Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Propaganda And The Great War

Coming into the War Museum's section on the First World War, this is a sculpture that always makes me stop. It's a sculpture depicting a possibly apocryphal account from the war about Germans crucifying a Canadian soldier on a barn door. Stark and brutal, it's a powerful work.

This area is about propaganda of that war, and one of the elements at play here is the story of the Lusitania. It has been a century now since the sinking of that passenger liner (which included among its passengers numerous Canadians), and there are artifacts on display here at the Museum. That includes a porthole taken from the ship decades later, as well as medals from both the Germans and the British linked to the sinking. Around Remembrance Day I was reading Erik Larson's book Dead Wake, which is an account of the sinking, so it seemed appropriate to photograph this.

There is a walk through section further on, a recreation of the trenches as they would have been during that war.

There were also artifacts on display one could touch, with staffers explaining their uses. Since it was Remembrance Day, a great many local schools organized field trips for their students that afternoon, and seeing items like weapons, canteen kits, helmets, and the like was a good hands on way for students to get some exposure to the history.

These two paintings, depicting aerial warfare in that war, have always caught my eye for their visual style.

I just like the lighting of this last shot, which mixes art and military vehicle. Tomorrow we move on to the Second World War.


  1. "Dead Wake" certainly brought a small piece of WW1 into focus for me. I was left with the impression that there were people who could barely wait to get into the war.

  2. Wow, sounds like an interesting exhibit. We had some progressive teachers in high school who taught us about propaganda. Every young person needs to understand what it is.

  3. Very informative and interesting post about the Great War. Have a beautiful day!

  4. While the first st scene is horrifying it's so important not to forget..

  5. I like the idea that you can touch the items. I think it gives more impact than just looking at them behind glass. Nice visit!

  6. The subject of the sculpture is horrific William, as is everything to do with the first and second war, the trenches would have been like hell! Excellent exhibition in the museum.

  7. i bet the kids enjoyed their field trip...i always love exhibits that you can touch!

  8. I hope the fact it is not true, but the sculpture is powerful...

  9. There is quite a lot to think about going to a museum like this.

  10. @Kay: I was impressed by the book, particularly in getting to know more about the U-Boat captain.

    @Linda: there was some years ago a temporary exhibit here at the museum on war propaganda, which was enlightening.

    @Nancy: thank you.

    @Geoff: given the horrors of that war, it's a vivid sculpture.

    @Halcyon: in the section dealing with the contemporary era, there was a spot manned by an officer who had a bulletproof vest on hand that one could try on. The weight of body armour really makes an impression that way.

    @Grace: those trenches, by all accounts, were hell on earth.

    @Tanya: the kids did seem interested.

    @VP: it really is. With the horrors of the First World War, it does feel true to life.

    @Sharon: that's true. It's not a museum that celebrates war, and it does provoke thought.

  11. This does a good job of showing the realities of war. I think taking kids to this museum or any museum will pay benefits in the future as they have some background information to make decisions.

  12. Propaganda s a great subject for kids to study. It's healthy for them to know that everything they are told is not true, that it's important to THINK. Sadly, a lot of adults have never learned to think. Okay, I'm stepping down off my soapbox now. ;)

  13. As ever, you have put together a excellent collection of photographs and text describing this exhibit. Appreciated.

  14. @Red: I quite agree.

    @EG: I do agree with you.

    @Norma: that it is.

    @Lauren: thank you.

    @Revrunner: me too. It brings that tragedy to life.

  15. The sculpture is dramatic and almost intimidating. And love the lighting in the last photo. An interesting series.

  16. I remember reading about the Lusitania.

    1. And I just saw a documentary as well not that long ago.

  17. I don't think any museum can come close to what war is and especially what the trenches were like...

  18. Seems very realistic Museum.
    Each would be good to visit such a museum. Get a look at and experience.

  19. i enjoy museums, one where i can learn & understand ... very cool. ( :

  20. Propaganda knew no restraints back then. The trenches there cannot really depict the horror of the mud and slime that was at the bottom and how it was impossible not to get wet or worse. Awesome museum and pictures, William.

  21. They did a recreation of the trenches at Bovingdon Tank museum when I visited last year, not something I'd want to go through if I could help it

  22. It reminds me of this exhibit in Lisbon a couple of years ago:

  23. Love this series, William, especially the rationing photos. Back then nobody starved, and nobody was overweight, people just learned how to cope and how to make do with what they had!

  24. @Gemma: thank you!

    @Linda: I knew, while I was reading the book, that I'd have to photograph these items, particularly since this has been the centennial year.

    @Ciel: true. We can only get the suggestion. It must have been hell on earth.

    @Orvokki: I enjoy visiting any time I'm up there.

    @Beth: thanks!

    @Mari: I know there are occasions still when the earth gives up the remains of someone who was ground into the mud of those trenches long ago.

    @Bill: it becomes very vivid. You do get a sense of why so many came back shattered.

    @Jose: I shall check that out!

    @Linda: thanks!