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Id 105
Date 1918-04-14
Location USA / California / Oakland
Database p no incident

Article about modern projection technique and using it for psychological warfare.

Transcription of the newspaper clip:

*Is This a Solution of the Strange
"Visions" Soldiers See?*

Early in the war soldiers began to report
seeing marvellous "visions," which the
great majority of non-combatants were inclined
to dismiss as hallucinations resulting
from shell-shocked nerves and overwrought
minds. At the battle of Mons British soldiers
claimed they saw a company of ancient English
bowman on the firing line discharging arrows
at the enemy, and several cases have been reported
in which French soldiers said they were
led by a vision of Joan of Arc. At different
times flaming crosses and other supernatural
sights were said to have been seen in the sky
over the battlefields.

These "visions" have had a tremendous effect
upon the fighting men who claim to have
seen them. This can be readily understood as
a result of the great spiritual revival due to
the great war, with which also has come a
renewal of superstition. In this latter fact,
which military experts seemingly were not slow
to grasp as an effective weapon against the enemy,
may actually be found a solution of some
of these strange visions which soldiers say they
have seen flaming in the skies at night.

That such visions have appeared can scarcely
be doubted, and since it is possible for modern
science to have produced them, it is unnecessary
to seek for any but natural causes.
There is good reason for believing that the
solution of some of these visions may be found
in the workshops of the airplane and stereopticon

One case in particular is cited as proof of
how military science has called superstition to
its aid - that of the vision seen in the sky above
Przemysl during the series of terrific assaults
that ended in the capture of that fortress city
by the Russians early in the war. The story of
this vision has been repeatedly told by soldiers
of both Austrian and Russian armies, as well as
by residents of the city. So detailed and uniform
are the accounts coming from widely different
sources that, judged on the basis of evidence
alone, the stories must be accepted as
substantially true. In Przemysl and the surrounding
country there are thousands of persons,
many of them claiming to be eye-witnesses, who
are positive that visions
of the Virgin Mary and
the Christ Child repeatedly
appeared in the sky
above the beleaguered
city, and who are convinced
that these visions
were of supernatural
origin. It is
believed, however, that
the officers in charge of the defence
simply took advantage of
the latest developments in flying
craft and projection apparatus
to spread the conviction through
the ranks of both armies that
the city was under divine protection.

The following explanation
given by J. E. Murphy, in an
illustrated account in Popular
Mechanics Magazine, is designed
to show how the Przemysl
visions could have been
produced easily by equipment
that is now in every-day use.

"According to reports," writes
Mr. Murphy, "the visions invariably
appeared at night. It
is a safe presumption that they
appeared only when the sky
was overcast with low-lying
clouds, and that these were
made to serve as a screen for
the images projected by a stereopticon.
Rain clouds are usually
at a height of about half
a mile above the earth. To
project images so great a distance
as this would be impractical.
Too powerful a light
would be required, and other
difficulties would be introduced
that might be impossible to
overcome. The thing could
easily be done, however, with
the aid of an aeroplane, carrying
an ordinary stereopticon,
and flying from 700 to 1000
feet below the clouds.

"Clear motion pictures have already been
projected a distance of approximately 400 feet.
By equipping a stereopticon with a searchlight
instead of the usual arc light it would be entirely
practical to project still pictures a distance
of 1000 feet. This would be sufficient
for producing visions of an awe-inspiring nature,
and with the exception of a special mirror
for the searchlight, which could probably be
found without any necessity for special manufacture,
all the apparatus required would be such as
can be obtained at any time on the market.

"Using the standard stereopticon slide, 2 ?/?
inches square, with a projecting lens having an
equivalent focal distance of 16 inches, which
would make a convenient apparatus for the purpose,
the image cast at a distance of ?00 feet is
18 feet, 6 inches in diameter. At a distance of
1000 feet the image would have 10 times this
diameter, or 185 feet. Spreading the image over
as big an area as this would result in an enormous
loss in brilliancy if the ordinary arc light
were used. With a searchlight this could be
more than overcome. To produce an image of
this size the airman would fly in a level line
about 700 feet below the clouds. Viewed from
the ground half a mile below, the image would
have the same effect as a highly luminous object
30 feet in diameter, seen at a distance of a
city block. The appearance of such an object
in the sky above a city, darkened because of a
siege, would be a striking spectacle, indeed.
Soaring above the city with this simple equipment,
the airman, by merely throwing an electric
switch, would be able to spread hope or
panic as far as his picture could be seen.

"Several persons who saw the visions have
said that they were 'like the holy picture in the
church at Czenstochowa.' If the details of the
undertaking are ever told, it will not be surprising
if it is found that a photographic reproduction
of the Madonna was used, for the reason
that no picture in the world could have been
used with better effect.

"The monastery of Czenstochowa is located
about 100 miles west of Przemysl and was in
possession of the Austrians at the time of the
siege. The painting is familiar to the inhabitants
of all that part of Europe and is so venerated
that before the war it was visited annually by
an average of 400,000 pilgrims, many of whom
came from East Prussia, Galicia and West Russia,
as well as from Poland. According to tradition,
it was painted by St. Luke and there is
a belief current that is is sometimes miraculously
illumined. A reproduction of this picture cast
on the clouds, 'surrounded by a halo of bright
light,' as reported, which would mean that the
stereopticon slide had been made with a liberal
margin of clear glass around the edges, would
be readily accepted as a divine message by these
people of simple and strong religious belief.

"Whatver [sic] may have been the precise means
for projecting the images, there can be no doubt
that they produced the effect intended. Whenever
the image of the Virgin Mary was seen
hovering over the city, the Austrians, believing
they were under divine protection, took fresh
hope, while the Prussians became panic-stricken.
For hours after each appearance of the vision
it was impossible to persuade or force the Russian
soldiers to fire, and it is reported that because
of this the capture of the city was delayed
for weeks. In one typical case, a Russian commander,
suspecting a trick by Austrian airmen,
ordered a battery to fire at the vision, hoping
in this way to bring down the aeroplane that
was causing such demoralization among his
troops. Instead of obeying, every man in the
battery fell to his knees and prayed."


NEWSPAPER Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California, USA)



no incident    warfare    psychological warfare    projection   


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