Over the past hundred years, posters have been used as a very useful tool for war-time recruitment, persuasion, motivation, vigilance and also, at times, to instil some form of guilt on the general public. These propaganda posters, which in modern times may seem crude and unjust, give you an interesting visual into the past.
Here is an interesting fact for you. Although the USA joined both the First and Second World Wars late (1917 for the First and 1941 for the Second), they still managed to publish many, many more propaganda posters than any other war-time nation. Not to sure what that fact will tell you, just thought it was interesting.
Anyway, here are 30 Political Propaganda Posters from Modern History:
Daddy, what did you do…?
This poster was produced before conscription was introduced in 1916 and aimed to encourage men to join the armed forces through emotional blackmail.
Corn – The Food of the Nation
A poster from 1918 by Lloyd Harrison for the US Food Administration
Pvt. Treptwos’s Pledge
Pvt Treptow died on the battle fields during the First World War, however, a note was found in his pocket which became the content for a political poster.
A poster showing which foods should be consumed during the First World War.
Beat Back the Hun
Liberty Bonds were sold in the US during the Great War and buying them became a patriotic duty.
Team Work Wins
This poster was created during the First World War to encourage the people of America to stick together during the war effort.
The Second Artillery
A US Army recruitment poster, tugging on the heart strings of so-called “real men”.
Open Trap …
Many US produced propaganda posters from World War II would typecast the Japanese as goofy and cartoonish. Buck teeth, big ears and an exaggeration on the eyes were recurring features.
Together We Can Do It!
This poster was created by the American Office for Emergency Management during World War Two and encourages everybody to stick together.
A propaganda poster used in World War Two encouraging people to keep clean and stay strong.
Free Labor Will Win
Another political poster from World War Two created by the Office For Emergency Management.
Women proved themselves to be highly skilled in all areas and played an essential role in the war effort.
Get a War Job
This poster was released during the Second World War and played on women’s fragile and emotional state.
Find Your War Job
Despite the bombing and fighting, women were regularly portrayed with big smiling faces to make war work seem like the best thing ever.
A poster which shouts “all work is important” released during World War Two.
Soldiers Without Guns
These ladies may not have weapons, but this poster is stating that their roles are just as important – Clever propaganda during the Second World War.
Avenge Pearl Harbour
After the attack on Pearl Harbour, many posters were produced that actively promoted revenge against the Japanese. Uncle Sam is portrayed as triumphant against the enemy.
Avenge December 7
Another poster encouraging vengeance against the Japanese. The imagery and tone of this poster is much starker than the original and instead shows the patriotism of an average American soldier.
This poster encourages the females of the United States to remain patriotic at all times and gives them praise.
Buy War Bonds
A very powerful image, this poster asks for people to support the effort financially to save their kids from harm.
Again, this poster suggests that war bonds will help create a brighter future.
Talk of Sacrifice
This poster was used as propaganda and seems to be designed to anger people so they enlist and fight.
Above and Beyond
Doris Miller served in the Navy during Pear Harbor. Despite receiving no gunnery training, Miller manned the weapon of a fallen gunman and successfully hit Japanese planes. He was awarded the Navy Cross after pressure from the black press.
"Wanna keep ’em healthy?"
This was another poster to encourage healthy eating during the war.
Many posters asked people not to waste food and become economical chefs.
Food Comes First
This poster from World War Two shows someone in the fields despite the war planes overhead, emphasising sheer guts and determination.
According to this poster, if you sign up for the Submarine Service you win points and the ladies.
Buy War Bonds
Again, this poster urges people to do their duty and buy war bonds.
I Want You
America is personified here as stern Uncle Sam, who wants you to fight to save him.
Many posters throughout World War Two stated that talking too much could be dangerous. This poster represents someone in trouble because knowledge reached the wrong person.
Man the Guns
A simple, yet effective poster suggesting that if you enroll in the Navy, you will be in charge of your county’s state.
For Your Country’s Sake…
This poster is recruiting women to join the armed forces for the sake of their county and their future.
Target for To-Night
Simple, yet effective, this poster issues a warning to people at the time of The Blitz.
Have you really tried?
This poster is encouraging people to drive in groups and not take journeys alone.
All Fuel is Scarce
Fuel was hard to come by during times of war, so all efforts were taking to make sure it didn’t run out quickly.
The War is Over
This poster gives a death toll for both American GIs and Vietnamese soldiers during the war in Vietnam. It pleads with people to vote for peace by tugging on heart strings and playing on words.
North and South United
This poster asks for peace between the North and South of Vietnam, to protect the country from destruction and war.
The Nazi’s had a very imaginative approach when it came to producing posters during the Second World War. This particularly famous image depicts the Americans as a domineering force and characterizes many of their negative aspects, such as being money grabbing, racist, over-sexualized and all-empowering.
Soviet Army Defeated
This poster depicts two People’s Liberation Army soldiers holding two books. The left book read “Soviet Army Defeated 1,200,000 German Nazi, Italian, Japanese and other countries’ soldiers during World War Two” and the right reads “Chinese People’s Liberation Army defeated 8 million soldiers from American Imperialist sponsored Chiang Kai-Chek’s army. At the bottom, defeated Americans hold dollar sign flags, and in writing it says “Next year we can accumulate 3 million soldiers”.