“I am instructed to get four kinds of pictures,” he explained. “(1) Pictures which show German patriotism and unity. (2) Pictures which show German organisation and efficiency. (3) Pictures which show evidence of humanity in the German Army. (4) Pictures which show destruction by the enemy. Some of my pictures are kept by the Kriegsministerium for purposes of studying the war. The greater part, however, are used for propaganda both at home and abroad. Furthermore, I must be careful to keep an accurate record of what each picture is. The pictures are then arranged and given suitable titles in Berlin,”
I thought of all this in the London display-room when the familiar picture of the ruined church flashed before my eyes with the title Beautiful Church at Allenburg Destroyed by the Russians—a deliberate lie on the film.
I have nothing to say against the Germans for knocking their own town to pieces or against the British and French for knocking French towns to pieces. That is one of the misfortunes of war.
The point is, that the propaganda department of the Wilhelmstrasse fully understands that people who do not see the war, especially neutrals, are shocked at the destruction of churches. The Germans have been taught an unpleasant lesson in this in the case of Rheims. Therefore they answer by falsifying a film when it suits their purpose with just as little compunction as they repudiate promises.
“A little thing!” you might say.
That adds to its importance, for it is attention to detail which characterises modern Germany. It is the subtle things which are difficult to detect. The Government neglects nothing which will aid in the ownership of public opinion at home and the influencing of neutrals throughout the world.
THE IDEA FACTORY
A group of diplomats and newspaper correspondents were gathered at lunch in a German city early in the war, when one of the latter, an American, asked how a certain proposition which was being discussed would suit public opinion. “Will public opinion favour such a move?” he questioned.
“Public opinion! Public opinion!” a member of the German Foreign Office repeated in a tone which showed that he was honestly perplexed. “Why, we create it!”
He spoke the truth. They certainly do.
The State-controlled professor, parson and moving-picture producer appeal to limited audiences in halls and churches, but the newspaper is ubiquitous, particularly in a country where illiteracy is practically unknown, and where regulations bidding and forbidding are constantly appearing in the newspapers—the reading of which is thus absolutely necessary if one would avoid friction with the authorities.