How do these three posters persuade men to enlist
1. How do these three posters persuade men to enlist?
Source A defines the two main roles of men and women during the time of the War; Men were expected to go to work and earn money for his family and home, and fight in the War. Women were needed in the home to generally organise the household and look after the children. These three figures appear to be the wife and mother with her two children. There is a powerful expression on the wife’s face; she looks helpless and weak and the children seem to be clinging on to her. This image would appeal to most men as they would love to be seen as the brave one, protecting their defenceless family. The wife wants to be proud of her husband as he goes off to defend Britain. The children are watching their brave father with admiration. There is a huge amount of emotional pressure put on men in this poster; a man would like to be seen as more of a man in the eyes of his wife and to fulfil the roles of husband and father.
Source B is an extremely powerful poster. A father is being asked what part he played in the War by his children. I think it implies that he didn’t fight in the War by his slightly ashamed and dumbfounded look. The poster makes a powerful contrast: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to tell your children tales of your success and bravery but what would you tell them if you had cowardly not been involved, hadn’t fought for your country? The children’s keen interest is emphasised by the small boy playing on the floor with toy soldiers. Again there is a lot of emotional pressure. All men who are or hope to be fathers want to be seen as strong, brave and fearless figures in the eyes of their children.
Source C uses powerful imagery; Germany is illustrated as a “mad brute”, a ferocious, destructive and immensely powerful giant ape-like creature. German culture is represented as a huge, violent weapon. He is trampling and crushing America underfoot. The scenery in the background is that of total devastation. The poster is using a comparison: If he gets past the American shore he will destroy her, like the destruction in the background. The woman in his clutches resembles American freedom. The threat posed to it by the German aggression and militarism is emphasised by the wild, untamed expression on his face and the huge club in his hand symbolising his hostile intentions. This poster uses a different method of persuading men to enlist; it implies that they could be a hero as America needs them to prevent this savage beast from ravaging and destroying her.
2. Use your knowledge of the First World War to explain why the Government issued postcards like this one to the soldiers in the trenches.
Postcards like source E were issued to soldiers in the trenches because of a number of factors; the postcards appear to be very simple and brief and the note at the top of the page states that anything else added, such as any personal or familiar messages, would result in the postcard being destroyed. The Government were keen to censor most correspondence from soldiers on the front line as they feared that information may leak back to Britain about what life was really like, and this could discourage men to enlist. The Government justified the censorship of letters and banning of a film made at the Battle of the Somme, as keeping up the morale of the country and maintaining positively at home.
The postcard is simple and factual, but little is said about the mental and physical state of the soldiers. Some may have been severely injured and there is no way of telling your correspondent that, except by stating that you have been “Admitted to hospital”. This was a positive interpretation of the facts and may have been completely inaccurate but by sending a postcard to someone, it ensured them of your existence, if not your state. The lack of such information sent home may have prevented worry from mothers, wives and sisters. The discouragement of emotional correspondence maintained morale and bravado amongst many men; feelings and emotions were controlled and “kept a lid on”.
Morale was kept up by prompting the writing of letters from home to the Western front; “I have received no letter from you lately/for a long time”. At the time of the War, a proportion of the soldiers, whom had come from working class backgrounds may have found writing a letter difficult; the simple format of such a postcard made this task easier. Many would not have found the correct time or place to write a letter home and again the simple, brief and easy structure of the postcard would have helped them. The positive factors of receiving postcards encouraged the government to issue postcards when they had problems with getting men to enlist.
The main reasons that the Government issued postcards was to control the information sent home to the public, which may effect the reactions to the War and in particular enlistment; other factors include the boosting of morale at home and on the Western Front, and encouraging men to join the War.
3. These three sources come from the time of the First World War. How reliable are they as evidence of what it was like on the Western Front? Use the sources and your knowledge of the war to explain your answer.
Source E could be interpreted as a reliable and unreliable source. It provides factual evidence as to the state of a person, whether he is healthy or injured, has been sent to base or is actively serving. This is a primary source so this factual evidence is reliable. However there is a lack of detail and very little is let on about what life was really like. Severe injuries are not described and there is no way of knowing quite how badly hurt someone is after reading the postcard. The lack of detail and simplicity of the postcard could be interpreted as if there was something to hide, a hidden message. This source reflects reality despite the lack of information, whereas the others are secondary sources and personal interpretations.
Source F is not a reliable source. It is completely contrary to the facts. The poster implies that the British army have the upper hand on the Germans by the British punching the Kaiser, a symbol of German militarism, in the nose. The British fist is clenched symbolising strength and dominance of the British army. The Kaiser looks shocked and defenceless. The first day of the Battle of the Somme had been a complete disaster for the British and allies. After seven days of continuous bombardment by the British, they were certain that all the Germans had been destroyed. Early in the morning the British and allies began to cross No-Man’s land towards the German trenches.
They were completely unprepared for what was to come. Lots of the deterrent barbwire was still intact and as they tried to get through, the Germans rose out of the underground dugouts they had been safely sheltering in. It was a carnage. The British and allied soldiers were mowed down as there was nothing they could do. The first day of the Battle of the Somme resulted in 57,000 casualties; by the end of November, 1.25 million British soldiers had been killed. The Germans were clearly in the dominating position. The cartoon is very far from the truth. The headline “The day goes well for our patriotic heroes,” is a dishonest headline but it can be slightly justified as the British Government wanted to keep up morale and posititvity up back home There is no doubt that the first day had been a complete disaster for the British, with many thousands of casualties. This is not a reliable source.
4. These two sources were written long after the war was over. How reliable are they as evidence of what it was like on the Western Front? Use the sources and your own knowledge of the First World War to explain your answer.
Source I by BA Steward is a primary piece of evidence. It is reliable because it is factual and plays down the glamorised, patriotic view many people had. He states this forcefully and I can sense some bitterness towards the glamour and bravado portrayed in many sources. He describes the merciless shooting of German soldiers by two, young British soldiers; this is evidence that the War made young men find death and killing routine and free of emotion. Both men are key witnesses; B.A. Steward was sent over after the heavy bombardment to capture High Wood. B.A. Steward’s account is unique from many others because he describes his own emotions; he was frightened and wanted to get away from High Wood as quickly as he could to protect himself:
‘What I now had in my mind was to go as quickly as possible in the opposite direction, as soon as possible. Leaving the dugout I ran for it.’
B.A.Steward wrote his memoirs over sixty years later. This emphasises the strength in which his experiences are imprinted in his mind. This is a reliable source.
Source K is a primary source. Sassoon was a key witness as he was an infantry officer at the time. This source is quite different from B.A. Steward’s because Sassoon describes the sights he saw in a lot more detail. His account is gory and bloody but there is an element of poetic licence in his words. He emphasises the emotions felt by soldiers when he describes the gesture made by a dead soldier’s hands. This is very significant because unlike B.A. Steward’s he comments on the feelings the soldiers felt towards the War:
‘one hand seemed to be pointing at the sky with an accusing gesture. Those fingers became an appeal to God in defiance of those who made the War.’
Both sources are reliable but they are very different. B.A. Steward gave an account of his mission and the feelings he experienced. Sassoon tells of the gory, bloody sights he witnessed and the bitterness felt by men about the War. The sources are written a long time after the War and I think this emphasises the strength and depth of which each mans’ experience has left in his memory. Both sources are compatible with photographs and others mens’ accounts of the time proving their reliability.
5. ‘ Fighting on the Western Front stirred many different reactions from the British Government, people and soldiers in the First World War.’ How useful are these sources as evidence that this statement is true? Explain your answer carefully, using the sources and your background knowledge.
Sources A and B are clear evidence that the Government wanted to encourage men to enlist. Indirectly the types of posters used by the Government proves that ordinary people would think their fathers, brothers, husbands and boyfriends brave if they enlist and serve their country. Fathers thought it the honourable and courageous thing to make their children proud. These are reliable sources.
Source C is an American poster and so has no information on the different reactions of the British Government, soldiers and people.
Source D is a reliable source because it outlines two main reactions. The men were eager to enlist and the Government were very keen to encourage them to do so. Although this picture may have been staged it is useful as evidence because scenes like this frequented the recruiting office.
Source Es a clear example of how anxious the government were to hide the facts of what life was really like on the Western Front. There is an indirect reaction from the men, as the Government were forced to produce cards like these to prevent them from writing home about their feelings and the atrocities they were witnessing. This is useful as evidence.
Source F emphasises the extent to which the Government wanted to keep peoples’ morale high. They are severely bending the truth to keep the atrocities hidden from the public and lure them into a false sense of security. Indirectly the peoples’ reactions were of pride and positively at wanting to go and join in the victorious battle.
Source G is a poem written by a poet working for the daily mail. This is a prime example of the government’s need to control the content of the media and how effectively this was done. The poet has taken the instructed information and glamorised the War making this a morale boosting poem. This is not a useful source because it shows the reaction of one person to the information permitted by the Government. This is key evidence of how closely controlled and censored information from the Western Front was by the government.
Source H proves the genuinely of source G but indicates no reactions.
Source I is useful as evidence because there are many different reactions experienced by B.A. Steward. He is aware of the glorified and patriotic image portrayed by the British government in the media, and he makes clear his feelings of bitterness towards the inaccurate information being supplied to the public:
‘Let me make one thing clear. This is no fanciful story written miles behind the front.’
He describes his fears concerning his mission and this symbolises the real feelings experienced by the soldiers. This is a useful source.
This source shows the laid back and relaxed attitude the Government wanted the public to think was War. The Government were keen to conceal the reality of life on the Western Front and portray life as easy going, with time to spare, time for one last cigarette. This also provides evidence that the government controlled all advertising. This is not a useful source because it describes only one reaction by the Government and their official attitude.
Source K is one man’s interpretation but it describes various different reactions. There is an indirect reaction by the Government, again trying to conceal the facts from the public; Sassoon’s own reaction is of disgust. He is appalled at the atrocities he witnessed and he expresses his bitterness through his words. His feelings symbolise the reaction felt by the soldiers. They wanted the public to be aware of what life was really like and they were angry at the people who started the War:
‘one hand seemed to be pointing at the sky with an accusing gesture. Those fingers became an appeal to God in defiance of those who made the War.’
This final source is useful as evidence because it describes various different reactions.
All sources are evidence of how keenly and efficiently the government censored and controlled the media and in so doing strongly influenced the public.
As a collective group of sources, they indicate that there were several different reactions felt by the government, soldiers and people.
6. ‘ The British Government did everything they could to mislead the British people about what it was like on the Western Front.’ How far do all these sources and your knowledge of the period support this interpretation?
Sources A and B are encouraging men to enlist with inaccurate knowledge and emotional pressure. The Government is not directly misleading the British people.
Source C is an American poster and does not concern the British Government or people.
Source D provides no evidence that the Government is misleading the people. The men in the picture seem very willing to join.
Source E demonstrates how serious censorship could have mislead the British public. The lack of information may have led relatives to believe that their loved ones were safe and healthy when this was often not the case. This is evidence to support the interpretation.
Source F clearly implies that the first day of the Battle of the Somme had been a success for the British. This is a highly misleading cartoon because the information is very inaccurate; the first day had been a complete disaster for the British. This is particularly misleading because the public did not doubt the information’s reliability, because it was printed in a reliable source, a newspaper. Again this indicates the control the Government had over the press.
Source G encourages misunderstanding; the poem portrays life on the Western Front as heroic, gallant and courageous. Again this poem was printed in the national press and people presumed this to contain reliable information. This source is not as blatantly misleading as source F, however there is some, but not total, intention to deceive.
Source I provides a clear indication that the soldiers thought the Government were misleading the British people.
Source J is not directly intentionally misleading because the cigarette manufacturer had to use a type of advertising that the British Government would approve of.
Source K does not directly imply that the government were misleading but in comparison to source E it is clear that the government were concealing vital information from the public.
Most of the sources indicate that the government were misleading the people but some are more obvious than others. Sources E, F and G are clearly intending to deceive. Sources A, B and J are not as blatantly misleading but they have subtle implications of the benefits of enlisting for the War and life on the Western front.
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