Flashback: Babies on Bayonets
SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/flashback-babies/
In this clip from The WWI Conspiracy (Part Two) we examine the propaganda surrounding the “Rape of Belgium” at the start of WWI and the actions of the baby bayonetting evil Hun savages…
Once again, just as they did in Britain, the cabal was going to have to leverage its control of the press and key governmental positions to begin to shape public perception and instill pro-war sentiment. And once again, the full resources of these motivated co-conspirators were brought to bear on the task.
One of the first shells in this barrage of propaganda to penetrate the American consciousness was the “Rape of Belgium,” a catalogue of scarcely believable atrocities allegedly committed by the German forces in their invasion and occupation of Belgium at the start of the war. In a manner that was to become the norm in 20th century propaganda, the stories had a kernel of truth; there is no doubt that there were atrocities committed and civilians murdered by German forces in Belgium. But the propaganda that was spun from those kernels of truth was so over-the-top in its attempts to portray the Germans as inhuman brutes that it serves as a perfect example of war propaganda.
RICHARD GROVE: The American population at that time had a lot of German people in it. Thirty to fifty percent of the population had relations back to Germany, so there had to be this very clever propaganda campaign. It’s known today as “babies on bayonets.” So if you have no interest in World War I but you think it’s interesting to study propaganda so you don’t get fooled again, then type it into your favorite search engine: “babies on bayonets, World War I.” You’ll see hundreds of different posters where the Germans are bayonetting babies and it brings about emotions and it doesn’t give you the details of anything. And emotions drive wars, not facts. Facts are left out and deleted all the time in order to create wars, so I think that putting facts back in might help prevent wars. But I do know that they like to drive people on emotion. The “babies on bayonets” getting America into World War I, that’s a key part of it.
GERRY DOCHERTY: Children who had their arms chopped off. Nuns that were raped. Shocking things, genuinely shocking things. The Canadian officer who was nailed at St. Andrew’s cross on a church door and left there to bleed to death. These were the great myths peddled in order to defame and bring down the whole image of any justification for German action and try and influence America into war.
Gerry Docherty, co-author of Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War.
DOCHERTY: That’s not to say that there weren’t atrocities on both sides. War is an atrocious event, and there are always victims. Absolutely. And I offer no justification for it. But the lies, the unnecessary abuse of propaganda.
Even when in Britain they decided that they would put together the definitive volume of evidence to present it to the world, the person they asked to do this just so happened to have been former British ambassador to the United States, a man called Bryce, who was very well-liked in the States. And his evidence was published and put forward and there were screeds of stories after stories. But then later it was discovered that in fact the people who took the evidence hadn’t been allowed to speak to any of the Belgians directly but in fact what they were doing is they were listening to a middleman or agents who had supposedly taken these stories.
And when one of the official committee said “Hold on, can I speak to someone directly?” “No.” “No?” He resigned. He wouldn’t allow his name to be put forward with the [official report]. And that’s the extent to which this is false history. It’s not even acceptable to call it fake news. It’s just disgusting.
The campaign had its intended effect. Horrified by the stories emerging from Belgium—stories picked up and amplified by the members of the Round Table in the British press, including the influential Times and the lurid Daily Mail, run by Milner ally Lord Northcliffe—American public opinion began to shift away from viewing the war as a European squabble about an assassinated archduke and toward viewing the war as a struggle against the evil Germans and their “sins against civilization.”
The culmination of this propaganda campaign was the release of the “Report of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages,” better known as “The Bryce Report,” compiled for “His Britannic Majesty’s Government” and presided over by Viscount James Bryce, who, not coincidentally, was the former British Ambassador to America and a personal friend of Woodrow Wilson. The report was a sham, based on 1,200 depositions collected by examiners who “had no authority to administer an oath.” The committee, which was not allowed to speak to a single witness itself, was tasked merely with sifting through this material and deciding what should be included in the final report. Unsurprisingly, the very real atrocities that the Germans had committed in Belgium—the burning of Louvain, Andenne and Dinant, for example—were overshadowed by the sensationalist (and completely unverifiable) stories of babies on bayonets and other acts of villainy.
The report itself, concluding that the Germans had systematically and premeditatedly broken the “rules and usages of war” was published on May 12, 1915, just five days after the sinking of The Lusitania.
Categories: History and Historiography