Traces of propaganda in objects of everyday life

Istanbul’s Ko University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) is holding an exhibition titled “Propaganda and War: The Allied Front during the First World War” The exhibition, which opened in December, has been extended until April 2 Displaying various objects and documents showcasing the methods of convincing people of the Central Powers in the war, the show highlights the power of propaganda in everyday life. Curator

Istanbuland#39s Koandccedil Universityand#39s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) is holding an exhibition titled andldquoPropaganda and War: The Allied Front during the First World Warandrdquo The exhibition, which opened in December, has been extended until April 2

Displaying various objects and documents showcasing the methods of convincing people of the Central Powers in the war, the show highlights the power of propaganda in everyday life.

Curator Bahattin andOumlztuncay explains in his catalogue article that the propaganda was needed to foster a sense of and#39brotherhood in armsand#39 established in the alliance between dynasties and military commanders, among peoples from different languages, religions and traditions. andldquoThis is why pictures, photos and colorful patterns symbolizing the and#39Allianceand#39 were ubiquitous in material culture such as print media, newspapers and journals, books, flags, pennants and wall posters.

Portraits of German Emperor Wilhelm II, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed ReIad and the Bulgarian King Ferdinand I, who joined the allied front after a year, were routinely hung next to each other and became a part of everyday life, especially in German and Austrian cities,andrdquo he further writes.

The exhibition opens with the paintings by Wilhelm Viktor Krausz who was sent to the frontlines of Istanbul and andCcedilanakkale as a war artist and painted portraits of many prominent figures including Sultan Mehmed ReIad, Sadrazam Said Halim Pasha, Ieyhanduumllislam Hayri Efendi, Minister of War Enver Pasha, Interior Minister Talat Pasha and most importantly the first known portrait of Mustafa Kemal Pasha According to the curatorand#39s article, Joseph Pomiankowski, military mission president and attachandeacute for the Austro-Hungarian Embassy in Istanbul, states in his book titled andldquoThe Fall of the Ottoman Empire — Memories from Turkey during the World War,andrdquo that coming from Vienna and Budapest, daily news and film records from the Austro-Hungarian fronts were sent to Istanbul to be shown free of charge.

And painters were sent to all fronts in Turkey to document leading commanders, statesmen, daily life and events along the fronts, and to obtain views of the scenery and city.

In his lengthy articles, historian Edhem Eldem elaborates on the official and semi-official use of imagery and symbolism by the Ottoman state and its allies to promote their ideological and political goals.

andldquoFrom medals and decorations to pamphlets and posters, from photographs and postcards to lapel pins and chinaware,andrdquo he wrote andldquoa massive effort was made to aertise, publicize, promote and glorify anything related to the Empireand#39s military and political struggle against the Entente, its alliance with the Axis and every possible deed that could be used in favor of the war effort.andrdquo He adds that bona fide medals constituted one of the privileged foundations of this propaganda effort.

andldquoermans, in particular, had immediately started to mint an entire series of medals commemorating the alliance between the Central Powers. Generally made of silver, these high-quality medals relied upon a standard set of visual and textual elements of symbolism aimed at promoting the image of the alliance, including portraits of the emperors, coats of arms of the states, allegories of victory and combat, attacks on the vile intentions of the Entente, images of soldiers working in Waffenbranduumlderschaft (brotherhood in arms), mottos underlining unity and joint strength, claims of a struggle for mankind and references to specific efforts of cooperation between the powers,andrdquo Eldem wrote.

The ornaments were used within a populist discourse, and thousands of different models could be bought very cheaply in Vienna, Berlin and Istanbul as a sign of patriotic support for the nation and its allies. andldquoCheap and industrially produced as they may have been, these pins were generally of rather good quality, with an enameled surface displaying colorful motifs.

Even more than the medals proper, these pins made indiscriminate use of an extremely wide variety of symbols to convey their message of patriotism: coats of arms, portraits of emperors, iron crosses, flags, defensive or aggressive slogans and mottos of the alliance were all common components,andrdquo Eldem notes.

andldquoSome were of a resolutely modernist design and all sorts of combinations could be used to emphasize one of the national symbols over the others to target one particular market,andrdquo he adds.

andldquoNor did this ideological bombardment stop at medals and pins. Small toy-like busts of sovereigns, boxes and tableware decorated with their portraits propagated a sort of and#39Alliance kitschand#39 throughout the lands under the control of the Central Powers.

andrdquo

The exhibition, also featuring the video of German Kaiser Wilhelmand#39s visit to Istanbul in 1917, is on view until April 2 at Anamed Research Center in BeyoIlu. For more information, visit www.

anamed.com.

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SOURCE: Today’s Zaman