Lessons of the Second World War with George Stroumboulopoulos

 

LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA presented by George Stroumboulopoulos, host of CBC Television’s The Hour and CBC Radio 2’s The Strombo Show, has already brought the war years alive in three dramatic episodes, conveying the importance of this period in a powerful, human and accessible way by focusing on the propaganda that was used to trigger and fight the conflict.

“The lessons of the Second World War are timeless,” says Mark Starowicz, executive director documentary programming, CBC Television. “We live in an era permeated by hyper-spin; we have seen how propaganda incites hatred and killing today. Through this important series, a new generation will see clearly that although the dictators of that era are dead, the ideas and the forces that spawned them are still very much alive.”

LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA, a six-part series co-produced by CBC and Radio-Canada, explores the psychology of war through the lens of propaganda. The Second World War was the first modern war in which all combatants bombarded their citizens with mass media messages through film and broadcast newsreels and posters, radio addresses and songs, speeches and rallies. The era’s wartime leaders understood how propaganda could awaken powerful passions, for good and evil. They employed every emotional weapon available—truth, half-truths and sometimes outright lies, using powerful symbols and persuasive words to sway entire populations.

Episode four, Truth and Total War, airing on Thursday, March 25, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC Television, begins in 1943 when the tide is turning in the Allies’ favour. This chapter tells how “total war” proves a major turning point for all combatants and how the propaganda on all sides has to be adjusted to reflect the new realities.

For the British and Canadians, an attempt to create good news for the Allies by raiding the French seaside town of Dieppe turns into a terrible failure, providing a victory for Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi propaganda machine.

But the Germans have to confront their own failure. Their attack on Stalingrad fails; for the first time in the war an entire German army is forced to surrender, causing Goebbels to torque his message: to save Germany, it is the duty of every German to fight to the death.

Airing on Thursday, April 1, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC Television is episode five, Hiding the Horrors. With the D-Day invasion in June 1944, the Allies finally establish a beachhead in France, successfully repelling the Nazis but at a huge human cost. To maintain morale, the Allied High Command never focused on the numbers of soldiers and French civilians killed while taking Normandy. According to John Grierson, dubbed Canada’s “propaganda maestro” as the creator and head of the National Film Board, “the wisest propaganda keeps rich men in hope.”

Until now, the Nazis have succeeded in concealing the extent of their campaign to exterminate all European Jews. But as reports of death camps grow more numerous and credible, Germany attempts to silence the stories by inviting the International Committee of the Red Cross to tour a detention camp near Prague. Theresienstadt is made into a “show camp” for the visit; the Red Cross falls for the charade.

In the Far East, Japan and the United States have been at war since December 1941, but so far the U.S. has not invaded Japan. The firebombing of Tokyo in 1944 shocks the Japanese, who have been told by their Emperor that they are invincible. Koyo Ishikawa, a Japanese police photographer, records the horrific scenes in which 100,000 people die. Ishikawa chooses to bury this powerful record rather than hand his photos to authorities.

The sixth and final episode, Changing the Story, airing on Thursday, April 8, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC Television, shows how, by 1945, propaganda machines that had groomed populations for war now have to prepare them for peace. With the end of the war, and the beginning of the Cold War, enemies become partners and allies become foes.

The Allies chase the Nazis from France and close in from all sides on Berlin. The “Free French” retake Paris under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle. Nazi collaborators in France are identified and publicly humiliated. War-crimes trials are held in Nuremburg and Nazi propagandists are condemned by the very images they created. The Allies begin a process of “de-Nazification”, seeking to persuade Germans that what they have believed for years under Hitler is all a lie.

Meanwhile, the war in the Pacific continues. The Second World War is only brought to a final end when the United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Emperor Hirohito tells the world that Japan is surrendering for the first time in 2,600 years. The dropping of the bombs is seen through the eyes of a young woman named Kikue Nakamatsu.

LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA captures images and stories never seen before on Canadian television. The six-hour series combines sequences shot in HD with a rich array of historical footage. The visual resources are vast; newly available films and archival material (from Russia and Japan, among other sources) reveal stories that were previously inaccessible.

LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA speaks from the vantage point of the 21st Century about a time when the world seemed to go mad. Viewers of all ages will draw their own conclusions about what we have learned since then.

Young Canadians can enter a contest by visiting cbc.ca/documentaries/lovehatepropaganda/ for a chance to win some great prizing and join the online discussion on the series on the LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA Facebook page.

Own this remarkable series on DVD. LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA – The Second World War For a New Generation is available July 2010. Order on-line at www.cbcshop.ca

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. With 28 services offered on Radio, Television, the Internet, satellite radio, digital audio, as well as through its record and music distribution service and wireless WAP and SMS messaging services, CBC/Radio-Canada is available how, where, and when Canadians want it.

 

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