Writers' War Board

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The Writers' War Board was the main domestic propaganda organization in the US during World War II. Privately organized and run, it coordinated American writers with the government.

Purpose

Due to the public skepticism of propaganda due to the heavy handed efforts of the Committee on Public Information in the US during World War I, and the fascist regimes propaganda machinery, the US had adopted a "strategy of truth" whereby they would disseminate information but not try to influence the public directly through propaganda.[1] However, seeing the value and need of propaganda ways were found to circumvent official policy.[2]

The Writers' War Board was organized by Rex Stout two days after Pearl Harbor.[3] Albeit privately owned it was established expressly to promote government policy and received government funding.[2] Originally intended to promote the sales of war bonds, it soon grew into a liaison office between writers and the government.[3] They both responded to official requests and initiated their own campaigns.[3] Many of the writers involved regarded their work as quicker and bolder than governmental efforts.[4] The board compiled files on four thousands writers, with their regions and fields of expertise.[5]

It worked according to an employee as "an arm of the government".[2] And the activities were so extensive that it has been called the " greatest propaganda machine in history".[2] The idea of a Writers' War Board was first proposed by Henry Morgenthau, Jr. It was chaired by Rex Stout, who also led the Society for the Prevention of World War III. The government subsidies were funneled through the United States Office of War Information.

After Congress restricted the activities of the domestic branch of the Office of War Information in mid 1943 the role and importance of the Writers' War Board increased significantly.

Campaigns

The Board compiled lists of books banned or burned in NS Germany and distributed them for propaganda purposes, which aided in the staging of thousands of commemorations of the book burnings.[6]

From 1944 until 1948 prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the NSDAP as separate entities.[7] The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.[7]

See also

References

  1. William L. O'Neill, A Democracy At War: America's Fight At Home and Abroad in World War II, p 140 ISBN 0-02-923678-9
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Thomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 William L. O'Neill, A Democracy At War: America's Fight At Home and Abroad in World War II, p 141 ISBN 0-02-923678-9
  4. Lee Kennett, For the Duration. . . : The United States Goes To War p 166 ISBN 0684-182394
  5. Maureen Honey, Creating Rosie the Riveter: Class, Gender and Propoganda during World War II, p 45, ISBN 0-87023-453-6
  6. "The Book Mobilization"
  7. 7.0 7.1 Steven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/736/] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing

External links

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