Saturday, November 22, 2014

"That Monstrous Thing Called Kultur"

Note for a Planned Article
"Creel, Lippmann, and the Origins of American Public Diplomacy"
(comments welcome; draft, not for citation)

From: Stewart Halsey Ross, Propaganda for War: How the United States Was Conditioned to Fight the Great War of 1914-1918, p. 250:

"That Monstrous Thing Called Kultur" was the most depraved and monstrous advertisement created by the CPI [Committee on Public Information]'s Division of Advertising. Its half-page illustration showed two men already crucified on doors and a third being fastened down by gleeful German soldiers while an officer looked on approvingly. The hate-filled copy was in keeping with the demeanor of the illustration:

image from
You haven't believed. Because your mind is clean, because you have been surrounded from childhood by an atmosphere of uprightness, and decency, and kindliness, because you hate to see even a dumb brute suffer -- you haven't believed.
You have listened, with a doubting shrug, to the tales of German atrocities -- doubting because these takes were so bestial, so revolting that to you they were unthinkable. But you, but we, must believe, because they are the truth.
The official documents of England, of France and of Belgium confirm them -- absolutely. More -- the half, the worst half has never been told in this clean land of ours, has never been told because unprintable.
There's a fester spot on this fair world -- a spot that has spread from Berlin until it has poisoned all of Germany. And there's just one cure -- the knife. The poison cannot be dammed up, it must be cut out else this monstrous thing called Kultur will fasten its hideous self on all the world....

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