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Cultural historians have placed heavy emphasis on the study of posters, paintings and similar easily accessible cultural artefacts, while cinema and other media, which had much greater influence at the time, have been comparatively neglected.The importance of propaganda events that have left little record, such as the thousands of extemporary speeches given in all countries, has also been neglected.Finally, studies of the war’s propaganda have mostly considered only mass media and mass effects.
But it must also be stressed that much propaganda generated in all countries was the product of non-government initiatives, or of government co-operation with private institutions, and that much of this propaganda was on a small and local scale.
Historical study has tended to focus on large events and exceptional episodes, simply because they are more historically visible.
The same interaction also provided the opportunity for wartime official mechanisms that restricted information and knowledge by controlling the media through censorship, while few alternative sources of information were generally available.
In all countries, the relationship between propaganda institutions and the mass media was of great importance.
The newspaper (The Attacker), published by Nazi Party member Julius Streicher, was a key outlet for antisemitic propaganda.
This visual essay includes a selection of Nazi propaganda images, both “positive” and “negative.” It focuses on posters that Germans would have seen in newspapers like and passed in the streets, in workplaces, and in schools.
Books and articles are still published that repeat positions and attitudes that have long since been discredited, or that use highly selective interpretations of propaganda in the war for polemical purposes related to modern political positions.
While there are good general histories of propaganda through the ages, most historians of the First World War tend to ignore these, and rather than engaging with the various theories of propaganda, they assume a special importance for propaganda in this particular war.
Both sides spread propaganda during World War I, for example.
But the Nazis were notable for making propaganda a key element of government even before Germany went to war again.