Friday, October 16, 2009

Nazi Propaganda Use of a Map Projection


TDAXP links to a collection of LIFE magazine photographs of Nazi Germany. One of the images in the collection is a map used by the Nazis to give the impression of a looming Soviet threat. The map shows the Soviets' western portion as newly occupied implying (somewhat accurately) that the Reds were on the march west. The biggest use of a map technique as propaganda, though, is making west the top of the map. This gives the impression that the Soviet Union was likely to invade Europe as if it were being pulled by gravity. The map makes one think that Communist invasion was natural and controlled by things like the geological force of continental drip.

The Soviet Union's place in geography has made map use by propagandists easy. It has been said Americans used the Mercator Map projection to over-enlarge the Soviet Union. The Chinese used maps showing the distance between Moscow and the Russian Far East to imply that the Far East deserved to belong to China.

The end of the Cold War and the use of "new" map projection has greatly curbed map projection as propaganda by the various powers. Now maps propaganda is mostly reduced to data display and cartographic artistic-style.

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