Special Edition / Gazette des Ardennes / The Russian Disaster. July 25th 1917 (WWI Aerial Dropped Propaganda, Russian Revolution, Psychological Warfare). René Prévôt.
Special Edition / Gazette des Ardennes / The Russian Disaster. July 25th 1917 (WWI Aerial Dropped Propaganda, Russian Revolution, Psychological Warfare)

Special Edition / Gazette des Ardennes / The Russian Disaster. July 25th 1917 (WWI Aerial Dropped Propaganda, Russian Revolution, Psychological Warfare)

Charleville, France [?]: German Army [?], 1917. A large and unlikely trench warfare battlefront survivor, found in 1917 "... hung on British barbed wire entanglements among many other copies." and quite possibly, surviving in only a single copy - with no record of this "Special Edition" found available in the trade or institutional holdings [nor in Aerial Propaganda and the Wartime Occupation of France, 1914–18 by Bernard Wilkin]. Broadside printed recto only in black ink onto thin wartime paper, 23 x 16-3/4 inches wide with "Special Edition / Gazette des Ardennes / The Russian Disaster." as a header. Linen backed as found, with a pinned note attached "This was hung on British barbed wire entanglements amongst many other copies. It was mounted for preservation. 1917" and signed on verso in the same hand "Capt. C.S. Hunt", who may be the same Captain C.S. Hunt that was an airship captain and also became Commanding Officer of the RAF East Fortune Base (established as a fighter and airship airfield in 1915) in July, 1916 (see "Commanding Officers" in Kingsnorth Airship Station: In Defence of the Nation by Tina Bilbé). Hunt's interest in preserving this unusual (French language copies of the Gazette des Ardennes newspaper are common) piece of aerial dropped propaganda would make sense, as he would have been aware of and likely engaged in, similar active propaganda operations for the Allies. Broadside is toned and fragile with soil, tears and small losses, horizontal and vertical fold lines, some delamination from linen backing apparent. Will be shipped flat. Fair. Item #2770

Interesting for many reasons, this large propaganda leaflet appears at first glance to be published by the Germans in occupied France "[German] Propaganda specially destined for the French is more effective. The chief effort is the Gazette des Ardennes, a weekly newspaper written in French and with occasionally an illustrated supplement. It is distributed both by aeroplane and by balloon. It is cleverly conducted, containing much inflammatory political matter, ex parte statements as to the progress of the war, attacks on the English, news of individual French prisoners, lists of French and Belgians alleged to have been killed by the action of Allied Airmen. From a propagandist point of view, it is much more unscrupulous and probably more effective than our Courrier, ..." THE AERIAL DISTRIBUTION OF PROPAGANDA TO THE ENEMY : A Report by Captain P. Chalmers Mitchell. M.I.7b(4), 23rd February 1918." But, considering the Russian angle wherein "The Germans gave Lenin transit from Switzerland to Finland in the expectation that Lenin would enter Russia, commit high treason against the Czar, and take Russia out of the war. He did so, but the engulfing wave of Communist revolution contributed to the defeat of Germany as well." (both quotes from psywar dot org.) It could also have been published as "Black Propaganda", a misrepresention or a forgery meant to confuse. The final word however, is from a published expert's longer article "This 25 July 1917 copy of the German newspaper was found “caught in barbed wire along with many other copies...” according to a pinned note signed by a Captain C.S. Hunt. These newspapers were usually written in French but for some unknown reason this one is written in English. One can see that the revolution has started and instead of fighting, the Russian troops are debating and walking away from the front. The commanders have decided to shoot the deserters. The newspaper concludes that it is not the men who are at fault, but their leaders who have sent them into battle to uselessly die." SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.) psywarrior dot com.

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