We’d like to think propaganda is the brainwashing a non-democratic country does to its people, or false information it tries to shove on the world. We don’t do that kind of thing.
But propaganda is just media that delivers a political message. Everybody does it. After World War 2, the Americans and British used films to inform the public about the conditions in defeated Germany. They show fascinating period footage. The commentary may be even more interesting.
Check out an episode of “This is America” on Germany 1947. US soldiers teach Germans baseball and English, they play golf to pass the time. “Occupation Girls” live in mansions with German servants. But be warned, the commentator says: The Germans are waiting for a new Führer. They nurse old hates. Two years after the war, the United States urges its people back home to stay vigilant.
And here’s a film from the British Pathé Pictorial Looks at Berlin 1947. There’s a subtle glee in the descriptions of German destruction that probably went down well in post-Blitz England. The commentator can’t resist an ominous warning here too: Will a new war-monger rise from the rubble?
Both films take jabs at the Soviets in Germany. The American film is more obvious about it. The Allies are laying the groundwork in their films for a new, Cold War enemy, while reminding viewers that the old Reich may still be a threat.