Secrets and spies

The word ‘propaganda’ might suggest some form of misinformation – yet in boosting morale during World War Two, the British government had to maintain a careful balancing act. While employing a range of psychological tricks, they had to be seen to be as truthful as possible. “The Ministry of Information (MOI) had been disbanded immediately after World War One because official propaganda had become too easily associated with lies and falsehood,” historian David Welch, author of the new book Persuading the People: British Propaganda in World War II, tells BBC Culture. “In World War Two when the MOI was re-established the Ministry was acutely aware of the cynicism associated with propaganda. It was agreed that, with the exception of harmful and unbelievable truths, whenever possible the truth should be told.”

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