Rewind

The Art of Propaganda, Part Two

More propaganda on CBC Radio during World War Two. It was meant to inspire and persuade, educate and uplift, and radio was a powerful tool for spreading its message.
Listen to the full episode54:59
World War Two Poster (19750251-005, Canadian War Museum)
Poster created for the 2nd Victory Loan campaign (Library and Archives Canada, Acc)
Victory Loan Drive Poster, World War Two (Library and Archives Canada, Acc)

In 1941, as World War Two raged, Nazi Germany churned out pamphlets, movies and radio broadcasts. The Allies realized they had to create their own version. Persuasive messages of persuasion appeared everywhere in Canada- on movie screens, radio and in advertising, and they were all aimed at convincing citizens to support the war effort. Posters featured images of our Men of Valour, of strong and able women doing their part at home, and adorable babies under slogans that implored Canadians to "Buy Victory Bonds" and "Invest and Protect!" 

Everybody must fight, whatever your job may be!

CBC Radio too lent its airwaves to the cause.

Programs like Carry on Canada persuaded listeners to help with the war effort, urging them to donate and volunteer to "get the job done." Nazi Eyes on Canada had painted a chilling picture of what life in Canada might be like under Nazi rule while Hitler's Little Helpers warned them against rumour and gossip that could hurt morale or aid the enemy. It warned: "remember to think first before you babble!" 

War is Everyone's Concern was another CBC Radio production commissioned by the War Finance Committee to raise money and boost morale. It featured short dramas with stirring themes on faith, loyalty, bravery and pride. Like all the programs that aired on CBC Radio during the war, its aim was to remind Canadians what they were fighting for… and against. 

In 1981, CBC Radio's Morningside aired a documentary that looked at how radio in the 1930's and 40's was a particularly effective tool for spreading propaganda. Arn Saba, who produced the documentary, showed how propaganda has been used for centuries as a means to communicate goals and sway an intended audience by preying on both their hopes and fears.

During the 1930's and 40's, radio was in its heyday and as such was perfectly positioned to disseminate propaganda. It didn't take long after its introduction before there was one in just about every home. As Saba argued, "it was only natural that ... interest groups should be attracted to the power of radio, especially those for whom power was the name of the game".

"When looking for propaganda, look to the unnoticed, not to the blatant. It's always where you least expect it." --- Arn Saba