World War II

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From the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, a 742-page and growing work, most recently amended in November (online here (; cited in Peter Edidin, "Give a Blood Chit to the Confusion Agent (" (New York Times, January 30)

"Any thought or idea expressed briefly in a plain or secret language and prepared in a form suitable for transmission by any means of communication." —Definition of "message" "Any form of communication in support of national objectives designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly." —Definition of "propaganda," in above cited dictionary "Those overt international public information activities of the united states government designed to promote united states foreign policy objectives by seeking to understand, inform, and influence foreign audiences and opinion makers, and by broadening the dialogue between american citizens and institutions and their counterparts abroad." —Definition of "public diplomacy," in above cited dictionary [edit]History of Propaganda

thumb World War I recruiting poster for the U.S. Army, designed by the Creel Committee An example of propaganda from an earlier authoritarian and militaristic culture are the writings of Romans like Livy, which are considered masterpieces of pro-Roman statist propaganda. The term itself, however, originated in Europe in 1622, shortly after the start of the Thirty Years' War, which pitted Catholics against Protestants. Catholic Pope Gregory XV founded Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (sacra congregatio christiano nomini propagando or, briefly, propaganda fide), the department of the pontifical administration charged with the spread of Catholicism and with the regulation of ecclesiastical affairs in non-Catholic countries (mission territory). Originally the term was not intended to refer to misleading information.

The modern political sense of the term "propaganda" dates from World War I, and was not originally pejorative. Propaganda techniques were first codified and applied in a scientific manner by journalist Walter Lippman and psychologist Edward Bernays (nephew of Sigmund Freud) early in the 20th century. During World War I, Lippman and Bernays both worked for the Committee for Public Information (known informally as the Creel Committee after its director, George Creel), which was created by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to sway popular opinion to enter the war on the side of Britain.

The Creel Committee's pro-war propaganda campaign of produced within six months an intense anti-German hysteria. Its success permanently impressed American business (and Adolf Hitler, among others, with the potential of large-scale propaganda to control public opinion. Bernays coined the terms "group mind" and "engineering consent", important concepts in practical propaganda work.

The current public relations industry is a direct outgrowth of the Creel Committee's work and is still used extensively by the United States government. Several of the early figures in the public relations industry were members of the Creel Committee, including Bernays, Ivy Lee and Carl Byoir.

World War II saw continued use of propaganda as a weapon of war, both by Hitler's propagandist Joseph Goebbels and the British Political Warfare Executive.