Kitchener cigars

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Description

Telegram from the British Consulate in Rotterdam to the Foreign Office requesting 500 portraits of Lord Kitchener.

Context

Belligerent propaganda tried to reach as many aspects of daily life in neutral countries as possible. For this purpose, easily recognisable symbols and figures were needed. Such a figure was undoubtedly Lord Kitchener. In the Netherlands Kitchener was a somewhat controversial choice for propaganda purposes, due to the large anti-British Dutch sentiments caused by the Boer Wars and Kitchener's role in the Second Boer War. Nevertheless, on the whole, Kitchener was seen as a great hero and a victim of a German torpedo. He became a part of popular culture. Although a film biopic was rejected by Wellington House, the use of his image to promote a new brand of cigars was approved. It was a very popular propaganda strategy, developed most probably by the British, but nevertheless admired and copied by the Germans. The neutral customer was reminded about the war, war heroes, and their aims every time he went shopping. Small prints inserted into packages and larger photos on display in shop windows were a popular method to reach passers-by and large swathes of neutral nations.