propaganda en posters

  • Source Criticism
  • Interpretation
  • Propaganda Posters

How to interpret propaganda posters

Parliamentary Recruiting Committee. (1915). Step Into Your Place. London.

Interpreting a visual source , like a propaganda poster, is very different to interpreting words on a page, which is the case with written sources . Therefore, you need to develop a different set of skills.

What is a 'propaganda poster'?

Propaganda is an attempt to influence peoples’ opinions or behaviour through the use of specific images and words.

It usually gives limited information which is heavily biased in its presentation. Propaganda typically achieves its aims by generating an emotional reaction in the viewer.

For much of the twentieth century, public posters were a common way for governments to use propaganda to persuade their citizens.

They often relied upon simple images in order to manipulate people through fear or guilt. 

Further information

Propaganda in the First World War:

Propaganda in the Second World War:

How do I understand the meaning of a propaganda poster?

Understanding what a historical propaganda poster means can be difficult for us because we did not live through the events that inspired them.

However, many propaganda posters rely upon a limited number of elements to persuade their audience . Once we learn those elements, we can begin to understand the specific message of a particular poster.

Propaganda Poster Elements

1 . Stereotypes

It was common for posters to represent a particular group of people (usually in a very racist way) using stereotypes. A stereotype is an over-simplification of what a particular racial group looks like. For example, Chinese people in the 19th century were drawn with a long pony-tail in their hair. Propaganda uses stereotypes so that audiences can readily identify which people group is the target of the poster. Getting to know common stereotypes can be quite confronting for us, since they can be very racist in nature. However, once you become familiar with common forms of stereotyping, you can identify the appropriate people group being targeted in a particular poster.

Common Stereotypes: 

propaganda en posters

People Group:


Jewish People

Exaggerated Features:

Pickelhaube (the spiked helmet), gorilla-like body

Long pony-tail, narrow eyes, thin moustache, traditional Chinese clothes and hat, two large front teeth

Circular glasses, narrow eyes, toothy grin

Slouch hat, clean-shaven, khaki clothes

Large nose, kippah (Jewish prayer cap)

2 . Symbolism

Just like political cartoons , propaganda posters use simple objects, or symbols, that the general public would be familiar with. These symbols are used to represent important concepts or ideas. For example, using a ‘skull and crossbones’ could represent ‘death’ or ‘danger’. While you’re interpreting a poster, identify any symbols and try to work out what concept the image is meant to represent.

Here are some common symbols used in propaganda, along with their common meanings: 

Posters will often include short sections of information: either statistics or statements. This information is meant to provide the audience with just enough data for them to draw the conclusion the creator wanted them to make. When you are looking at the poster, it is worth asking whether the information provided is completely accurate or what other information has been left out. Finally, try to work out why the propaganda wanted the audience to know about the specific information they have presented. For example, how does this information help persuade the audience?

Posters will try to connect directly with their audiences though a number of techniques. They will either use the second person pronoun "you" in the text, ask a rhetorical question that the audience is meant to think about, or it will have people in the poster looking directly at the viewer. Propaganda does this in order to make the audience feel like they need to respond in some way.

Propaganda will try to play on a person's emotions in order to prompt them to respond. The most frequent emotional responses posters try to generate are:

  • guilt (e.g., making the audience feel like they have failed),
  • patriotism (e.g., appealing to the love of their country),
  • fear (e.g., that if they don't act, something bad will happen),
  • or shame (e.g., that they are weak, cowardly or selfish).

6 . Call to Action

Almost every propaganda poster has a statement about what their audience should do after seeing the poster. For example: 'Enlist Today!' or 'Buy War Bonds'. The call to action is often the best way to determine the poster's purpose and intended audience . 

How do I write an interpretation?

Once you have deconstructed the poster, you can start creating your explanation. To do so, answer the following questions:

  • Who or what is represented by the stereotypes and symbols?
  • What information is provided by the text in the poster?
  • How does the poster try and connect directly with the audience? (Using "you", asking a question, or by 'looking at the audience'?)
  • What does the 'call to action' say?
  • What emotion is the viewer supposed to feel? (e.g. Shame, guilt, patriotism, etc.)

Once you have answered these questions, you are ready to answer the final one:

  • What did the propaganda want their audience to believe and do? 

What do I do with my interpretation?

Identifying the message of a propaganda poster shows that you understand the primary source, which means that you can use it as an indirect quote in your historical writing.

Your interpretation can also help you in your analysis and evaluation of the source. For example, identifying the source's message can help you ascertain:

  • The purpose of the propaganda
  • The intended audience of the poster
  • The accuracy of the information presented in the image

Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?

Parliamentary Recruiting Committee. (1915). 'Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?'. London. © IWM (Art.IWM PST 0311). Source:

Demonstrating interpretation of propaganda posters in your writing:

This propaganda poster produced by the British government in 1915 sought to persuade British citizens to enlist for military service. It does this by employing a range of propaganda techniques. First of all, the main character is an idealised middle class British family man. The use of this stereotypical character is an attempt to connect with British middle-class men who had not yet joined the war effort. Secondly, the poster uses the symbolism of the toy soldiers, which the young boy is depicted as playing with. The fact that the man's son is more impressed with symbols of war than his own father begins to play on the audience's emotions. Thirdly, the text that accompanies the image, which is spoken by the daughter, inquires about the man's role in the war. The use of the second person pronoun of "you" is a clear attempt to engage personally with the audience. This is reinforced by the fact that the man's eyes are looking directly at the viewer. Therefore, although the girl is talking to her father, the poster intends to directly address the viewer. The clear intent is to make the audience the target of the question so that they will wonder what role they will play in the contemporary conflict. All of these techniques combine with the intention of generating the feelings of shame and guilt in the viewer. The propaganda hopes that young men will feel embarrassed to admit to their future children that they were 'too cowardly' to join the war effort. Even though there is no explicit 'call to action' for the viewer on the poster, the tacit expectation is that the guilt would result in young men enlisting to fight in the hopes of being able to allay the shame produced by the picture. The overall message produced by the propaganda poster is that real men will enlist in the war effort in the belief that their future children will be proud to know that their fathers did their part.

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25 Most Powerful Propaganda Posters That Made All The Difference

Photo of Ivana Belegisanin

These propaganda were an influential attitude change initiative. They were powerful reminders of reality and our responsibility towards society. From war to welfare to social issues and plain sanity…these posters made all the difference.

1. “Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?”, (1915).

propaganda en posters

In 1915 British illustrator Savile Lumley designed this famous guilt – inducing poster. Paul Gunn later explained the background to the poster: “One night my father came home very worried about the war situation and discussed with my mother whether he should volunteer. He happened to come in to where I was asleep and quite casually said to my mother, If I don’t join the forces whatever will I say to Paul if he turns round to me and says, What did you do in the Great War, Daddy? He suddenly turned round to my mother and said that would make a marvellous slogan for a recruiting poster. He shot off to see one of his pet artists, Savile Lumley, had a sketch drawn straight away, based on the theme projected about five years hence, although by the time it had taken shape the questioner had become one of my sisters.” This poster was produced before conscription was introduced in 1916 and aimed to encourage men to join the armed forces through emotional blackmail. Depending on your opinion of the “great war” itself, this could also be viewed as a positive use of the powers of propaganda.

2. “Barbarism vs. Civilization”, (1900).

propaganda en posters

This poster depicts of the The Boxer Rebellion or  Boxer Uprising which was a violent anti-foreign and anti-Christian movement which took place in China towards the end of the Qing dynasty between 1898 and 1900. It was initiated by the Militia United in Righteousness (Yihetuan), known in English as the “Boxers”, and was motivated by proto-nationalist sentiments and opposition to foreign imperialism and Christianity. The Great Powers intervened and defeated Chinese forces.

3. Anti – Smoking Propaganda.

propaganda en posters

A very simple, yet powerful anti-smoking poster. Sometimes dubbed as one of the most clever anti-smoking advertisement ever.

4. “You Can Be Someone’s Superhero!”, Hellenic Association Of Blood Donors, (2013).

propaganda en posters

A very creative and appealing ad to attract blood donors towards needs for donation. Advertising Agency: Spot JWT, Athens, Greece Creative Director / Illustrator: Alexandros Tsoutis Art Director: Alexis Alifragkis Copywriter: Anastasios Lessis Published: January 2013

5. “I Want You”, (1917).

propaganda en posters

Originally published as the cover for the July 6, 1916, issue of Leslie’s Weekly with the title “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?” this portrait of “Uncle Sam” went on to become–according to its creator, James Montgomery Flagg–”the most famous poster in the world.” Over four million copies were printed between 1917 and 1918, as the United States entered World War I and began sending troops and material into war zones.

6. Fate of Ukraine, (2014).

propaganda en posters

The unfair colonization of Ukraine by the Russian troops and the decision of Crimea being shifted under Russian control describes the fate of Ukraine and how it has just become a hanging nation in between Asia and Europe. This propaganda poster truly depicts of the Ukrainian pain and violence that has been going on a while now.

7. “Help Keep Your School All American”, (1940s – 50s).

propaganda en posters

This anti- racism, superhero oriented poster came around in a children’s comic series and proved to be very powerful in conveying its true social message. With racism being at its peak in America that time, there was a dire need of an attitude change and this poster was a great example of a powerful initiative by making it “Un-American” to be racist.

8. “We Can Do It”, (1942).

propaganda en posters

We Can Do It! is a WW II era American wartime propoganda poster produced by J. Howard Miller in 1943 for Westinghouse Electric as a tool to boost worker morale. Surprisingly, the poster did not enjoy wide popularity during World War II. It was rediscovered in the early 1980s and widely reproduced in many forms, often called “We Can Do It!” but also mistakenly called “Rosie the Riveter” after the iconic figure of a strong female war production worker. The “We Can Do It!” image was used to promote feminism and other political issues beginning in the 1980?s. After its rediscovery, people often assumed that the image was always meant to be a call to inspire women workers to join the war effort. However, during the war the image was strictly internal to Westinghouse, displayed only during February 1943, and was not for recruitment but to inspire already-hired women to work harder.

9. “Thief!”, (1920s-30s).

propaganda en posters

“The worst thief is he who steals the playtime of children” A very very powerful propaganda poster against then prevalent child labor. More and more children were forced to work in factories that were equipped with heavy, dangerous machinery and they were forced to work for hours at a stretch, thus stealing away their innocence and anytime they had for playing and other wonderful stuff that children do.

10. “Sex is No Accident”, MTV.

propaganda en posters

An initiative from MTV to encourage the use of condoms for safe sex through these strips were a smart propaganda. With increase in the number of teen pregnancies in America, it has become evident to bring about awareness regarding protection measures during sex and the hazards of avoiding them. Another important factor was the spread of AIDS and other STD’s through unprotected sex which has infact become a widespread concern worldwide. This ad takes a strong attitude makeover initiative to encourage the use of condoms and prevent any sexually transmitted diseases and their after effects on population.

11. Che Guevara, (1968).

propaganda en posters

Jim Fitzpatrick was a well-known Irish Celtic artist of his time, but he is probably best known for his iconic 1968 Che Guevara poster. It is said that Fitzpatrick took the death of the revolutionary personally. He had once met Guevara when the revolutionary flew into Ireland in 1963 and checked into the Marine Hotel pub in Kilkee. Fitzpatrick was only a teenager at the time and had been working there over the summer.                                                                                                                            The poster became globally famous during the anti-Vietnam war protests and is now the symbol of F.A.R.C. in Columbia, a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary guerrilla organization, which is involved in the ongoing Colombian armed conflict. Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), a revolutionary group based in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico, uses this symbol as well. The image was also used during the violent Paris student riots in 1968. Across the rest of the West, the Marxist Che Guevara image is overused by any kid suffering from teenage angst.

12. “The Guarantee of German Military Strength”, (1932).

propaganda en posters

In Germany in the 1930s, propaganda was in full swing and being used by Hitler’s advisers to call the German people to arms and spread lies about the Jews. One of the most famous artists behind Nazi propaganda was Hans Schweitzer, known as “Mjolnir.” This poster by Hans Schweitzer shows the typical pro-Nazi theme of the German army’s strength, depicting an S.A. man standing next to a solider. The text reads, “The guarantee of German military strength!”

13. Ning Hao: China, (1954).

propaganda en posters

Seemingly along the lines of Rosie the Riveter, this Ning Hao piece reflects women being asked to work in the factories alongside men, partially to support their emancipation, but mostly to increase the labor force in China.

14. “Workers of The World Unite!”, (1920?).

propaganda en posters

Dimitri Moor (or Dmitry Stakhievich Orlov) changed the face of graphic design in Soviet Russia back in 1918. His work dominated both the Bolshevik Era (1917–1921) and the New Economic Policy (1921–1927). The main theme of Moor’s work is the stark contrast between the oppressive evil and the heroic allies. A lot of pressure was put on Russian workers to rise up against imperialism.

15. Pyramid of Capitalist System, (1911).

propaganda en posters

The Pyramid of Capitalist System is a common name of a 1911 American cartoon caricature critical of capitalism. The graphic focus is on social stratification by social class and economic inequality. The picture shows a literal “social pyramid” or hierarchy, with the wealthy few on the top, and the impoverished masses at the bottom. Crowned with a money bag representing capitalism, the top layer, “we rule you”, is occupied by the royalty and state leaders. Underneath them are the clergy (“we fool you”), followed by the military (“we shoot you”), and the bourgeoisie (“we eat for you”). The bottom of the pyramid is held by the workers (“we work for all… we feed all”). The basic message of the image is the critique of the capitalist system, with its hierarchy of power and wealth. It also illustrates that the working class is supporting all others, and if it would withdraw their support from the system it could, literally, topple the existing social order. This type of criticism of capitalism is attributed to the French socialist Louis Blanc. The work has been described as “famous”, “well-known and widely reproduced”.

16. “Open Trap, Make Happy Jap”, (1940?).

propaganda en posters

Reflecting the ugly racism of the times, many US produced propaganda posters from World War II would typecast the Japanese as goofy and cartoonish stereotypes. Buck teeth, big ears and an exaggeration on the eyes were recurring features. This incredibly racist image reflects our powerful need to dehumanize the enemy before we slaughter them, making the carnage not seem so evil.

17. Xu Ling: China, (1950).

propaganda en posters

Details about Chinese artists are hard to come by, but we can focus on what they intended to convey with their artwork. This piece is a caricature of the American commander in Korea at that time, General Douglas MacArthur. It shows the US as an abhorrent evil, and MacArthur is shown stabbing a Korean mother and child. Bombs labeled US are being dropped on cities in China in the background as the US invades Korea.

18. “Beat Back The Hun”, (1918).

propaganda en posters

This intense, frightening presence featuring the head of a “Hun” with blood-stained fingers and bayonet, is the work of Frederick or F. Strothmann. The poster was meant to literally scare Americans into buying the war bonds known as “Liberty Bonds” during WW I as a patriotic duty. These bonds are debt securities issued by the American government for the purpose of financing military operations. The creation of this capital not only helped to control inflation during war time, it also gave the public who invested their money in the bonds a feeling of involvement in the war without having to serve in the military. They were available in a wide range of denominations, and thus affordable to most citizens.

19. “Liberators”, (1944).

propaganda en posters

The Nazi’s had a very imaginative approach when it came to producing posters during the Second World War. Designed by Norwegian cartoonist Harald Damsleth, this particularly famous image depicts the Americans as a domineering force and characterizes many of their supposedly negative aspects, such as being money grabbing, racist, over-sexualized and all-empowering.

20. “American Invaders Will Be Defeated!”, (1951).

propaganda en posters

Completed at the height of the Cold War, 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”.

21. Rosie The Riveter, (1943).

propaganda en posters

Based on a familiar song of the time, this is Norman Rockwell’s famous Rosie the Riveter poster. Unlike the “we can do it” poster this image actually represents the American women who worked in the munitions and war supplies factories during World War II.This was a call to arms for the women of America to become strong capable females and support the war effort. Rockwell often found himself at odds with the more conservative the politics of the Saturday Evening Post, so in his later years, he took up the controversial subject of racism in America. He became respected as a painter for these hard-hitting pieces of American culture, much more so than for his work for the Saturday Evening Post.

22. Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense, (1968).

propaganda en posters

Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defence, done by an unidentified artist, 1968. When organizers of the Black Panther Party set up this scene for a photographer in 1967—enthroning the young “minister of defence” Huey Newton in a wicker chair and arming him a rifle and spear, they showed their determination to follow Malcolm X creed, “by any means necessary”. And the poster of course, transforms Newton into a larger than life, king-like figure.

23. “To Defend USSR”, (1930).

propaganda en posters

Valentina Kulagina was one of the few female poster artists to emerge from the 20th century. This poster, called “To Defend USSR” was created by Kulagina in 1930. It takes a cubist perspective in its multi-dimensional shapes, and it shows the Red army as huge almost robotic figures, marching from the factories to fight the war. They are surrounded by the tiny white airplanes of the royalists, which appear to have no effect on them at all and in fact seem to be flying through the figures. Chilling!

24. “Lest We Forget” : UK, (2010).

propaganda en posters

The artist behind this one could not be identified, but this had to be included for its clever use of old Tory values and the play on the Scooby-Doo gang’s unveiling of the monster. This poster shows the lack of faith in Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to be a force for change and not just another Margaret Thatcher clone.

25. Unusual, rare anti-Nazi propaganda postcard from 1934

propaganda en posters

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World War Propaganda Posters


Propaganda is the art of influence that seeks to manipulate an attitude of a group of people toward a cause or political position. By its nature, it not impartial and is usually biased. It is often selective with the facts or truths it presents, and will often appeal to fears or concerns of the group it is targeting. Over time, propaganda has acquired strongly negative connotations and can seem quite outdated by today’s standards. However, during both World Wars I and II, propaganda posters caught the eye and influenced the populace, with their striking artistic style still rippling through art to this day. We have taken a look at some prominent and interesting examples from both sides.

Uncle Sam (U.S.A)

“I Want You for U.S. Army”

The image of Uncle Sam (often viewed as the personification of the United States) from the World War I recruitment poster has become one of the U.S.A.’s most iconic images. James Montgomery Flagg, a prominent U.S. artist, designed 46 posters for the government, but his most famous was the “I Want You for U.S. Army”. Versions of the poster were then used again for World War II.

By James Montgomery Flagg

propaganda en posters

During both World Wars, posters were meant to instill people with a positive and patriotic outlook on the conflict. Posters were encouraging not just men to join the army, but every citizen of the United States to contribute to the war effort and do their part, whether at home or abroad. As we can see in the above example, red, white and blue are the colors which dominate the poster.

Treat ‘em Rough (U.S.A)

“Treat ‘em Rough” 1917

This poster, by artist August William Hutaf was created for the United States Tank Corps.

By Hutaf, August William

propaganda en posters

This Is How It Would Look in German Lands (Germany)

“So Säh es aus in Deutschen Landen” 1918

A contrast from the usual stark colors that are in a number of propaganda posters, the artist, Egon Tschirch, worked as a freelance painter in Rostock. His trips around southern France, Africa and Tunisia brought vivid color and luminosity to his work. Tschirch was also a soldier in World War I.

By Egon Tschirch

propaganda en posters

The colors in the poster stuck with red and black, which were used in a great deal of Germany’s propaganda work, as well as the gothic script. In the poster we can see two French howitzers that are firing on a city on the banks of the Rhine, where great plumes of smoke rise from the industrial areas.

Lord Kitchener (Britain)

“Your Country Needs You” 1914

Perhaps one of the most famous recruitment posters of World War I showing Lord Kitchener. The poster depicts Lord Kitchener, who was the British Secretary of State for War, wearing the cap of a British Field Marshal and calling on the viewer to join the British Army to fight against the Central Powers. The poster would go on to influence the United States and the Soviet Union.

By Alfred Leete

propaganda en posters

Before the institution of conscription in 1916, the United Kingdom has relied on upon volunteers for the army. However, with the outbreak of World War I, recruiting posters had not really been used since the Napoleonic War. The fact that Kitchener was an actively serving military officer leant credibility to the poster. Le Bas of Caxton Advertising chose Kitchener for the advertisement, saying Kitchener was “the only soldier with a great war name, won in the field, within the memory of the thousands of men the country wanted.”

Motherland (Soviet)

“Motherland Calls” 1941

This was, perhaps, the first and most famous Soviet poster of World War II. The image itself depicts “Mother Russia” in red, the color most strongly linked to Soviet Russia. In her hand she is holding a piece of paper which on it is the Red Army oath.

By Irakli Toidze

propaganda en posters

The poster was created in July 1941 by Irakli Toidze, a famous socialist realism artist, during the first days of the Great Patriotic War. Over time, it has become one of the most reconcilable pieces of Soviet art, and stands as a symbol of Russian liberation. The Motherland Calls also influenced Russia’s largest statue, also dubbed “The Motherland Calls” (The Mamayev Monument), which stands in Volgograd (former Stalingrad).

Manchukuo (Japanese)

“With the cooperation of Japan, China, and Manchukuo the world can be in peace” 1935

Japanese propaganda tended to rely on pre-war elements of statism in Shōwa Japan. Later, new forms of propaganda were introduced during World War II to persuade occupied countries of the benefits of Japanese rule. These attempted to undermine American troops’ morale, counteract claims of Japanese atrocities, and make it appear as though the Japanese were victorious.

By Manchukuo State Council of Emperor Kang-de Puyi

propaganda en posters

The poster above is of “Manchuko”; its purpose is to promote harmony between Japanese, Chinese, and Manchu peoples. Its caption reads: “With the help of Japan, China, and Manchukuo, the world can be in peace.” The flags shown are, left to right: the flag of Manchukuo; the flag of Japan; the “Five Races Under One Union” flag.

The More We Fight, the Stronger We Are (China)

“The More We Fight the Stronger We Are. The More Enemies [we] Fight the Weaker They Get” 1940

Earlier Chinese propaganda posters are largely associated with the image of Mao Zedong, as well as the rising sun over a sea of red flags. Even before this, during the long march (1934–1935), graphic sheets were produced and distributed to the local people to support and propagate the Communist ideology. They were originally simply designed in black and white, being distributed between the local populace.

Credit: Shihlun

propaganda en posters

The above poster uses red once again, and served to garner support for the Chinese to overthrow the Japanese troops that had occupied their land. After the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, propaganda posters became even more popular method for spreading the message about the Communist party.

Drive Them Out (Italy)

“Cacciali via!”

The Fascist regime used propaganda heavily to influence its citizens. This included pageantry and rhetoric, its purpose being to inspire the nation to unite and obey. In the beginning, propaganda was under the control of the press office, until a Ministry of Popular Culture was created in 1937. Two years before, a special propaganda ministry was created, whose purpose it was to espouse fascism, refute enemy lies, and clear up ambiguity.

By Ugo Finozzi

propaganda en posters

Posters were a powerful propaganda tool, and many were designed by some of Italy’s leading graphic artists. The above poster shows a mother clinging to her child as a soldier, holding a dagger, rushes forward toward flames with the text “Drive them out!”. It was created by Ugo Finozzi.

Posters Worth A Thousand Words

World war ii political posters from the collections of the smithsonian national museum of american history, in collaboration with, the role of a poster, posters were a key way to spread information during the war, the posters that spread awareness, teaching the british public about aviation, the posters that educated civilians, decoding the many symbols of military insignia, the posters to recruit women, encouraging women to join the reserves and fight for the country, explore the poster collections by color, joining the fight, propaganda posters encouraged citizens to enlist in the military, "we're coming" / join the a.i.f. now, the new anzacs pause before action in the middle east / join the aif now, man the guns join the navy, united states. navy, en sus puestos, come on, pal ... enlist, on to victory / air crews wanted r.a.a.f. - urgently, helping on the homefront, from victory gardens to calling for productivity, why not use me more says 'potato pete', ministry of food, killing time is killing men., brown, reynold, keep the wheels turning / repair work is vital to the war effort, "bundles for berlin" / more production, united states. war production board., dig for victory, home grown food means more ships for the war effort, he's a fighting fool / give him the best you've got / more production, it's your production / against his, put your muscle on a war basis sign up for a farm job at your local u.s. employment office, u.s. employment office, buy war bonds, funding the war through the power of the purse, lend a hand bonds buy bombs, abbott laboratories, bonds build ships buy more bonds, carry on buy war bonds, world war ii poster, 85 million americans hold war bonds. treasury department., united states. war finance division, let 'em have it buy extra bonds. treasury department., back the attack / buy war bonds 3rd war loan, care is costly buy and hold war bonds. treasury department., attack attack attack / buy war bonds. treasury department., united states. department of the treasury, carry your share / buy war bonds, the poster art of norman rockwell, an iconic artist's contributions, ours to fight for freedom from want, office of war information. (washington, d.c.), save freedom of worship each according to the dictates of his own conscience buy war bonds, save freedom of speech / buy war bonds, ours to fight for freedom from fear, loose lips sink ships, countries around the world reminded citizens that carless talk costs lives, the enemy has long ears, hold your tongue, qui a trop parlé, se taire, c'est servir, a careless word..., women winning the war, the posters entreating women to enlist, wish i could join too serve your country in the waves ..., that was the day i joined the waves ..., bring him home sooner / join the waves, you are needed now / join the army nurse corps / apply at your red cross recruiting station. u.s, green, ruzzie (artist), "we can do it", miller, j. howard, don't miss your great opportunity / the navy needs you in the waves, on the same team / enlist in the waves.., make nursing your war job--it's war work with a future, there's a man-size job for you in your navy / enlist in the waves ... u.s. navy., falter, john, my needle hums along the track for hitler's ears i'm pinning back ..., back them up, building a strong base of support, a raid by "hudsons" of the coastal command on german shipping at aalesund, norway, in which eleven ships were hit back them up, british field-guns smash a german tank attack at point-blank range in libya back them up, british army, back them up, a british "commando" raid on a german-help port in norway back them up, a british tank attack in the western desert back them up, a british cruiser ramming on italian submarine in the mediterranean back them up, the bombing in daylight of the power station at knapsack, germany, by the royal air force. back them up, the inner workings of airplanes, educating everyone on the aerial technology, britain's "spitfire v" ..., [in arabic or persian], il gigantesco bombardiere britannico "stirling" ..., le "halifax ii" de handley page ..., de lange afstand bristol "beaufighter" ..., "lancaster" - o avião pesado de bombardeamento britânico, one picture, many languages, how a poster changes as it spreads around the world, de stemmen der vrijheid leven ..., de stem der vrijheid leeft ..., h φωnh thσ eλeyθepiaσ zh ..., glas slobode živi novine saveznika štampane u velikoj britaniji, hlasy svobody žijí spojenecký tisk ve velké britanii, det frie ord lever de allierte aviser i england, dive into even more posters and printed culture, from the smithsonian national museum of american history.

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Propaganda Posters from WWI and WWII

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War on Paper: Propaganda Posters from the Spanish Civil War

Propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War tell the story of an epic struggle to win the hearts and minds of all who could fight.

spanish civil war propaganda posters

The Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) was one of the most brutal and bloody conflicts of all time. Spain may have been the battleground, but the scope was far larger, as people from all over the world joined or were forced to join in a war of ideologies.

Fascism and communism (and anarchism and a host of other ideologies that opposed fascism) went head to head, represented by the Nationalists and the Republicans, respectively. Countries aligned with either of those philosophies used Spain as a testbed for their military equipment.

The war wasn’t just fought in geographical locations. It was fought by appealing to people’s political conscience. Recruitment and support were critical, and ideology was promoted through propaganda. While the cinema was a new and powerful weapon in this arsenal, it was the reams of posters that captured the hearts and minds of the target audience.

The Roots of Visual Propaganda in the Spanish Civil War

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The position of the Republican side of the conflict relied heavily on influence from the Soviet Union, which invested heavily in providing visual propaganda to what it saw as a region ripe for communist revolution. This proved immensely effective as the Soviet government had made, by that time, massive strides in the effective use of propaganda through film and posters in the Soviet Union . Furthermore, it should be noted that the Republicans gained no help from democratic powers in Europe, which had declared neutrality in the conflict.

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Through propaganda, the Republicans generated the desire to fight for a just cause that was liberal and focused on equality. The Nationalists, however, used unity as their overarching theme, rejecting the chaos and disorder that the Republicans represented. By doing this, they promoted allegiance to a single, powerful leader that could guide them through troubles – Francisco Franco .

Both sides, however, appealed to a plethora of human emotions to guide their propaganda messages. Along with visually striking imagery, posters and the symbolism employed conveyed messages to a population with varying levels of literacy, from the well-educated urbanites to the illiterate rural population.


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Representing the enemy as semi-human or non-human made it easier to distinguish the enemy as the “other.” This standard idea saw massive popularity in the 1930s, not just in the Spanish Civil War propaganda but in propaganda from other countries as well, and from both sides of the political spectrum. Of note were the German posters depicting Jews and communists and animalistic and evil sub-humans.

In the same vein, Republicans and Nationalists did so as well, depicting each other as snakes, reptiles, ogres, gorillas, and a plethora of other creatures lacking the qualities of humanity that were desirable.

Protecting the Family

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In defending traditional norms, such as religion and social mores, the Nationalists put a strong emphasis on protecting the family. By using imagery of mothers and children under threat from communism, they could appeal to the emotions created by familial links. Just as the poster above suggests communism will destroy the family, so does the one below, with a more direct message.

spanish civil war propaganda familia

Religion as a Propaganda Tool

spanish civil war propaganda cruzada

The use of religious themes played an important part in the propaganda campaign of the Nationalists. By doing so, they managed to sway the support of much of the conservative demographic. The poster above declares Cruzada – España espiritual del mundo (“Crusade – Spain is the Spiritual Leader of the World”). Through this caption, the poster likens the Nationalist cause to that of a crusade, and in so doing, reduces their enemies to infidels. Given Spain’s history with Muslim conquest and Spanish reconquest , this message strikes a particularly powerful chord.

Appeals to Power

spanish civil war propaganda crush fascism

Propaganda is not simply powerful imagery, but it is also imagery of power. It taps into the deep need for many human beings to feel powerful. This dynamic was certainly not lost on the creators of Spanish Civil War propaganda and was found in visuals from both sides of the political spectrum.

The clenched fist is one of the most common symbols of power, and it is found here in Rafel Tona’s (1903–1987) poster above, which encourages the Catalunians to crush fascism by joining the air force.

por las armas

The above image also promoted a sense of power – a fist tightened around a rifle – signifying the necessity to fight in order to secure the fatherland, food, and justice. Behind the image is the Falangist symbol of arrows and a yoke, signifying the importance of fighting for rural traditions. This was particularly useful in appealing to the conservative, rural demographic, which formed the basis of the Falangist Movement’s support.

spanish civil war propaganda los nacionales

Populists with cults of personality are enticing targets for political cartoonists who paint these characters in satire, thus diminishing their target’s attempts to create an image of all-powerfulness. In other words, no amount of power and character presentation can save you from satire.

The above poster by Juan Antonio Morales (1936) is a perfect example of derision as a propaganda device, belittling the allies of the Nationalists. Represented are the church, the Moors, Benito Mussolini ’s Fascist Italy on the left, and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany on the right. The mast is a gallows, and from it hangs the nation of Spain with the Nationalist motto of Arriba España (“Up with Spain”). The juxtaposition here shows the hollow words leading to the death of Spain. Although it is unclear what type of bird is depicted, it is possibly a vulture waiting to scavenge the remains of a dead Spain.

spanish civil war propaganda el generalisimo

In a slightly Cubist , cartoonish style, the above image conveys a frightening image of General Francisco Franco in opposition to the Nationalist idea of him as a heroic savior. Behind him are the servile sycophants holding his cape. They represent the military, the capitalists, and the church.

The swastika on Franco’s jacket indicates that he is a puppet of the Nazi regime.


spanish civil war propaganda international brigade

Perhaps one of the most popular themes in Spanish Civil War propaganda is that of camaraderie and fighting for a just cause that is far bigger than the concerns of the individual. Posters appealed not just to Spanish people but to people worldwide who shared the ideals of the Republicans or the Nationalists.

The Republicans drew much international support from individuals by the tens of thousands. The Nationalists, although receiving a few thousand recruits from Ireland, England, the Philippines, Belarus, Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Belgium, relied more on support in the form of divisions already formed and under the control of the governments of Franco’s international allies. Italy, Germany, and Portugal supported the Nationalist cause. Of particular note was Germany’s Condor Legion , which had a significant hand in helping the Nationalists win the war.

Evocations of Disgust and Guilt in the Propaganda Posters of the Spanish Civil War:

spanish civil war propaganda madrid

One of the most potent emotions able to influence human beings to take action is the feeling of disgust. A powerful example of this is a poster from the Republican Ministerio de Propaganda which shows an actual photograph of a dead child. The assumption is made clear that the child was murdered by Nationalist forces. Images like these are extremely powerful and generate widespread feelings of anger and guilt over not having done something to prevent it. A modern example is the photograph of two-year-old Alan Kurdi, who died with his family in the Mediterranean after fleeing the Syrian Civil War .

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The notion of guilt is commonly combined with disgust to shame the viewer into action, as seen by the above poster designed by Augusto (Augusto Fernández Sastre) in 1937, and refers to the brutal bombardment of Madrid by the Nationalists.

Propaganda posters during the Spanish Civil War reflected the ideology of the proponents as well as the social and cultural mores of the people whose minds they intended to sway. Reaching through a vast spectrum of themes, the Spanish Civil War gives us an in-depth look at the visual psychological devices used to elicit the emotions the creators and distributors needed to wage an effective war against their mortal enemies.

Further Reading & Sources:

Hardin, Jennifer Roe. Fighting for Spain through the Media: Visual Propaganda as a Political Tool in the Spanish Civil War. 2013. Boston College University Libraries.

Garganese, Robin. Propaganda posters in the Spanish Civil War: Exploring visual and political narratives. October 2022. Europeana.

Vergara, Alexander. Images of Revolution and War. University of California San Diego.

The Virtual Wright Museum Art.

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The Spanish Civil War Between Two Other World Wars

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By Greg Beyer BA History and Linguistics, Diploma in Journalism Greg is an academic writer with a History focus and has written over 100 articles for TheCollector. He comes from South Africa and holds a BA from the University of Cape Town. He has spent many years as an English teacher, and he currently specializes in writing for academic purposes. In his spare time, he enjoys drawing and painting.

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The Ukraine war, propaganda-style, is coming to Russian movie screens. Will people watch?

A ticket machine with a poster of "The Witness" movie is displayed in a cinema lobby inside a shopping mall in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. "The Witness," a state-sponsored drama that premiered in Russia on Aug. 17, is the first feature film about Russia's military campaign in Ukraine to hit the movie theaters nationwide. It depicts Ukrainian troops as violent neo-Nazis who torture and kill their own people. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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The movie centers around a renowned violinist from Belgium arriving in Kyiv to perform. The date is February 2022, and his trip is upended as Russia starts bombing Ukraine. The musician survives a series of “inhuman crimes and bloody provocations by Ukrainian nationalists,” and he wants to tell the world “what it was really like.”

“The Witness” — a state-sponsored drama that premiered in Russia on Aug. 17 -- is the first feature film about the 18-month-old invasion. It depicts Ukrainian troops as violent neo-Nazis who torture and kill their own people. One even wears a T-shirt with Hitler on it; another is shown doing drugs. It also has the main character’s young son wondering: “Isn’t Ukraine Russia?”

It’s the narrative the Kremlin has been promoting since the first days of the war — all packaged up in a motion picture.

The release of “The Witness” comes after Russian authorities announced a plan to boost production of movies glorifying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and is part of a growing number of propaganda films.

But in an era of instantaneous information and disinformation in wartime and other times, two questions present themselves: Are propaganda films actually effective? And are they any good?

WILL THE VIEWERS COME? Whether such films will attract viewers is a big question. Similar movies have been box-office disasters. Plus, sociologists say the public interest in following the war has waned, and people these days mainly want to escape from the gloom and doom of news from Ukraine.

“We regularly hear (from respondents) that it’s a huge stress, a huge pain,” says Denis Volkov, director of the Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster. Some Russians, he says, insist they “don’t discuss, don’t watch, don’t listen” to the news about Ukraine in an effort to cope with that stress.

Film is an important medium that governments have used to shape patriotic messages — from the early days of the Soviet Union to wartime use by Nazi Germany and Italy, and even by the United States during and immediately after World War II. In more modern times, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung and his son and successor, Kim Jong Il, presided over a regular output of propaganda movies.

State-sponsored propaganda films have also been employed in the Middle East to varying degrees of success. Syria’s civil war, for instance, became a focal point of Ramadan TV soap operas in the past decade, including some that were supportive of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Iran regularly funds films glorifying hard-liners and paramilitary forces it backs across the region.

In today’s Russia, propaganda as fiction isn’t a haphazard effort. Russian authorities speak openly about their intention to bring the Ukraine war — or, rather, the Russian narrative around it — to the big screen.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Culture Ministry to ensure theaters screen documentaries about the “special military operation,” as the Kremlin calls its war in Ukraine. The ministry also has prioritized themes when allocating state funding for films. These include “heroism and selflessness of Russian warriors” in Ukraine and “battling modern manifestations of the Nazi and fascist ideology” — a false accusation Putin makes about Kyiv’s leaders.

The state funding that makers of Russian films can tap into this year is more than ever: 30 billion rubles (about $320 million) offered by two government bodies and a state-run nonprofit. That’s a pivotal part of today’s industry, which has been heavily dependent on state funding for years.

Russian film critic Anton Dolin describes it as a “vicious system when the state is the main and richest producer in the country.” In an interview with The Associated Press, Dolin notes that all films have to get a screening license from the Culture Ministry. So “censorship mechanisms” work even for those who don’t take money from the government.

HOW ‘VERY DECENT CINEMA’ WAS JOINED BY PROPAGANDA That doesn’t mean that Russian filmmakers who get state funding always produce propaganda. There is also “very decent cinema” out there, says critic and culture expert Yuri Saprykin.

Indeed, some Oscar nominees from Russia received state funding — for example, “Leviathan” by renowned film director Andrey Zvyagintsev, which was released in 2015 in Russia and later slammed by the Culture Ministry as “anti-Russian” for its critical depiction of Russian reality. And there were other numerous domestic hits: widely watched historical dramas, sci-fi blockbusters, portrayals of legendary Soviet athletes.

Generally, Russia’s film industry until recently was “considered a good, culturally global citizen, producing good films, sometimes challenging the regime,” says Gregory Dolgopolov, film and video production scholar at the University of New South Wales.

After Russia’s brief war with Georgia in 2008, Russian state TV broadcast a film reflecting Moscow’s version of how its neighbor started the conflict. Its storyline was somewhat similar to that of “The Witness”: an American and his Russian friend witness the beginning of the war and embark on a mission to bring the truth to the world, while Georgian security forces try to stop them.

That happened again after the 2014 illegal annexation of Crimea – and this time, the Kremlin’s narratives spilled into movie theaters.

The 2017 film “Crimea” justified Moscow’s seizure of the peninsula and portrayed a popular uprising in Kyiv in 2014 that ousted Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president as pointlessly violent, with Ukrainians brutally beating and killing their compatriots. It was not only state-funded; its creators said the idea came from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

A year later, a state-sponsored romantic comedy about Crimea —- written by Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of the government-funded TV network RT — focused on a Putin pet project: a bridge linking the peninsula to the mainland. It depicted Crimea thriving under Russia’s reign.

Both films were promoted by state media but bashed by independent critics for weak plots and flat characters. Both eventually failed at the box office. Several other films about the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which Moscow fueled while blaming Kyiv, were even less popular.

“Why would people go to see an ad for the state, the state they suffer from ... especially when they have an alternative?” Dolin wonders.

The alternative — Hollywood blockbusters — was always much more successful, no matter how hard the Kremlin tried to fuel anti-Western sentiment. So much so that at some point Russia’s authorities started postponing releases of Hollywood hits that coincided with domestic movies they wanted to succeed.

Still, “any Spider-Man movie, any Marvel movie, any `Star Wars’, any American film earned a fortune in Russia,” said Ivan Philippov, creative executive at AR Content, production company of renowned film producer Alexander Rodnyansky.

THE NUMBER OF PROPAGANDA FILMS IS EXPECTED TO GROW Overall, the Russian industry over the years expressed little interest in making propaganda films about Moscow’s conflict in Ukraine. Philippov notes that of hundreds of movies released in Russia every year, only about a dozen since 2014 have been dedicated to this topic.

He expects this number to grow and points to two in the works in addition to “The Witness.” One, “The Militiaman,” follows a Moscow artist who decides to join the Kremlin-backed separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine, abandoning his bohemian life in the Russian capital.

Another, “Mission ‘Ganges’,” is about Russian troops trying to save a group of Indian students trapped in a Ukrainian city as Moscow’s “special military operation” unfolds. The city, the storyline says, is held by “Ukrainian nationalists,” who “wreak havoc” and are trying to “hunt down” the students.

After major Hollywood studios halted their business in Russia last year, there are no Marvel movies to compete with these, though some movies still trickle through in the form of pirated copies and there are still certain European and lower-profile American movies available.

But other Russian films out there are proving popular among moviegoers seeking positive emotions. “Cheburashka,” a fairy tale featuring the iconic Soviet cartoon character that was released during the New Year holidays this year, was a smashing success. It earned nearly 7 billion rubles ($74 million) against the 850 million (roughly $9 million) spent making it.

Philippov says no one in the industry could even imagine such earnings. But filmmakers are following suit, remaking Soviet classics and turning to fairy tales. “The industry drew one conclusion: Russians very much want to distract themselves from what constitutes their daily routine,” Philippov says. “They very much don’t want to watch (films) about the war.”

As if to echo that sentiment, “The Witness” premiered in Russia without much fanfare and few mentions even in state media. At a movie theater in Moscow on a rainy Sunday afternoon last week, almost a dozen movie-goers said they came to see films other than “The Witness,” though several said they planned on watching it at some point. By the time the showing began, there were only about 20 people in an auditorium large enough for 180.

During its first weekend, it had earned just over 6.7 million rubles — or about $70,000.

That’s not entirely surprising, if you ask Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a history professor at New York University who studies authoritarianism and propaganda.

“When an authoritarian is in a defensive position and is waging a war and it’s not going well,” she says, the films made for indoctrination purposes are “not often very good.”

Associated Press film writer Jake Coyle contributed from New York.

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A child runs past a mural showing Pope Francis with depiction of nomadic daily life in Mongolian outside a church in Ulaanbaatar, Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. When Pope Francis travels to Mongolia this week, he will in some ways be completing a mission begun by the 13th century Pope Innocent IV, who dispatched emissaries east to ascertain the intentions of the rapidly expanding Mongol Empire and beseech its leaders to halt the bloodshed and convert.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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War propaganda posters, 9,137 propaganda posters stock photos & high-res pictures, browse 9,137  authentic propaganda posters  stock photos, high-res images, and pictures, or explore additional chinese propaganda posters  or  war propaganda posters  stock images to find the right photo at the right size and resolution for your project..

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    Harold Lasswell provided a broad definition of the term propaganda, writing it as: "the expression of opinions or actions carried out deliberately by individuals or groups with a view to influencing the opinions or actions of other individuals or groups for predetermined ends and through psychological manipulations." [6]

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    Propaganda is the more or less systematic effort to manipulate other people's beliefs, attitudes, or actions by means of symbols (words, gestures, banners, monuments, music, clothing, insignia, hairstyles, designs on coins and postage stamps, and so forth).

  18. Category:Propaganda posters

    The following 2 files are in this category, out of 2 total. Lithuanian poster urging not to forget Vilnius.jpg 249 × 400; 22 KB. Zapluty karzel.jpg 268 × 370; 23 KB. Categories: Propaganda art. Propaganda by medium. Posters.

  19. Cómo crear un cartel de propaganda

    Instala la fuente en tu computadora, abre Photoshop ,¡y estás listo para crear un buen cartel de propaganda! 1. Cómo editar tu collage de fotos en Photoshop. Antes de que comencemos a trabajar en el diseño del cartel, tendremos que preparar nuestra foto por separado para colocarla en el diseño. Advertisement.

  20. 80,120 imágenes de Propaganda

    Descubra Propaganda imágenes de stock en HD y millones de otras fotos, ilustraciones y vectores en stock libres de regalías en la colección de Shutterstock. ... Retro Posters Style Backgrounds, Old Propaganda Placards Style Templates, Black Red White Color Combination. Patria. Conjunto de vectores de propaganda de vintage: spam de escenario.

  21. War on Paper: Propaganda Posters from the Spanish Civil War

    Propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War tell the story of an epic struggle to win the hearts and minds of all who could fight. The Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) was one of the most brutal and bloody conflicts of all time. Spain may have been the battleground, but the scope was far larger, as people from all over the world joined or ...

  22. Nazi Germany: Radio propaganda turns 90

    At new the German Radio Exhibition in Berlin on August 18, 1933, 100,000 sets were sold. Until then, Germany was home to about 4 million households paying the public media license fee. By the ...

  23. The Ukraine war, propaganda-style, is coming to Russian movie screens

    A ticket machine with a poster of "The Witness" movie is displayed in a cinema lobby inside a shopping mall in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023.

  24. France to ban female students from wearing abayas in state schools

    BBC News. Students will be banned from wearing abaya, a loose-fitting full-length robe worn by some Muslim women, in France's state-run schools, the education minister has said. The rule will be ...

  25. Propaganda Posters

    WWII Propaganda Print Posters poison gas mask World War WW2 Chemical Weapon phosgene lewisite mustard chlorpicrin soldier US Army art gift. (139) $36.00. FREE shipping. American Vintage War Time Posters - Massive Collection of 3800+ High Resolution Propaganda Posters. Digital Download, Print & Frame Wall Art. (7) $31.74.

  26. 9,136 Propaganda Posters Stock Photos & High-Res Pictures

    Browse Getty Images' premium collection of high-quality, authentic Propaganda Posters stock photos, royalty-free images, and pictures. Propaganda Posters stock photos are available in a variety of sizes and formats to fit your needs.