Now that we’re in the patriotic swing of things for the 4th of July, perhaps we should take a look at some wartime propaganda. Of course, last year I did a series on Declaration of Independence signers which wasn’t a huge hit among the blogosphere or Google Search. But this year, I think doing a post on wartime propaganda from the two World Wars from the early 20th century might bring some flag waving fervor. Or it just might be something that I could have a lot of fun with. After all, I’ve already done the American flag. Nevertheless, these propaganda posters not only served as iconic images from governments and other agencies to do their part for the effort, but also pointed out that as a nation at war, we’re all in this together. And if you’re not doing your part or making any sacrifices, you’re being an unpatriotic dimwit who should be ashamed of yourself. Still, it’s interesting to look at these posters and see what kind of messages and images there are at the time. You’ll find Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter. But you’ll also find stuff on encouraging conservation, not throwing stuff away, buying bonds, men keeping it in their pants, and even carpooling. Yes, carpooling. Not only that, but a lot of these propaganda posters have been parodied over the years, even after the conflicts that made their existence. So for your reading pleasure, I want you to see a treasure trove of some historical posters encouraging you to do your part for the cause.
- Your friends are fighting, why aren’t you, man?
This is a recruitment poster from Canada encouraging young men to join the armed forces. And Canada certainly participated in both world wars. James Doohan was one of the most famous Canadian WWII veterans since he was Scotty from Star Trek.
2. Be a Merchant Marine and help deliver the goods.
The merchant marines are among the most underrated war heroes in both world wars since transporting supplies is crucial for any war effort. However, like you see in Mr. Roberts, they don’t see much action and it was very boring gig.
3. Ladies, Joan of Arc saved her country, you can save yours by buying stamps.
Except that Joan of Arc saved France by being the French Army’s mascot and providing divine inspiration. Lincoln’s comment of Ulysses S. Grant’s drinking would describe her perfectly for those who think she had schizophrenia.
4. “My M-1 does the talking!”
There are a lot of posters encouraging people to be careful what they say or write. Because they can unintentionally help the enemy. And you don’t want to do that.
5. Remember men, disease is disguised so don’t gamble with VD.
I know this is telling men to keep it in their pants. But given double standards and realistic consequences, I think this message is necessary. Because people really need to be careful on who they screw.
6. “He gives 100%. You can lend 10%.”
And it looks like he’s stepped on a mine and isn’t long for this world. If that’s not giving 100%, I don’t know what is.
7. Uncle Sam says, “Fill those empty seats!”
Because car sharing saves on gas that could be used to fuel our tanks in North Africa. And this is definitely from WWII, by the way.
8. Housewives, save waste fats for explosives.
Because bacon grease can be used as nitro glycerin. And I’m not kidding on this.
9. Remember men, self-control is self preservation.
Because screwing whores at the front leads you prone to contracting nasty STDs. So keep it in your pants, boys.
10. Survive the wartime winter with coal for warmth.
Because the war effort needs oil. But you can also order wood. Love the freezing penguin in this.
11. Can this Nazi save more grease than you?
There’s ammunition in this kitchen with bacon grease. And even the Nazis know that.
12. Maintain your gas mask.
Because you might need it during a gas attack. So don’t use it as a knapsack and pillow. Wonder what people doing with their gas masks for that poster to exist.
13. “Let’s catch him with his ‘panzers’ down!”
I think this is a clever one for WWII. Notice how Hitler has swastikas on his underwear.
14. Mr. Peanut goes to war.
Not even corporate advertising mascots were exempt from war service. Mr. Peanut from Planter’s ought to know. Weird to see him without his top hat and monocle.
15. Saving old metal and paper puts the lid on Hitler.
Salvage saves lives and so does recycling. So save as much as you can on paper and metal.
16. Buying bonds and saving money will beat the devil!
And the devil here is Adolf Hitler. Here he’s even red with horns and pointy ears.
17. Join the tanks and beat em’ rough!
Wonder why they have a screaming black cat here. Sure it looks evil but it was more stupid to be on a battlefield than malicious.
18. Civilians, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
Yeah, you really don’t need to buy a white elephant. Of course, it’s only in here as a figure of speech.
19. Uncle Sam says, “Protect your nation’s honor, enlist now!”
Enlist now because your nation has just been raped, metaphorically. Of course, I think this might be from WWI though.
20. This dog’s owner died because someone wouldn’t shut up.
Yes, go with the gold star dog treatment. Because dogs are seen as loyal friends to their master and are quite adorable.
21. “Tell nobody-not even her!”
Because you’ll never know where you’ll find a Nazi spy. This is especially if she talks in a German accent.
22. Dressing extravagantly is unpatriotic.
Because in wartime, everyone should make sacrifices. So dressing to the nines isn’t just bad form, it’s unpatriotic. Get it?
23. This man’s life is in your hands.
If I were him, I’d be more worried about throwing it too late than it being a dud. Those things can blow your freaking hand off.
24. Remember, the Nazis burned books that Americans can still read.
Because unlike Americans, the Nazis don’t believe in a free press. This is why they staged book burnings. Yes, they hate American freedom.
25. No sailor has to prove he’s a man on shore leave.
Because giving in to 1940s masculinity pressures might get you an STD. And there’s no medicine for regret.
26. Drivers, drive a truck for Uncle Sam.
I could tell this is from WWI because of the car design. And the artwork is a little bit crude, too.
27. The kitchen is the key to victory, eat less bread.
Because our men need carbs, dammit. So eat more garden veggies instead.
28. Remember, our men are ready to fight at any time.
However, looking at this you have to wonder how these soldiers got any sleep. Oh, wait, some of these guys didn’t sleep for days.
29. This woman is wanted for murder.
Because she didn’t know when to shut the hell up. This cost lives overseas. Yeah, watch your mouth, ladies.
30. Uncle Sam wants you to stop stealing tools!
Because combat crews need them to repair stuff with. At least this poster makes a lot of sense.
31. This, soldier, is what is known as a booby trap.
Because she’s loaded with boobs and STDS. Don’t have sex with her. Seriously, keep it in your pants.
32. Help China! Because China is helping us.
Well, they should be helping us. But the Nationalist and Communist factions don’t like each other at all. So it’s not uncommon for these Chinese factions in some areas to fight each other or side with Japan.
33. Don’t let the Nazi swastika touch them!
So buy bonds and keep our kiddies safe from the Nazis. This is especially if you and/or your kids are Jewish.
34. Careless talk took her daddy!
So be careful of what you say. You may not know when you’re talking to an enemy spy in your neighborhood.
35. Losing an arm at Pearl Harbor shouldn’t keep you away from patriotic duties.
After all, just because he can’t be a soldier no more doesn’t mean he can’t help. Because you don’t need two arms to hold a blow torch.
36. Keep your mouth shut and don’t be a sucker!
Because a fish that opens its mouth is a sucker, hook, line, and sinker. Still, you have to like the artwork on this.
37. For defense, give blood since it’s life.
However, this offer’s not available for blacks since their blood isn’t fit for white GIs’ veins in transfusions. I know that concept based on pseudoscientific claims as well as stupid flagrant racism, but that’s what white Americans believed in the 1940s.
38. On April 19, 1917, Wake Up America Day.
I guess this date was picked specifically as the anniversary of the American Revolution. Also the girl is wearing a cocked hat and carrying a lantern.
39. Plant your own garden for victory.
Both world wars encouraged people to plant their own vegetable gardens for food. This is from WWI.
40. It’s a women’s war so join the WAVES!
This woman’s face says, “This is not what I signed up for. Really hope this ship on my radio doesn’t get bombed. Don’t want to hear a bunch of screaming sailors going down to their deaths.”
41. Soldiers, know the risks of syphilis and gonorrhea.
To be fair, regardless of what this ad says, there’s a strong chance that many of these guys didn’t have a lot of sex education. And yes, STDs do kill. But yeah, it’s not really nice to women.
42. “If you talk too much, this man may die.”
Another poster that says, “loose lips, sink ships.” Besides, he seems like a handsome sailor in that submarine.
43. Destroy this mad brute of a Hun, enlist.
The funny part about this poster that it’s from WWI as you can see by the Kaiser helmet. Still, you have to ask yourself whether this image inspired King Kong.
44. While commuting to work, try to squeeze for one more.
Yet, I’m not sure how many people this car can take. Since it seems full to the brim already.
45. Remember, war bonds are always cheaper than wooden crosses.
Or military funerals for that matter. And yes, the US military did a lot of them during both world wars.
46. Like digging a foxhole, conserving’s for your own protection.
Because conservation helps save resources for the war effort. Plus, it’s good for the environment in an age where one of the biggest threats is climate change.
47. Wake up, America, civilization calls every man, woman, and child.
And here’s the lady personifying America fast asleep. Another WWI poster.
48. Along with gardening, wartime housewives should also take to canning.
This is a famous picture I’ve might’ve seen somewhere. Nevertheless, the girl looks a bit freaky to me.
49. Remember, every time you miss work for no reason, you stab the Statue of Liberty in the back.
Because time must not be wasted. Still, bound to make you guilty of missing work during WWII.
50. Always practice good eating habits in fox holes.
Because it might make your ass a huge target for enemy gunfire. So eat wisely.
51. This soldier needs smokes more than anything else.
What he really needs is to quit smoking. But don’t bet on that because only the doctors in his day see it’ll kill him if the war doesn’t.
52. See action now and join the submarine service.
They do a bunch of cool stuff like shooting down U-boats. However, I don’t see a sinking ship on fire as a glorious sight worthy of a recruitment poster.
53. Remember, the enemy is watching you.
I’ve seen this one parodied a few times. Those eyes are so menacing which is kind of the point.
54. Help military pilots by building and fixing the planes right.
He can’t fix any plane problems in the air. Nor could he shoot down Nazis either. So don’t screw up his chances of survival. Not that they’re great anyway.
55. Remember, men, beautiful blondes aren’t always so dumb.
This one tells soldiers to be careful that you’re not discussing battle plans around pretty civilian women. Because she could be a Nazi spy and you don’t want anyone to needlessly die.
56. Donate your books for soldiers to pass the time.
Because soldiers in the trenches can be really starved for entertainment. And they can’t really abandon their stations there either.
57. More firepower, over here!
“But please, bomb them not me. We don’t need any friendly firepower here.” Note that friendly fire happens in wars 10% of the time.
58. Gremlins like to throw stuff in your eyes, so wear safety goggles.
Gremlins or no gremlins, wear safety goggles. Because when you’re working with munitions, you’re working with a lot of harmful chemicals. Duh.
59. Every girl is pulling for victory!
Yes, these ladies are pulling for victory with their united war work while the men are languishing in the trenches. Surely anyone with a right mind needs to believe that they should have the vote by now.
60. In wartime, have you ever considered a staycation?
After all, it saves gas and you’d probably not want to go to Europe anyway. Or Asia. Or North Africa. Or anywhere in the Pacific.
61. Even sports figures like Joe Louis enlist to do their part.
A lot of male celebrities fought in WWII like Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Tyrone Power, David Niven, Henry Fonda, and others. One major celebrity who didn’t fight in WWII but could: John Wayne.
62. For war nerves, stop needless noise.
Yes, war is scary. But it helps to keep calm in the face of danger even when you’re shitting your pants. Same goes when you come in contact with a bear.
63. Whose boy will die if we should fail?
That’s a harrowing propaganda poster. But when in war, a lot of soldiers die. Such is life.
64. Be patriotic and save the food.
Yes, people save food because soldiers need it. Because America is begging you.
65. GIs will take care of Japan, this is how you can save money.
This poster gives you some good ideas to save money at a time of rising prices on the Home Front. Also great tips for money saving in general. At least most of them.
66. This is a Russian soldier. He is your friend.
Well, only until the war ends and the Soviet Union is engaged in an arms race with the US over nuclear weapons. So don’t expect the friendship to last. Also, he doesn’t really fight for freedom because Stalinist Russia isn’t a freedom loving place. Not to mention the genocide and purges.
67. Do with less so they’ll have enough!
That’s another famous WWII poster, too. And the GI just sits drinking his coffee.
68. Remember, take precautions during an air raid.
Sure you’re going to be scared shitless during one. But this doesn’t mean you have to go crazy. In fact, on the contrary.
69. Liberty on the phone, war effort needs cash now!
Not sure how she’s able to talk with that ridiculous crown on her head. But she’ll manage.
70. For action, enlist in the air service.
Just remember that you’ll have insufficient time to train and that a pilot’s in flight lifespan is 20 minutes. As I’ve learned from Blackadder.
71. Join the Navy, the service for fighting men.
And that guy has to spread his legs on a torpedo. As for fighting men, it doesn’t apply to everyone. Mr. Roberts points that out brilliantly.
72. We’ll win the war, you give us the stuff.
Guy seems quite proud of himself holding up a Japanese Rising Sun flag. He’ll probably hang it as a souvenir in his office someday.
73. Join the Veterinary War Corps and treat horses.
Sure the guys may learn something useful. However, WWI kind of helped us all realize that the cavalry had no future in 20th century warfare.
74. If I was a man, I’d join the Navy.
Seems like they’re really pressuring guys to join the Navy with fanservice and an appeal of masculinity. From WWI by the way.
75. Here’s life in the US Navy and what it offers.
A sailor’s life at sea is great until either a U-Boat bombs it or seasickness. Also, I’m not sure if monkeys are allowed on board. Sure beats the trenches though.
76. Guys, enlist so you won’t have to disappoint your kids.
Of course, if men didn’t list during WWI, there’s a chance they could be drafted. Also, didn’t seem to factor in PTSD either. Still, this is another famous poster.
77. Don’t take a chance with prostitutes, guys, these dames are loaded.
So, soldiers, keep it in your pants and don’t take your chances. Yet, as we know from human nature, such statements aren’t 100% effective.
78. Join the submarine service and learn to operate something like this.
Wonder why they chose to use a shirtless sailor with a male gaze. Seems a bit suspect, considering that women weren’t allowed on subs for a very long time.
79. Rosie the Riveter says: “We can do it!”
Of course, I couldn’t forget to add her. Such an icon for female empowerment during WWII to get women working in factories.
80. Even Santa Claus has gone to war.
And he’s holding an automatic weapon, too. Not sure if that makes him good or bad though.
81. Prevent trench foot, clean and dry your feet, soldiers!
I’m sure this was endemic during WWI since troops spend long spans of time in the trenches. Yet, where would they be able to clean them?
82. In the Pacific, we’re all in this together.
Everyone should know this is the Iwo Jima pose from the photo. Now it’s an American iconic image from WWII.
83. Ladies, take up the jobs he left behind.
Just note, that after the war, you’ll be forced to give that job back if it’s still available. After that, you’ll need to settle into being a wife and mother in suburbia. Because housewives are what women were expected to be in peacetime (sarcasm).
84. Uncle Sam wants you to buy war bonds.
Here Uncle Sam comes from the sky in blazing glory. He also carries an American flag, too.
85. Even a dog can enlist, why not you?
Man, they really tried to put men on guilt trips during WWI. Yet, here’s scruffy in his Red Cross glory. One dog in that war was even made a sergeant (no joke).
86. Housewives, preserve perishable food with cans and jars.
Her she is holding her tin cans. Let’s hope she didn’t forget to label them because that would be a problem.
87. In war, knowledge wins.
So learn something by going to your public library. Because the Internet ain’t available yet.
88. Even office workers do their part with their typewriters.
Is that supposed to be Miss USA? Then again, I don’t pay attention to those beauty pageants anyway.
89. Remember, absence makes the war last longer.
So don’t sleep in and stay on the job. Yes, it’s not easy doing work all day. But you want victory, dammit.
90. Just because she looks clean doesn’t mean she is.
Another anti-STD ad to scare men into keeping it in their pants. As if they didn’t have film noir to do it for them already.
91. Tragically, all these soldiers now have syphilis.
Some of them will soon give their wives and sweethearts a very big surprise. And, no, they won’t like it. STDs: The gift that keeps on giving whether you’d like it or not.
92. Learn while you serve: join the US Coast Guard.
Because it’s the least exciting military branch there is which is great for chickenshits. You just have to watch for enemy ships all day.
93. Don’t be a job hopper, it’s bad for the war effort.
Like how the job hopper is depicted as an insect with a hat and lunch box. So funny.
94. Save your cans and help pass the ammunition.
Like how the bullet chain turns into cans. However, this is about recycling and donating scrap metal.
95. Buy bonds so your kid won’t grow up a Nazi.
Now this is a poster that’ll make any parent scared. Yeah, you don’t want your kids growing up Nazi.
96. Ladies, join the Armed forces and help win the war.
Yes, women served in the military during WWII, too. And yes, they did all kinds of things there.
97. Don’t wait for them to come home, be with them by being a WAC.
Because it’s a women’s war, too. Also, don’t forget to put on lipstick before venturing out of the battlefield.
98. Remember, when you ride alone, you let the Nazis win.
So carpool whenever you can. You don’t want an invisible Hitler in the passenger seat. You really don’t.
99. Yes, it can happen here.
Yes, keep em’ firing so it doesn’t happen here. However, if you live in Britain, it already has since they dealt with the Blitz.
100. Sow the seeds for victory, plant a war garden.
Doesn’t hurt if there’s a rainbow shining on it either. Such an uplifting image during a time of war.