Did the Germans turn our dead soldiers into soap and feed human remains to animals? No, but the First World War propagandists would certainly have you believe so
Israel has three faces: Communism, Fascism and democracy. The Ashkenazi Jews who migrated to Israel from Russia brought with them the ideology of socialism/communism and have put into practice much of that ideology. The Ashkenazi Jews who migrated to Israel from Germany, while sympathetic to communism and support it, tend to favor the practices of Nazi-style fascism. During World War II, in Germany these elite Zionist Ashkenazi Jews worked closely with Hitler’s Gestapo in persecuting the lower class German Jews and delivering them to concentration camps.
The Power of Myth, WW1 & 2
“We had a terrible time and at last a company of us was hemmed into a large chalk pit. We were quite powerless, and heard the German cavalry approaching. Suddenly I looked up and encircling the top of the pit was a ring of shining angels.
As the cavalry rushed up, the horses saw them and there was a general stampede. Our lives were saved and the Germans were put to confusion. Seven soldiers as well as officers saw the angels.”
So recalled a wounded British soldier from Mons, some time after the initial battle fought by the British Expeditionary Force on August 23, 1914. Or did he?
The First World War generated a number of widely held beliefs that turned out to be false – and one of the most famous folklore tales is that of the Angel of Mons which, like the most notable myths of the war, emerged early in the conflict.
Such tales were embodied in vivid stories that appeared quickly and developed into popular acceptance with such intensity that, even today, many people remain familiar with them.
This was an era when the word of newspapers, journals and books was widely accepted as truth and the ability to confirm the accuracy of a story was far from straightforward.
Many tales were promulgated by word of mouth, and what may have started as an innocent comment, observation or joke could sometimes finish as a widespread acceptance of historical truth.
Despite the apparent veracity of the Angel of Mons anecdote, its origins lie in a fictional short story by Arthur Machen called The Bowmen. Published on September 29, 1914, this recounted in first-person style how phantom archers from the Battle of Agincourt repelled a German attack during the British retreat from Mons.
The story hit a nerve and variations on the idea of ghostly intervention soon began to appear in print, although this time portrayed as fact. The story of the angels provided a comforting and inspiring message that God was on the side of the Allies, so religious organisations encouraged the spread of the legend.
Linked to this idea of divine intervention was the notion that the Germans were a godless nation and enemies of Christianity. Subsequent myths – such as the belief that German troops were raping nuns, bayoneting babies and perpetrating similar atrocities as they advanced across Belgium – fostered this resentment while
serving as useful propaganda to the British authorities.
A small number of atrocities were perhaps inevitable in the chaos of an enemy invasion, but the scale of accusations was out of all proportion. Evidence exists that atrocity stories were created and spread by propagandists from both sides. Many accounts were simply a product of the bitterness and anger fostered by war.
German ‘‘frightfulness’’ was, in the eyes of many, proved in 1915 by the mass use of poison gas at the Second Battle of Ypres in April, the sinking of the civilian passenger liner Lusitania in May and the execution of British nurse Edith Cavell in October of that year.
For a British population convinced of the inhumanity of Germany, it took little imagination to add further, fabricated sins to the list. The government saw a useful channel for its propaganda and the officially sanctioned Report of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages, published in May 1915, was full of sensational stories of atrocities committed by German troops, which research has shown to be at best exaggerated or in many cases fictional.
One particularly unpleasant myth widely circulated was that the Germans had constructed a ‘‘corpse factory’’ secretly behind their lines, the purpose of which was to extract useful body fats from dead soldiers in order to produce soap, fertiliser and animal feed.
The extremely unlikely nature of the story did not, however, prevent some from believing it wholeheartedly. As late in the war as October 1918, one diarist noted while marching through Bellincourt: ‘‘Passed over the tunnel bridge which contained the Hun Corpse factory. Saw this factory and a lot of naked Hun dead ready for building down into fat.’’