Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Lusitania and Submarine Warfare

By 1915 the Auckland Weekly News Supplement was becoming a sophisticated propaganda organ. Editorial policies determined what readers would see and how they would interpret photographs, in a campaign to make them accept the need to win this ‘Great War for civilisation’ against a barbaric enemy. They were led to believe this was so even if it must be fought at the great human cost shown each week in the Weekly News Roll of Honour.

As casualties on the Gallipoli Peninsula began to mount, photo editors inserted reminders in the magazine showing readers just why we were fighting this war. They often did this by repeating photos and drawings about the Horrible Hun’s new and ungentlemanly ‘total war’ against civilians (especially women and children) through the evil menace of submarines lurking underwater to wreak death and destruction on the high seas.

In February 1915 the Germans declared the waters around the British Isles a war zone where all Allied and neutral vessels risked being sunk by their submarines. Then on 7 May 1915 the transatlantic liner Lusitania was torpedoed off Southern Ireland with the loss of 1198 men, women and children (including 128 neutral Americans.) Following is a photograph of the Lusitania off the Old Head of Kinsale.

Monday, May 18, 2015