Foreign WWI Propaganda From Dutch Neutral Perspective Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

perceptions of World War One propaganda from the Dutch, neutral perspective. The reception of this foreign propaganda can be measured in a number of different ways: via the culling of contemporary newspapers with editorials reacting to the propaganda, and with counter-propaganda materials such as pamphlets. Special attention will be given to pamphlets, posters, and other propaganda describing the 1914 invasion of Belgium by Germany, known colloquially as the Rape of Belgium.

Historical context will comprise the background section of the research report. It is necessary to highlight the specific issues that the propaganda material were designed to address in the public consciousness. The propaganda material will be analyzed in terms of its symbolism and composition, and there will be some mention also of the prevailing artistic sensibilities that influenced the artwork -- which cannot be taken out of its historical context. For example, many of the sketches used for the propaganda posters are visually akin to the socialist art prevalent at the time.

However, there was more to the artistic rendering than just the appropriation of socialist imagery. There was also the deliberate infusion of sexual imagery that corresponded with the verbal reference to the German invasion as the Rape of Belgium. The imagery is dark and strikingly modern, often phantasmagoric. The "Destroy This Mad Brute" poster from the United States depicts a King Kong-like monster, a beast foaming at the mouth. In his right hand is a bloody club, and on the club is the word "Culture," signifying the German destruction of all that is good in the human spirit. In the brute's left arm is a woman, rendered in a Art Nouveau style, and the impact is not dissimilar from that of King Kong carrying away the lady in his bloody hand. Horror and rape are depicted in solidarity with the Belgian people, who were being devastated by the Germany invasion. In August of 1914, the Germans sacked Louvain (Leuven), which gave rise to the "Louvain posters."

The Louvain posters are a primary source collection to be referenced. Described as "an official version of everyday life in German-occupied Belgium during the First World War," the Louvain posters are mainly verbal in nature. They showcase the fact that Belgium was…

Sources Used in Document:


Abbenhuis, Maartje. The Art of Staying Neutral. University of Chicago Press.

Army Heritage Center Foundation. "Soldier Stories: Remember Belgium." Retrieved online:

Duffy, Michael. "Battles: The Destruction of Louvain, 1914." First World War. Retrieved online:

Jacobi, Ava Caroline. "Into the Abyss: The Legacy of the 'Rape of Belgium' Propaganda." Retrieved online:

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