Report on French propaganda in the Netherlands, May 1916

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Description

In May 1916, the French propaganda official Maurice Gandolphe wrote an extensive advisory report to strengthen French cultural propaganda in the Netherlands. He had conducted a secret mission to the Netherlands, which was ordered by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he examined the impact of French propaganda activities 'on the ground'. In this report Gandolphe strongly advised in favour of extending officially supported cultural propaganda which had been neglected to date. To read the original report please click on the sources above.

Context

The year 1916 marked a turning point in the conduct of French propaganda in the neutral countries in general. Official propaganda efforts were institutionalised and centralised by the establishment of La Maison de la Presse in Paris. The French Foreign Office also decided to design a more proactive propaganda policy in the Netherlands, sending Gandolphe on a secret mission in order to design a plan. Up to that point, the French envoy Henri Allizé had developed a range of propaganda with minimal official resources and built on a network of pro-French Dutch intellectuals, press and firms.
In this report of May 1916, Gandolphe advised French officials to take charge over diverse semi-private propaganda initiatives. In particular, he demanded attention towards the 'undeniable value' of cultural propaganda. This was remarkable, since until then French officials had tended to leave French-Dutch cultural activities to private initiatives. His proposal to found the bilateral cultural society 'Nederland-Frankrijk' was honored a few months later and built on Gandolphe's network by including a significant number of pro-French Dutch intellectuals.