Have you ever seen a propaganda poster? Probably. While these days they’re a bit tamer, during the World Wars they could get quite feisty. In fact, a lot of the messages would probably be considered quite unacceptable by today’s standards. So get ready for a blast from the past because these are 25 Astonishing Propaganda Posters!
When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!
Many World War II posters promoted saving gas to aid the war effort.
This poster shows a sailor drowning because somebody gave away US secrets. There was a lot of paranoia during the World Wars regarding foreign spies.
Every time you twist a nut, think of Hitler
This poster can be taken numerous ways, but the overarching message isn’t lost on the viewer.
You think war over soon? Go ahead, take day off!
You probably didn’t realize that cringeworthy war posters existed did you? Well, paired with Japanese internment camps…they certainly do.
Death never takes a holiday, why should you?
And you thought your boss sent you on guilt trips?
Loose lips might sink ships
This is the famous be-careful-who-you’re-talking-to poster.
Gee!! I wish I were a man. I'd join the US Navy.
No pressure guys. It’s just your manhood on the line. And you thought that bully in 3rd grade was demeaning?
Warning! Our homes are in danger now!
Talk about a terrifying war poster…
Keep your trap shut. Careless talk may cost American lives.
Yet another poster imploring people to keep mum concerning the Allied war effort. Notice the claws on the Japanese soldier? Demonizing the enemy used to be a recurring theme when it came to war posters.
The Crucified Soldier
The Crucified Soldier was an atrocity propaganda story of an Allied soldier who was crucified by Nazi troops. It was later found to be contrived and was even used by the Germans as an example of Allied propaganda.
Salvage scrap to blast the Jap
One of the ways the Allies used their propaganda machine was to enlist the help of ordinary citizens in collecting scrap metal for weapons.
Keep this horror from your home
Investing in war bonds was another common way that Allied governments promoted the war effort. Given the nature of the posters it should be no surprise that the US and Britain raised quite a bit of money via these bonds.
This man is your friend
During war, it’s not uncommon for propaganda posters to demonize a certain nation only to quickly reverse course given the shifting nature of alliances.
Bring him home sooner, join the WAVES
The WAVES was the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, the women’s section of the Naval Reserve.
An ostrich only thinks he covers up. Hidden mistakes cost lives!
This is another poster aimed at factory workers and people back home. As you can tell, it tries to impress the importance of not producing faulty machinery or goods.
Alaska, death trap for the Jap
When the Japanese invaded the Aleutian islands, the Navy came out with this poster.
Fill those empty seats. Car sharing is a must!
This poster is rather self explanatory. Quit riding solo!
Together we shall strangle Hitlerism
Once again, you can see how the shifting alliances of war influenced propaganda posters.
Atta girl, you're doing a swell job!
During the World Wars, factories ended up being staffed predominantly by women.
Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?
Aaaaand…here’s your guilt trip. Bon voyage!
Santa Claus has gone to war!
Yup, even Santa Claus got in on the action.
Who's absent? Is it you?
This is the British version of the wartime guilt trip poster.
He's coming south
This is the Australian version of the Japs-are-coming poster.
I want YOU for the US army
There is perhaps no war poster more iconic than this one.
Keep calm and carry on
During World War II, the British government deployed a motivational campaign to encourage Brits in keeping that “stiff upper lip.” It was so successful that even 70 years later people still quote it.
Featured Image: wikimedia commons (public domain)
25-1. wikimedia commons (public domain)