German and English Propaganda in World War I

Perhaps the main economic benefit to the USA of the 2nd World War was being the only major industrial power in the world that was not obliterated by war, and secondly ending up in a dominant position of those that were. From an economic strategy, it might have been better for the US to have waited and entered WWII later, allowing the Germans and Soviets time to destroy each other, for instance, and then moving in and taking over both Europe and Russia, and thus eliminating the possibility of the Cold War and nuclear arms race. It’s ironic that winning wars is so often counter-productive in many ways, leading to situations that are worse than before (& often requiring another war to “fix”).

World War I was one of the most destructive wars ..

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The German soldiers that history forgot | World War I | …

Randolph Bourne was born in 1886, brought into the world after a difficult delivery in which doctors used forceps that crushed his tiny skull and left him permanently disfigured. At age four he contracted spinal tuberculosis, which stunted his growth and left him hunchbacked. He worked very hard to put himself through school, and attracted the notice of his professors through his intellectual sagacity. A student of the progressive pragmatist John Dewey at Columbia University, he broke with his mentor over the issue of whether the United States’ declared war aims in WWI of “making the world safe for democracy” as Wilson and his supporters argued, were legitimate. He was fired from his academic job for his denunciation of war—deemed unpatriotic at the time. His dismissal in turn, incensed one of his pro-war colleagues, eminent U.S.-historian Charles Beard, and led him to resign from Columbia. Bourne wrote “War is the Health of the State” but died at age 32 of the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic that swept from the front lines to civilians suffering wartime privation, and from there to the rest of the globe, killing about 30 million people worldwide.

World War I The German soldiers that history forgot

With the shock of war, however, the State comes into its own again. The Government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other Government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war.
For the benefit of the proud and haughty citizens, it is fortified with a list of the intolerable insults which have been hurled toward us by the other nations; for the benefit of the liberal and beneficent, it has a convincing set of moral purposes which our going to war will achieve; for the ambitious and aggressive classes, it can gently whisper of a bigger role in the destiny of the world
–Randolph Bourne (1886-1918) “War is the Health of the State”

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The Allies could not (even if they wanted to; they may not have) defended themselves in racial terms because they were the ones allied to the Russians, Chinese, Japanese and also the users of African and Asian troops. The British also saw the war as a conflict between Teuton and Slav but did not attach apocalyptic significance the way the Germans did. Of course the probability the Germans believed what they said cannot be discounted. Pan-Germanism, the belief that all Teutonic people were linked by blood and represented the deserved master race of Europe was a late nineteenth century development and Pan-Slavism was only slightly older. This was, therefore, the first clash between these two ideologies.

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In one way or another, Germans ..

The main justification presented by the Germans for their actions against Belgian civilians was legitimate retaliation against (civilian snipers) or Belgian soldiers, especially in Louvain [See Appendix 5]. Toynbee points out incidents in which, to avoid embarrassment, cases of German friendly fire were blamed on Belgian , leading to reprisals against innocent Belgians, while The emphasized the fact that the Belgian government assiduously warned its citizens not to act against the Germans. Toynbee was not impressed with the evidence presented by the Germans that their victims in Louvain were actually Belgian soldiers or . He described how several German soldiers disguised as fired on the Secretary of the American Legation at Brussels, Mr. Gibson, who was in Louvain "to enquire into the catastrophe" and were then "captured" by his escort in order "to give Mr. Gibson an ocular demonstration that the civilians had fired." In his commentary on the [not the one cited earlier] justifying German behavior, Professor Struycken declares:

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Despite a later start and greater disorganization than their rival, the British were much more effective in America. "British propaganda actually dwarfed German propaganda." A major reason for this was that the Entente powers, especially the United Kingdom, dominated the influx of war news to America. Britain had, however, more propaganda machinery than the newspapers, although the exact origins of Britain’s World War One propaganda are unclear and there appears to exist no evidence of pre-war planning for propaganda organizations. Even on the outbreak of war, Germanophobia combined with great pro-war patriotism and the expectation of a quick victory to make the organization of propaganda resources appear irrelevant. Early British propagandists shared with their foes an inexperience in the matter; moreover, they lacked enthusiasm for the task of molding public opinion. 1914-’15 British work was essentially "cautious and defensive," although they increasingly used aggressive counter-propaganda.