The Twentieth century was fertile in experiences on the power of propaganda in war context. From the First World War to the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the Portuguese Colonial War, the Cold War, the war in Bosnia and the Gulf war, there were several occasions where propaganda stud itself as one of the combat arms.
The First World War was the first conflict where the States realized for the first time the importance of propaganda as an instrument of war. It then become clear the importance and potential of graphic communication. From then on, propaganda stated to be seen as an essential tool, capable to connect the battlefront and the home front, a galvanizing instrument capable of making the populations accept the “inevitability” of war and the sacrifices that occurred from there.
Propaganda appeared as a representation, often with pictorial expression of the national identity in combat, extolling the virtues of national armies and making evil representations of the enemy, presenting him in a dehumanized form and instigating hatred between civilians and the military, while eliminating the notion of guilt or responsibility of government leaders. Analysed in the eyes of propaganda, wars always emerged as an inevitable consequence of civilizational clashes: we fight for an ideal, we struggle for a common interest.
As the importance of home front grew in importance in contemporary conflicts propaganda became more and more sophisticated. Ministries were created to think and manage propaganda, huge sums of capital were invested, and all mass media, developed in the late nineteen hundreds and in the first decades of the twentieth century were used by the States: press, radio, television and film.
Propaganda represented the sacrifice of soldiers in war and praised the power of the country. It has been around these images that all over the world entire populations were mobilized on the expectation of victory. Through the static image of printed posters or the newspaper news projected in cinemas all over the globe, governments sought to promote a patriotic spirit, encouraging the effort of individual sacrifice by sending a clear set of messages that directly appealed to the voluntary enlistment in the armies, messages that explained the important of rationing essential goods, of the intensification of food production or the purchase of war bonds, exacerbating feelings, arousing emotions and projecting an image divided between the notion of superiority and the idea of fear of the opponent.
From press, in the First World War, to radio in World War II, to television and cinema from the 1950s onwards, propaganda proved to be a weapon as deadly as those managed by soldiers in the battlefield. That’s why it is essential to analyse and discuss the topic of War and Propaganda in the Twentieth Century.
This conference is organized by the IHC and the CEIS20 and is part of the Centennial Program of the Great War, organized by the IHC, and the International Centennial Program coordinated by the Imperial War Museum in London.
The meeting includes papers given by invited speakers and presentations submitted through a call for papers.
Maria Fernanda Rollo (IHC and FCSH-UNL)
Ana Paula Pires (IHC-FCSH-UNL)
Noémia Malva Novais (Ceis20 – and FCSH-UNL)