Censorship and Propaganda in WWII

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

Curriculum links:

KS3 History - Study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupilsí chronological knowledge beyond 1066 (eg. 'wars throughout History', 'food throughout History', 'Rationing throughout History')


Aims of resource:

To demonstrate the application of WW2 propaganda and press censorship.


Learning objectives:

Knowledge of the use of propaganda and censorship in wartime.

Understanding of the reasons for the use of government propaganda and censorship in WW2.

Skills to compare and contrast various forms of propaganda and interpret historical facts.


Discussion ideas:

  • What would you consider a reliable source of information about public opinion about the war?
  • How important do you think it was to bolster morale on the Home Front?
  • The Second World War is sometimes described as a 'total war'. What do you think this means?
  • In what sort of ways do you think WW2 was different to the First World War?
  • Do you think it is right to hide the truth from people in order to keep them happy? 
  • Are there any situations in which you think this can be justified?

Activity ideas:

  • Write a speech to be broadcast on the radio, which is intended to lift morale during the bombing raids of World War Two.
    - Think carefully about your choice of words - what kind of language will you use?
    - How will you convey your message without any visual aids?
    - Can you use language to suggest certain images?

  • Comparing sources: If you had seen the newspaper article on the Newark bombing raid in 1941, but not the incident report, how would your understanding of what had happened that night change?

  • Debate: 'Keep Calm and Carry on' is a British WW2 propaganda slogan which appeared on British posters. The phrase has come back into popular use in the last couple of years, appearing on many items of merchandise. 
    - Why do you think it has recaptured the public's imagination?
    - Why do you think it might have been popular in recent years?
    - Can you think of any parallels between current events and WW2?

  • Read the article from the BBC about Lord Haw Haw (see the links below) and their response to his anti-British propaganda. The government wanted to use the BBC to counter anti-British propaganda. The BBC argued against this.
    - Do you think they were right?
    - Re-read the article and use it to try to find evidence for both points of view. 

View other relevant resources on My Learning or scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic. 




 
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