Propaganda and Harry S. Truman’s St. Louis 1948 Reelection Speech

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Propaganda and Harry S. Truman’s St. Louis 1948 Reelection Speech
For this unit activity, students will be encouraged to identify and analyze various forms of propaganda in President Harry S. Truman’s reelection address to Kiel Auditorium on October 30, 1948. Our class will consider the use of propaganda during World War I and II as a means of review and study propaganda during the Cold War as a major tool of foreign policy and government influence on the society. You must find three different examples of propaganda from this speech and produce two additional examples on your own. Your two productions can look like or be modeled after other pieces of media, but you must construct them with aspects of your own creativity or originality (they can’t just be copied). For your two examples, you can select any historical time period in the 20th century and any current topic in the news. Of the two examples that you create for this project, one must take the form of either a visual poster, a written piece or an example of a video. You will have to do an analysis on each piece of propaganda!!! (See bottom of this page).
Types of propaganda to be analyzed

Poster/ visual, written work, video-film

Historical time periods that must be covered (must have one of each)

Step one: President Harry S. Truman’s Reelection Address on October 30, 1948

Step two: Any Two Historical Time Period in 20th century or more currently in the 21st century
Rubric for unit activity (15 points per example X 5 = 75 points)
______ out of 25 Examples of each piece of propaganda (5 points each)

Step three: Answer the Questions below on each of the five pieces of propaganda.

1) What is the topic? What is the creator of this piece of propaganda saying about the topic?

2) What is the message? How did the creator intend to spread this message?

3) Analyze the techniques (see Page 4) observed in this example. Describe how at least two techniques are used and why they would be used to spread this message?
______ out of 50 Analysis Answer the following questions: (10 points each)

________ out of 75 (total of 5 propaganda examples)

Propaganda Overview
pro-pa-gan-da {n} Congregatio de propaganda fide-
Congregation for propagating the faith established in 1623 by Pope Gregory XV

1. cap: a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions

2. the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person

3. ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or damage an opposing cause; a public action to such an effect.

It seems strange to suggest that the study of propaganda has relevance to our contemporary world. After all, when most people think about propaganda, they imagine enormous campaigns that were generated by Hitler or Stalin or they remember the “Red Scare” of the 1950s in the United States. Since nothing comparable is being disseminated in our society today, many people assume that propaganda is no longer an issue.
However, propaganda can be as blatant as a swastika or as subtle as a joke. Its persuasive techniques are regularly applies by politicians, advertisers, journalists, radio personalities, and others who are interested in influencing human behavior. Some people get paid a lot of money to change the way we think! Propaganda messages can be used to accomplish positive social ends, as campaigns to reduce drunk driving, but they are also used to win elections and sell malt liquor.
Propagandists love short cuts – particularly those which evade rational though. They encourage this by agitating emotions, exploiting insecurities, capitalizing on the ambiguity of language and by bending the roles of logic. As history shows, they can be quite successful. With the growth of communication tools like the Internet, the flow of persuasive messages has been accelerated, while the time for intellectual thought, analysis and judgment has been reduced.
Every day we are bombarded by one persuasive communication after another. These appeals persuade not through the give-and-take of argument and debate, but through the manipulation of symbols and of our most basic human emotions. For better or worse, our information age is an age of propaganda.” -Pratkanis and Aronson, Media Wars

Propaganda Techniques
Word Games

1) Name calling- intends to imply a rejection or condemnation

ex: commie, fascist, pig, yuppie, counterculture
2) Euphemisms- makes an unpleasant reality more acceptable

ex: War Department now called Department of Defense

MX-Missile was renamed “The Peacekeeper”

dead civilians are referred to as “collateral damage”

3) Glittering Generalities- seeks to make us accept and approve the broad notion

ex: Fight the Good Fight for Freedom

For the good of science

Operation Enduring Freedom

False Connections

1) Transfer- when something we respect and revere is carried on to something else

ex: Jeep commercial landing on Normandy Beach

images of U.S. flag and Uncle Sam to sell anything

2) Testimonial- individuals not qualified to make judgments about an issue

ex: Michael Jordan says Wheaties is good for you

Richard Gere protests for a Free Tibet

Bono wants to save Africa

Special Appeal

1) Plain Folks- association with the common, convince us that their ideas are ours

ex: Ron Paul – “Wake Up America!”

Rosie the Riveter: “We Can Do it!”

2) Bandwagon- everyone else is doing it, so should you

ex: “Join your fellow Americans in donating to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund”

“Join millions of Americans who have already switched to Verizon Wireless”
3) Fear- appeal to basic human fear

ex: commercial for seat belts showing car crashes

“Stop the Huns from invading with War Bonds”
Logical Fallacies

1) Poor Logic- drawing illogical conclusions from statements of fact

ex: Barack Obama supported legalized health care in 2008.

All socialist regimes in the 21st Century legalize health


Barack Obama is a socialist.

2) Unwarranted Extrapolation- making huge conclusions or predictions based on a small amount of information ex: New airport rules will take away our human rights

“Donate scrap and we’ll kill a Jap”

World War I Propaganda
Britain and the U.S.
Soon after the outbreak of World War I, the British government set up the British War Propaganda Bureau, as a means of competing with a similar German propaganda agency, which was disseminating false information about the war. To support British interests in the war, twenty-five well-known British writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, and H.G. Wells were organized in secrecy to write pamphlets and books, which could promote the governments’ ideas about the war. Photographers and cartoonists were later added to increase the information as the war dragged on. History books, war images, newspaper articles and international wire services were all part of the British means of promoting information, encouraging morale at home and demonizing the enemy.

The absence of public unity was a major concern when the U.S. entered the war. National support was obviously crucial and Woodrow Wilson wanted to ensure complete cooperation back at home. On April 13, 1917, (just 7 days after entering the conflict), Wilson created the Committee on Public Information to promote the war domestically while publicizing American war aims abroad. The CPI blended advertising techniques with a sophisticated understanding of human psychology, and its efforts represent the first time that a modern government disseminated propaganda on such a large scale. It is interesting to note that phenomenon, often linked with totalitarian regimes, emerged in democratic states.

Triumph of the Will

“The most awesome, frightening, and powerful film ever made”

according to the International Society of Historical Films
The subject of the documentary is the 1934 session of the Nazi Party Congress and the enormous rallies involving thousands of German followers. Included are unbelievable scenes depicting the Nuremberg rallies and exclusive speeches by Adolph Hitler. The film is an extraordinary blend of inspired art, direction, and may have been designed the most effective propaganda machine, convincing millions of educated Germans to follow their inhumane cause of death and persecution.

Directed by Leni Riefenstahl, a German woman who claimed to be unassociated with the Nazi party, it is considered by some historians to be the greatest feat of Nazi propaganda. Riefenstahl was haunted by the powerful work after the world became aware of the holocaust during World War II and never directed another documentary. The film was banned in Europe and the United States for more than thirty years.

German and American Propaganda
Propaganda was central to Nazi Germany from their control of power in 1933 until the end of the WWII and the downfall of the Fascist regime in May 1945. Propaganda within Nazi Germany was taken to a new and perverse level toward German citizens, minorities who were not considered “Aryan” or “pure,” and enemy nations. Hitler was very aware of the value of good propaganda and did everything in his power to promote the Nazi beliefs. The first poster caption reads: "30 January 1933-1943. One Battle! One Victory!" The theme is a takeoff on one of the Nazi’s pre-1933 posters. This poster was withdrawn after the Battle of Stalingrad. The second 1938 poster was issued shortly after the Anschluss with Austria. The caption: "One People, One Reich, One Fuehrer." The third poster is from later in the war when Allied bombers were constantly over Germany. The text translates as: "The enemy sees your light! Black out!"

As we briefly saw in our WWII lesson over women and propaganda the US produced a wide range of posters in more styles and in greater numbers that any other country in WWII. There are quite literally, thousands of WWII posters that range from the home-front economy to fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. As the war began in earnest, America increased the flood of propaganda, utilizing especially the radio and visual media, most specifically posters. German propaganda borrowed the American technique of relying, not so much on words, but on images alone: pictures of handsome German soldiers, sturdy peasants in native costume, and the like. Both sides relied on propaganda to help their respected citizens win not only the war abroad, but the war on the home front as well.

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