During WW2 propaganda was used very successfully by all sides. For example, the Japanese Government told their soldiers that surrender to the Americans was not an option. Propaganda and fear mongering tactics by the authorities convinced the Japanese that if they were captured by the Americans, they would be tortured and killed. Therefore, they ‘must die rather than surrender’. And they did just that during the fighting for the Japanese islands. Soldiers and civilians committed suicide rather than surrender to the US troops, often taking as many American soldiers with them as they could. They clearly believed the powerful messages being put out by their leaders.
Most of the Allied propaganda was focused on winning the hearts and minds of the workforce back home, in order to keep them producing and manufacturing, thus aiding the war effort. It was also aimed at keeping their men alive, rather than asking them to give up their lives unnecessarily. Posters were put up in many workplaces to keep workers motivated, as well as in public places to keep the public and military informed. Then there were items displayed to build public opinion against the enemy, too.
When collecting posters and paperwork, condition is the main thing to look for. The brighter and more vibrant the colours, the better. With paperwork, you also need to look for rips and tears which could bring the price down. The other variable is the subject matter. If a poster is emotive and iconic with its message and graphics, then it will demand a higher price.
Here we take a look at some WW2 Allied propaganda paperwork currently for sale by our partner sites.
American Pacific War Propaganda Poster
This first poster is aimed at the workers back home in the USA and it depicts a US infantryman wearing a camouflaged helmet covered in leaves. He is obviously in the jungle and it is letting the reader know that the war against Japan is going well – ‘the rising sun’ referring to Japan’s nickname. He is asking for the help of the guys back home to keep prices low, follow the government’s rules, and to work hard.
Measuring 71cm x 51cm (~28in x 20in) it is a good display size and the visual message is as clear as the text.
It is for sale from 1944Supply in Normandy priced at €140.
British North African Campaign Propaganda Poster
The Allies fought the Axis forces on several fronts, one of them being North Africa. This next poster was aimed at the general public in England. It seeks to reassure those back home that the war is being won in Africa.
The caption reads: “Britain develops new desert tactics. Tough, well-trained infantry clear the way for tanks in North Africa.” And below that, in large capital letters: “The downfall of the dictators is assured”. Measuring 58cm x 41cm (~23in x 16in), it is the ideal size to hang on a wall without being overpowering. The poster comes in a new, black frame, which measures 73cm x 53cm (~29in x 21in).
The poster does have some creasing to it, and a small rip on the bottom, but it all adds character to this historic piece. Many wartime posters were folded up at the end of the hostilities and put in cupboards, boxes and drawers to be found again years later.
Available from Marvin’s Military in Holland, priced at €110.
Dutch Propaganda Poster
Another piece of allied propaganda is this example of Geillustreerd Nieuws (Illustrated News in Dutch). It is aimed at the Dutch population and it talks about the “Glorious deeds of the men of Arnhem”. It is double sided and could be displayed with either side to the front. They issued versions of Illustrated News in many countries through both world wars. During WW1 the illustrations were actual drawn illustrations, but during WW2 and the advance of technology, they tended to use actual photographs.
Many of these types of paperwork did not survive the war as they were printed on simple newspaper paper, but this example is in great condition considering its age.
Available from IMCS Militaria in Holland and priced at €99.
Eisenhower Message to the French
Following the Allied landings in North Africa, this particular propaganda leaflet would have been distributed to the local population. It states in two languages, French and Arabic, that the Americans and French were working together to throw out the German occupiers and they ask the population for their help. The Allies also want to assure the locals that they mean no harm to them, and they will leave as soon as the German and Italian troops have been annihilated. The leaflet reiterates that the occupiers want to destroy the locals’ religious freedom and their right to live peacefully, whereas the Allies want to preserve these freedoms.
This is a message from the president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was the 32nd President of the United States of America, and he served as president for the majority of WW2 until his untimely death in April 1945, not long before the war ended. Roosevelt was succeeded by his Vice President, Harry S. Truman.
Roosevelt’s message on this leaflet was relayed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force at the time. Interestingly, Eisenhower also went on to become president, succeeding Truman in 1953. He was a strong military leader, which came in handy during the Cold War period, which escalated during his presidency.
Measuring approximately 22cm x 14cm (~8.5in x 5.5in), it has some period folds, but is in overall good condition. Documents like this are very difficult find, as they were almost always discarded immediately by the local population.
It is available for sale from Selles Military Antiques in France, priced at €150.
Anton Fischer US Secrecy Propaganda Poster
If you are looking for a dramatic and original WW2 US propaganda poster, then this one might be for you. The graphics and sentiment are very clear; it shows sailors rowing away from their sinking ship. The implication is that someone back home talked about sensitive information concerning troop movements, and that information allowed the enemy to sink the ship.
It has a powerful image and would have been a very important message to get out to shipyard workers and the general public. The British equivalent at the time was the famous ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ poster, which had the same message. During the war you could never be too careful as you never knew who was listening. The enemy’s spies were everywhere.
Originally created by Anton Fischer, this poster was manufactured in 1942 by the US Government Printing Office. It does have some creases and a little wear, but it is still an excellent rare example with bright colours. The size is rather large, measuring 37 inches x 28 inches (~93cm x 71cm).
This poster is for sale from The Ruptured Duck and is priced at $350.
Interested in seeing some more WW2 paperwork ? CLICK HERE to see more.
Do you have items to sell? Dealer or collector; it’s completely free!
We love to show items for sale from all around the world, so grab the chance to put your item in front of thousands of potential buyers worldwide.
For dealers with your own website: it couldn’t be easier, so get in touch via [email protected] to express interest, and we will select items from your website to include in our daily posts, and advertise them for free! No work on your part required at all. If you have a social media and/or eBay account, feel free to include these in your e-mail as well. We will tag your social media account whenever your item is included in one of our posts so you can gain even more exposure. Click here to see the list of our current partner sites.
Collectors / sellers with just one or two items to sell: Send us an email to [email protected] with 3-5 clear photos of the item, item description (be as descriptive as possible), location, price and shipping options, and we will shortlist it to be included in upcoming articles. Again, totally free!
Subject to approval, your item will be seen by tens of thousands of people per week.