WWII Propaganda

Antonio Doukas Mr. Wax 4/2/07 US History 31










hysteria; people in every corner of the world were lost, and searching full for some of form of relief some and leadership. leaders took





advantage and used that spirit to get mass crowds to follow their beliefs and ideals; Hitler commanded an entire race to exterminate an those entire who weren't to Aryan, Mussolini anti-




communism, and support of the axis powers, Stalin thrust a multi-continent fleet of nation to into attack communism, a neutral Tojo convinced and an




Roosevelt steered America from isolationism to a full out war. Thus, the world was plunged into World War II. How people to would agree one so go about controlling on a single such a mass of The



answer is propaganda. Without the use of the brain-washing and mind conditioning techniques used during World War II, the war may as well not have happened. Propaganda has been used since its conception to shape and mold the beliefs and ideals people had to agree with what the propagator

believes. Most people are shocked at how the opposing side feels, but the opposing side feels the same about them, and it's all because of propaganda. It forces the target

audience to adopt the belief as their own. Normally, subtle

methods are used so that few are conscious of what their minds are being told to think. It is used during war and peacetime, to either proclaim a message or even to sell a product; propagandists may not have fired a single shot, but millions were killed with their help. So, what is

propaganda exactly? As defined by The American Heritage® Dictionary, propagation propaganda of a is defined or cause as or “The of systematic information


reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause”(Heritage). Did this definition apply? The definition stated that propaganda is systematic; was propaganda put forth in a system? Yes, in fact Hitler assigned someone to be in charge of all German propaganda; Joseph Goebbels (Herf, 8). Joseph was a well read man who, although charming, seemed to be “the very embodiment of evil” (Roberts, 9) when speaking about Jews. Even before World War II, Goebbels took over the German film industry to produce anti-Semitic, and/or pro-Germanic titles

(Watchtower, 20). Hitler had him start with it early on so that the war would have already started in the minds of his followers. Psychological warfare can be the most effective. Although Goebbels never pushed a Jew into the gas chamber, he aided in conditioning the mind of the man who did.

German propaganda covered all forms of media; posters, movies, word of mouth, works of art, etc. Movies helped broadcast Nazi ideals and beliefs, while at the same time provided the people the as with entertainment. was Quex not and Since it as was much. Brandt

entertaining, Movies such

propagation Hitlerjunge

noticed S.A.


(Rhodes, 21) showed how being a Hitler youth would be both an 'enlightening' and 'useful' experience to have. Posters spread similar messages. Portrayed on them were drawings of Hitler handing shaking the hands of the Hitlerjunge, and smiling, an eagle with its wings outstretched over a

backdrop of the Nazi flag, a giant broom with a swastika on it sweeping Germany while foreigners are shown to be flying out of it, and one went as far to show the correct

placement of a gas mask with a Jewish victim falling dead in the background (Rhodes, 20,36,45). Once people saw these movies, posters, or whatever media was used to propagate Nazi beliefs, they talked about it with others, and became propagators themselves. The propaganda used wasn't limited to just to advocate the policies of the Nazi party, but was used in connection with propaganda that debased attitudes which opposed the Nazi party. Political cartoons were used strongly in this area; one portrayed a Russian man whose top half was split

in two and were fighting each other with the hammer and sickle attributed to the Communist party, another

characterized two African-American soldiers in the American army as being complete idiots, and a third rendered the British power as a lone king on a chess board, surrounded by German pieces (Rhodes, 32,55,57). Such forms of

propaganda were effective in instilling a hatred for ones targeted in the media, thus imparting a strong sense of nationalism and ethnocentrism. Italian fascist propaganda was led mainly by Benito Mussolini himself (Smith). Since Mussolini was a journalist before his reign in Italy (Rhodes, 67), he knew a lot about how to manipulate the truth, and state a believable lie. Italian propaganda centered around shocking the viewer with intense person's images, or by One using poster pathos, an a appeal to the man




holding a small baby in his arms and feeding it bread, while another pulled at the people's dragged heart away strings from by






parents, kicking and screaming, and reaching out to the viewer, showing that this is how the 'liberators' would treat your children (Rhodes, 100,104). Another image

depicted of workers standing beside each other staring into the horizon and smiling, saying that workers would rebuild










logos, is one of the most basic types of persuasive tools out there. By appealing to the audience's emotions, the audience will more readily accept and believe it, as well as make it more personal. Italian propaganda posters

included anti-American and racist drawings. One showed how Americans were 'cultural barbarians' by picturing a black soldier hugging the Venus de Milo, and its price, two

dollars, was written on its stomach. Venus de Milo was an Italian piece, and thus the poster was insulting to the viewer. Another poster portrayed a typical Jew crowding a backdrop of America, showing Italians that all they would find in America would be more Jews. Italian propaganda also relied heavily on the movie industry, in fact Mussolini directed many of them himself. Movies that illustrated the soldiers situations, such as L'Uomo del Croce, meaning The Man of the Cross, once again appealed to the pathos of the viewers, but the movies added a second element; ethos. Ethos is “appeal based on the

character of the speaker” (Crewell), or in this case, the producer. People viewing the movie, knowing that it was produced by Mussolini, watch the movie with the knowledge that everything shown in the movie is true. Once they view it, they sympathize with the characters and their plight.

As we all know, movies have a power that extends beyond the screen which touches our lives. Its impact depends on the quality of the movie, and that impact affects our thinking; after a horror movie, one may be afraid to go in the dark alone, or perhaps after a romantic, the viewer longs to fall in love. The Japanese took advantage of all forms of media to propagate their ideals. From posters, to movies, and even sex leaflets, the Japanese made it clear that Asia was

superior to the rest of the world. The Japanese wanted to control all of Asia by the end of the war, and showed other nations their 'intentions' on posters spread throughout the continent. One depicted ten children standing in rows, each representing a different Asian nation, and all were

smiling, looking forward and at peace with one another. Another displayed two Filipinos embracing each other with one arm, and each holding a Japanese flag in the other; the text read “Shoulder to Shoulder Let Us Bring Up The New Philippines” (Rhodes, 253,266). Other posters pushed the theme of how a united Asia is stronger, smarter, and better than America in every way. This logical reason they used is referred to as logos, the third main method to of persuasion. the Logos takes in facts of and the






author/artist. A prime example of this is shown in a poster the displays Uncle Sam whipping an Asian boy, but on the left there was a happy family at peace. The text at the bottom of that poster read, “American victory means

enslavement...[of] victory, peace and prosperity. Another use of logos was demonstrated in a poster showing Asian leaders sitting on one side of a see-saw together, and the American and British flying off on the other (Rhodes,

248,249). Japanese propagandists tried to play off of the 'infidelity' theme, but it proved to be unfruitful. Posters portraying sexual depictions such of as Americans engaging in immoral and rape




were produced. This visual attack on the enemy, although visually effective, was ineffective in reaching the mind of the viewer. It is a disturbing thought to imagine how an entire nation might be swayed to believe that merciless slaughter of innocent humans can be justified and necessary, but even here in America propaganda was used heavily to imbue

feelings of hatred towards the axis powers. The American government did things in a similar fashion as the others; posters, movies, music, political cartoons, and even kids cartoons were used to create tension and hatred towards the 'Japs', 'Jerry'[Germans] (Linder), and Italians. The irony

was that being a melting pot, the racist feelings conjured up by propaganda material went against some Americans. American propaganda would either be as subtle as a saying such as, “loose lips sink ships” which is still used today, or as obvious as the Disney short Der Fürher's Face. American propaganda posters spread several sayings telling people to conserve materials needed by soldiers, not to gossip about information heard about the war effort, and for Americans to invest in war bonds. Other posters were highly racist, calling the Japanese yellow, while others enforced the need for mass production of war materials

(Rhodes, 164,169,172,175). Scare tactics were used in some of them, such as a gun pointed at the viewer, a monster tearing up America, or making the viewer believe that they were supporting the axis powers by doing something (Rhodes, 175). Another form of propaganda media, was cartoons.

Although unpopular, it was used to get the attention of the younger generation to believe in America, and develop the same hatred their parents had. Disney was very direct and Der Fürher's Face by Walt straightforward form of

propaganda. It displayed Donald Duck as a Nazi soldier, frantically working from morning until night and 'heiling' Hitler periodically. His breakfast consisted of a coffee

bean dipped in water [which he had to sneak], bread sliced with a hand saw, and a spray of bacon & eggs scent in his mouth. In the end, he awakes in his bed realizing it was a nightmare. He was wearing flag pajamas, and he hugged his statuette of Lady Liberty and said he was thankful to live in the United States of America. In this way, America was producing it's own youth group similar to the Hitlerjunge. American children were thus thrust into an a way of

thinking that was not their own. Great Britain's propaganda was similar to America's in many ways, but it was unique in that it was quite often humorous. That being the case, a majority of the propaganda was spread through the use of political cartoons; for

example, a bulldog with Churchill's face on it signified Britain's determination (Rhodes, 111). Another comic piece was a 'last will and testament' of Hitler. On it was

ridiculous statements that Hitler supposedly wrote, such as “I return my Mustache to Charles Chaplin from who I annexed it” (Rhodes, 113). This form of propaganda found itself deeper in the hearts of civilians because of its light and witty nature. Along with humor however, the British were serious

when they needed to be. Little expressions like “tittle tattle lost the battle”, reminded all not to talk if they









Others still had more vicious images, such as showing a child in a coffin because it found a stray grenade, or blind (Rhodes, 126). And yet others would have a 'friendly' reminder to civilians at home to make due, to reserve fuel consumption, to reduce waste of food, etc (Rhodes, 130). Propaganda was and is an art. Every country had its own form of propaganda during World War II, and still does today. In fact, all history itself can be looked at as propaganda; Propaganda only has the victors write to about be used the to war. skew,




distort, or even change our thinking in a way that is in accordance to the propagandist, but is all propaganda bad? Not necessarily. Without propaganda, the war wouldn't have even started, but because propaganda goes two ways, for and against, it helped end the war in the same way it helped start it. Propaganda since then has evolved; almost

everything we view is propaganda. When the president makes a speech, he uses ethos. When a product is being sold, they use logos. When a campaign is being conducted, the appeal to our pathos. It is through those three ways that

propaganda reaches us today, and reached us so any years back during World War II.

Works Cited

1. Herf, Jeffrey. The Jewish Enemy: Nazi propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust. 1. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. 2. Heritage, American. "propaganda." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 31 Mar. 2007. 3. Roberts, Jeremy. Joseph Goebbels: Nazi Propagan. The Rosen Publishing Group, 2000. 4. Watchtower, "Who Molds Your Thinking?." Awake! 01 Apr 1999: 20-22. 5. Rhodes, Anthony. Propaganda- The Art of Persuarion: World War II. Chelsea House Publishers, 1976. 6. Linder, Ann P.. "First World War.com - Feature Articles - Magical Slang: Ritual, Language ." FirstWorldWar.com The War to End All Wars. 15 Aug 2001. 31 Mar 2007 <http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/slang.htm>. 7. Smith, Dennis. "Mussolini, "il duce" the Italian Dictator." Digger History. Digger History. 1 Apr 2007 <http://www.diggerhistory.info/pagesleaders/ww2/mussolini.htm>.

8. Crewell, Dustin. "The Art of Rhetoric: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos." Syllaweb. Syllaweb. 1 Apr 2007 <http://www.rpi.edu/dept/llc/webclass/web/project1/gro up4/>.

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