Article Title

A Necessary Evil? Propaganda, Censorship, and Class in Britain's Ministry of Information, 1939-1941


During the early phase of World War II, Britain’s Ministry of Information (MoI) instituted propaganda and censorship regimes that were shaped by British attitudes about class. The effectiveness of these regimes is debatable, especially in light of their continually hypocritical nature. Although the wartime context necessitated a high level of secrecy and guile within Whitehall, certain aspects of the Ministry’s campaigns were morally and politically questionable. A brief consideration of the historiography of British secrecy is followed by an analysis of the actions of the MoI and the Government generally from 1939 to 1941. The MoI failed to uphold the democratic ideals that it purported to represent in opposition to Nazi Germany. This failure manifested most obviously in the Ministry’s propaganda, its treatment of troops rescued from Dunkirk, and in its public addresses to the British public.

CONOR WILKINSON is a fourth-year student at Huron University College with an Honours Specialization in History and a Minor in Geography. He will be attending the University of British Columbia to pursue a Master of Arts in British History in September 2015, where he will be working under the supervision of Dr. Joy Dixon.

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