World War One

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1). From my knowledge of the first world war I know that sources A and B were published before 1916 whereas source C was published after 1916. The most prominent difference between the posters which ensures that source C was published after 1916 is that sources A and B were published by the British government and source C is an American poster published by the American government, encouraging American soldiers to join the American army.

This means that source C was published after 1916 as America did not join the Allies and enter the war until 1917 so therefore the poster was obviously published after this date. Also it is clear that sources A and B were published before 1916 as we know that after 1916 the numbers of men volunteering for the British army dropped so conscription was introduced. Therefore when conscription was introduced in 1916 posters like A and B which tried to persuade men to volunteer to join the British army were no longer needed as it was compulsory for men fit and healthy enough to sign up.

2). Sources A, B and C all share a number of similarities when compared as well as a number of differences. All three are recruitment posters published during WW1 encouraging people to sign up for their countries army and fight during the war. All three posters were also issued by the same side – the allies, however sources A and B were published by the British government whereas C was published by the American government. The posters were also issued at different times during the war, A and B were published before 1916 and also before conscription was introduced in Britain and source C after America had joined the war and therefore after 1916. Another similarity shared by all of these posters is that they are all government propaganda posters.

A and B try to get people to sign up by appealing to a sense of duty to fight for your country and patriotism. They also create a sense of guilt if you do not fight, source B does this especially intensely as it emphasises the thought of what people would think of you if you did not sign up. It does this by using 2 children asking there father what he did during the war. C takes a different approach by appealing to a sense of fear and urgency, as well as a hatred of Germany and its actions. It demonises Germans by presenting Germany as a barbaric monster, with a club, crushing the representation of liberty and freedom. It also gives a sense of Germany advancing towards the USA as the beast has crossed water in the background where it has left destruction. This is meant to frighten Americans and make them want to sign up and stop Germany as quickly as possible. However source C does also appeal to patriotism as it encourages men to fight to stop the destruction of their country which is patriotic.

3). I think that source D is quite inconclusive and therefore cannot provide sufficient, reliable proof that sources A, Band C were successful. Source D could be interpreted in a variety of ways. For a start there is nothing within this photo that assures you that the people are actually not queuing for their pay during WWII which would mean that the source is totally irrelevant. Source D could also be a propaganda photo produced by the British government in ordered to try to encourage people to sign up for the British Army. The photo would do this as people would see that everyone else was joining and fighting for their country so therefore they would feel that it was also their duty and that there must be a good side to it otherwise why would so many people be joining. If the photo in source D is a reliable source of evidence it does not prove that sources A and B were successful as there are only approximately four to five hundred people in the photograph which is not many considering the sheer scale of people who fought and died during the war.

There is also nothing to indicate that any of the people in the queue even saw the posters in sources A and B. However from my knowledge of the first world war I know that government propaganda such as the recruitment posters shown in sources A and B were successful in recruiting young men to the army as by January 1916 two and a half million men had volunteered to join the British army. So therefore I conclude that, on balance, A and B, and posters like them encouraging people to sign up for the British army, were successful and that source D would tend to back up my own background knowledge.

6). Sources I and J give two very different impressions of the trenches in WW1, this is because they are aimed to do completely different things. Source I is aimed to sell cigarettes and tries to present the trenches in a happy and relaxed way as the soldiers in the image look quite calm and relaxed. Source I is also another type of propaganda aimed not only to sell the product but also to keep British moral high and to make the general British public think that the conditions in the war were not as bad as they really were. Source I however seems unreliable as it is very unlikely to be a true representation of a trench. I know this because I know in an average WWI trench there were rats, lice and also a lot of disease, plus the men in the picture are not wearing helmets and are standing up and the trench has no parapet or sandbags and there are absolutely no signs of barbed wire which there would have been near a regular WWI trench. Therefore I feel that source I shows a much happier exaggerated environment than would’ve really been the case.

I feel Source J gives a much more reliable and realistic version of a trench as it agrees much more with my background knowledge summing up the horrific conditions by using phrases such as ‘morass of glue like mud’, describing how he stood amongst ruins and ‘mangled bodies’ and particularly by using the image of the hands sticking out from the soil. However Sassoon is against all war so therefore his opinions may be bias but in the opposite direction to the artist in source I. Source J presents an image of a brutalised war as Sassoon, being anti-war, obviously wants to portray an anti-war message but it is important to remember that it was experience that actually made Sassoon write in such an anti-war way. Source I on the other hand wants to present a happy image which sells cigarettes and indirectly supports the war efforts.

Also J is aimed at a different audience to I. Source J is aimed at an anti-war audience after the war whereas I is aimed at smokers and indirectly in support of the war. Other reasons why the two sources could give different impressions are that Source J could have been written from experience of a trench which was at a totally different location, up to 600 miles away from the trench in source I, and therefore the trenches at these two places may have been completely different. Also source I may have been a more relaxed trench with not many signs of ruins around it as it may have not been on the front line. The two sources may also have been from different stages of the war, for example I may have been drawn earlier in the war when people were more enthusiastic and J was written after it was known that millions died in the battle of the Somme. Also the author of source J has hindsight and therefore can reflect on the disaster and appreciate the full horror of the war which could influence his impression. Whereas when source I was painted people did not realise, in immediacy, the full carnage of the war.

7a). Sources E, F and G all vary in reliability when being used to study WWI. Source E is a fairly reliable source but does not really give much information about the war and the trenches but it does give an idea of some things. It shows us how impersonal life was in the trenches as men could write only a very few simple things to their closest relatives and therefore could not really communicate with them so must have been lonely. It shows us how strict the censorship laws were during WW1 and how soldiers were quite cut off. E could also give an idea of the conditions in the trenches when combined with other sources as it could support the idea that it was to impractical to write letters due to all of the mud and awful conditions so these quick and easy postcards were used instead.

Source F is unreliable as it is a drawing which could have easily been adapted for the press and would’ve almost certainly been censored. Things could’ve been added or omitted to suit the war time propaganda and make sure that moral was kept high and that young men continued to join the army. Also from my knowledge of WWI I can tell that this seems to be an unreliable source as it seems unreal – the soldiers have no backpacks and are running whereas in the battle of the Somme soldiers were instructed to walk shoulder to shoulder carrying huge, heavy backpacks.

Also the ball in source F seems very fanciful and unreal but there is a story which remotely resembles this scene with a ball being kicked along in battle, however I feel that the drawing in source F has exaggerated this considerably as I doubt that soldiers would have been this happy considering that so many men were slaughtered during this 1st day of the battle of the Somme. Also the position of the man standing with one arm raised supports the point that this is censored propaganda as this would be very unlikely to happen in real war, as the man would’ve been an easy target. I feel that this source is bias as it is trying to promote bravery and courageousness which is what people wanted to see.

Source G is not particularly reliable but is more reliable than source F. Again source G is propaganda which is aimed to keep moral high and again it would’ve been censored as it was published in the newspaper and therefore it would have been bias and may have been and changed if it was not written specifically for the newspaper. Again the fighting is glorified with descriptions of the ball and words such as ‘the fear of death before them is but an empty name’ which make the soldiers seem brave and is what the public wanted to hear although after seeing such a slaughter I doubt this was true. However source G does give some idea of the death in the war. It mentions a ‘hail of slaughter’ and the scale of death by saying ‘where blood is poured like water’ which does give some information and idea of what the conditions were like. Sources F and G were also written directly from a British point of view as they were published in British newspapers and therefore would have had the intention to promote the British army and war efforts which proves that they were bias.

7b). These two sources are obviously not 100% reliable as they were written after the war had finished. This also means that they were written from memory and therefore may not be totally correct as things may have been forgotten or their memories may have been influenced by other things that they had seen before they wrote their accounts. These accounts may also be bias or exaggerated.

Source J is written by someone who is totally against all war so therefore the account might be bias against war as the writer would want it to deter people from war. Also source I was written a very long time – 60 years – after the war so it is possible that it is not very precise and the writers memories may have changed over this long period of time. However I do feel that these accounts are more reliable sources than E, F and Gas they seem to fit much better with my knowledge of the war and they describe the mass death that definitely did take place. They also give good accounts of weapons and conditions in the trenches and don’t glorify the war as sources F and G do. The descriptions like ‘man-made thunderstorm’ and of dead people and ‘glue-like mud are also quite clear and give a picture of the war which agrees with my back ground knowledge but could not compete with a photograph which actually shows the scene. These accounts are also first hand and have not been censored in any way as E, F and G have.

The writers of H and J also tell you the feelings that they experienced which you could not get from other sources of evidence and do not have to hide anything as the war was over when the accounts were written, e.g. in source H B.A. Steward is not afraid to say how he ran away but would not have admitted that at the time of the war as it would’ve been considered as cowardice.

The writers of these accounts can also use hindsight as they now know more about the war and can weigh everything out, however this may not be such a good thing as after knowing the sheer scale of death it may have worsened their memories of war or made them bias as they were written after the war. However being written after the war these accounts would have had freedom to express opinions any would not have been censored. It is important to remember though that that sources H and J are written only from one persons perceptions of the war and so can not really give an overall picture of it. Also the people who wrote these accounts would only have experienced the war in one particular place.

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