Teaching With Documents, Volume 1

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Cartoon Analysis of Peace Propaganda

We demand the absolute banning of the atom weapon, arm of terror and mass extermination [sic] of populations.We demand the establishment of strict international control to ensure the implementation of this banning measure.We consider that any government which would be first to use the atom weapon against any country whatsoever would be committing a crime against humanity and should be dealt with as a war criminal.We call on all men of good will throughout the world to sign this Appeal.—March 19, 1950

This appeal resulted from a worldwide meeting of the World Congress of Partisans of Peace organized by the Soviets and held in Stockholm, Sweden, in March 1950. After the adoption of this resolution in Stockholm, the Russians set about collecting millions of signatures from citizens around the world. The Stockholm Appeal is represented by the dove in the cartoon reproduced here.

The Stockholm Appeal emerged into a world threatened by atomic destruction. In 1945, with the United States bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the atomic age had begun. With the end of the war, the United States and, subsequently, the newly formed United Nations sought to secure the atomic genie in a tamper-proof bottle. One of the most significant of these efforts was a United States proposal to the United Nations presented in 1947 by senior statesman Bernard Baruch and often called the "Baruch Plan: This proposal, drafted before the development of Soviet atomic capabilities, recommended international control of atomic material under the United Nations, the "eventual" destruction of "U.S. superiority" in atomic weaponry, and international inspection to ensure compliance. After much debate in the United Nations Security Council, the "Baruch Plan" was rejected by a Soviet veto, but referred to and passed by the General Assembly.

To counter these United Nations efforts to control the development of atomic weapons, the Soviets launched an appeal to the peoples of the world to "ban the bomb," while at the same time developing their own atomic capabilities. The world learned of the Soviets’ atomic bomb in September 1949. In contrast to the technical and substantive discussions within the United Nations, the Soviet peace efforts involved general appeals like that in Stockholm in 1950. United States Secretary of State Dean Acheson dismissed these Soviet peace moves as "Trojan Doves."

During World War II, the United Statesand the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had been partners in an effort to defeat the fascist regimes. Between war’s end and 1950, however, this relationship was shattered by irreconcilable differences which became very apparent in 1948 with the coup in Prague and the blockade in Berlin and which worsened in 1950 when the U.S.S.R. walked out of the United Nations over the issue of United Nations’ recognition of Nationalist China. The partnership broke down completely shortly after the Stockholm Appeal when war erupted in Korea.

The cartoon is No. 306-PS-50-4835 in the Records of the United States Information Agency, Record Group 306. It is reprinted from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune of April 17, 1950, with permission of the publishers.

Teaching Activities

1. The "cartoon analysis" chart is designed to help students to analyze almost any political cartoon, whether contemporary or historical. We suggest that you use this worksheet with your students as they seek to interpret this cartoon.


Click the image to see a printable, full-page version of this teaching activity

2. Develop a working definition of the word propaganda for students. Discuss with students its major techniques (e.g., name calling, glittering generalities). In light of this discussion, consider Secretary of State Acheson’s remark that Soviet peace proposals were "Trojan Doves."

3. Cartoonists portray people, nations, and ideas by the use of visual metaphors. For example, United States cartoonists often represent the Soviets with sinister images such as a dark, lurking submarine. Direct students to review political cartoons in their textbook and elsewhere that represent the Russians and note how these symbols have changed.


Click the image to view a larger version

4. Nuclear freeze propositions have been issues in presidential election campaigns. Direct students to find out each candidate’s position on this issue and discuss their findings in class. For information on the nuclear freeze issue, see Social Education, November/December 1983.

5, Under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter, U.S.-U.S.S.R. disarmament negotiations were known as S.A.L.T, President Reagan restructured and renamed these discussions S.T.A.R.T. Direct students to investigate the nature of these discussions and their current status.

N.B. To learn more about current United Nations disarmament efforts, contact the United Nations Information Center, 1889 F Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20006. Request its most current "Fact Sheet" on disarmament. Fact Sheet No. 29 contains an excellent bibliography on the subject.

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Chicago: "Cartoon Analysis of Peace Propaganda," Teaching With Documents, Volume 1 in Teaching With Documents: Using Primary Sources from the National Archives, ed. United States. National Archives and Records Administration and National Council for the Social Studies (Washington, D.C.: National Archives Trust Fund Board, 1989), 181–184. Original Sources, accessed October 23, 2019, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=25YFXKIBTE9YYNH.

MLA: . "Cartoon Analysis of Peace Propaganda." Teaching With Documents, Volume 1, in Teaching With Documents: Using Primary Sources from the National Archives, edited by United States. National Archives and Records Administration and National Council for the Social Studies, Vol. 1, Washington, D.C., National Archives Trust Fund Board, 1989, pp. 181–184. Original Sources. 23 Oct. 2019. originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=25YFXKIBTE9YYNH.

Harvard: , 'Cartoon Analysis of Peace Propaganda' in Teaching With Documents, Volume 1. cited in 1989, Teaching With Documents: Using Primary Sources from the National Archives, ed. , National Archives Trust Fund Board, Washington, D.C., pp.181–184. Original Sources, retrieved 23 October 2019, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=25YFXKIBTE9YYNH.