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Anti-War Advertising: How To “Unsell The War”

San Francisco (LNS) — Henry Fonda appears on the TV screen:

“When I was a kid, I used to be really proud of this country. I thought that this was a country that cared about people no matter who they were or where they came from. But now, when I see my country engaged in an endless war, a push-button war in which American pilots and electronic technicians are killing thousands of Asians without even seeing who they kill.

“When I see us each week stepping up the tonnage of bombs dropped on Indochina…then I don’t feel so proud any more. Because I thought that was what bad countries did…not my country.”

The Fonda testimonial is one of ten new anti-war television spots in the Help Unsell the War campaign, a project sponsored by Clergy and Laymen Concerned, an ecumenical peace group. Unsell is trying, with some success, to use the advertising industry to help make people more aware of the war. In addition to the TV spots, radio commercials and ads in newspapers and magazines have been produced for the campaign.

The spark for Unsell was struck when a Yale University student named Ira Nerkin saw the CBS television documentary, “The Selling of the Pentagon.” The program showed how the Pentagon spends millions of tax dollars on pro-military propaganda in the mass media. Nerkin felt that the anti-war movement might also be able to use the same media.

He had friends in the advertising industry who put him in touch with people interested in helping out. The ads were ready by the summer of 1971 and Clergy and Laymen Concerned was approached and agreed to sponsor the project.

Clergy and Laymen set up a network of committees around the country which — making use of its status as a church group — approached local stations and papers requesting that the spots be run free of charge as public service advertising. About 25% of those contacted agreed; in some cases where media outlets refused, funds were raised and the ads placed as paid commercials. — Bill Gerson


© Heinrich Hoffmann, late 1920s, Hitler posing to a recording of one of his speeches

Adolf Hitler (1889–1945), leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), strikes a pose for photographer Heinrich Hoffmann whilst listening to a recording of his own speeches. These photographs taken reveal how Adolf Hitler rehearsed his hand gestures for his public speeches. He used to ask Hoffmann to take pictures of these so he could see what he would look like to the German people, as one of Hitler’s greatest and most well-known skills was his public speaking, which he used to his advantage to emphasise his notion of a “great national revival” of Germany.

Once he saw them, he would vet the pictures and decide whether to incorporate the various animated movements in his engagements. Hitler later banned them from being published for being “beneath one’s dignity”. But the photos, which were never intended to be seen, survived the war. The vetoed photos were stored in Hoffmann’s studio until his arrest at the end of the war, whereupon they disappeared into various archives.

They were later published in his little-known memoir, “Hitler Was My Friend”, in the 1950s and have now been released in English to be seen by the general public. They capture the meticulous training Hitler undertook to perfect his famous speeches, and give a rare insight into his vanity and controlling personality. (more photos and info here: +, +, +)

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