World War Two Posters
The images on this page are of U.S. propaganda posters used in World War Two to motivate millions of Americans in the successful effort to defeat the Axis Powers in World War Two. Today, propaganda is commonly thought of to be false or misleading and the term is commonly used in a derogatory way. This was not always true. Propaganda is actually neither right or wrong and is not necessarily deceptive. The message conveyed can be valid.
When these World War 2 posters were created, the earlier definition of propaganda applied (i.e. spreading ideas or information to further a cause). Most of the posters below convey accurate messages of what America was fighting to preserve - our freedoms, our way of life, and what average citizens could do to help in the war effort. Some of the posters are very powerful in both image and words. Others give motivational or informational messages.
In the overly sensitive, easily offended, multi-cultural, and politically-correct nation we have become, many of these posters would not have been produced today.
During World War Two, troop movements, strategies, and tactics were highly guarded and the message was driven home by many posters and informational films. A 10-minute movie about Safeguarding Military Secrets and the posters below give insight about the possible ramifications of loose talk.
Today the media and our own government broadcast our troop levels, troop movements, strategy, and tactics. Some might find the idea of secrecy as quaint, out-of-date, or possibly even diabolical but those people are wrong. How many needless deaths does giving the enemy information cause? Could we stomach again the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded troops and civilians incurred during World War II?
To win any war, you need good planning, effective troops, a supportive home front, and weapons. Many World War 2 posters focused on maximizing production. Take a look at some of the posters below. The "E" Award was an award for excellence given only to facilities producing outstanding production and quality.
War Bonds and War Loans
To build the weapons, money is needed and lots of it. To finance the war effort, the United States Government borrowed from Americans by selling war bonds and through taxation. Celebrity endorsements such as Abbott and Costello promotional films, and posters helped sell the bonds . Videos promoting war bonds can be watched on the World War Two War Loans page. The posters are below.
The United States government actively sought women to fill the civilian ranks left by American men who were drafted into the military.
The military also needed to fill positions vacated by men who were overseas. The military actively recruited women. The Army had the Women's Army Corp (WAC); The Navy: Women Accepted for Emergency Voluntary Service (WAVES); The Coast Guard: Women's Reserve (SPARs).
Here are a few recruitment posters directed at women:
Selected U.S. Armed Forces Recruitment Posters:
British World War 2 propaganda posters can be found here.
German World War 2 propaganda posters are located here.
Thanks to the Old Time Radio Researchers Group for many of the poster images.
Kingsmen singing "Keepin' Our Big Mouths Shut":
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The definition of "propaganda" has evolved over the years to take on a more negative connotation but this was not always the case as evidenced by the definitions from several dictionaries published at different times.
"the spreading of ideas or information deliberately to further one's cause or damage an opposing cause" from The New Merriam-Webster Pocket Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, 1971, page 398.
"any widespread promotion of particular ideas, doctrines" from Webster's New World Dictionary, Simon and Schuster, 1979, page 479.
"any systematic, widespread, deliberate indoctrination or plan for such indoctrination: now often used in a derogatory sense, connoting deception or distortion" from Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, Deluxe Second Edition Simon and Schuster, 1983, page 1442.
Click the image to watch the video.
Safeguarding Military Information is a 10-minute movie produced by the United States Government to dramatize the importance of keeping military secrets.
Listen to the Kingsmen sing "Keeping Your Mouth Shut".
Music also played a role in reminding the citizenry of the importance of not spreading secrets.
Other Home Front posters
The Home Front
To remind Americans why they were fighting and to provide guidance as to what was needed and expected. Posters were used. Movies were also created and some of them can be viewed on the Home Front page.
Conservation and Rationing
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