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26th May 1918
Enemy propaganda on the Italian front is of three classes both as to format and subject, viz. Leaflets, Trench Newspapers and Pamphlets. It is all in Italian and is dropped from aeroplanes or thrown either by hand or from trench mortars.
Leaflets consist of a single sheet of print, frequently on coloured paper. They make one specific appeal usually topical in nature, and are frequently disguised by a veneer of socialism. The topical announcement comes in large print at the head of the leaflet; it is then expatiated on and finally the pacifist moral is drawn, usually to the effect that " England, America and the Capitalists are enriching themselves by the war", whilst the whole ends with the conventional "Evviva la pace" .
The signing of peace treaties with Romania and the Ukraine are favourite subjects; and the 1st May is made the occasion for an "international" pacifist leaflet. Another class of leaflet is that of a military nature, announcing German victories on the Western front; to these quite elaborate maps and diagrams are added showing the line relatively accurately at various dates but with fictitious figures of allied losses in men and guns printed beneath.
These leaflets constitute the best of the enemy propaganda; undeniable facts are adduced and very subtly distorted, whilst no topical opportunities are missed.
In two cases only is this high standard of excellence not maintained, one a lame dementi of the Italian and British aviation claims , the other a series of leaflets consisting solely of the previous day’s German Official Communiqué without comment. These appear to be based on the idea, occasionally mentioned in other propaganda, that the German and Austrian Communiqués are garbled or suppressed in the Entente Press.
(B) TRENCH NEWSPAPERS
The principal are "La Giberna", "Sprazzi di Luce" (weekly), "Il Canestro", "L’ Eco d’Occidente", "La Patria", "La Politica in Trincea" and for the benefit of the Third Italian Army "Notizie d’oltre PIAVE".
After the title and date each contains from four to twelve news items with headings, usually repeating the ordinary lies of the Wolff Bureau. Stress is laid on the submarine war, the food shortage of the Allies, and the inadequate help to be expected from America and the following are typical headings.
"The losses of the English Colonial troops".
"The effect of the new gun on Paris".
"The pacifist movement in France and India"
"The deficient equipment of the American troops".
"A call for the liberation of India".
"The munitions output extraordinarily diminished as a result of the submarine".
These newspapers do not, make such an intelligent appeal as the leaflets, for whereas any one of the items would form the basis of effective propaganda, a dozen on one page are clumsy in the extreme. One or two such as "Il soldato" and "La Patria" are more elaborate in form although containing the same articles enlarged. They are printed as an ordinary four-page newspaper and include in one case an editorial address in UDINE and in another advertisements, real or bogus , and the price of subscriptions for three months and one year.
Pamphlets have only been three in number but these are of a most elaborate nature, well printed, bound in paper of a different colour and including illustrations, maps and diagrams.
"Albione e la Verita" deals with the submarine war in great detail, and complicated diagrams are added purporting to represent the figures of shipbuilding versus sinkings and shipping losses versus submarines sunk, whilst finally an exact replica of the English bread card is printed as a convincing proof of the starvation of England.
"La Scampagnata inglese in Italia" quotes selected sentences from an article in the "Daily Chronicle" by Ward Price saying how much the English troops like Italy, the inference being that they will never withdraw and that Italy is " England’s latest colony". On the cover is a map of the front in which the English and French sectors are marked as "calm areas" whilst all the rest of the front is "area of furious Austrian attacks".
Another cruder pamphlet entitled "How England treats her Allies" includes a chapter on the burning of Salonika by the English with photographs.
The various leaflets, &c, were examined for signs which would indicate their origin.
It appears that all the single-page trench newspapers emanate from the same press, judging by the similarity of type, paper, and tail pieces. In the rest of the propaganda so much diversity of type, paper, &c, exists that it is very unlikely that they all issue from the same press, unless such a press were exceptionally equipped. This diversity is most noticeable in propaganda of a highly topical nature, such as the previous day’s German communiqué; while leaflets which can be prepared at leisure show more similarity. This taken in conjunction with the fact that at least two organizations presumably equipped with field presses are known to exist (one for the TRENTINO under Colonel FISCHER (by agent), the other at UDINE, by deduction from editorial address on a propaganda paper) leads to the supposition that there is some central organisation equipped with an elaborate press and probably situated remote from the front (say at INNSBRUCK), which produces all the pamphlets requiring elaborate diagrams and propaganda which can be produced at leisure, and supplies them to its local distributing centres near the front, probably about 4 in number; but that these centres have field presses from which propaganda of a topical nature can be run off without the delays which would be involved if this class of work had to be done by the central office.