Explaining bombing to the public
in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
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Poor propaganda bounces off its intended recipients, leaving audience unchanged or unchanged in the desired way. This chapter analyses the portrayal of bombing to the French by those wishing to influence opinion, first looking at propaganda that criticised the Allies, and then at that which defended or accepted their air raids. While professional historians may disagree, and archive evidence certainly indicates that many French people held anti-Allied sentiments. German and collaborationist propaganda played on fear of the Allies, not the bombs, for political gain. While public opinion reflected pro-Allied propaganda with respect to context, friends and enemies, it diverged on victimhood. The German presence in France was perhaps the greatest barrier to transferring hatred away from the occupier. Allied military and political leaders feared a dangerous backlash against them in 1944, which did not come; hostility to the bombers was generally short-lived, except among those bereaved by bombing.

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