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Propaganda Peace Policy

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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"PROPAGANDA PEACE POLICY The following conditions are indisputable: In no sense shall restoration or reparation in the case of Belgium be taken into consideration when adjusting any other claims arising from the war.

i. The complete restoration, territorial, economic and political, of Belgium.

2. The freeing of French territory, reconstruction of the invaded Provinces, compensation for all civilian losses and injuries.

3. The restoration to France of Alsace-Lorraine, not as a territorial acquisition or part of a war indemnity, but as reparation for the wrong done in 1871, when the inhabitants of the two Provinces, whose ancestors voluntarily chose French allegiance, were incorporated in Germany against their will.

4. Readjustment of the frontiers of Italy as nearly as possible along the lines of nationality.

5. The assurance to all the peoples of Austria-Hungary of their place amongst the free nations of the world and of their right to enter into union with their kindred beyond the present boundaries of Austria-Hungary.

6. The evacuation of all territory formerly included in the boundaries of the Russian Empire, the annulment of all treaties, contracts or agreements made with subjects, agents or representatives of enemy Powers since the revolution and affecting territory or interests formerly Russian, and cooperation of the Associated Powers in securing conditions under which the various nationalities of the former Empire of Russia shall determine their own form of Government.

7. The formation of an independent Polish State with access to the sea, which State shall include the territories inhabited by predominantly Polish populations, and the indemnification of Poland by the Powers responsible for the havoc wrought.

8. The abrogation of the Treaty of Bucharest, the evacuation and restoration of Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro, the Associated Powers to aid the Balkan States in settling finally the Balkan question on an equitable basis.

9. The removal, so far as is practicable, of Turkish dominion over all non-Turkish peoples.

10. The people of Schleswig shall be free to determine their own allegiance.

11. As reparation for the illegal submarine warfare waged by Germany and Austria-Hungary, these Powers shall be held liable to replace the merchant tonnage belonging to the Associated and neutral nations illegally damaged or destroyed.

12. The appointment of a tribunal before which there shall be brought for impartial justice individuals of any of the belligerents accused of offences against the laws of war or of humanity.

13. The former Colonial possessions of Germany, lost by her in consequence of her illegal aggression against Belgium, shall in no case be returned to Germany.

The following conditions of Peace are negotiable:- 1. The adjustment of claims for damage necessarily arising from the operations of war, and not included amongst the indisputable conditions.

2. The establishment, constitution and conditions of membership of a League of Free Nations for the purpose of preventing future wars and improving international relations.

3. The League of Free Nations shall be inspired by the resolve of the Associated Powers to create a world in which, when the conditions of the Peace have been carried out, there shall be opportunity and security for the legitimate development of all peoples.

The action taken thereon by the Enemy Propaganda Committee at Crewe House was as follows: At their suggestion Lord Northcliffe made it the basis of an address to the United States officers in London on Oct. 22 1918. The Production Department of the Committee got to work on a series of pamphlets and leaflets dealing with the different points of the memorandum. The memorandum was sent to the French, Italian, and American members of the inter-Allied Body for Propaganda in enemy countries, with the request that they should take similar action on it to that taken by the British Policy Committee and bring it up for discussion at the next meeting of the inter-Allied body. Lastly they decided to prepare and give wide publicity to an article covering the whole ground of the memorandum, so that the policy could be presented in the same terms to the British people, to their Allies and to the enemy. The steps taken by Crewe House, and the corresponding action taken by other departments concerned, were reported and approved at a meeting of the Policy Committee at Crewe House on Oct. 28 1918, the last meeting actually held.

Events were moving swiftly, and Crewe House found that there was no time to carry out the original intention of cir culating the general statement through one of the more important monthly periodicals. It was therefore decided to ask Lord Northcliffe to give the peace policy the wide and immediate publicity possible by the use of his name and by the sources of distribution at his command. He agreed at once, and so consummated the efforts of British propaganda. On Nov. 4 1918 an article under his name appeared in The Times and The Daily Mail, The Paris Daily Mail, and the leading papers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, Newfoundland, India, the British Dependencies, the United States of America, S. America, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Japan and elsewhere, and very soon afterwards in Germany. The arrangements for this wide publicity were made personally by Lord Northcliffe, and the cost of cabling was borne by him. The final form of the article was due to him, but its substance represented the unanimous views of his advisory committee, the members of which he had selected, and over whose deliberations he had presided.

Allied Propaganda. - The principles and methods of propaganda have been so fully illustrated in the foregoing account of the British effort, that little would be gained by a detailed description of the operations of England's Allies. France went through a history much like that of Great Britain. In the earlier stages of the war, propaganda was conducted by a number of agencies, for the most part in extension of their normal functions. As the war proceeded, concentration and intensification were achieved, ending in the work being placed under the control of a single minister with a large staff. The control of home opinion was less difficult than in England, as it was already in the tradition of the Government to regulate the dissemination of information and of official views. As, however, a considerable part of the French population was in territory occupied by the Germans, there had to be an extensive distribution of propaganda through the army and by secret agents. An intensive campaign was conducted in Alsace and Lorraine, the services of distinguished Alsatians of French descent being employed with great success. Neutral opinion was influenced by special missions and by resident agents. Much care was given to French propaganda amongst the Allies. Distinguished civilians of British and American nationality were frequently invited to France, and given every opportunity of seeing the spirit in which France was making her prodigious effort and the enormous difficulties she had to face. French agents kept in close touch with British opinion of every class, and in every part of the Empire, not neglecting Ireland and Quebec. In one respect this branch of French propaganda was more far-seeing than most of the British work; it was not content with the actual problems of the war, but anticipated and prepared for many of the difficulties and possible causes of friction that might arise in the making even of a victorious peace. France early foresaw that, as German colonies were unlikely to be restored to Germany, it would be necessary for France and Britain to be in general agreement with regard to extra-European territories. The French effort to reach the enemy directly was on a smaller scale, but was similar to the work done by the British War Office. By exchange of views and materials a high degree of concord was reached.

Belgium was in the unfortunate position of being able to operate directly only in a very small part of her own territory. By direct effort, and with the willing cooperation of France and Britain, she was able to keep in close contact with her own people. The unmerited calamities which fell on Belgium secured her in advance the sympathy of neutral and Allied nations, so that special propaganda was unnecessary. Italy was rather a theatre for propaganda than a direct propagandist. She spoke with so many different voices that, except for a certain amount of direct propaganda addressed to the enemy, she was unable to explain her attitude very clearly either to neutrals or to Allies. On the other hand, she issued a series of magnificent photographic descriptions of her arduous campaigns, which explained well the immense difficulties of military operations on the Italian front, and the brilliant technical methods by which they were overcome. The Americans devoted the same energy to propaganda as to preparation for actual warfare. Representatives were at once sent to Europe to examine and report on the methods of propaganda employed by the Allies. By Sept. 1918, an American Propaganda Department had been established with branches in London, Paris and near Verdun. Much literature was produced, and its distribution by aeroplane and by balloon had been arranged when the Armistice came.

Germany.-It would be difficult to say how far the exaltation of the German spirit in 1914 was due to official inspiration, or how far the long campaign of German intellectuals and industrials, before 1914, for the aggrandizement of Germany, had inspired official opinion. In any event, the outbreak of the war let loose a flood of literature unanimous in sentiment and apparently spontaneous. Professors and pastors, politicians of every section, pan-Germans and socialists were united in proclaiming the necessity of the war and the certainty of victory. But even in these early days there were striking differences of opinion. One school urged that the war was defensive, forced on Germany by the " encircling policy " of her enemies. German militarism was a necessary consequence of a position surrounded by powerful enemies, of the Russian danger, and of English jealousy of her commercial success. As it was difficult to reconcile this theory with the actual German plan of campaign and with the fate of Belgium, much stress was laid on the theme that an offensive was only the best means of defence. When victory came, annexations were to be limited to what might be necessary for future security. Another school proclaimed the historic mission of Germany, her high culture and civilization, the advantage to the world of her victory. The great empires of the past had expanded and developed for selfish ends; Germany wished to free the seas for all the nations, and to open up the world so that all the peoples great or small could develop on their own lines. England, France and Russia had been the great oppressors of smaller nations and races; Germany would liberate them. The unification of Germany had been the first stage in a beneficent process which would lead, first, to a great federation of Middle Europe, and then to a federation of the whole world. A third school expounded a somewhat careful form of the Bernhardi and Treitschke doctrine. The great and expanding German people required land within the German Empire in which the surplus population might find room and yet remain German. Outlet must be found for German talent, organizing capacity, capital, manufactures, and the necessary supplies of raw material must be forthcoming. These objects Germany would have preferred to attain peacefully. But she was a late arrival on the world-scene, and her rapid development had aroused such envy, particularly from England, that her legitimate rights could be secured only by force. Yet a fourth school, relatively small in numbers but of great influence in the navy, army and among the big industrials, appealed directly to cupidity. The riches, natural resources and possibilities of all parts of the world in which German influence could be extended or which Germany could take from her enemies were described elaborately. The growth of the British Empire was displayed in almost affectionate caricature as an accomplishment of successful piracy; England, however, must now disgorge to the younger and stronger pirate. It was an odd but possibly significant circumstance that, in all these diverging views, little attention was paid to the events immediately preceding the various declarations of war.

So far we are dealing with the unofficial home propaganda of Germany. It consisted to a much larger extent than in Great Britain of books and pamphlets, some of which doubtless were subsidized, but most of which apparently were spontaneous. These served also for the German peoples in foreign lands, and were exported in very large quantities, often in their original form, often in translation so as to serve as propaganda for neutrals. It was a characteristic of German self-confidence that they appeared to think that explanations good enough for Germans were good enough for neutrals and even for enemies. But in addition to such private or at least apparently unofficial efforts, there was an official propaganda on a large and highly organized scale. The German Press was organized for war, with the object not only of influencing home opinion but neutral opinion, directly through the circulation of German papers in Switzerland, Holland, and Scandinavia, and by their effect on foreign editors. Dr. Theodor Wolff, the well-known editor of the Berliner Tageblatt, said that " German censorship passed news concerning facts, but forbade discussion of war events or internal politics and of many other subjects." The Government suppressed criticism or the giving of information with regard to the internal conditions of the country. Every two or three days the newspapers received printed orders indicating what they were forbidden to publish, the attitude they were to assume on particular topics, and the articles from other papers they were free to reproduce. Editors were usually allowed to produce their papers without a preliminary examination of the proofs, but transgression of the regulations was followed by prosecution or suspension. One form of punishment was to place a paper on " preventive censorship," under which all proofs had to be submitted, and any matter could be struck out, without, however, removing responsibility for what remained. The Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung was a purely official organ, and several other papers, notably the K6lnische Zeitung and the Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, were semi-official.

With regard to the Press generally, there were several agencies of direction and inspiration. The Press Department of the Foreign Office issued a regular news-sheet containing the statements and views the propagation of which was desired; it also acted directly on newspaper correspondents. The Admiralty had a very active publicity department, for some time under the direction of Mathias Erzberger and Paul Rohrbach. The Ministry of the Interior had a separate organization and also circulated " tendencious " sheets. The War Press Bureau, controlled by the Higher Command, was the most important propagandist organ. It issued commands to the censorship, laying down the prohibitions and the special attitudes which were circulated through the local authorities, and it had a special foreign section. Moreover, daily Press seances were held by three officials, representing respectively the Foreign Office, the War Office and the Admiralty, at which instructions and directions too delicate to be committed to paper were issued.

German propaganda in neutral countries was officially controlled by a branch of the Foreign Office, the Zentralstelle fiir Auslandsdienst. It issued material for propaganda and propaganda for distribution through the official representatives in foreign countries. Every Germany embassy or legation had at least one organ under its immediate control, sometimes published in German specially for German readers, more often in the language of the country in which it was issued. The material consisted of copies of a special newspaper, the Nachrichten der Auslandspresse, prepared by the War Press Bureau, a daily paper containing telegrams and notes on current events, and often selected news cuttings issued by the general staff. Another official agency, believed to be directed by the Admiralty, issued an attractive and well-illustrated periodical, the Kriegs Kronik, as well as the Kriegs Nachrichten, the latter consisting of prepared articles on war subjects and a " Berlin " letter, for the edification of the foreign Press.

In addition there were several highly important private organizations for foreign propaganda. The Deutscher Ueberseedienst Transocean was a syndicate established before the war by big German industrials to supplement and correct the service of the official Wolff Bureau. It issued the daily German wireless, had a special foreign news-service consisting chiefly of selected cuttings from German and foreign newspapers, and a very fine illustrated monthly periodical in five languages - Der Grosse Krieg in Bildern. It had an intelligence division which reported on the standing and personality of newspaper editors in every country, and suggested means of influencing them. The Kriegsausschuss der deutschen Industrie, formed originally to represent industrialists in their controversies with the Government, became an extensive propagandist chiefly on trade matters. A bureau at Frankfort-on-Main, partly official, dealt chiefly with Latin countries. The Deutsch-Siidamerikanisches Institut, and the Hamburgischer Ibero-Amerikanischer Verein were occupied chiefly with Latin and Latin-American countries, and had agents and usually press organs in every country where Spanish or Portuguese is spoken. The Far East was served through the Ostasiatische-Lloyd, which supplied a distributing centre in Shanghai.

Until the United States of America came into the war, there was a very active German campaign to influence American opinion in favour of Germany. A great part of it was conducted from the German embassy in Washington, and through the German consuls throughout the United States. Much work was done by special missions such as that of Dr. Dernburg, a former Colonial Secretary, and every German bank or trading corporation was a centre of organized effort. A very large number of serious books by well-known German authors were translated into English for American readers. These followed certain main lines. They drew contrasts between the peaceful progress of Germany since her unification, as compared with the violence of other Powers. They represented Germany as being engaged purely in self-defence. They offered veiled threats or bribes to the United States with reference to Japan. They insisted on the moral basis of German culture and civilization. Closely similar lines were followed by many leading Americans of German descent. Perhaps the most effective of these AmericanGermans was Hugo Miinsterberg, professor of psychology at Harvard, who advocated the cause of his natal country with eloquence and apparent moderation. His main point was that the war was really a struggle between Russian barbarism and the western culture of Germany, France taking sides because of Alsace-Lorraine, England because of her commercial rivalry and desire for German colonies. If Germany were beaten, it would be a triumph of Asiatic Russia and of Japan over the culture of Europe and America. It was suggested that the task of America was to give Europe an honourable peace, which she could do only by the strictest neutrality, with a leaning to Germany. Some true Americans also engaged in propaganda in favour of Germany. Some of these, doubtless, were mere hirelings; the better were chiefly persons of standing in the literary, scientific and musical world, who had been much in Germany. Some of the exchange professors were leaders in this work, and very naturally advocated with zeal and knowledge the best side of the German character and the great part Germany had played in the arts and sciences. Still more vocal were the Irish-Americans, who devoted themselves with a malignant bitterness to propaganda against England.

As regards direct German propaganda against the enemy, comparatively little was done, as compared with other combatants, in the distribution of propagandist literature from Germany amongst the actual troops opposed to her. The Gazette des Ardennes was the most successful effort. It was a regular newspaper, written in French and often with an illustrated supplement. It was sent into France by balloons, and occasionally by aeroplane, and sometimes gained entrance through a neutral country. It was eagerly sought, as it was baited with genuine information as to French prisoners. Otherwise it consisted of well-arranged propagandist matter of the usual type. The Continental Times, written in English, was founded before the war as a genuine newspaper for Americans travelling in Germany and Austria. During the war, probably with the aid of a German subsidy, it developed into a propagandist organ, chiefly anti-English, and almost ludicrous in its exaggerated malevolence. It was freely circulated among English prisoners in German camps, where, fortunately, it was the occasion of a good deal of amusement. The Russkiya Iszvestia, written in Russian, was distributed to Russian prisoners of war, and to a smaller extent in Russia. It was a competent piece of work, addressed to the task of persuading the Russian peasant that his two chief enemies were England and his own Government, and that the victory of Germany would mean liberation.

Germany's greatest propagandist effort against her enemies was carried out by indirect means. Wherever she thought that there was opportunity, she endeavoured to excite the discontented subjects of her enemies. She sought to get in touch with Irishmen, Indians, Arabs, Egyptians, Boers, Algerians and Georgians, and with various black races. A special organization or committee in Berlin attended to each of these peoples, and to many others. Where possible, representatives were lured to Berlin, and, if thought useful, were provided with funds. Missions, sometimes accompanied by Germans, were sent wherever they could be sent with safety. On the negative side the effort had some success, and existing discontent was sedulously fomented. But on the positive side there was little gain, for the Germans were seldom able to persuade the actual or tentative rebels that their future position would be any better under the domination of Germany. (P. C. M.)

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Propaganda Peace Policy'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​p/propaganda-peace-policy.html. 1910.
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