Full Text

Propaganda in World War II

Philip M. Taylor


World War II witnessed the greatest propaganda campaigns in history. Often referred to as the “Fourth Arm” after the army, navy, and air force, →  propaganda was conducted by all belligerents and was essentially designed to sustain domestic civilian morale during a long war at home while undermining enemy civilian and military confidence in the ability to achieve victory. Although propaganda was becoming a characteristic of peacetime politics in the first half of the twentieth century, it was still seen largely as a weapon of war, especially in democracies. Dictatorships in the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany more readily embraced its peacetime use as a form of coercion of mass populations instead of the individualistic democratic predisposition toward →  Persuasion and consensus-building. These different ideologies eventually went to war against each other in 1939, in a conflict that began with a cavalry charge in Poland and ended, six years later, with atomic explosions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It became a war of national survival – total war – in which propaganda was used by all sides as a psychological weapon to supplement, reinforce, or counter the destructive power of military force. Ultimately, however, World War II was won by military power – which prompts the question of what role propaganda actually played in determining the final outcome (→  War ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top