The First World War &
Uses of propaganda
Each nation that participated in the
First World War used propaganda as
a means of justifying involvement in
the war to their own populace.
Propaganda was also used as a
means to procure men, money, and
resources to sustain the military
In countries such as Britain, the use of
propaganda posters was readily
understandable. In 1914 she only
possessed a professional army and did
not have in place a policy of national
service, which was standard in other
countries, such as France and Germany.
Initially, posters proved successful but
the large numbers of men required at
the Front ultimately led to the
introduction of conscription.
Posters were not used solely to
recruit men to the military cause.
Posters commonly urged wartime
thrift, and were vocal in seeking
funds from the general public via
subscription to various war bond
Canada entered the First World War along
with Britain in August 1914.
Canada did not have in place a policy of
conscription – although this was changed
in time by PM Sir Robert Borden.
Recruitment posters were prominent in
stimulating military enlistment.
Government & Propaganda
Words, posters and silent films
waged a constant battle for the
hearts and minds of the citizenry.
Governments launched aggressive
propaganda campaigns with clearly
articulated goals and strategies to
galvanize public support.
FYI-Recommended Techniques for
Poster Design in the First World War:
Must have immediate mass appeal regardless of
race, culture, wealth, ancestry, position or
Should attract eye at a distance.
Should be idealistic, not realistic.
Must be taken in by a single stroke of the eye.
Should seduce the casual spectator.
Must appeal to a helter-skelter public.
Must implant a sense of righteousness into the
Minimize the concept of time.
FYI- Recruitment Posters
The following series of posters used
various techniques to encourage men to
enlist in the military.
These posters would appeal to a sense of
patriotism, duty or pride, or perhaps even
The early posters were simple but they
grew more sophisticated as time passed.
Note the change in 5th Pioneer Battalion
posters. Take note especially of posters
for the 148th Overseas Battalion, which
changed dramatically over time.
Financing the War Effort
Wars cost a lot of money and so the
government appealed to its citizens to
contribute to the effort.
Again, various means were used and
various emotions were appealed to, such
as pride, patriotism or guilt, and
sometimes fear of, or contempt for, the
Earned interest on Victory Bonds was also
Victory bonds are debt securities
issued by a government for the
purpose of financing military
operations during times of war.
War bonds generate capital for the
government and make civilians feel
involved in their national militaries.
Canadian Patriotic Fund
Conservation of Scarce Resources
It was important to save scarce
resources during the war.
This included not wasting food.
It also included growing more food.
Children were not exempt from
helping in this regard.
Note the appeals to emotions in
farms to help
with the war
Help for Returning Soldiers
soldiers had to
be provided for