Love, Hate & Propaganda Premieres on CBC

Beginning Thursday, March 4, 9 p.m., on CBC-TV

Why a new series on World War II?  Because it has shaped the lives of millions of Canadians born in the last half-century who know little about what happened, or how its legacy still affects their world. And because even 70 years later, the brutal statistics of WWII have the capacity to shock:  the war’s global violence killed 60 million people, unleashed the Holocaust, saw the only use of the nuclear bomb, and ruthlessly redrew the world map.  LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA airs March 4, 11, 18, 25, April 1 and 8 at 9 p.m. on CBC Television.

“This is a series that needed to be done. It’s time to bring this story to a new generation, to the children and grandchildren of those who fought the War. The dictators are dead, but the ideas and the forces that spawned them are still alive in the present” said Mark Starowicz, Executive Director Documentary Programming, CBC Television.

LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA, narrated by George Stroumboulopoulos, host of CBC Television’s The Hour, brings the dramatic events of the war years alive, and conveys its importance in a powerful, human and accessible way. 

“We all know the horror of WWII.  But seeing the spin, the lies and the rallying cries that got us there is both terrifying and fascinating,” said Stroumboulopoulos.

LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA, co-produced by CBC and Radio-Canada, explores the psychology of war through the lens of propaganda.  This was the first modern war in which all combatants bombarded their citizens with mass media messages: through newsreels and posters, radio addresses and songs, speeches and rallies. The wartime leaders of the era came to understand 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.

Today’s viewers, familiar with all manner of media spin, will discover how war was sold through propaganda – how every movie house, school, newspaper and radio became a forum for persuasion and manipulation. How do you convince entire populations that it is acceptable to murder civilians or demonize people just because of their ethnic backgrounds?

LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA also 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.

In the premiere episode, The Strong Men, airing Thursday, March 4, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC Television, viewers will see how Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin each used propaganda to solidify their grip on power and to persuade their people to go to war. It is also a portrait of individuals caught up in the whirlwind of propaganda. Luise Solmitz, a German teacher, buys into Hitler’s patriotic myth only to later discover that the “German nation” does not include her, her husband or her daughter. In Japan, popular writer Tatsuzo Ishikawa is raised to believe that Japan has a divine mission to rule Asia. But when he is sent to write about the Japanese attack on Nanking, he discovers the appalling cruelty of this quest.  And in London, England, a young Canadian named Yvonne Greene helps protect the city from intensive Nazi bombing.  Like many others, she is inspired by the courage and tenacity of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. 

Selling War, airing Thursday, March 11, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC Television, shows, how in 1939, Adolph Hitler and his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, mobilize reluctant Germans to support their wars of conquest. Caught up in the drama of it all is Melita Maschmann, a young girl who joins a Hitler youth group called “The League of German Maidens”. This young devotee of Hitler will proudly follow along as Germany’s invading forces lay waste to Poland. Meanwhile in Germany, a Catholic Bishop named Clemens von Galen dares stand up to Hitler’s campaign to “purify” German society. Miraculously, the Nazis back down, at least publicly. And in occupied France, a teacher named Jean Guehenno discovers what life will be like for free-thinkers under the Vichy regime of Marechel Petain.

Meet the Enemy, airing Thursday, March 18, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC Television focuses on a critical year in the war: 1941. Joseph Stalin thought he could count on his alliance with Germany to protect Russia from the fires of war that are sweeping Europe, but Adolf Hitler changes his mind and invades, with brutal efficiency. How will Stalin persuade his people to rise up when the Germans appear unbeatable? With a skillful appeal to Russian nationalism, Stalin convinces millions to take up arms. Among them, a young woman named Lyudmilla Pavlichenko who would come to be known as “the most deadly woman in the world”. Her accuracy as a sniper would make her a useful tool of Russian propagandists, inspiring other young women to join the fight. Meanwhile, in Canada, another young woman, Veronica Foster, does her part for Allied morale: she becomes known as Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl, a sexy poster girl who inspires women to enter the workforce. 1941 is also the year that Japan attacks Pearl Harbor drawing the Americans into the war. The propaganda war heats up between the Americans and the Japanese, each side guilty of vilifying the other. In Japan, a young submariner named Kazuo Sakamaki becomes the first prisoner of war of the Americans. He will be air-brushed out of Japanese history for having let himself be taken prisoner rather than dying honourably.

Airing Thursday, March 25 is Truth and Total War, on Thursday, April 1 it’s Hiding the Horrors, and airing Thursday, April 8 is Changing the Story.

LOVE, HATE & PROPAGANDA will speak 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.

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