Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What is Propaganda

I always enjoy digging around through the many, many online digital archives.  On a recent expedition through the Illinois Digital Archives, I stumbled upon a certain Disney duck featured in one of his typical agitated states.  In 1944, our good friend Donald faithfully served his country by appearing in a War Department publication that discussed the nature and potential dangers of propaganda.  What is Propaganda was classified as War Department Education Manual EM-2.  It was part of the G.I. Roundtable series, a series of pamphlets that was also designed to be the basis of potential discussion groups attended by servicemen.
Donald's appearance in the 48-page pamphlet is minimal, but still distinct.  He appears on the cover and on two interior pages.  He is never mentioned in any of the text.  He is featured at the beginning of the manual on a page with the heading, "Defining Propaganda," where two different portraits of the duck are used to separately represent the positive and negative natures of propaganda.

He reappears at the end of the pamphlet in a simple cartoon with the somewhat ambiguous caption, "Well, What is Propaganda?"

The booklet features a number of other cartoon illustrations including caricatures of enemy leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Herman Goebbels and Benito Mussolini.

We recently featured another War Department G.I. Roundtable publication on our companion site Boom-Pop! -- Can War Marriages Be Made to Work?