TheWorld War I was the first global war that pitted various nationsagainst each and unlike the previous conflicts minor wars, thegovernments could not sustain this large-scale conflict without thesupport the population. In Europe, especially Britain, the support ofthe entire population was needed and the best way to invoke people’semotions was through propaganda images. In the United States, one ofthe images read “wake up America” meaning the country wasdreaming yet the world was burning. This image was important inensuring the country joined. Unlike in the previous wars, the postersrequested young people in Europe to join the military in order tofight the enemy. The youths were informed through propaganda imagesthat their countries were under attack and the only way of salvagingthe situation was through participating actively in the war.Consequently, millions of workers and youths joined the military, aswell as industries that produced warfare products. Since thegovernments published images suggesting that the war would take along time, the public was prepared psychologically to go throughhardship. However, the public saw this as a price worth paying toachieve victory. Unlike the previous wars, the images in thepropaganda messages suggest that the concern of each country wasacquire enough human and capital resources.
Inthe first year of the war, countries faced serious challengessustaining the war and Britain was one of them. This forced states toengage in massive recruitment drive, but resources for payingsoldiers were unavailable meaning a strategy had to be devised toensure many people volunteered. Propaganda images were the beststrategy since this would draw sympathy from the members of thepublic. In fact, many countries went ahead to introduce compulsoryconscription policy. The war was costing millions and the public wasdissatisfied with the way the war was consuming resources. However,powerful states, such as Britain and France, could not surrenderimplying that they had to develop messages to give people hope ofvictory in the near future. The casualties reported daily wasalarming, something that lowered the morale at home. Therefore, thestates had no option other than lying to the public and the best wayto do this was through propaganda images. The interesting thing wasthat the state never wanted to be associated with propaganda becauseit would have encouraged the public to organize a revolution. Peopleoutside the government were contracted to draft images that wouldcondition the reasoning of people. As one way of running thepropaganda campaign, the government, through its agents, printedleaflets and pamphlets that contained special images on how thegovernment was working very hard to win the war. In the messages, itwas clear that the public had to support the state to achieve thismuch-needed glory. The images portrayed the enemy in bad image andpromoted the culture of the friendly states. In one of the images,the neighbouring towns are seen competing in fund raising and thiswas necessary in accumulating capital resources to sustain the war(Strayer 112).This was the first time that governments were engaging in severaltactics to fight effectively.
Toattract people’s attention, the western governments planted storieswith some news suggesting that soldiers were almost capturingimportant towns belonging to the enemy. The messages were oftensupported by images to win public confidence. The writers of thelocal newspapers were pro-government journalists hired to ensuresupport from the public was guaranteed. Because of the intensity ofthe war, the government had to control people’s thinking. Thepublic had to reason in the same way as the government where thefocus was to defeat the enemy under all means. One of the imagesassociated the enemy with the devil. German leaders were consideredthe masters of death, destruction and harm and whenever people sawthese images, they were encouraged either to participate actively indefeating this devil or contribute resources that would help infighting the devil. In some images, children were used and members ofthe public were urged to think of their loved ones. In case the enemyreached them, the first casualties would be their loved ones. In caseGermany would win the war, what would have happened to their childrenwas terrible. This was an encouragement to the members of the publicto put more effort in defeating this enemy. Images of popular personssupporting the military were circulated to boost the morale ofsoldiers and other fighters helping the state to win the war. TinBritain for example, the King from to time, would visit the fightingsoldiers in the battlefield and photos would be taken, which wouldthen be posted in the major dailies as one way of showing the publicthat even the country’s leader was part of the people fighting theenemy. Images play an important role in evoking people’s emotionsand feelings. Once an individual is convinced that something ispossible, he or she would rise up to try to accomplish that thing.
Strayer,Robert W. Waysof the World: A Brief Global History with Sources.Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. Print.