From reading the comments on FTR and WoT forums, it seems that some people define propaganda as anything that they disagree with. Maybe they have never seen any propaganda. To familiarize them with some, here’s a propaganda poster.

Seems pretty straightforward. “All for the front, all for victory!”, a crude approximation of a T-34, and a farmer shaking the hand of a soldier. Quick, easy, makes you feel good about yourself, and then you go on with your life. Here’s another one:

The Motherland calls! Quick and easy, simple slogan, patriotic picture. Another famous example:

There’s barely even a picture in that one. Again, patriotic image, short slogan, move on with your life, defeat the fascist menace.

According to some, ahem, “experts” on the forums, here’s more propaganda.

There, don’t you feel inspired and patriotic? Wait, no, this one is different. There’s a bunch of numbers and stuff. Lots of numbers! And no pictures at all. Even if a passer-by knew how to use this table, all they’d get is something to the tune of “75% of the shell fragments fired from a T-34′s gun end up on the other side of a 61 mm armour plate at 1000 meters”. Wow, so patriotic. I don’t know about you guys, but that definitely inspires me to work 12 hour shifts on 1300 calories of rations.

Or, you can have something like this:

“When an anti-tank rifleman stands in the way, the fascist tanks shall not pass!” To the average worker and peasant, looking at this poster has the same effect as deciphering the diagram above, without knowing anything about penetration standards, mechanical engineering, etc. If you want your people to feel safe against enemy tanks, you put up the poster, not the table.

What’s the point? The point is that propaganda is aimed at common people. In times of war, they need to feel safe. They need to feel like what they do matters at the front, and, eventually (probably soon), the abstract war way over there is going to end victoriously.

In order for the war to end victoriously, engineers have to produce things like that table up there. Things like that table up there are not very inspiring. That is probably why they don’t get copied hundreds of times and glued to walls and lamp posts. They get sent to the necessary people, the necessary people copy over some numbers, and then they sit in a box for decades until someone digs them up. Sure, the engineers can start lying to the customer about the capability of their products. It happens. Then you get things like final drives that last 150 km, ridiculous paper projects, and magical paste that does nothing at all. And then, when the red banner flies on the Reichstag, all you can do is shrug and try to off-load the blame on someone else in your memoirs.

Wartime propaganda makes the general public feel safe. You cannot compress leaflets into armour. You cannot fire posters at the enemy. You cannot build a fortress out of lies. Nazi Germany tried that, and the result is well-known. 70 years of excuses has changed nothing. Lie to your people all you want, but once you start lying in the classified documents, you are lying to yourself, and defeat is only a matter of time.

116 thoughts on “Propaganda

  1. This is a great post for all those keyboard generals who think they know all there is to know about history by playing one game. GJ SS ;)

  2. Keep Calm and Carry On, Mission Accomplished, etc etc. The fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue and other such things are propaganda.

    But increasingly many people are deciphering it, as you’ve said, into things they don’t like. Stuff I encounter is like “I wouldn’t want a plastic pistol (a Glock) over my precious Smith and Wesson” and disregard anything contrary to that. It’s ignorance that’s what it is, and today’s world (and it’s not limited by generation) seems to think if it offends their own sensibilities, then it’s propaganda by ‘the other side’.

    • Gah pressed post too early. And I’m going back to the tank event because I’ve gotten opportunities to talk with some people, especially teachers who were there (mainly because they love tanks) but discussed the current education system here in the U.S.

      Back when my dad was a high schooler in the 80s, the history texts talked about the Boxer Rebellion, the Philippine Insurrection, and other sort of Second Imperial/Industrial era brushfire conflicts as it led into the first world war. Quite remarkable to my young eye was seeing a picture of the Rising Sun alongside other Western powers in the storming of the building in China being besieged by the Chinese Boxers.

      Fast Forward to me. Mention of the Boxer Rebellion is gone, and the Philippine Insurrection is only covered because I was in an Advanced Placement – US History class (and even then it was because I made a report on it and presented it to my class). More and more talk on America being nearly similar to Nazi Germany in causing the war in the Pacific by denying the Japanese the oil and materials and glossing over the Rape of Nanking, the Annexation of Manchuria and Korea; as well as marginalizing Fascist Italy and downplaying Soviet Russia’s own atrocities. Now I hear that U.S. Civics/Government and History are not important anymore.

      What I’m trying to say is I guess, that for lack of understanding or subversive education, many people take the biggest, fanciest words which has meaning fitting their oen personal or populist narrative and throw em at something they don’t like. Because they don’t understand, or do not want to understand what it truly means to be a propagandist.

      Then again I knew someone in college who adored Che’ for all the wrong reasons. ~_~;;

  3. These posts devoid of content but full of drama bait are awesome. Keep up the good work EE!

      • Sorry EE, but its “educational” value is at primary school level. On the other hand, judging by behaviour, lots of WoT players seem to be kids so maybe this is the right thing to do ;)

        • To most people who play this game, even education on a kindegarten level is necessary.

          Besides that, most people I know who have degrees and high-paying jobs still have no idea what actually constitutes propaganda – so again, a necessary education regardless.

    • I have no particular interest in this subject, but from a relatively objective point of view, I agree that this is a poor OP, that is mostly opinion based drama bait, rather than informational.

      The soviet penetration tables are indeed not a propaganda poster, but that is irrelevant to the question of whether they are legitimate or not.

      The Soviet system meant that, at times, there was a strong incentive for exaggeration of success, due to possible extreme punishments for failure. That may or may not be the case with these particular figures, but they should be treated with more caution than, say, American or French figures, where the worst that poor performance would result in would be loss of employment.

  4. “Propaganda” is nothing else but another word for marketing, PR, PA, etc. Father of PR Edward Bernays is often cited that his agency came up with term “Public relations” because “propaganda” had bad publicity because of Goebbels and Nazi Germany.

    • American propaganda is different, American propaganda works on bending facts and history to their own benefits, in other words it’s in the benefit of the ruling class. American propaganda isn’t as transparent as Soviet and German propaganda, it doesn’t exist in forms of posters but rather in forms of media and information.

      Also known as brainwashing, which the Americans are pretty good at knowing they brainwashed half the world about how evil everything that isn’t American is.

  5. I disagree, while posters are obvious propaganda some of the more subtle and repetitive is manipulation of numbers such as Tractor production up 20% this year! Food production in the USSR at record levels! Everyone in South Korea is starving, they wish they could come here to the North.

    Then you have deliberate misinformation like overexagerating enemy casualties or telling your troops just before they go into battle that the enemy are short on ammunition or have no heavy armour left, or to hold out as reinforcements are on the way, simply because no rational soldier would have high morale against overwhelming odds.

    • Misrepresenting the forces of the enemy to the soldier that will be fighting them is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. The bottom of the barrel private? Sure, whatever, but even his immediate superior needs to know what’s happening in order to command effectively.

      In order to establish high morale against overwhelming odds, you don’t need to lie to your people. You just need to point east and tell them: “There’s your home, your wife, your children. If the fascists make it past you, all that you hold dear will be destroyed.” And that’s enough to stand to the death in the face of any number of enemies. “Stand to the death” isn’t posturing or dramatic wording, it’s an order. When millions of people are depending on you, you don’t have time to think about odds.

          • Yes, because, you know, it’s not like they have a free market economy or anything.

            One could even argue on the definition of communism as coined and reformed by *actual* communists.

  6. “You can not build a fortress out of lies”, said the one who defends soviet propaganda.
    Btw, i have nothing against those clear propagandistic pictures, but against made up “facts”.

    • I read a story of when the german army was surrounded around stalingrad , they could tune into the main german radio broadcasts that proclaimed “our victorious soldiers in stalingrad “.. or something to that effect .. Imagine the effect on moral – Propaganda . you are doing it wrong

  7. Propaganda has been getting subtler and subtler. It’s not as obvious as it was in the mid-20th century.

  8. It seems like the author wanted to show what propaganda is and what it is not.
    But well i guess most of us with some brain might knew this before already… ;)

    The pen table is engineering data, but not tested data. Might write an article about it one day to clear it up..
    We probably havent seen this table for the last time.

  9. Propaganda is not about pictures form ages past that show an aesthetic our grandparents found sexy.

    This is wikipedias definition “Propaganda is a form of communication aimed towards influencing the attitude of the community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument. Propaganda statements may be partly false and partly true. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes.”

    - one sided
    - mixing truth with lie
    - repeated and distibuted as often and wide as possible

    I give you some modern propaganda:

    At one point in time, each and everyone of us saw those pictures and picture like them basically everywhere.

    Take the red pill (you know, Matrix): Propaganda is everywhere today. Propaganda is the basic form of communication today. You should definitely check out what Goebbels (Hitlers propaganda minister) wrote on the topic: pure evil clairevoyance.

    Those old posters are cute, but if you believe this is how propaganda has to look like, you are already a victim.

  10. It is nothing wrong with cosmetic penetration values, but WoT works with the propaganda penetration values of guns… -.-”

    • You are forgetting one important aspect – balance. Yes, most soviet middle tier guns have overbuffed penetration (some more than the others) but it’s also true for high tier german guns (E-50 gun didnt exist, it’s basically a L7 replica, 128mm tank didnt have that much penetration). Finally, soviet 122mm guns have nerfed accuracy to compensate for higher alpha (these ones were close to german long 8.8 in accuracy).

  11. I really hope that Ensign won’t stop writing articles for us just because of those deluded weharboo thinking that anything coming from the USSR’s archives is propaganda…

    • I posted that without reading the comments before, Ensign seems really a little bitter about this stuff, please man don’t let it get the best of you.

  12. “it seems that some people define propaganda as anything that they disagree with”

    And many of the comments have already proven this to be true.

  13. @EnsignExpendable, you “forgot” to mention that your beloved USSR also built a fortress out of lies and failed, too. Now, Putin tries to establish a fortress out of lies. The Russians obliviously did not learn their lesson (in contrast to the Germans).

    Please stop posting such one-sided crap and also stop glorifying the scum of humanity (communism).

    • >(in contrast to the Germans)
      *Insert a pile of laughs*
      Oh please, just look at their government’s hypocrite “reaction” to the Americans spying everyone in this country like the good old Stasi used to do.

    • Too much hate in this post. Also, what’s so inherently wrong with communism (except for the fact that you dont like it) that you consider it being such a great sin? Yes, it’s an utopia, but most people are believers, they believe in such incredible shit you wont even imagine.

  14. “You cannot compress leaflets into armour. You cannot fire posters at the enemy. You cannot build a fortress out of lies.”
    On the first part, paper armor was created by the Chinese (they claimed to have done so at least using compressed paper and many layers). Plus I recall Japan doing something like this as well. Might need to look it up.
    The US and many other country’s including the Germans dropped leaflets and posters all over Europe.
    We built the fortress of the united kingdom out of lies with our “Million man army”. Look it up. Plus the Germans built their fortress of an “air force” out of lies. Proof is that nobody attacked them when Germany “rearmed” in the 1930′s because they thought the airforce was bigger then it really was.

    • The “paper” the Chinese and Koreans used for armour has preciously little to do with the wood-pulp stuff we use today, or even the textile-based stuff that was used prior to that. It’s actually the inner bark of a local tree that was also used as a cheap writing medium. (Also I call bullshit on the theory the stuff was formed into scales and laced into corselets and whatnot; it was supposed to be cheap and fast to make for mass issue to common soldiery, which would mean minimum labour required – sewing layers together à la textile armour fits the bill far better.)

      That said, a thick enough book or similar WILL stop an arrow or a blow pretty well; pile enough of *anything* in the way and this holds true for nigh any attack. Whether this is doable against the battlefield hazards relevant in the context without overly encumbering the combatant is of course a different question entirely, and the exact reason armourers spent millenia honing their craft.

  15. I started reading this and was like “Did SS go full retard?” then I read who’s the author…

  16. ”Who then is at fault for promoting this unbalanced view of the war? Certainly
    Western historians who wrote about the war from only the German perspective share
    part of the blame. However, they argue with considerable justification that they did so
    because only German sources were available to them. Ethnocentrism, a force that
    conditions a people to appreciate only that which they have themselves experienced, has
    also helped produce this unbalanced view of the war; in fact, it has done so on both sides.
    Aside from these influences, the most important factor in the creation of the existing
    perverted view of the war is the collective failure of Soviet historians to provide Western
    (and Russian) readers and scholars with a credible account of the war. Ideology, political
    motivation, and shibboleths born of the Cold War have combined to inhibit the work and
    warp the perceptions of many Soviet historians.

    While many Soviet studies of the war and wartime battles and operations are
    detailed, scholarly, and accurate as far as they go, they cover only what State officials
    permit them to cover and either skirt or ignore those facts and events considered
    embarrassing by the State. Unfortunately the most general works and those most
    accessible to Western audiences tend to be the most biased, the most highly politicized,
    and the least accurate. Until quite recently, official State organs routinely vetted even the
    most scholarly of these books for political and ideological reasons. Even now, 10 years
    after the fall of the Soviet Union, political pressure and limited archival access, prevents
    Russian historians from researching or revealing many events subject to censorship in the

    These sad realities have undercut the credibility of Soviet (Russian) historical
    works (fairly or unfairly), permitted German historiography and interpretation to prevail,
    and, coincidentally, damaged the credibility of those few Western writers who have
    incorporated Soviet historical materials into their accounts of the war. These stark
    historiographical realities also explain why, today, sensational, unfair, and wildly
    inaccurate accounts of certain aspects of the war so attract the Western reading public and
    why debates still rage concerning the war’s direction and conduct.”

    -Soviet/German war By David Glantz

    • To deal with the History, you must be impartial and coherent. Propaganda is nothing but a form of Increase your own morale, ‘bashing’ your enemy.

    • What limited archival access? CAMD is open. RGSAPI is open, and free. Many other archives that I don’t care about but lots of people do are available publicly.

  17. I can’t help but feel you’re being at least a little disingenuous with this article. Your contrasting of harmless ‘pesant propaganda’ leaflets with serious cases of forgery and manipulation leaves a bad taste- as if you’re desperatly trying to gloss over something by shifting focus to the evil germans…

  18. Why is it that people of the internet believe Nazi fanfiction as the absolute truth but Soviet test data to be propaganda? Was Goebbels really that good?

        • Well as I know, you are right. As I know the German Industry was more capitalist than socialist, but you cannot deny the similarities of the posters. It would be a good topic to write next time about. But maybe the USSR “borrowed” some ideas. Hmmm, it is an interesting thing. Thou if the Communism worked China shouldn’t switched from Socialism to Capitalism/Socialism hybrid….

          • Totlaitarian aesthetics have a curious habit of evolving into extremely similar forms regardless of the ideology; reason being it stems from the same operationalisation of the art as a vehicle of the Party Line and the reflexive aversion against deviations from the official orthodoxy typical of insecure dictatorial regimes.

            It has to be said, though, that the Communist brand has always had rather less of the narcissistic projection in form of stern-jawed half-naked musclemen with ancient ironmongery than the Fascist, not to mention a conspicious lack of the creepy racialism of Nazi art.

            Blindness to unintentional irony is also a shared trait.

  19. Hey EE, I’d like to see an article about the American propaganda, starting wit “Saving private Ryan” film. ^^

  20. My last touhts about this whole ideoligal bs about my psychologial studies about Cognitive dissonance:
    “Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one’s belief, the dissonance can result in restoring consonance through misperception, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others.”

    “Cognitive dissonance theory explains human behavior by positing that people have a bias to seek consonance between their expectations and reality. According to Festinger, people engage in a process he termed “dissonance reduction,” which can be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the dissonant factors.[6] This bias sheds light on otherwise puzzling, irrational, and even destructive behavior.”


  21. oh my god, this has to be the most pathetic post you have ever put on this site… so sad… it made me giggle. Keep trying, kiddo

  22. I note that nary everyone who actually disagrees with you speaks down at you, EE. They don’t actually seem to try to refute you.

  23. This is propaganda? No way!
    Seriously – wtf is this post? Smart ppl know what is propaganda so… is this site for dumb ppl?

  24. I have no idea if the document is true, “propaganda” or just wrong for any other reason.
    What I don’t understand is why there is this one document that WG likes to point at when someone questions in-game penetration values.
    Is it that damn hard to find multiple sources of gun penetration data and cross reference them?
    I can see many reasons why you could end up with skewed numbers in such documents. That’s why you find more sources and compare results so that you don’t have to prove the validity of every source, which in some cases can be impossible to do after such a long time.

    I have a couple of doubts about the numbers in the document just based on logic. Which obviously isn’t proof of anything, but it does cast doubts on its accuracy.
    For one the 50mm PaK/KwK 39 L/60 was one of the only German anti-tank guns that could penetrate a T-34 from the front when it was first introduced. That’s the reason why Hitler ordered the immediate up-gunning of the PzKpfw III to carry the KwK 39.
    With the penetration listed in the document it could barely dent the T-34 at 100m.
    As for the 8,8cm KwK 36 L/56, I can name at least 4 sources that puts its 100m penetration at 120mm… against a 30° plate.

    • It should be noted that Soviet WW2 armor quality might have dropped significantly after 1941. Reading through various German unit diarys I found several notes about that. Several infantry divisions reported that the 3,7cm Pak was suddenly capable of penetrating the frontal armor in early 1942.

  25. I appreciate your work and truly like your archieves, EE. But it is pity that your efforts of sharing is trampled on by nonsense, prejudice and insults. Nevertheless, keep calm and carry on!

  26. i do i know that all this “posters” are not made in your photoshop?
    maybe it’s all about deception and not propoganda?

    many questions as we divide truth from facts.

  27. Quote: “You cannot build a fortress out of lies. Nazi Germany tried that, and the result is well-known. 70 years of excuses has changed nothing.”

    What exactly are you referring to? Or is this just propaganda bullshit?

  28. Also fuck USA propoganda and israeli propogand as well, I dont give a fuck if SS is US friendly or what ever.

  29. Propaganda is propaganda. Either way it’s manipulation which is what I think people are referring to when they talk about propaganda in the negative sense.