displayed in these WWI propaganda posters. While the triple entente speak to display the territory that their “enemies” are trying to amass, the use of national symbology (as flags, heroic scenery, Christian-militant fusion, recognizable military garments) seems to serve the same purpose that modern advertisements show when they try to market to a multi-national consumers (such as a coca-cola ad which goes to many parts of the world and shows different citizens drinking a coke). The use of symbology provides something relatable to the audience, and the average citizen may see one of the posters and feel entirely justified to get behind a war which will kill many other citizens just like them. But the use of these WWI posters serves to be extremely inclusive to the states depicted, and use a method of subtly “othering” to dehumanize the enemy in any way (especially depicting the entire area of Germany as the body of an octopus, with its legs serving as “attainable” territory that must be protected). The “christian-soldier” with the several flags of the allies behind him displays a clear method of “othering” in this case. Most of the “enemy” states are generally majority Christian at this time anyway, but it creates a message of “follow the path of God” that seems to morally unite citizen supporters in a strange way… As if religion supports this war entirely. The “rally round the flag” image is an all-encompassing call of state-sponsored nationalism that makes me think of football team symbology. This use of symbology is quick to nationalize its citizens by placing them all within an immediate sect where they all seem to relate based on nothing but their nationality, whereas they may not relate in any other case. But nonetheless, this symbology, along with the psychological memory of one’s nation going to war, serves to convert the mind of the supporting citizen to remember what the cost of war is for- protecting from… Getting touched by octopus arms that we disagree with? Or more importantly, losing one’s sovereignty? The nationalism that these propaganda posters promote is a viable tool in rallying citizens for, not only the war, but for future support of their nation. War is the best way for a nation to advertise to its citizens with a goal to gain internal support, many times for the long run, or, during and long after the war has ended.

  11. The period that saw War World I was a time of civil and political unrest for many states around the world. Many saw the loss of old allies and incoming support from new ones, such as Italy, a longtime friend to Germany siding with the Allied powers and not the Central powers. Sides had to be taken, once the sovereignty was violated by Serbia, when the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was killed by the Serbians. What should have been a matter between the two, became a war with states around the world after these states’ allies joined in. As the war spreads and boundaries and sovereignties are violated, states needed to rally their people against their enemies and the best way was to produce propaganda. Propaganda allowed for the strength of nations and the weaknesses of enemies, to be shown to the people who were desperate for hope, during times of unrest. To instill fear into their people, that the enemy needs to be stopped.

    Propaganda needed to be able to rally its people behind the state and a symbol for the people to believe in, to do this the use of a flag enabled a common symbol/image to represent the whole. Flags can be used to show the strength of the state over their enemies, as seen in the image of the Allies’ flags towering over a defeated German soldier. It depicts a united group of states that fight together against a powerless enemy, instilling a sense of pride and power in their people and state. The depiction of the British soldier standing in front of the flag, a man who is fighting for his state, people, and sovereignty. This piece of propaganda allows the people to see who is fighting for them, a strong, capable man and a nation that know how to and can defend its sovereignty. Another propaganda poster of the allied flags flying with their respected representation of their soldiers, uses the order and placement to show the power and ranking within the allied group of states. The British putting themselves in the fore front, instills in their people that they are the strongest and puts a face to the allies and shows that their soldier are strong and capable. The idea of victory is meant to be placed in the minds of the people and present that the state has an effective sovereignty and they will protect that sovereignty.

    The use of maps in propaganda can be used to show the range and power of a state. The image of the expansions of the Prussian Empire and how they have their hands in numerous European states, thus the octopus reaching across Europe. This piece of propaganda depicts a growing state that is violating the sovereignty of many states and is meant to inform the French people of who their enemy is and what they have and are doing. It gives the people a common enemy to rally against, through the idea that they should be fearing this growing power.

    One piece if propaganda uses the images of both a map and flag to portray Germany’s opinion of the reach of the British Empire. How they have their hands in states across Europe and beyond. At the same time the British had their hands in India and other states across the world and would only grow stronger once they had Eastern Europe. This shows that the Central Powers used the same tactics to unite and scare their own people during a period of war. The use of a giant spider is their idea of instilling that fear for a dangerous enemy that needs to be squashed.

    Propaganda found a way to unite a people through a common image, such as a flag, and show the power that a state or group of states can have, using a map. Each can show the effectiveness of the sovereignty of states, if it can defend itself or the power they have over others. The war saw states coming together, sovereignty violated, and states torn apart by the end and propaganda had it hand in how the people reacted and responded to this conflict. Propaganda played a role in each state during the World War I and many others that would follow.

  12. These World War I propaganda posters are pulling at intense feelings of nationalism. In the late 19th century, states began to break ties with the Church, and diversity in religion became more common. With one religion no longer dominating Europe, state governments had to find a new way to unify citizens, because a unified people are easier to control. This nationalistic ideology popularized during Napoleonic France, unified people of different religions, languages, and other identities under one idea—loyalty to their country.

    Imagery is so much stronger than any writing on the posters simply because it can cross language and literacy boundaries. These images can paint a better picture than any pamphlet, short film, or speech could. The images of flags are used to represent different countries, sometimes in a positive light, like the Prussian soldier yielding to the powerful allied flags, or in a negative light, such as the domineering spider entangling other countries in it’s web—indicating that Britain and it’s allies have gained an unfair colonial advantage over the rest of Europe as a result of the negotiations of the Entente Cordale, and have used such advantage to extend their influence as a major European power.

    Nationalism was not only a primary cause of the war, but it’s what fueled the fire for so long. With multiple states having a growing sense of nationalism among their populations, competition to be the hegemon of not only Europe, but also the entire Western world came to a head in World War I. The flag was not just a representation of a state, but of the people of that state. Images like “Rally Round The Flag” were created to maintain state loyalty during the war. It would be impossible to win, or even participate in a war without the support of citizens. With all the countries putting out propaganda like this, citizens from every country involved in the war believed that their country was the noble hero of the war, fighting to further the reach of their own beliefs as a nation. Borders were pushed, sovereignty was violated, and all in the name of nationalism.

    Maps were often used in propaganda to show just how far some countries had pushed their nationalistic ideology. The depiction of an octopus and spider reaching across Europe is just a couple examples of how certain countries like Great Britain and Prussia were portrayed to have an unjust influence in Europe. Britain was seen as an unfair ally, as the Entente Cordale seemingly gave them an unfair advantage in colonization. The French poster, “La Guerre est l’Industrie Nationale de la Prusse” shows the military expansion of Germany and Prussia throughout Europe and Asia Minor. It not only shows the dispersion of military forces, but the growth in size of the standing armies of the two countries. This paints Germany and Prussia as a growing threat to European peace. This shows how dangerous nationalism can be when a state has the military to enforce its ideology upon other nations.

    • p.s. I don’t know why my “name” is shown as modlit1926; that is another blog to which I am connected: the Modern Literature Club of Fayetteville, founded in 1926.

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