Revealing Enemy — World War II US Propaganda Posters

Having recognized the inevitability of war, the United States firmly declared itself on the side of the Allies. After this all the diplomatic rhetoric of euphemism and politeness became irrelevant, and what had to be done was to vilify and expose the enemy and support and help the Allies.
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Having recognized the inevitability of war, the United States firmly declared itself on the side of the Allies. After this all the diplomatic rhetoric of euphemism and politeness became irrelevant, and what had to be done was to vilify and expose the enemy and support and help the Allies. However, the first six months after entering the war were definitely the most confusing and unsuccessful six months of American propaganda work in World War II, with all departments working separately and not communicating with each other, and there was no unity in the direction of propaganda to speak of. Until a branch called “Psychological Warfare Branch” was set up within the War Information Service. The department’s main responsibility was to use radio, posters, and print media to show the public the dark side of the enemy’s evil, while raising the American public’s awareness of the allies as much as possible, and the situation was improved.

But the initial work did not go well, as the United States and the other 25 countries had signed the final Declaration of United Nation in Washington in early January 1942, but the U.S. propaganda department did not even make good use of the subject matter for positive propaganda, except for a set of “He’s Your Friend, He’s Fighting for Freedom” posters designed by the Office of Accurate Information.

“He is your friend, he fights for freedom” theme poster

The United Nations fight for freedom(Wartime Information Service,1942)
The United Nations Fight for Freedom (Steven Broder,1942)
United we are storng! United we will win(Henry Kerner,1943)
The United Nations fight for freedom(Leslie Legan,1943)

Nazi Germany committed a horrific massacre in Czechoslovakia at that time, it provided the perfect opportunity for the WSO. Ben Shahn, a Lithuanian-born painter for the Wartime Information Service, completed a poster entitled “This is the Nazi Brutality” in just two weeks. Another famous illustrator, John Falter, followed with another poster based on the event, titled “Sacrifice for Freedom,” both of which used grim scenes of high walls, shadows, and whips to highlight the horror of Nazi rule, conveying the repressed, helpless, and fearful emotions of the victims to every American without reservation.

This is the Nazi Brutality (Ben Shahn,1942)
Sacrifice for Freedom(John Falter,1942)

Since this incident, the number of posters exposing enemy atrocities and acts against humanity began to gradually increase. Over time, American posters depicting the enemy unwritten a stereotype: Hitler is usually a vile, cunning, brutal and ignorant look, the Japanese are mostly a thieving eyes rounded, face evil expression, and Mussolini is usually depicted as a brain full of fat, bloated look.

“I am looking forward to dictating peace to the United States in the White House at Washington”– Admiral Yamamoto   (Wartime Information Service,1942)
“We shall soon have our Storm Troopers in America!”– Hitler  (Wartime Information Service,1942)
“We consider peace a catastrophe for human civilization” — Mussolini   (Wartime Information

A set of poster advertisements created by the American Locomotive Manufacturing Company with the theme of exposing the evil nature of the Axis powers

They’ll give you a fresh start in life
Try this for size…
Ever face a firing squad?
It’s dinnertime in America
A high honor for your daughter
Like a niceocean trip-free?
This is an illustration that appeared in the September 1942 issue of Time magazine
An illustrated poster completed in 1942 by Polish-American poster artist Arthur Szyk exposing the evil nature of the Axis powers.
This is the enemy (Carl Kohler/ Victor Ancona,1942)

The latter series of Axis atrocities provided ample “material” for the U.S. Wartime Information Service, including the sinking of the Centaur, an Australian medical ship carrying wounded men, and the execution of members of the air raid on Tokyo, for which the U.S. made numerous posters The U.S. made a large number of posters to show the brutal Axis crimes to the American public. Similar to the morale boosting posters mentioned earlier, much of the exposure of enemy crimes was tied to themes such as increased production, bond purchases, and conscription.

The poster, completed by Australian painter Bob Whitmore in 1943, is entitled “Work, Save, Fight …… Avenge These Nurses
The Jap way- cold – blooded murder. We’ll make them pay if you keep up production(U.S. Department of the Army,1943)
What are you going to do about it? Stay on the job until every murdering Jap is wiped out!(U.S. Department of the Army,1944)

On April 26, 1933, a large number of German university students went to bookstores and libraries to collect books according to the list of banned books compiled by the Nazi government, and on May 10, under the spell of the Nazi propaganda machine, tens of thousands of German people and Nazis gathered in squares in Berlin, Munich, and Hanover to burn tens of thousands of books in public, among them Marx, Heine, Freud, Kafka, Zweig, Thomas Mann, Henrich Mann, and others. Kafka, Zweig, Thomas Mann, Henrich Mann, and others. The book-burning campaign also forced a large number of intellectuals and artists in Germany to emigrate. And while the Americans used the posters to expose their enemies’ destruction of the heritage of human civilization, they also encouraged the public to read books.

This is the enemy (Wartime Information Service,1943)
Books are weapons in the war of ideas (Steven Broder,1943)
Ten years ago: The Nazis burned these books… but free Americans can still read them(Combat Intelligence,1943)

Roosevelt’s classic statement in his April 23, 1942 speech for the American Booksellers Association: “Men may die, but not books. Nothing can throw ideas into concentration camps, nothing can take from the world the ideas that will fight forever against tyranny. We know that in this war, books are the weapons“.


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