MJ STEEL COLLINS looks at how the Loch Ness Monster has been used for political propaganda over the years
The fact that Nessie has a special place in peoples’ hearts, and not just in Scotland, can’t be denied.
It’s probably safe to say that she is a rather peculiar cultural phenomenon.
Normally this plays out in books, films, cuddly toys, and even a museum; but there have been times when this has been taken to the slightly wacky extreme, and the Loch Ness Monster has been utilised for political propaganda.
It hasn’t happened often, but when it has, it’s certainly interesting…
The first instance occurred in 1940, when Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, wrote an article in Hamburger Illustrierte arguing that Nessie was a mere invention to bring in the tourists.
He further argued that a country that believed in such drivel were stupid and couldn’t possibly win the war. It does seem a little offbeat, but given Goebbels was meant to be a master propagandist, and the fact that the Nazis were known to dabble in Forteana and the occult, it probably made some sort of sense at the time.
Things got a little wackier a year later with a report in Mussolini’s newspaper Popolo D’Italia claiming that Nessie had been killed by an Italian bomber during a bombing raid on the UK – apparently the Italian pilot saw Nessie’s dead body. The story was also picked up by Australian newspaper, The World’s News on 22 November 1941, which reported it in a tongue in cheek fashion. It pointed out that Nessie had since been seen alive and well, according to The Daily Mail. The Beastie had apparently spent ten minutes in the company of the MacFarlan-Barrow family by Glendoe Pier in August 1941. Seemingly innocent of her bombing victim status! The report in The World’s News can be seen below.
In the decades that followed, Nessie became more of a focus for Cryptozoology hunts, cheesy memorabilia, films and a variety of photographs. But she became a tool to sway the masses yet again in the recent stramash surrounding the Scottish Independence Referendum. Probably not too surprising, considering she seems to be Scotland’s unofficial mascot.
Some mention of her as a potential a tool for the Yes campaign appeared in the odd blog in April, but it seems Nessie is of a No persuasion. Several reports appeared in the UK press when photographer Ellie Williams claimed to have taken a picture of Nessie surfacing in Lake Windermere in Cumbria. This led to several witty headlines about the Monster defecting in case Scotland voted to leave the Union. At the same time, some newspapers, including The Mirror and Metro published a photo (obviously photo shopped) of Nessie rising in the waters of Loch Ness to spell the word No. Perhaps all a part of a sort of cabin fever arising from the fervour of the Referendum!