The ignorant and innocent masses in each country are unaware at the time that they are being misled, and when it is all over only here and there are the falsehoods discovered and exposed. As it is all past history and the desired effect has been produced by the stories and statements, no one troubles to investigate the facts and establish the truth. Lying, as we all know, does not take place only in war-time. Man, it has been said, is not "a veridical animal," but his habit of lying is not nearly so extraordinary as his amazing readiness to believe.
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Falsehood is a recognized and extremely useful weapon in warfare, and every country uses it quite deliberately to deceive its own people, to attract neutrals, and to mislead the enemy. The ignorant and innocent masses in each country are unaware at the time that they are being misled, and when it is all over only here and there are the falsehoods discovered and exposed. As it is all past history and the desired effect has been produced by the stories and statements, no one troubles to investigate the facts and establish the truth.
Lying, as we all know, does not take place only in war-time. Man, it has been said, is not "a veridical animal," but his habit of lying is not nearly so extraordinary as his amazing readiness to believe. It is, indeed, because of human credulity that lies flourish.
But in war-time the authoritative organization of lying is not sufficiently recognized. The deception of whole peoples is not a matter which can be lightly regarded. A useful purpose can therefore be served in the interval of so-called peace by a warning which people can examine with dispassionate calm, that the authorities in each country do, and indeed must, resort to this practice in order, first, to justify themselves by depicting the enemy as an undiluted criminal; and secondly, to inflame popular passion sufficiently to secure recruits for the continuance of the struggle.
They cannot afford to tell the truth. In some cases it must be admitted that at the moment they do not know what the truth is. The psychological factor in war is just as important as the military factor. The morale of civilians, as well as of soldiers, must be kept up to the mark. Departments have to be created to see to the psychological side.
People must never be allowed to become despondent; so victories must be exaggerated and defeats, if not concealed, at any rate minimized, and the stimulus of indignation, horror, and hatred must be assiduously and continuously pumped into the public mind by means of "propaganda.
Bonar Law said in an interview to the United Press of America, referring to patriotism, "It is well to have it properly stirred by German frightfulness"; and a sort of general confirmation of atrocities is given by vague phrases which avoid responsibility for the authenticity of any particular story, as when Mr. Asquith said House of Commons, April 27, : "We shall not forget this horrible record of calculated cruelty and crime. The public can be worked up emotionally by sham ideals.
A sort of collective hysteria spreads and rises until finally it gets the better of sober people and reputable newspapers. With a warning before them, the common people may be more on their guard when the war cloud next appears on the horizon and less disposed to accept as truth the rumours, explanations, and pronouncements issued for their consumption.
They should realize that a Government which has decided on embarking on the hazardous and terrible enterprise of war must at the outset present a one-sided case in justification of its action, and cannot afford to admit in any particular whatever the smallest degree of right or reason on the part of the people it has made up its mind to fight. Facts must be distorted, relevant circumstances concealed and a picture presented which by its crude colouring will persuade the ignorant people that their Government is blameless, their cause is righteous, and that the indisputable wickedness of the enemy has been proved beyond question.
The unthinking mass accept them and by their excitement sway the rest. The amount of rubbish and humbug that pass under the name of patriotism in war-time in all countries is sufficient to make decent people blush when they are subsequently disillusioned.
At the outset the solemn asseverations of monarchs and leading statesmen in each nation that they did not want war must be placed on a par with the declarations of men who pour paraffin about a house knowing they are continually striking matches and yet assert they do not want a conflagration. This form of self-deception, which involves the deception of others, is fundamentally dishonest. War being established as a recognized institution to be resorted to when Governments quarrel, the people are more or less prepared.
They quite willingly delude themselves in order to justify their own actions. They are anxious to find an excuse for displaying their patriotism, or they are disposed to seize the opportunity for the excitement and new life of adventure which war opens out to them. So there is a sort of national wink, everyone goes forward, and the individual, in his turn, takes up lying as a patriotic duty.
In the low standard of morality which prevails in war-time, such a practice appears almost innocent. His efforts are sometimes a little crude, but he does his best to follow the example set. Agents are employed by authority and encouraged in so-called propaganda work. The type which came prominently to the front in the broadcasting of falsehood at recruiting meetings is now well known. The fate which overtook at least one of the most popular of them in this country exemplifies the depth of degradation to which public opinion sinks in a war atmosphere.
With eavesdroppers, letter-openers, decipherers, telephone tappers, spies, an intercept department, a forgery department, a criminal investigation department, a propaganda department, an intelligence department, a censorship department, a ministry of information, a Press bureau, etc. The British official propaganda department at Crewe House, under Lord Northcliffe, was highly successful. Their methods, more especially the raining down of millions of leaflets on to the German Army, far surpassed anything undertaken by the enemy.
The declaration that only "truthful statements" were used is repeated just too often, and does not quite tally with the description of the faked letters and bogus titles and bookcovers, of which use was made. But, of course, we know that such clever propagandists are equally clever in dealing with us after the event as in dealing with the enemy at the time. In the apparently candid description of their activities we know we are hearing only part of the story.
The circulators of base metal know how to use the right amount of alloy for us as well as for the enemy. In the many tributes to the success of our propaganda from German Generals and the German Press, there is no evidence that our statements were always strictly truthful.
To quote one : General von Hutier, of the Sixth German Army, sent a message in which the following passage occurs:"The method of Northcliffe at the Front is to distribute through airmen a constantly increasing number of leaflets and pamphlets; the letters of German prisoners are falsified in the most outrageous way; tracts and pamphlets are concocted, to which the names of German poets, writers, and statesmen are forged, or which present the appearance of having been printed in Germany, and bear, for example, the title of the Reclam series, when they really come from the Northcliffe press, which is working day and night for this same purpose.
His thought and aim are that these forgeries, however obvious they may appear to the man who thinks twice, may suggest a doubt, even for a moment, in the minds of those who do not think for themselves, and that their confidence in their leaders, in their own strength, and in the inexhaustible resources of Germany may be shattered.
Later it became slightly confused owing to the inability of our statesmen to declare what our aims were, and towards the end it was fortified by descriptions of the magnificent, just, and righteous peace which was going to be "established on lasting foundations.
In calm retrospect we can appreciate better the disastrous effects of the poison of falsehood, whether officially, semiofficially, or privately manufactured. The defilement of the human soul is worse than the destruction of the human body. A fuller realization of this is essential. Another effect of the continual appearance of false and biased statement and the absorption of the lie atmosphere is that deeds of real valour, heroism, and physical endurance and genuine cases of inevitable torture and suffering are contaminated and desecrated; the wonderful comradeship of the battlefield becomes almost polluted.
Lying tongues cannot speak of deeds of sacrifice to show their beauty or value. So it is that the praise bestowed on heroism by Government and Press always jars, more especially when, as is generally the case with the latter, it is accompanied by cheap and vulgar sentimentality. That is why one instinctively wishes the real heroes to remain unrecognized, so that their record may not be smirched by cynical tongues and pens so well versed in falsehood.
When war reaches such dimensions as to involve the whole nation, and when the people at its conclusion find they have gained nothing but only observe widespread calamity around them, they are inclined to become more sceptical and desire to investigate the foundations of the arguments which inspired their patriotism, inflamed their passions, and prepared them to offer the supreme sacrifice.
They are curious to know why the ostensible objects for which they fought have none of them been attained, more especially if they are the victors.
They are inclined to believe, with Lord Fisher, that "The nation was fooled into the war" "London Magazine," January They begin to wonder whether it does not rest with them to make one saying true of which they heard so much, that it was "a war to end war. As a warning, therefore, this collection is made. It constitutes only the exposure of a few samples. To cover the whole ground would be impossible.
There are several different sorts of disguises which falsehood can take. There is the deliberate official lie, issued either to delude the people at home or to mislead the enemy abroad; of this, several instances are given. There is the deliberate lie concocted by an ingenious mind which may only reach a small circle, but which, if sufficiently graphic and picturesque, may be caught up and spread broadcast ; and there is the hysterical hallucination on the part of weak-minded individuals.
There is the lie heard and not denied, although lacking in evidence, and then repeated or allowed to circulate. There is the mistranslation, occasionally originating in a genuine mistake, but more often deliberate. Two minor instances of this may be given. The Times agony column , July 9, Jack F. The Berlin correspondent of the Cologne Gazette transmitted this : If you are not in khaki by the 20th, hacke ich dich zu Tode I will hack you to death.
During the blockade of Germany, it was suggested that the diseases from which children suffered had been called Die englische Krankheit, as a permanent reflection on English inhumanity. As a matter of fact, die englische Krankheit is, and always has been, the common German name for rickets.
There is the general obsession, started by rumour and magnified by repetition and elaborated by hysteria, which at last gains general acceptance. There is the deliberate forgery which has to be very carefully manufactured but serves its purpose at the moment, even though it be eventually exposed. There is the omission of passages from official documents of which only a few of the many instances are given; and the "correctness" of words and commas in parliamentary answers which conceal evasions of the truth.
There is deliberate exaggeration, such, for instance, as the reports of the destruction of Louvain : "The intellectual metropolis of the Low Countries since the fifteenth century is now no more than a heap of ashes" Press Bureau, August 29, , "Louvain has ceased to exist" " The Times," August 29th , As a matter of fact, it was estimated that about an eighth of the town had suffered.
There is the concealment of truth, which has to be resorted to so as to prevent anything to the credit of the enemy reaching the public.
These were more popular in France than here. In Vienna an enterprising firm supplied atrocity photographs with blanks for the headings so that they might be used for propaganda purposes by either side. The cinema also played a very important part, especially in neutral countries, and helped considerably in turning opinion in America in favour of coming in on the side of the Allies. To this day in this country attempts are made by means of films to keep the wound raw. There is the "Russian scandal," the best instance of which during the war, curiously enough, was the rumour of the passage of Russian troops through Britain.
Some trivial and imperfectly understood statement of fact becomes magnified into enormous proportions by constant repetition from one person to another.
Atrocity lies were the most popular of all, especially in this country and America; no war can be without them. Slander of the enemy is esteemed a patriotic duty. An English soldier wrote "The Times," September 15, : "The stories in our papers are only exceptions. There are people like them in every army.
This is done, of course, on both sides. Whereas naturally each side tries to treat its prisoners as well as possible so as to attract others.
The repetition of a single instance of cruelty and its exaggeration can be distorted into a prevailing habit on the part of the enemy. Unconsciously each one passes it on with trimmings and yet tries to persuade himself that he is speaking the truth. There are lies emanating from the inherent unreliability and fallibility of human testimony. No two people can relate the occurrence of a street accident so as to make the two stories tally.
When bias and emotion are introduced, human testimony becomes quite valueless. In war-time such testimony is accepted as conclusive. The scrappiest and most unreliable evidence is sufficient "the friend of the brother of a man who was killed. Letters of soldiers who whiled away the days and weeks of intolerable waiting by writing home sometimes contained thrilling descriptions of engagements and adventures which had never occurred.
There are evasions, concealments, and half-truths which are more subtly misleading and gradually become a governmental habit. There is official secrecy which must necessarily mislead public opinion. For instance, a popular English author, who was perhaps better informed than the majority of the public, wrote a letter to an American author, which was reproduced in the Press on May 21st , 19 18, stating: "There are no Secret Treaties of any kind in which this country is concerned.
The object of this volume is not to cast fresh blame on authorities and individuals, nor is it to expose one nation more than another to accusations of deceit. Falsehood is a recognized and extremely useful weapon in warfare, and every country uses it quite deliberately to deceive its own people, to attract neutrals, and to mislead the enemy. The ignorant and innocent masses in each country are unaware at the time that they are being misled, and when it is all over only here and there are the falsehoods discovered and exposed. As it is all past history and the desired effect has been produced by the stories and statements, no one troubles to investigate the facts and establish the truth. Lying, as we all know, does not take place only in war-time. It is, indeed, because of human credulity that lies flourish.
Falsehood In Wartime: Propaganda Lies Of The First World War
Mar 15, Hadi Najjar rated it it was ok When war is declared, Truth is the first casualty. The psychological factor in war is just as important as the military factor, this is what this book documents and clarify clearly of all major events that happened during WWI. After nearly a century of this bloody war I was surprised how a lot of event were When war is declared, Truth is the first casualty. The thing that made me read this book is because of the current Syrian conflict however the falsehood used in this conflict is in another league, maybe this is what they call now "media war", the old fashioned ways that were used in WWI are nothing compared to now and who knows what is still unknown. If you are patriotic, it is a huge problem. It means you love a country that, literally, is indifferent to your existence.