Secrets of Crewe House/Chapter 7
An axiom for propaganda—Results of a successful conference—Policy, Means and Methods.
Experience gained at Crewe House proved that it is as necessary for Allies to co-ordinate propaganda against a common enemy as to unify military command. To conduct propaganda without a policy is bad enough; but to shut up sets of propagandists working independently of each other in a number of water-tight compartments, each set representative of a different nationality, is to court ridicule instead of attracting serious attention from an intelligent enemy, and to result in the production of contradictory thoughts and confusion in the minds of unintelligent adversaries.
An axiom for propaganda of allies in future wars is that a clear common policy must be defined, based upon such a foundation of fact and justice that it need not be altered in its essential principles, but can be, and must be, rigidly adhered to. It will doubtless be necessary to lay down such a policy for each nation of an opposing alliance, in the event of the enemy not being a single nation.
Clearly, too, it should be recognised that propaganda policy, or policies, must accord with the policy of the diplomatic, military, and naval authorities. Possessing no administrative function, propaganda is dependent upon them to make policy operative. Here, again, lack of co-ordination would involve the risk of confusion, contradiction, and consequent inefficiency. Propaganda may well and rightly be in advance of these other departments as a forerunner (with what success other chapters of this book record) or it may follow, but it must be in agreement with them.
Lord Northcliffe had always conceived it to be a fundamental principle of propaganda against enemy countries that when a line of policy had been laid by him before the British Government and sanctioned as a basis for propaganda, the Allied Governments should be asked for their assent to it, so that their propaganda departments might act in conformity. In practice it was found that most rapid co-ordination could be attained by representatives of the Allied propaganda departments meeting together. One of Lord Northcliffe's earliest acts was to convene an inter-Allied gathering at Crewe House which was attended by Lord Beaverbrook (Minister of Information), M. Franklin-Bouillon (France), and Signor Gallenga-Stuart (Italy), as well as by a number of other British, French, Italian, and United States representatives.
To some extent this gathering paved the way for the close Allied co-operation in Italy. Lord Northcliffe would have desired the immediate establishment of an inter-Allied body for propaganda in enemy countries, but difficulties were encountered which postponed the formation of such a body until a later date. Meanwhile, as close touch as possible was kept with the French and Italian departments concerned. But the course of events in the summer made it obvious to Lord Northcliffe and his advisers that an inter-Allied conference on Enemy Propaganda was indispensable to success. With the assent of the British War Cabinet, therefore, he issued invitations to the French, Italian, and United States Governments to send delegates to an official conference in London. These invitations were cordially accepted and the Conference assembled at Crewe House on August 14, 1918.
In addition to representatives of Lord Northcliffe's department, and of the Allied propaganda departments, there were also present representatives of the British Foreign Office, War Office, Admiralty, Air Ministry, and Ministry of Information.
The full list of delegates was:
|Viscount Northcliffe (Chairman).
|Department of Propaganda in Enemy Countries.
|Lieutenant Colonel Sir Campbell Stuart.
|Sir Charles Nicholson, Bart, M.P.
|Mr. Wickham Steed.
|Rear-Admiral Sir Reginald Hall (Director of Naval Intelligence).
|Captain Guy Gaunt.
|Commander G. Standing.
|Brigadier-General G. K. Cockerill (Deputy Director of Military Intelligence).
|Major The Earl of Kerry, War Office. M.P.
|Captain P. Chalmers Mitchell
|Colonel E. H. Davidson.
|Mr. C. J. Phillips
|Sir Roderick Jones (representing the Minister of Information).
|Ministry of Information.
|Mr. Cunhffe-Owen (Controller of Propaganda against Turkey).
M. Sabatier D'Espeyran.
Major-General le Vicomte de la Panouse.
M. le Capitaine Prince Pierre d'Arenberg.
Lieutenant le Comte Stanislas de Montebello.
Lieutenant P. Mantoux.
Signor G. Emanuel.
Captain Count Vicino-Pallavicino.
Lieutenant R. Cajrati-Crivello.
United States of America:
|Mr. James Keeley.
|Captain Walter Lippmann.
|Present as observers.
|Captain Heber Blankenhorn.
|Lieutenant Charles Merz.
|Lieutenant Ludlow Griscom.
a. The definition, for propaganda purposes at least, of Allied policy in regard to our enemies;
b. The public manifestation of this policy; and
c. The study of technical means of bringing its main features to the knowledge of the enemy.
He suggested that the Conference should resolve itself into a number of Committees to examine and to report upon these and other matters. Such Committees would be concerned with:
1. The great subject of the policy of propaganda;
2. The difficult question of means of distribution:
4. Educative work among prisoners of war who might return to Germany to tell their compatriots the real facts.
Unless based on a definite policy, propaganda could only be fragmentary and superficial. On the basis of a clear policy it might become destructive of enemy moral, a valuable adjunct to military operations, and constructive of the necessary conditions of a lasting peace.
The three enemy countries with which his Department was mainly concerned were Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Germany. He cited Austria-Hungary first, because, of all our enemies, the Hapsburg Monarchy was the field where positive results were most readily attainable.
In the early months of 1918, when he began that work, Germany was too flushed with her facile triumphs in Russia to be susceptible to propaganda, and the attitude of Bulgaria was too closely bound up with German fortunes to be at that moment easily affected by propaganda. Allied policy in regard to Bulgaria was, moreover, closely connected with the general Balkan policy of the Allies, the formulation of which necessarily depended, in its turn, upon the adoption of a definite policy towards Austria-Hungary. All these considerations pointed to Austria-Hungary as the foremost object of attack, and therefore as the country in regard to which a clear propaganda policy was most urgently required.
Lord Northcliffe then outlined the steps taken in regard to Austria-Hungary, described fully in Chapter III. He went on to state that there was abundant evidence that the work thus begun had helped to prevent an Austrian offensive in April, and to check it when it was finally launched in June. There was also strong reason to believe that, had action on these lines been taken earlier, far greater results might have been obtained. This was an aspect of the vital connection between propaganda policy and military operations to which he earnestly directed attention. He trusted that the Policy Committee of the Conference might be able to make valuable recommendations in this respect.
One important aspect of propaganda against Austria-Hungary and, indeed, against all our enemies, was the dissemination of knowledge of the greatness of the war effort of the American people. With that effort he had had personal acquaintance; and on that very day he had received a secret report that the Germans had little idea of the supreme effort which the Americans were making. To this aspect he attributed great and growing significance.
In regard to Bulgaria, he had also ventured to lay before the British Government an outline of propaganda policy, which had received general approval. Its main features were the necessity of a definite Allied decision in regard to the Jugo-Slav and Rumanian questions, before any direct attempt could be made to influence Bulgaria by propaganda. A definite Jugo-Slav and Rumanian policy presupposed, however, a definite Allied policy in regard to Austria-Hungary. Upon the details of this important subject the Policy Committee would be fully informed. Broadly speaking, he considered it at once inexpedient and dangerous to enter into any direct or indirect negotiations with Bulgaria or to make to her proposals even as propaganda until a complete change of attitude had actually taken place in Bulgaria itself. Until then, propaganda could consist only in conveying information to the Bulgarian troops and people as to to the fate that inevitably awaited them unless they reversed completely their attitude; and in preparing by agreement among the Allied Governments an outline of Balkan policy, aiming at a solution of the various Balkan questions as nearly as possible on ethnographical lines. In this way, Allied propaganda might eventually help to prepare the way for a League of Balkan States.
Though for many reasons it had not thereto been possible to develop British propaganda in Germany as fully or as efficiently as it had been developed in Austria-Hungary, Lord Northcliffe said his department had, in co-operation with the military authorities, and by the utilisation of secret channels, been able to introduce into Germany a certain amount of propaganda literature. The decision of the British military authorities not to allow the use of aeroplanes on the British Front in France for the distribution of propaganda had naturally retarded and hampered the necessary extension of his work. He trusted that this question of the use of aeroplanes for propaganda purposes would be most carefully considered by the committee on military distribution. In the meantime, balloons had been employed, though they were manifestly far inferior to aeroplanes as instruments of distribution. The view seemed to prevail that propaganda was not worth casualties. Were this view well-founded it would be hard to understand why the Germans should have taken such drastic measures against British airmen accused of dropping propaganda leaflets. The Germans, who ought to be good judges, evidently feared our leaflets more than they feared our bombs. But the main issue was the determination of an Allied propaganda policy in regard to Germany—a matter of no little difficulty. As he had said in relation to Austria-Hungary, one of the chief features of Allied propaganda—apart from questions of policy—would be the constant dissemination of knowledge of the immensity and of the growing efficiency of American effort. This feature he had endeavoured to develop, and he intended to develop it increasingly. On the subject of policy, however, he had submitted to the British Government an outline comprising the following points, which it was necessary to bring home to the Germans.
1. The determination of the Allies to continue the war until Germany accepted the Allied peace terms.
2. The existing alliance as a fighting league of free nations would be deepened and extended and the military, naval, financial, and economic resources of its members would be pooled until its military purpose was achieved and peace could be established on lasting foundations. He had suggested further that, as German minds were peculiarly susceptible to systematic statement, the Allies should prepare a comprehensive scheme of world organisation as a counterpart to the German schemes represented by the phrases "Berlin-Baghdad" and "Mittel-Europa." As a preliminary to the drafting of such a scheme, he had urged that the lines of a practical League of Free Nations should be studied and laid down.
Pending the formulation of this scheme, he thought that Allied propaganda should insist upon Allied control of raw materials, of shipping, and on the Allies' power to ostracise for an indefinite period enemy peoples, until the terms of the Allied peace settlement were fully accepted. At the same time it should be pointed out that nothing stood between enemy people and a lasting peace except the designs of their ruling dynasties and of their military and economic castes. The primary war-aim of the Allies was the changing of Germany, not only in their own interest, but also in that of the German people itself, since, without the honest co-operation of a reformed Germany, disarmament on a large scale might be impossible, and without disarmament social and economic reconstruction would be impracticable. He trusted that this question of Allied propaganda policy in regard to Germany would be carefully weighed by the Policy Committee.
There remained the extremely important question of the co-ordination of Allied propaganda effort. It was obvious, he said, that if each Ally carried on its propaganda in enemy countries without reference to what the other Allies were doing, there must result great dispersion of effort, overlapping, and, possibly, some conflict of statement if not of aims. In order to secure the greatest possible military efficiency, the Allied Governments had established the Versailles Council, and had agreed to the appointment of an Allied Commander-in-Chief. Up till then the only Inter-Allied propaganda institution set up was the Inter-Allied Propaganda Commission at Padua. The working of this Commission had revealed the great advantages of concerted effort, but it had also revealed certain defects which only fuller Allied co-ordination in matters of propaganda seemed likely to overcome. He would therefore submit a proposal, definite in aim, though variable in detail, that there be created a central body for the conduct of propaganda in enemy countries. By such a step it seemed to him many delays might be avoided, great economy of energy and expense might be secured, and progress be made towards the unification of Allied propaganda policy and of the means for carrying it into effect.
In conclusion, he asked pardon for reverting once more to the great importance of a true conception of propaganda in enemy countries, not only as a means of winning the war, but also and especially as a means of winning the peace. It was a work that demanded all the intelligence of the best minds in Allied countries, and the sustained support of responsible Allied statesmen.
M. Klobukowski, the head of the French delegation, who followed Lord Northcliffe with an eloquent speech in French, which Lieutenant Mantoux interpreted, concurred in all that Lord Northcliffe had said. The French Government, he said, answered willingly to the invitation sent to them by the British Government to send their representatives to the Inter-Allied Conference on Propaganda in Enemy Countries. It seemed to them necessary to call it to intensify by methodical co-operation and concerted direction the powerful means of action at the disposal of the Allies. To see exactly what could be done; to know exactly where they meant to go—that was the principal aim which must inspire their propaganda.The campaign of systematic untruth which was being waged by the enemy need not for one moment divert the Allies from their line. Honesty had never seemed to the Allies to be an inferior policy. In the second place, French propaganda had taken care to put in a strong light the responsibility for the war. The war, on the part of our enemies, was a war of aggression and the service of a policy of conquest and the enslavement of nationalities. On the Allied side it was a purely defensive war, for the defence not only of territories, but also of the great cause of Right violated in Belgium, as in Alsace-Lorraine, in Poland, in the Ukraine, in Serbia, in Rumania, and in all the Balkan countries. "We try," said M. Klobukowski, "to reach in enemy countries consciences which have hitherto shut out free examination
Leaflet No. 15.For translation see Appendix, page 248.
Leaflet No. 16.For translation see Appendix, page 248.
Co-operation in the work of liberating the oppressed nationalities (continued M. Klobukowski) defined clearly one of the ends of our action against Austria-Hungary; but although we cannot speak of immediate results, Allied propaganda was not least indispensable in Germany. If Austria was guilty towards her peoples, Germany was guilty towards the whole of mankind. Since the war began, the French Government had been constantly preoccupied with the propaganda to be effected in Germany. Faced with the monstrous distortion of facts which the Imperial Government tried to force upon the world, the first French Yellow Book, in December, 1914, gave the full list of responsibilities for the war, and showed, by going back to its origin, that Germany prepared and finally launched the war.
One of the essential objects of Allied propagandists, therefore, must be to come back frequently to the origin of the war, in the hope that such effort will not be in vain. The experience of the publication of the Lichnowsky memorandum was very encouraging from that point of view, but that was not enough, as the majority of the German nation had still confidence in the official versions of the causes of the world conflict such as had been given to them by the Imperial Government. The Germans must not be allowed to lower the Allies' defensive war to the level of a war of conquest. The Allies must never be tired of insisting that they were victims of a deliberate aggression.
On the other hand, it was their interest to insist more and more upon the character of the struggle in which they were engaged. They were upon the defensive; they were defending themselves, they were defending right and humanity; that was their war-aim, and all other war-aims were only consequences of it. Deeply imbued as the German nation might be with doctrines of historical realism, hostile as their Government might be to the notion of a policy founded upon the respect of right, the day nevertheless must come when their ideas would triumph over their resistance, when gradually on one hand the revelations (daily becoming more definite) would show the criminal complicities which were the cause of the war. On the other hand the gradual failure of that bid for domination would oblige the Germans themselves to look for the culprits. The anxiety about the injustice of their own cause would finally penetrate into the German nation.
It was also important clearly to show how useless was the effort made by the enemy to sever the link between the Powers of the Entente. The enemy Press was never tired of giving its readers the imaginary spectacle of divisions between their enemies. After their tales about France being conquered by the British Army, they proceeded to announce that the Americans were going to get hold of France.
Every peace offensive undertaken by the German Government in the hour of military difficulty gave evidence of the naïve confidence which the best-informed among them employed in such an attempt to divide us. To show that the Allied front was indissolubly united, to show that the Alliance extends still further than the war, that it will extend from the military to the economic field—that would be the efficient answer of the Allies.
It must be said above all that the Allies would conquer and that they had the means to conquer. They must not let themselves be led towards discussions. There was always a danger of seeing the enemy get hold of Allied formulæ, after having emptied them of what they contained. The German mind, so complex and treacherous, had great ability in the art of turning to its own account the principles laid down by others. Germany might attempt once more to mislead the peoples by writing on her own flag their mottoes while they reserved to themselves the possibility of giving to those mottoes later on an interpretation diametrically opposed to the real one.
Nothing was more important than to defend Allied public opinions against such enterprises, which would certainly be undertaken by Germany. The liberation of the peoples, affirmation of the justice of the Allied cause, demonstration of the violation of right perpetrated by the Central Empires—such must be the basis of Allied propaganda.
That was in full harmony with the general policy of principles and tended to assure to all the peoples the right freely to develop, as the constitutions of the Allied States had given the same right to every individual. So Allied victory would have that character of moral elevation which was the character of the great Allied nations during their history. But until they reached that victory of liberty and right, according to the strong words of M. Clemenceau, "let us make war!"
Signor Borgese, the representative of Italy, said that he agreed generally with all the ideas and proposals that had been made by Lord Northcliffe.
The Italians had of late been particularly active on the field of anti-enemy propaganda. For example, they had one office in Rome whose chief duty it was to spread news arriving from the enemy in order that his position in the world, and his internal resistance, might be weakened. They had also in Switzerland a large organisation, the principal aim of which was to secure daily knowledge of what was going on in enemy countries, and to utilise to the full every possible means of securing information about their internal condition.
The first act of Allied joint propaganda against the enemy was the Rome Congress in April, which was due largely to the concord and the friendship of the most enlightened and intelligent elements of public opinion in England and in Italy. As a result of that Congress, great consequences had followed in Austria-Hungary, and generally in the world of the enemy; and the principal task was to pursue the way that had thus been opened by the Rome Congress. The peculiar position of Italy as the enemy of Austria naturally entered largely into the motives that inspired Italian action. The declarations of Lord Northcliffe—whose influence upon the question of enemy propaganda was immense—and the declaration of M. Klobukowski were entirely anti-Austrian in tendency.
As regards the Italians, they had been enemies of Austria not only because Austria was their enemy, but also because they felt that it was the most direct and sure way of being the enemies of Germany and of Germanism. Those Italians who had understood the true position since the beginning of the war had always been enemies of Austria in this sense, and had sought the best means of attacking and annihilating German militarism through Austria. Although German militarism was not completely invulnerable, and although the vulnerability of Germany was not so certain as that of Austria, Austria was the Achilles' heel of Germany. Two important conditions that had rendered possible such action against Austria, were that the necessity of disintegrating Austria had become generally realised throughout the world, and that Austria's responsibility for the war had been generally acknowledged not only by the Allies, but also by the enemy. Lichnowsky and Muehlon had acknowledged that the chief and immediate responsibility for the war rested with Austria. The question of guilt was certainly one of the chief questions with which propaganda had to deal; and it would be examined by the committees, because he believed that it might be possible to accelerate movements of opinion in Germany and in Austria if a confession of guilt as to the origin of the war were made widely known.
As to what had been done by Italian propaganda during the last few months, he had mentioned the offices at Rome and at Berne, to which he would refer in more detail in the committees. As to the work of the Padua Inter-Allied Commission, it was assuredly a very great work, if one were to judge of its activity not only by personal convictions but by the convictions of the foe, who had publicly acknowledged that the defeat on the Piave was partly caused by the efforts of the Padua Commission, and by information that had been brought to them by the Jugo-Slavs and Czecho-Slovaks. Allied propaganda must be a propaganda of truth. The chief difficulty lay in making a distinction between copying the enemy's system of actual military operations and imitating his methods in the war of ideas. It was true that the military technique of war must be dependent upon that of the adversary, unless we were to be at a disadvantage; but there was a danger that we might imitate methods adopted by the enemy in the war of ideas—that is to say, that we might copy German methods of propaganda. Although there were people who thought that the Allies should copy lies and hypocritical statements of German propaganda, he was convinced that their real arm in the propaganda war was the truth. The Allies could tell the truth because they were persuaded that they were right. It was easy for them to have a system of ideas, because they believed in them as in a kind of religion. Germany and Austria-Hungary would listen intently to the words that we should say—not necessarily in that Conference, but to the words of our Governments. Political action and propaganda would have very great importance at the end of this campaign, and therefore he hoped that Italians would be able to make their contribution to the shortening and to the victorious decision of the war.
One circumstance that gave them absolute certainty of victory, and was a certificate of the moral purity of the Allied cause, was the action of the United States, whom no one—not even the enemy—could accuse of any selfish motive or interest. While it was conceivable that the European Allies might be charged, however unjustly, with having some thought of their direct interests, the United States could not by any stretch of imagination be regarded as having intervened for any issue save that of high principle. Therefore, he agreed entirely with Lord Northcliffe and M. Klobukowski that the more the significance of the American effort, both in its material and its moral aspects, were brought to the knowledge of enemy peoples, the more rapid would be the decline of their moral, and the surer the attainment of the just peace which was the great common aim of the Allies and the purpose of their action, both military and propagandist.
Mr. James Keeley, the representative of the United States, said that he received his appointment through the Committee on Public Information of the United States Government. Four U.S. military officers were present, from the Military Intelligence Branch of the General Staff, as observers. They all met the Conference as pupils, having a most earnest desire to learn so that they might do their part as whole-heartedly in this as in all other phases of Allied effort.
Learning from those who have had experience, they would be enabled to devote whatever resources they had to the common purpose. They would report to the American Government what men of experience in this work had to recommend, and on the basis of that report it was hoped that an American organisation could be created as quickly as possible, which should work in the fullest, frankest, and most effective co-operation with the corresponding organisations of the Allied nations. It would not be amiss, perhaps, to suggest that, in addition to material equipment, the United States could contribute one element that might possibly be of peculiar importance in this work. Its population contained a large representation of all the peoples of Central Europe. These peoples were well organised in the United States, and, with a few exceptions perfectly well known, were loyal to the Allied cause. Those peoples, of course, had intimate connections with the peoples of Central Europe, and it was more than possible that they might be, in various ways, of great use in carrying messages across the frontiers. On this point, particularly, they would be glad of the advice of the Conference.
After these speeches the four Committees referred to by Lord Northcliffe were appointed to deliberate on policy, distribution, material, and prisoners of war. The members of the Conference were suitably distributed among the different committees, which accomplished most invaluable work in a business-like manner, and presented their reports to the full Conference for consideration at its sitting on the third day.
The Policy Committee, presided over by M. Klobukowski, considered exhaustively the problems of propaganda policy in all its fields and phases of action. Its discussion crystallised into a series of resolutions and recommendations for sanction, modification or rejection by the Allied Governments. It was, of course, fully understood that such resolutions could be only ad referendum and not binding on the respective Governments.
In regard to propaganda against Austria-Hungary, the Committee found itself in complete agreement with the scheme of policy sanctioned by the British Government for purposes of propaganda, and amplified by the decisions of the British, French and Italian Governments at the time of, or in connection with, the Rome Congress of Oppressed Austro-Hungarian Nationalities. It recognised that such extensions of policy, while springing from considerations of Allied principles, had, in part, corresponded to the real demands of the propaganda situation, which, in their turn, had sprung from the exigencies of the military situation and, in particular, from the necessity of utilising the established principles of the alliance for the pm-pose of impeding or hampering the Austro-Hungarian offensive against Italy. Subsequent acts and declarations on the part of Allied Governments and of the Government of the United States made it clear that the joint policy of the Allies was tending increasingly towards the constructive liberation of the subject Austro-Hungarian races. The main task of the Committee in relation to propaganda in Austria-Hungary seemed, therefore, to be one of unifying for propaganda purposes these various acts and declarations, and of preparing, if possible, the way for a joint Allied declaration that might complete and render more effective the work of Allied propaganda both in the interior of Austria-Hungary and among Austro-Hungarian troops at the Front.
The discussion upon the expediency and the possibility of such a joint Allied declaration was exhaustive and illuminating. In view of the position already taken up by the Allied Governments and by the United States in regard to the Czecho-Slovaks, the Poles, and the Rumanians, it appeared that the main issue awaiting definition concerned the question of Jugo-Slav unity and independence, and of the attitude of Italy towards them. The Committee adopted the following recommendation:
"With reference to the best means of aiding Allied Propaganda in favour of the freedom of the Austro-Hungarian subject races, the Committee expresses a strong hope that all controversial discussions of the frontiers between Italy and the future Jugo-Slav State will be avoided by the Jugo-Slav Press and the Jugo-Slav leaders both outside and, as far as the Jugo-Slav leaders may be able to exert their influence, also inside the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, just as they have been avoided of late by the most important organs of the Italian Press and in the public speeches of influential Italian leaders."
During the debate upon this recommendation it became clearly apparent that the Committee regarded, and was confident that the Conference would regard, the Italian national claims to the union with Italy of the cities and regions of Trent, Trieste, and the other regions of Italian character as not only entirely justified, but also as an elementary dictate of the Allies' respect for the principles of nationality and of ethnical justice. Precisely because the Committee supported the principles formulated in the Italo-Jugo-Slav Agreement of last March and saw in them the basis of fruitful co-ordination between Italy, Jugo-Slavia, and the other nationalities then oppressed of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, it held the Italian national rights above mentioned to be imprescriptible and not open to discussion.
The Committee also felt that both for reason of propaganda and from the point of view of the future independence and moral and political security of the Italian nation a foremost part in the work of creating a free and united Jugo-Slav State naturally fell to Italy. Therefore, after the most careful consideration, it unanimously adopted—and recommended to the Conference—the following resolution:
"Considering the adhesion of the Italian Government, by the Prime Minister's speech of April, 1918, to the resolutions of the Rome Congress of Austro-Hungarian subject races (which embodied the agreement between the Jugo-Slavs and the Italian Committee) and by his recent telegram to the Prime Minister of Serbia, M. Pashitch;
"Considering the exemplifications of Allied Policy towards Austria-Hungary in the French and Italian Convention with the Czecho-Slovak National Council, the British declaration recognising the Czecho-Slovaks as an Allied Nation, the Allied declaration at the Versailles Conference of June 3rd, 1918 in favour of the unity and independence of Poland and Mr. Lansing's statement of the 28th June, that all branches of the Slav races should be completely freed from German and Austrian rule;
"Considering further the extreme expediency, especially in view of possible military developments on the Italian front, that the Allied policy of liberating the oppressed Hapsburg peoples should be represented, in the first place, by Italy, on whose front Allied propaganda against Austria-Hungary is principally located;
"The Policy Committee of the Inter-Allied Propaganda Conference resolves to suggest that the Italian Government take the initiative in promoting a joint and unanimous public declaration that all the Allies regard the establishment of a free and united Jugo-Slav State, embracing Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, as one of the conditions of a just and lasting peace, and of the rule of right in Europe."
Leaflet No. 17.For translation see Appendix, page 249.
Leaflet No. 18.For translation see Appendix, page 250.
With reference to Poland, the Chairman of the Committee made a brief but pregnant statement, declaring the policy of propaganda in regard to the Poles to be identical with that laid down by President Wilson and President Poincaré and formulated by the Allied Prime Ministers on June 3 in the words: "The creation of a united and independent Polish State, with free access to the sea, constitutes one of the conditions of a solid and just peace and of the rule of right in Europe." He added that the growth of Prussian power for evil, and the present position of Prussia in the world, had their origin in the partition of Poland. Consequently he urged that the reunion of the various parts of Poland would be not only the reparation of an historical injustice, but would constitute a strong guarantee against any revival of the Prussian system. He claimed that the greater the strength of Poland, the firmer would be the security of Europe and the world against any renewal of aggressive Prussian militarism.
In the discussion which followed, general agreement was expressed with this view; but it was pointed out that a reunited Poland might be stronger in proportion as its territory was ethnographically compact and did not include other neighbouring racial elements with whom Poland would have every interest to live in concord, but which, were they included against their will within her frontiers, might become sources of disturbance and weakness. It was also considered desirable that the Polish National Committee, in order to become not less valuable to the Allies as an adjunct and agency of propaganda in enemy countries than were the Czech and Jugo-Slav Committees, might extend the basis of its representation, so as to secure more unanimous support from the various sections of Polish opinion. The Committee adopted, and submitted to the approval of the Conference, the following resolution and recommendation. It proposed to communicate the recommendation to the Polish National Committee:
"The Conference records its conviction that the creation of a united and independent Polish State, with free access to the sea, is an essential requirement of lasting peace in Europe, and expresses the belief that the more closely the frontiers of this future Polish State follow ethnographical lines, the stronger will it be to play its part in safeguarding that peace, and the more harmonious will be its relations with neighbouring peoples which, like the Poles, are striving to secure a free existence.
"The Conference, anxious that Allied propaganda may truly express the desires of the Polish people, as a whole, and may tend to promote its welfare, expresses the hope that the Polish National Council may extend the basis of its representation so as to be in a position to lend still further aid to Allied Propaganda in enemy countries."
On the question of Alsace-Lorraine, the Committee found itself in entire agreement with its Chairman's declaration that the return of the two provinces to France was an imperative demand of international justice and not a concession to be made by the Allies to French national feeling. The undoing of the flagrant wrong done by Germany in 1871 was so clearly a condition of any just peace that it required no further demonstration; quite apart from the historical justification of the French claim to the reincorporation of these provinces in France by their disannexation from Germany, the title of the people of Alsace-Lorraine to determine their own allegiance proceeded from their voluntary adhesion to France in 1790, no less than from the protests of their elected representatives against the Treaty of Frankfurt in the French National Assembly at Bordeaux in 1871, and in the German Reichstag in 1874. In regard to Alsace-Lorraine, the Committee was convinced that Allied Propaganda in Germany should make known to the German people the determination of the Allies to insist in all circumstances upon this vindication of rights.
Consequently it adopted the following resolutions:
1. Propaganda on the subject of Alsace-Lorraine should be unified and conducted on general lines indicated by France.
2. The argument to which first place should always be given is that of outraged right and of the will of the inhabitants as expressed in their solemn and repeated protests.
3. The question of Alsace-Lorraine is a question of international right, the solution of which interests the whole world.
As to propaganda addressed to the German people themselves in regard to the future position of Germany, the Committee was in full agreement with the policy recommended by Lord Northcliffe with the approval of the British Government and summarised in his opening statements. It believed that Allied propaganda should make it clear that the chief object of the Allies was the changing of Germany, not the destruction of the German people; and that the German people could hope for an adequate position in the world, and for admission into a future society of nations, when they had qualified themselves for partnership with civilised communities by making the necessary reparations and restorations (primarily in the case of Belgium) by overthrowing the system known as Prussian militarism, and when they had effectively abandoned all designs of mastery over Europe. At the same time, the Committee laid stress upon the importance of bringing home to the German people a sense of the economic pressure which the Allies, and above all the United States of America, were in a position to exercise, and would exercise, until the conditions of a just peace were accepted.To this end the Committee strongly urged that, in the various Allied countries and in the United States, a comprehensive scheme of world organisation be studied and worked out, and that, in particular, the steps already taken to co-ordinate the economic policy of the Allies and of the United States be publicly explained and brought to the knowledge of the Germans. The Committee, therefore, adopted and recommended to the Conference the following resolution:
"In consideration of the fact that the Allied Governments have in their own respective fields of action and by their joint action begun to give effect to economic co-operation, which is to-day a powerful instrument of war, and which may, after the war, serve as a basis for the systematic organisation of the resources of the world:
"The Conference expresses its satisfaction with the results already attained and believes that it would be expedient to make plain to enemy public opinion, by means of a service of information, which would set forth both the principles of Allied economic action and their results as worked out in daily practice, the gravity of the danger by which the enemy is threatened, and the advantages assured to those who are admitted to co-operation with the Allies."
The Committee adopted the following resolution:
"That in view of the great importance of co-ordinating the Allies' policies and organisations for the conduct of propaganda in enemy countries, a permanent body be constituted for this purpose;
"That this body consist of four members, representing respectively the four propaganda departments which have taken part in this Conference; each member having the power to nominate an assistant or a substitute, or both, if necessary;
"That the provisional headquarters of the body shall be at Crewe House, London, until permanent headquarters be determined;
"That the establishment expenses be shared equally between the four Governments; and that a permanent secretariat be appointed thereto."
In adhering to this resolution, and in deciding that it be recommended for adoption by the Allied Governments and by the United States, the Policy Committee had been influenced especially by the hope that the proposed arrangement might expedite the co-ordination of Allied propaganda policy, facilitate the preparation of concordant declarations by the Allied Governments at suitable moments, and assist in the proper organisation of congresses.
The discussions of the Distribution Committee were exceedingly interesting and fruitful. They ranged over the whole field of propaganda effort, and the Committee's report summarised the means of distribution of propaganda in use and assessed their respective values. So far as military means were concerned, it was found that the Italians employed aeroplanes, projectiles, and contact patrols; the French, aeroplanes, projectiles, and balloons; the British, only balloons on the Western Front, but aeroplanes in the East; and that seaplanes might be employed to reach special objectives in the Mediterranean. Each country gave favourable reports on the methods they employed, but all were agreed that a constant exchange of information as to results was required. In certain cases, such as the mountainous Italian Front, where very limited targets had to be reached, the dropping of propaganda in bulk was necessary; but in most cases methods that secured a wide scattering of the leaflets, so that those might be secured and hidden by individuals, were necessary. The French explained a device, in its experimental stage, to secure an automatic scattering from aeroplanes. The "releases" of English balloons were agreed to produce a most adequate scattering. Various devices employed in projectiles were successful in the case of leaflets when the angle of projection was high and the wind was favourable, but hitherto had not been successful with pamphlets. It was recognised that aeroplanes were the best means of reaching distant targets with accuracy; that for shorter distances, from a few hundred yards up to ten miles, projectiles would secure great accuracy.
With regard to range, it was recognised that aeroplanes had the widest limits, and the scattering of literature in Berlin by the French and in Vienna by the Italians was considered an accomplishment of great brilliancy and promise of usefulness, and that the types of paper balloons in use were thoroughly effective for ranges up to twenty or thirty miles, and with less certainty of aim up to 100 or 150 miles; but that with larger balloons (such as the fabric balloons in the possession of the English, or the new larger "doped" paper balloons then being prepared in England, or the reinforced paper balloons being experimented with in France) the distances could be increased to several hundred miles.
As to the bulk that could be distributed, it was stated that each of the standard balloons, then used by the English and French, carried 4 lb. 2 oz. of literature, and that projectiles could take from a few ounces up to 8 or 9 lb. The large fabric balloons then available at G.H.Q. could carry up to 15 lb.
It was recognised that there were no objections to the use of balloons, as the operations did not interfere with other work and did not excite retaliation from the enemy The use of projectiles was apt to provoke retaliation unless it were carried out at night or to a limited extent. There was difference of experience and opinion with regard to the use of aeroplanes. The Italians and French stated that no action had been taken by the enemy in the case of their airmen who had been captured, and that they found no difficulty in imposing this duty on their airmen. The British, however, stated that the Germans had taken strong measures, and had threatened their continuance, against airmen captured after distributing leaflets. The representative of the British Air Ministry stated that, after giving full consideration to the matter, and notwithstanding their appreciation of the value of propaganda, they were opposed to the use of aeroplanes for this purpose, partly on the ground of the bad psychological effect of such work on young pilots and aviators and partly because the supply of trained men and of machines was no more than sufficient for the direct purposes of this arm of the Forces. The representative of G.H.Q., France, said that the British Army had accepted this view. He added that balloons could be employed on the Western Front three days a week on the average, and that there was no mechanical reason why the method by balloons could not be increased to meet every reasonable requirement.
A French representative in the course of a discussion as to the utility of throwing some leaflets in bombing expeditions, reported the opinion of a well-known pro-ally German citizen that in the case of the Rhine towns and rich cities of Germany the propaganda of fear, that is to say, the actual dropping of bombs, was more useful than the dropping of literature.
It was agreed that the suggested use of aeroplanes to scatter leaflets at great heights parallel with the enemy lines encountered most of the objections to, and none of the dangers of, their direct use by crossing the lines. A device which had been worked out experimentally in England, but was not employed because of the danger it might occasion to aeroplanes, was explained and the apparatus shown. It consisted in sending up leaflets to be liberated at the necessary height for wind driftage by means of a messenger travelling up and down the cable of a box kite. This means was recognised to be cheap and efficient for employment where it would not be dangerous to aeroplanes.
The Committee agreed that the regular exchange of information as to methods employed by the Allies, and as to the results actually obtained by these, would be of great value, and recommended that a permanent bureau should be established to collect and exchange such information and reports.
As regards civil means of distribution, the Committee recommended that increased attention be paid to the insertion of news and articles in neutral organs which were either read or quoted in the enemy countries. Special stress was laid on the importance of establishing effective relations with organs which had a reputation for strict neutrality or pro-enemy bias.
The Committee also recommended that each Power should seek through its agencies to establish channels through which enemy newspaper correspondents could be influenced or provided with information. The task of approaching all sufficiently important correspondents with whom contact had not been established should be apportioned among the agencies of the Powers according to the opportunities of approach available. Channels created under a scheme of this kind should be made mutually available to the respective Allied agents in the localities concerned.
Having regard to the extent to which the ordinary book trade channels into Germany were still operating, the Committee recommended the publication in neutral countries of works which, though not directly bearing on the issues of the war, were expressly calculated to educate enemy opinion in a democratic sense. The Committee held that, in view of its great utility, clandestine circulation in the enemy countries of carefully-chosen literature, especially if actually written by enemy subjects of pro-Ally or revolutionary tendencies, should be secured through every available channel. In view of the precarious and delicate nature of this work, the Committee desired specially to emphasise the necessity of seeking out and developing new channels for distribution of this kind.
The main part of the time which the Committee on Material gave to the discussion of its subject was devoted to the question of the most effective forms of propaganda and to the special methods desirable for putting these forms into practice. There was general agreement that the best way to depress the moral of the German troops and the German population was to show them that it was against their interest to continue the war; that the longer they went on the worse they would fare both during the war and after; and that their only hope of regaining their place in the community of nations lay in throwing over the bad advisers who had led them into the war, and whose repeated promises of success had been one after the other falsified. Thereto the Germans had always had a hope before them. They were taught to hope for great advantage from the downfall of Russia, from the unrestricted U-boat warfare, from the last offensive on the Western Front. For the first time their leaders did not know what hope to dangle before them. Therefore, the moment was one peculiarly favourable for propaganda if undertaken upon the right lines.It appeared to the Committee that the best lines upon which to work would be to emphasise as much as possible the great American effort, both in the field and at home in the factory, the shipyard, and the farm. At the same time the dark commercial outlook for Germans, the dangers lying latent for them in the control of raw materials by the Allies, the discovery of so many of their trade secrets, and the building up in France, Italy, England, and the United States of industries in which they had almost a monopoly before the war ought also to be brought as vividly as possible before them. They should be told the truth about the food situation in France and England, which so far had been kept from them. They should be given news as quickly as possible of Allied successes. They should be depressed as much as possible, yet at the same time care should be taken not to let them think they were for ever excluded from relations of business and friendship with the peoples then fighting against them. If they were made to believe this, their backs would be stiffened to fight on desperately as long as possible. A sound line of propaganda, the Committee considered, would be to leave open a doorway through which if they got rid of Pan-Germanism and renounced its
A long discussion took place on the question of revolutionary propaganda. The opinion was expressed that it was better to denounce the Pan-German party generally and throw upon them the responsibility for the war and for all the misfortunes which Germany had suffered and would still further suffer from it, rather than to attack the Emperor. On the other hand, it was pointed out that attacks on an individual are always more effective than attacks on a party. Finally, it was agreed that anything said against the Hohenzollern dynasty should be taken, either in reality or in appearance, from German sources, so as to avoid the risk that attacks clearly emanating from Allied sources might strengthen rather than weaken the Emperor's hold upon the people of Germany. While a good deal of material was available from German anti-Imperial sources, it was suggested that the advantage of circulating, for example, speeches of Socialists, might be counterbalanced by the disadvantage that it would make such speakers less inclined to talk. Some Socialists had appealed to the French Government not to use their speeches for propaganda, because this weakened their efforts. It was agreed that incitements to German soldiers to desert were legitimate and might be useful. The sending into Germany of photographs of prisoners of war taken immediately after their capture, when they were usually in a deplorable condition, and after two months of captivity, when their physical condition was good, was recommended.
With regard to Austria-Hungary, the Committee discussed whether it was illegitimate to exploit the land hunger among the Magyar peasants and the discontent among the German proletariat. It was agreed that it would do no harm to support the agrarian agitators in Hungary, but, as regards Bolshevik propaganda among the Austro-German working classes, that the Allies ought only to circulate their own literature. It was suggested that the United States, in mobilising its Slav elements, might spare members of each of the Slav nationalities for propaganda work in England and in France.
Propaganda in Bulgaria depended on the policy which the Entente Powers and the United States decided to follow with regard to that country. Until such a policy was settled little could be done in a large way. It was useful, however, to make the Bulgarians acquainted with a number of facts of which they were ignorant, as for example, the failure of U-boats to reduce England to the verge of starvation, the large number of American troops already in France, and so on. Leaflets on these and other topics were being dropped regularly by aeroplanes on the Salonica front in considerable quantities. A good deal, it was suggested, could be done through Bulgars in Switzerland. But so long as the Bulgarians believed that the United States was their friend and would see them through whatever happened, little impression could be made upon them.
With regard to co-operation between the various bodies engaged in propaganda, it was proposed that closer relations should be established between the local agents of the Allied Powers in neutral countries; that they should meet from time to time to exchange ideas and to give each other full information as to their activities. Special stress was laid upon the necessity of these local agents working in union with the diplomatic and military representatives and with any other agencies engaged in the same kind of work. The Committee unanimously accepted this suggestion, with the proviso that the local agents should, if possible, be under the direction of the Central Committee, to which they could refer for instructions and advice. Pending the establishment of such a central body, arrangements were made for the various Propaganda Departments to begin at once to exchange information about all that they were doing and that each should send out copies of all the material produced by it to the other departments. It was, of course, agreed that such circulation of material produced would be one of the chief activities of the proposed central body, which would do it with greater rapidity and effect.
It was also agreed that such a central body could be most useful in employing methods for testing the effectiveness of propaganda. The means of doing this were generally admitted to be defective. Only by co-ordinating effort and by comparing information could they be improved. It was decided that the existing system of examining prisoners of war for purposes of military information ought to be supplemented by a special further examination for the purposes of propaganda information, and it was suggested that special representatives of the Enemy Propaganda Departments should be allowed to conduct such examinations.
Some important points connected with propaganda brought to bear upon Germany through neutral countries were raised, and it was agreed that the work of controlling and distributing films for moving picture theatres, which was to be done by an Inter-Allied Commission in Switzerland, ought to be extended to other neutral countries, especially Sweden. Information before the Committee bore testimony that German-owned picture theatres had of late increased very much in number both in Switzerland and in Scandinavia, and that these relied for the lighter part of their entertainments upon films from Allied countries, Germany supplying special propaganda films. By controlling the supply of films from Allied countries, the activity of these theatres could be very much diminished and possibly brought to an end.
It was also agreed that it would be advisable to invite a number of neutral editors and newspaper writers to pay a visit to the United States. It was considered that articles describing what they saw and what they were able to judge of the feeling of the American nation would have a very useful effect upon German opinion.
With a view to influencing German opinion, it was agreed that more news agencies, to all appearance independent and self-supporting, might well be established in other neutral countries; that more efforts should be made to get articles inserted in enemy newspapers, not controversial articles, but statements of what the Allies were doing, especially in the economic field, written as a German might write them who was anxious about the future of his country; and that dispatch of Allied newspapers to neutral countries should be improved and extended so that there might be more chance of their finding their way into Germany.
The discussions of the Prisoners of War Committee showed that agreement existed as to the soundness of the methods adopted by Crewe House for this particular work, and the report took the form of a recommendation that they should be generally adopted by the Allies.At the final plenary session of the Conference, on August 17, 1918, it was unanimously resolved that the Committees' reports should be accepted, and submitted by the heads of the four Missions to their respective Governments for their approval and adoption. The Conference resolved to constitute (as suggested by the Policy Committee) a permanent inter-Allied body for the conduct of propaganda in enemy countries and by so doing made a great advance. In order to maintain close touch with the French propaganda authorities. Lord Northcliffe appointed Colonel Lord Onslow as resident representative of Crewe House in Paris. By the time the Armistice was signed the different Governments had nominated their delegates to the permanent Inter-Allied body and all the necessary preliminary arrangements had been satisfactorily made. This organisation would have opened a new chapter in the history of war propaganda but for the conclusion of hostilities. As Lord Northcliffe said in his final speech to the Conference, the constitution of a permanent Inter-Allied body was a step towards that general co-ordination of Allied purpose and organisation which the experience of the war had proved to be a postulate of rapidity and efficiency of action. The work of the Conference itself, however, was invaluable as it surveyed the policy and organisation of propaganda against the enemy in all its phases and from many points of view at a time when propaganda had just passed into the intensive stage. Its reports in themselves form a text-book in the science and art of propaganda.