I’m watching a six-part CBC documentary miniseries titled Love, Hate and Propaganda, which looks, from a perspective of 70 years, at the role of propaganda during WW2. While the series is enjoyable (though shallow, like most historical documentaries are), I am coming to the conclusion that after 70 years, propaganda is still alive and well.
Take these sentences, for instance, explaining the beginning of The Blitz:
In the beginning, Germans attack military and industrial installations, but as time goes by, bombs get closer and closer to the big cities.
September 7th. They hit London. The Blitz begins.
So how does it compare to a more neutral, factual description of the same from Wikipedia? Let’s see:
In late August 1940 […] the Luftwaffe attacked industrial targets in Birmingham and Liverpool. This was part of an increase in night bombing brought about by the high casualty rates inflicted on German bombers in daylight.
During a raid on Thames Haven, on 24 August, some German aircraft […] strayed over London and dropped bombs in the east and northeast parts of the city, Bethnal Green, Hackney, Islington, Tottenham and Finchley. This prompted the British to mount a retaliatory raid on Berlin the next night with bombs falling in Kreuzberg and Wedding, causing 10 deaths. Hitler was said to be furious, and on 5 September, at the urging of the Luftwaffe high command, he issued a directive “for disruptive attacks on the population and air defences of major British cities, including London, by day and night”. The Luftwaffe began day and night attacks on British cities, concentrating on London. This relieved the pressure on the RAF’s airfields.
In the CBC’s version of events, there is no doubt that the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets was the invention of the evil Nazi state. Wikipedia’s facts are more nuanced: it appears that the first intentional bombing of civilian targets may have actually been conducted by the RAF! This remains true regardless of the evil nature of the Nazi empire or the fact that it was them, not Britain, who started the most devastating war in history.
So, it seems, Love, Hate and Propaganda is guilty of the very thing that it purports to expose: by skewing the facts, it becomes a work of propaganda.