Why did they Enlist?




October might be the month horror fans admire the most, but the conditions of war have proven to be real-world horror stories. Join us today at The Modernist Son, as we discuss the conditions of the First World War, and the factors which inspired young men to enlist to join the war effort.

From 1914 to 1918, the majority of nations around the globe faced conflict in what was known as the Great War at the time. In order for soldiers to be recruited and join others on battlefields, large amounts of propaganda such as posters were produced to influence young men ages seventeen and eighteen to fight for their country.


©Historica Canada


Also, there were instances of boys ages fourteen, fifteen, and even sixteen lying about their age and joining their respective armies because they were influenced by war propaganda and advertisement. That being said , the issue of images depicted through propaganda and the reality of the First World War significantly differed from what young men believed they were volunteering for when they saw posters on the street, or heard messages come over the radio.




©History Channel


The concept of the "anti-hero" became a popular mindset during the four year duration of World War One, as young men believed they were somewhat unstoppable because propaganda inspired them to feel this way. In terms of the significant differences between propaganda and reality, young men that recruited to fight in World War One recognized its reality when facing the task of taking the life of another solider, for instance.




©History Channel




These advertisements were produced as a means of influencing young men it was their inherent duty to fight for their country. However, this proves to be problematic because propaganda influenced boys as young as fourteen to fight in a war they were not responsible for starting.


The concept of war propaganda created a romanticized version of what really transpired on the Home Front and battlefield- with a significant contrast to exploding artillery, trench foot, and large amounts of casualties on a regular basis because of aerial and chemical bombing.

Some of the primary factors that allowed young men ages seventeen and eighteen to recognize the reality of the battlefield were sickness, disease, and the undisputed dangers of living in the trenches. Soldiers were persuaded in believing the image of the anti-hero because of war time propaganda, however, their mindset quickly changed when facing the reality of the trenches. Soldiers that were recruited to fight in the War were convinced by images of the anti-hero because it proved to be an inherent part of their future legacy.


Thank you, and don't forget to let us know your thoughts!


The Modernist Son, 2020-2021


Further Reading:

https://www.erudit.org/en/journals/jcha/2008-v19-n1-jcha3094/037431ar/


https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.history.com/.amp/news/6-american-heroes-of-wwi


https://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/objects-and-photos/propaganda/recruitment-posters/