Was Propaganda Bureau

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The War Propaganda Bureau (WPB dt, .: war propaganda office ) was a British agency during the First World War . After his headquarters, the Allies also called it Wellington House . Head of the WPB was Charles Masterman , lower house deputy of the Liberal Party .

In 1917 the WPB was replaced by the Department of Information , from which the Ministry of Information in Crewe House emerged .


The WPB was founded in August 1914 by Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George on the direction of the Herbert Henry Asquith government .


Lloyd George pursued several goals:

  • Raising morale on the home front, curbing war opponents in the country
  • Representation of the opponent as an enemy who must be fought
  • Recruitment
  • Control of publications
  • psychological discouragement of enemy troops, foreign propaganda
  • Depiction of the war for the civilian population, especially in the press, according to government guidelines


On September 2, 1914, Masterman invited 25 well-known British authors for these purposes, in strict secrecy. The public only became aware of this in 1935. Some authors agreed to write relevant pamphlets and books.

One of the first publications in early 1915 was the Bryce Report ( Report of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages ) in 30 languages, which accused the German army of systematic torture of Belgian civilians. The booklet cost 1 penny and was illustrated by the Dutch painter and caricaturist Louis Raemaekers . (Five days later, the German government replied with a white paper listing the atrocities committed by Belgians against German soldiers.)

The WPB published 1,160 brochures and pamphlets during the war . With the help of John Buchan , Masterman had the monthly Nelson's History of the War produced in February 1915 with 24 issues. Since only two army officers were allowed to take photos on the western front , he used draftsmen and painters. Leaflets were also dropped behind the front.

Continuation of the propaganda work in the first Ministry of Information

On April 7, 1917, the USA declared war on the German Reich . As a result, it became necessary to realign the WPB. Because the Americans did not know that most of the information disseminated by the British about the course of the war and about the Central Powers had been supplied by the WPB. Now part of the propaganda work, namely the propaganda to influence the population and the soldiers of the Central Powers ( Directorate for Propaganda in Enemy Countries ), has been moved to Crewe House . The Department of Information was established for the remaining tasks . Not least out of consideration for the Americans, the name of the agency was changed from “Propaganda” to “Information”. In February 1918, the Department of Information was upgraded to the Ministry of Information (MoI).

Lloyd George reorganized the agency and involved several influential newspaper publishers, so that the government on the one hand gained control of Fleet Street and on the other hand could use the possibilities of the press to influence the population. Masterman was then demoted.

Aitken increased the number of artists employed in France. During the four years of the war, about 90 painters supplied pictures for the government. Aitken, together with Arnold Bennett , created the British War Memorial Committee (BWMC) to look after (and control ) them. The Ministry published its view of the course of the war in the two-volume Chronology of the War , published by Constable in London in 1918.

The Parliamentary Recruiting Committee for recruiting and the Parliamentary War Savings Committee , which raised war bonds , were assigned to the MoI.

A few days before the end of the war, William Hayes Fisher became Minister of Information. Two months after the end of the war, on January 10, 1919, the propaganda institutions were closed.

After the First World War

After the war, both Americans and Germans were outraged by the false claims made by British propaganda. The fabricated accusations of the Bryce Report in particular gave the propaganda a negative image that continues to this day.

In the Second World War , the Ministry of Information was revived (second Ministry of Information).

WPB employee



Painter and draftsman of the WPB

Painter in the program of the "British War Memorial Committee"

Counterparts of other warring parties


  • Peter Hoeres : The war of the philosophers. German and British philosophy in the First World War . Schöningh, Paderborn 2004, ISBN 3-506-71731-6 (also dissertation, University of Münster 2002).
  • Michael Kunczik: British and German Propaganda in the United States from 1914 to 1917 . In: Jürgen Wilke (ed.): Propaganda in the 20th century. Contributions to its history . Hampton Press, Cresskill 1998, ISBN 1-57273-120-6 , pp. 25-55.
  • Campbell Stuart : Secrets of Crewe House The story of a famous campaign . Hodder & Stoughton, London 1920. Full text at archive.org

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Evidence and Documents Laid Before the Committee on Alleged German Outrages. Being an Appendix to the Report of the Committee by His Britannic Majesty's Government and Presided over by the Right Hon. Viscount Bryce . MacMillan, New York 1915.
  2. Louis Raemakers: Raemakers' cartons, with accompanying notes by well known English writers. With an appreciation from HH Asquith, prime minister of England . Doubleday, Page & Co., Garden City 1916.
  3. ^ The National Archives: The Ministry of Information (outline of the history of the authorities and the inventory), accessed on May 2, 2016.
  4. ^ Campbell Stuart : Secrets of Crewe House. The story of a famous campaign . Hodder & Stoughton, London 1920, p. 8.
  5. ^ War Propaganda Bureau on Spartacus Schoolnet, accessed May 2, 2016.
  6. Jonathan A. Epstein: German and English propaganda in World War I . Paper presented at the New York Military Affairs Symposium (NYMAS), December 1, 2000 ( online ), accessed May 2, 2016.