Modelling The Image Of People’s Resistance In Antifascist Countries (British Military Media)


The article deals with the results of the comparative analysis of the 1943 British military media dedicated to the people’s resistance in the Anti-Fascist countries. The data source is the site “The British Newspaper Achieve”. The research was conducted in three stages; the first stage was selecting 100 out of the list of articles sorted by relevance, the advance search criteria being key words (resistance, partisan, battle, people), time period (from January, 1, 1943 to December, 31, 1943). The second stage of conducting this research dealt with the quantitative analysis of data, the results of which were conclusions made about a) the most covered event in the partisan movement in 1943 (during the World War II), and b) the resistance in which countries was covered in Brittan (France, the USSR, Yugoslavia, and Belgium). The third stage was conducting the linguistic analysis of the data selected, based on which the conclusion about the possibility of modelling the people’s resistance movements in France, the USSR, Yugoslavia, and Belgium was made. The results of this research allow stating that the resistance movements in all the four countries were regarded positively, the most of evaluation vocabulary being used to describe the actions of the Soviet partisans. The methods of quantitative analysis, comparative analysis, cognitive discourse analysis and the method of metaphoric modelling were applied to conduct this research, the latter two being the fundamental ones.

Keywords: Metaphorical modellingcognitive discourse analysisUK military mediapeople’s resistancepartisan movementWorld War II


2020 is the important year in remembering the events of the World War II, which is justly called the bloodiest war the human civilization has faced as of yet (Beevor, 2013). This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the World War II – the victory of the Allies over the Fascist regimes and the desire for world domination. It is understood that the impact of this war was enormous: the world has been irreversibly changed; it has seen peoples and nations being united regardless of the political ideologies and regimes against the common enemy. Another result of this great war is that the fears of the World War III seem to never cease with it often being said that the humanity will not be able to survive through another world war. Thus, remembering the events of the World War II is, undoubtedly, of significant importance (World War II, 2019).

Problem Statement

The part played by the peoples in the essential victory over the Fascist regime could not ever be understated – the war was happening both in the physical world and in human minds. The question with which peoples were being faced with was – who had the right to live and why. The Fascist regime proclaimed one nation superior, others being deemed not worthy to be a part of their society or – in the case of the Jewish people – to even walk the Earth. However, it was the peoples considered undeserving of anything, who fought against the Fascist regimes and triumphed in the end (Figure 01 ).

Figure 1: French resistance in the WWII [France During World War II…, (2019)
French resistance in the WWII [France During World War II…,
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The Allies – primary, the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and the United States – have actively covered the actions of the resistance in media of that time: newspapers and radio (Bernat, Chernysheva, Shatrovich, & Raevskaya, 2019). Hence, analysing military media of the World War II period can supply the present-day society with valuable lessons (Chernysheva, Bernat, Raevskaya, & Shatrovich, 2019) of fraternity and unity in dealing with issues, both global and domestic.

Research Questions

This research attempts to answer these questions:

  • how was the image of resistance perceived in the British military media?;

  • was the image of resistance perceived differently depending on the country where the movement operated?

Purpose of the Study

This research aims to analyse the data of the British military media of the year 1943 to answer the questions stated above in order to create a metaphoric model of the resistance movements in the Anti-Fascist countries.

Research Methods

Conducting the research required applying the following methods: quantitative analysis, comparative analysis, cognitive discourse analysis, and method of metaphoric modelling. The last three methods listed are the basis for the linguistic analysis of this work.


The research was completed in several stages: selecting data, analysing it applying the quantitative method, and analysing it linguistically. As a data source, the British Newspaper Archive (the BNA) was chosen, following the complete researches (Gubaydullina, 2019; Solopova & Chudinov, 2018; Solopova & Saltykova, 2019; Vaguina & Solopova, 2019).

The BNA is a digital archive where the press materials dating back to the beginning of the 18th century up to the present days are stored. The BNA team works in cooperation with the British Library to digitise millions of newspaper pages from the British Library’s collection (The British Newspaper Archive, 2020). This feature of the site allows choosing the authentic data from the seemingly unlimited source. Moreover, the British Newspaper Archive has user-friendly search tools facilitating the search in the vast digital archive. Thus, the user can start from choosing the type of search: ordinary or advanced. The ordinary one requires a word or a word combination and is, basically, the search through all the collection of the BNA available to the date of its (the search’s) execution. The advanced search allows for specifying the parameters such as the type of key word(s) search, the place of publication, the title of the publication, the date of publication – where a period can be chosen – and the date of the data having been added to the BNA collection. In addition, the type of article can be pointed out: whether the user is looking for an advertisement, an article, a family notice, illustrated, miscellaneous, or front page articles only. If the user does not select any type, the search executed all the types being included in its results which can be sorted a) by relevance; b) date – earliest and more recent. All these characteristics are the ones of the text corpus (Vaguina, 2019), as listed by N. Dash: quantity, authenticity, representativeness, retrievability, etc (The British Newspaper Archive, 2020). Therefore, the British Newspaper Archive appears to be a perfect tool for conducting a research (Solopova, 2019).

The things mentioned above having been taken into consideration, the British Newspaper Archive was considered the best source of the data available for this research.

Stage 1: data selection

The research started with the selection of the material. The preference was given to the advanced search as it let us select the search parameters. This, we chose the following key words: resistance, partisan, battle, and people. At least one of these words had to be in a found article. The reasons of this particular choice of key words can be explained as:

The period of the World War II under analysis was the year 1943 – most respectful sources agree that this year was the crucial point in the World War II for the Allies as they defeated the Fascist forces in North Africa, began invasion on Sicily and Italy, won the battle of Stalingrad, among other major events of this war (World War 2 Timeline…, 2018). Thus, the time frame of the search was set: from 1 January 1943 to 31 December 1943.

The type of the article was unspecified as it was deemed important to see what the main way of presenting the news to the British public was.

It was decided to analyse the first 100 out of 3,811 articles from the list sorted by relevance.

Stage 2: quantitative analysis of the data

Even before choosing the articles, we summarized the search results using the British Newspaper Archive tools. Thus, the most active months in the British coverage of the resistance/partisan movements are September (475 articles), December (411 articles), and July (404 articles). These numbers may be explained by the significant events in the history of WWII happening: in September, the Allied forces began invasion of Italy, Smolensk was liberated; in December, the German battleship was sunk by the British Navy; July saw the battle of Kursk, the invasion of Sicily, and the arrest of General Mussolini (World War 2 Timeline…, 2019). Most articles were published in the English newspapers (2,604), in Scotland 747 articles were published, in Ireland – 343, and in Wales – 117; these facts can be called one more proof of England being the most active part of the United Kingdom, Scotland coming second, with Wales traditionally the least active – the situation seems not to have changed much comparing the 1st part of the 20th century and the present situation.

The 100 articles under analysis talked of resistance or partisan movements in France, the USSR, Yugoslavia, Belgium, and Italy. According to the articles (3), the opposition to the Fascist regime did exist in Italy and partisans took active actions against the government. They were described being supplied with arms by the Allies, fighting a battle with the German troops. However, Italy was one of the Axis powers and, therefore, analyzing its modelling in the British military media did not coincide with the purpose of this research. Hence, the rest of the articles (97) were to be put under analysis.

The results of the quantitative analysis show this distribution of articles when the countries are concerned: France – 57, Yugoslavia – 25, the Soviet Union – 8, and Belgium – 7. Certainly, such results can be explained once more by the difference in the words “resistance” and “partisan” and their origins, as well as France being the closest neighbor and Ally of Britain, being, alongside with her, the founding country of the Anti-Fascist Alliance. The French, as stated in the articles, helped the British intelligence services in organizing military actions; the most covered by the British military media of 1943 period is the “partisan revolt” or “organized resistance” in Haute Savoie (32 articles). The other articles were dedicated to the resistance organization led by General Charles de Gaulle (25). The British journalists noted that de Gaulle represented the French resistance itself.

When counting the events mentioned in the articles, it became quite evident that the British newspapers covered the actions of the Yugoslavian partisans with much attention as well – in fact, most of the articles on the partisan movement in Yugoslavia (21) selected for the research talked about the partisans’ actions on the Danube, and there was the allusion on their liberating Zagreb. The 4 articles left talked about Josip Tito, the leader of the partisans. The journalists cited the unnamed source in Yugoslavia who had declared that under Tito’s command the partisans were fighting for a free and democratic Yugoslavia.

The Soviet partisans, according to the articles, had no official leadership. However, most of the articles seemed to acknowledge the part of the Soviets in distracting the German forces from the West and Africa, which let the Allies focus on strengthening their forces and on organizing successful encounters with the Fascists.

The British journalists wrote also about the resistance in Belgium, though they did not mention it to have any leader or take any action – they only gave the general characteristics.

The results of the quantitative analysis were summarized in the Table 01 below.

Table 1 -
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Stage 3: Linguistic analysis

For the linguistic analysis the method of metaphorical modelling was implemented. The theory of cognitive metaphors – or conceptual metaphor theory – was started by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) who defined it as a way of understanding one idea in terms of another. Lakoff and Johnson (1980) believes that there are two domains – the source used to explain the target. According to their book, there are 3 types of metaphors: orientational, ontological, and structural. Keeping in mind this classification, we read through the articles in search of all the metaphors in the texts. The list of metaphors found consists of the following (the original spelling is preserved):

  • partisan armies are only a mile from Zagreb. They have cut the supply lines and the city is facing famine conditions;

  • If Kiev Falls Nazis Must Withdraw or Face Disaster;

  • the [British] ships which sail in the ‘games’ daily played by ships’ officers;

  • [in Russia] the mellow light of victory now begins to play;

  • Teheran Talks Will Shorten War But Hard Task Lies Ahead;

  • Germany's game more than once before the Allies stood together in war and fell apart in peace;

  • the activities of partisans are now expected to play important part in the disooniflture of the German left wing;

  • [resistance has a] chance of playing an important role in the France of to-morrow;

  • spirit of the Belgian resistance is unbroken;

  • [of Soviet partisans] it’s no good playing the defensive game;

  • the Americans in this theatre of the war;

  • the war is universal and worldwide [it] would take several hours to make an exposition of what is happening [on] the various theatres.

The seemingly small number of metaphors may be explained by the nature of the texts – military media which aims at reporting the real events with certain objectivity. The analysed articles are mostly written in a “dry” languages enumerating facts and citing persons deemed important.

The metaphors found in the articles may be classified into two groups: structural and ontological. The former show understanding of war as a game. It can be structured the following way:

Thus, referring to the war as a game was more appropriate to the official forces, not the resistance movements. Though the Soviet partisans and the French resistance made a great contribution to the victory, they paid too much to treat the war lightly and “play” it. The essence of the World War II in Yugoslavia and Belgium was unclear due to absence of metaphors concerning these countries.

Another structural metaphor is War is Theatre. It is interesting that such understanding of the World War II was common to Britain and the United States where, judging by the research data, resistance movements of any kind did not exist (Table 02 ).

Table 2 -
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The rest of the metaphors are ontological, they are a way of understanding the reality through some kind of personalization. They were used to show graphically the actions and consequences of the War (“if Kiev falls”; “the city is facing famine conditions”). Again, some metaphors did not have any connection with the resistance – like the Tehran talks held in November 1943. The partisan movement in Yugoslavia was shown in the British military media with the help of only one ontological metaphor (“partisan armies are only a mile from Zagreb. They have cut the supply lines and the city is facing famine conditions”), which was connected, although indirectly, with the liberation of the Croatian city by the Yugoslav partisans. The articles on the Belgium resistance had only one ontological metaphor (in two variations – “the spirit of the resistance is unbroken”, “the unbroken spirit of people”).

All in all, the structural metaphors had more representativeness in the articles; both types of metaphors found in the analysed texts seemed to show the division of understanding the World War II in the eyes of a) Governments and b) the Resistance, the view on the WWII overlapping sometimes (war is game, but it is a different kind of game to each player).

It appeared quite interesting that British journalists used much of evaluation vocabulary to describe the Soviet partisans being “stubborn”, “heroic”, and “self-sacrificing’.

Table 3 -
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In the Table 03 we summarized the results of this research: there were enough data to model the images of the Soviet and the Yugoslav partisan movements and the French resistance; there were not enough data to model the Belgian resistance image. The comparative analysis showed that the French resistance and the Yugoslav partisans were both the organised movements – by General Charles de Gaulle and Josip Tito respectively. The Soviet partisans did not have any central organisation. Nevertheless, there are certain similarities in describing these people – their actions in the WWII were acknowledged to have played a great part in the future victory over the Fascists regimes and liberating the cities, peoples, and countries from the great danger.


Although the articles under analysis were concerned with the actions of the resistance and partisan movements in a number of countries (France, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Belgium, and Italy), the research was completed analysing the images of the said movements only in the Anti-Fascist countries. It seems appropriate to note, though, that the other participants of the World War II were often mentioned – Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Britain took special interest in the events connected with the French resistance, which can be explained by the historical closeness of these two countries and their being the founders of the Alliance against the Axis powers.

The two metaphors (War is Game, War is Theatre) showed the difference in viewing the WWII: it is a game, the type of which depends on a concrete player or a theatre. Whatever the image, the victory over the Fascists seemed possible and close; indeed, 1943 was a turning point of the war.

All the resistance and partisan movements were viewed positively by the British military media regardless of the political regimes – the Allies and their nations were united against the common enemy. Странно видеть перфектный инфинитив с лексическим маркером будущего. The lessons of the World War II should always be kept in human minds – the terror of war, the fight for the right to live, the strength in being united.


The study was funded by RFBR, research project № 19-012-00192.


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03 August 2020

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

Cite this article as:

Vagina, T. S. (2020). Modelling The Image Of People’s Resistance In Antifascist Countries (British Military Media). In N. L. Amiryanovna (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 86. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 170-177). European Publisher.