Preface: I am aware that there are other threads that discuss the Jedi/Sith aspects of common knowledge in the Star Wars universe such as this one, this one and this one. My question is not about knowledge of the Jedi/Sith stuff as much as the “wars” of Star Wars itself. To me it seems as if the general population of the galaxy knows they are oppressed, but are not really aware there is an active war to end that oppression regardless of the “religious” aspect that seems to have started it all.

So the some of the trailers for the new film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens have a key scene where Han Solo states:

It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real.

Okay, so I understand how the whole mystical concept of “The Force” might have been lost by the sands of time. But what about the rest of it? Objectively thinking of how the original trilogy was presented it seems everything was secretive or clandestine in many ways:

  • Star Wars: The mission to recover the Death Star plans from the Rebels was carried out by one Star Destroyer lead by Darth Vader. When the idea the plans were jettisoned to Tatooine in an escape pod, Stormtroopers are sent to the planet, but everything is somewhat secretive. Even the massacre of the Jawas was done in a way to make it seem as if Tusken Raiders (aka: Sand People) carried out the attack. The rest of the film follows the same notes including the attack on Yavin moon that contained the secret rebel base.
  • The Empire Strikes Back: Again, Darth Vader is hunting down Rebels and they are hiding on an ice planet seemingly as far away from everything as possible. The trip to see Yoda on Dagobah was not shared by Luke with anyone, and when Han Solo heads to Bespin, it’s to seek refuge. And heck, even Lando Calrissian brags about how his operation in Cloud City is small enough to not attract the attention of the Empire. So everything that happens there is known only to the parties involved it seems.
  • Return of the Jedi: The rescue of Han Solo from Tatooine is yet another clandestine operation carried out by a small group of friends trying to save the life of a fellow friend. When Jabba dies and his ships are destroyed, who cares and who knows what happened outside of that group? Jabba’s just a huge crime lord and his death would not mean much to other criminals let alone raise an eyebrow by others. Then the whole Death Star II operation on Endor is yet again, a secret operation.

And there we go. It seems that everything that transpires in the the original trilogy are all special operations and “need to know” operations at best carried out by two opposing sides who might be fighting for larger power, but it’s not like—for example—a World War II struggle it seems. It all seems like small scale operations in a lager conflict much like action films such as The Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare.

So in this context, what exactly did the “wars” in the Star Wars actually mean as far as awareness goes throughout the galaxy? My desire for “canon” extends into the modern definition of Star Wars canon which means Disney canon as well; no fan-fiction or wild guesses please.

Again, it seems the new series of films will you touch on how “legendary” yet not real these events seem to contemporary residents in the Star Wars universe goes. But is there an canonical material that explicitly states something like, “The war against the Empire was important, yet not directly known by most inhabitants in the galaxy/universe of Star Wars.”

PS: FWIW, this all seems odd to me because to my knowledge—in the context of our own conflicts on Earth—even in pre-Internet/pre-modern communication times, wars and conflicts were known or conveyed in some way to even the most menial people in society. You talk to someone about the Crusades, the Civil War or even World War I nowadays people at least know that some kind of war happened even if they do not know any specifics of the conflict. But in the Star Wars universe, average citizens seem fairly clueless despite having apparently better technology and communication methods.

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    FWIW, I seem to recall some similar question being asked in the past in some way but can’t seem to find it. If this is a dupe, please let me know. – Giacomo1968 Nov 8 '15 at 1:56
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    @DVK Good point. To me, the new films are canon so Disney canon counts. Fan-fiction is not canon. – Giacomo1968 Nov 8 '15 at 2:08
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    How many modern day schoolkids recognize military significance of the Verdun? Kursk? How many were aware of Navajo battle language before the film came out? How many were even aware that Greece was involved in WWII (in America) before Guns of Navarone – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 8 '15 at 2:09
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    Your main question seems to be So in this context, what exactly did the “wars” in the Star Wars actually mean as far as awareness goes throughout the galaxy? This is related to my question, Which wars are Star Wars? – Praxis Nov 8 '15 at 2:31
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    @JakeGould : Thanks. That's why I say related (rather than dupe). :-) – Praxis Nov 8 '15 at 2:34

Okay I'll toss in a Legends answer.

Looking at the Empire's citizens' view of the Republic in the X-Wing series we see much propaganda and just lies spread to discourage rebel support. Coruscant (and probably other planets) had large museums constructed as monuments to the emperor and the empire.

All the displays... were slanted toward making the viewers believe everything the Emperor had done had been for their specific good.

and a long quote, well worth the read:

A holographic image of Darth Vader sizzled to life when wedge had approached. "Behold my Master and weep. He has been stolen from us by those who embrace hatred. The Emperor had learned the rebels had stolen plans for a Planetary ore extractor and intended to use the one they fabricated on Endor on inhabited planets. He assembled his fleet, and heedless of personal danger, he had me take him to Endor. He infiltrated the half-completed extractor, offering these Rebels his forgiveness and a hand of friendship. They rejected him and attacked his fleet. My master had no alternative but to destroy this Death Star himself, perishing in the process so his citizens could live on. I was slain with him, but my death did not distress me, for it came in service to my master.

So much of what the citizens of the Empire hear is completely fabricated or twisted against the Rebels.

As for Alderaan's destruction, while it is not really known what happened specifically to the planet, the Rebels are blamed for it:

The fear that lingered in everyone's heart concerning the destruction of Alderaan was shifted into fear directed at the Rebellion.

Edit: I found another mention of propaganda,

"If not for various holodramas that painted Jedi Knights as villains..."
X-Wing: The Bacta War Chapter 1 page 3

So even the media is involved in the distortion of the truth. Such sources of information may be the only info some individuals see and so have no reason to question their validity.

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    Good answer. Yes, my question is a bit layered, but the concept is kind of answered here: It doesn’t seem like much of anyone really knew or understood what was happening in the “Star War” and the Rebels were just seen/characterized as random terrorists to the galaxy. – Giacomo1968 Nov 8 '15 at 21:13

Yes the galaxy knew about the destruction of Alderaan and were very upset about it. The people knew about the battles of Yavin and Endor, who won those battles and who lost them.

The galaxy learned these things by the Holonet transmissions sent across the galaxy. There were mass defections after the battles of Yavin and Endor, top imperial leadership was lost at both Yavin and Endor and the deaths of Vader, and the Emperor. The people learned this by the way of the Holonet transmissions broadcast around the entire galaxy. The information was passed on by both imperial and rebel soldiers.

This information was told in the Aftermath trilogy.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. These are canon books, which makes this a fairly strong answer. You could still improve it by adding specific quotes from the book(s) to demonstrate the general population's view. – DavidW Nov 18 '19 at 5:12
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    Please provide quotes and citations. Otherwise, this all just sounds like casual, gossipy conversation. – Giacomo1968 Nov 18 '19 at 14:23

I pretty sure the instant destruction/vaporization of an entire Core planet (Alderaan) and their population would be quite notorious and couldn't brushed under rug as a casualty of a "special op". If we're using Earth wars as an analogy, it's gonna be a long time before the nuking of Hiroshima & Nagasaki falls into legend/did-it-really-happen category and shows up on Snopes.

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    Disagree, people already don't believe the Holocaust happened – Robert Wertz Jan 13 '16 at 18:25
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    @RobertWertz A year later, look at what people across the globe believe… And there are still some people who don’t believe the U.S. lost the war in Vietnam. – Giacomo1968 Dec 21 '17 at 23:55

The way they all talk about force, events, jedi and sith. I would say they are as well known as what the CIA does today. Rumours, hints, stories, conspiracy theories, etc. Did they CIA really trade weapons for drugs in the 1980s? The Death Star blew up, but was it an inside job? Probably spun the first one as human error.

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    This is more speculation than an answer... – Null Jan 13 '16 at 18:51

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