Censorship and Propaganda in WWII

Censorship

World War Two affected the lives of people in Britain in many ways. People lived with the threat of air raids at night, and families were divided with many separated from loved ones away fighting or having their children evacuated. Thousands also worked very long hours, often volunteering their free time to help the war effort, as well as keeping their normal jobs.


The government was worried that people on the Home Front might grow disillusioned with the war, and that this could lead to defeat. For this reason, local officials used censorship and propaganda to maintain morale of citizens during the war. It was felt that keeping secret certain details which might cause people to lose hope would be best for the morale of the country.

 

The two photographs on the right of this page were both taken after an air raid in Northampton. Look at both photographs in detail, and write down what differences you can find between the two photographs. Which do you think is the uncensored photograph?

 

The photograph with the policeman in the foreground is the uncensored photograph. This was released to the public, whereas the other photo was censored and never seen by the public. The policeman provides a reassuring presence in the uncensored photo, and in the background workers can be seen clearing up the debris. This gives the impression that the authorities have the situation under control.

Comparing official records with press coverage of the war can also demonstrate the use of censorship during the war. Look at this incident report of an air raid at Newark in 1941. Write down how many deaths and injuries occurred during this raid. 

 

Now look at this article from the Newark Advertiser from 12th March 1941. This newspaper article refers to the same air raid as the incident report. Can you find any mention in the article of the number of deaths or injured people?

 

The article focusses more on the work of the emergency services and anti-aircraft guns than the deaths and casualties from the raid, which puts a more positive spin on the raid. Newark is also referred to as a 'North Midlands town' in the article, rather than by its full name. Why do you think this might be?


Glossary:

Casualties - people who have been killed or injured 

Censorship - when certain information is kept secret 

Disillusioned - no longer believing in something

Evacuated - sent to safety during a time of danger

Foreground - front of

Morale - level of happiness in a population

Propaganda - different media used to convince people of something

Reassuring - comforting

Spin - giving biased information


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


See the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas.




 
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