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Press and Propaganda

In many ways, the Great War was shaped and defined by the patriotic propaganda that was an integral part of the conflict from beginning to end. By 1915, many Canadians increasingly perceived the war as a “just” conflict against not merely Prussian militarism but more as a struggle against German barbarism. With this conviction intensified by incessant propaganda, Canadians, along with the British and French, increasingly viewed themselves as defending the values of “Western Civilization” against the “Huns.” Such noble sentiments ignored the reality that they were fighting alongside despotic, Tsarist Russia.

Canadians also increasingly saw the war as a great opportunity to unify the country; to elevate their culture and to cast aside racial discord, regional jealousies and materialist pettiness. These aspirations were to become more intense as the conflict continued and were to be decisive in fashioning what became the “myth of the war experience.” While the warfare became more intense during 1915, propaganda on the domestic fronts became more virulent, especially as the Allies seized the opportunity afforded them by German military harshness and blunders to paint the Second Reich in ever more dastardly fashion. While Germany was undoubtedly culpable, the British, and the Canadians, demonstrated great skill in exploiting such blunders as “atrocities.”

Material for this section was selected from the Brock Silversides fonds, the Hans Dommasch fonds, the Pamphlet Collection and the University at War Collection