During July of 1940, the people of Berlin were delighted with Hitler’s promises of success. France had collapsed after six weeks of fighting, and German troops stood on guard throughout Europe. Norway and Belgium, not to mention Poland, were under occupation. All that stands between Adolf Hitler and dictatorship of all of Europe is Great Britain. Conquest seems to be only a matter of time. Winston Churchill announced that Britain was unconquerable and that “the curse of Hitler will be lifted”, and for some period of time the British never thought of losing.
Let me introduce you to The Third Wave, a social experiment that took place in a Californian high school during April of 1967. High school history teacher Ron Jones found it difficult to answer the question “How did the Germans not realize what the Nazis were doing during the Second World War?” His students, your typical 15-year-old sophomores within a contemporary world history class, could not grasp the idea that the Germans claimed ignorance when it came to the extermination of the Jewish people within the Holocaust. Lost for words, Mr. Jones decided to demonstrate it to his students.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, if you will. By giving a sociopath, a psychopath, an enraged individual complete control over a nation — what happens? The overall destruction of man woman and child of those individual cultural boundaries. Your Hitlers, your Mussolinis, your Trumps. They manage to rally behind the darker areas of society’s fear and hatred. Now not only do you have a terrible, disastrous leader; you have a terrible and disastrous leader implementing racist and sexist and overall degrading values into a society that collapses under itself through hatred, fear, and war.
What exactly is propaganda? Propaganda is often defined as any form of communication, usually in the form of posters and other visual aids such as news print, that promotes a certain belief or cause and is often biased. Propaganda is aimed to influence a general population towards a belief, organization, person, or cause. While the idea of propaganda has a strong connection with negativity (mostly due to manipulative uses by Nazi Germany to justify their horrific actions during the Holocaust), propaganda throughout most of history was more often for overall neutral and positive gain. Some examples of positive propaganda would be encouragement for public health, crime stoppers advertisements, and even election banners. In synopsis, propaganda is any encouragement in the form of communication that is used to force an opinion down a population’s throat — whether it be subtle or not.
Imagine a world where World War II could have ended years beforehand. A world where millions of men, women, and children weren’t slaughtered horrendously in genocide. A world where Nazi Germany never really became a global, or even continental, threat. Alternative history is very interesting, perhaps one of the most interesting things to study in the recordings of our world’s past.