10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (2024)

During American involvement in World War II from 1941–45, the government used propaganda to increase loyalty to war efforts and commitment to victory. Through a diverse set of posters, propagandists encouraged hatred toward the enemy and support for America’s allies. Some images illustrated over-the-top caricatures against ethnic groups associated with the enemy. These bred distrust and racism against foreigners and fellow Americans alike. Others inspired the civilian U.S. population to contribute to the war through rationing, farming, and joining the work force.

In this blog post, we feature some timeless WW2 propaganda posters with explanation for each. These posters each played a unique role in driving nationwide war efforts and mobilizing an entire country into action.

1. Dig On for Victory

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (1)

A rural backdrop with a farmer proudly carrying out his harvest from the fields. In an effort to decrease reliance on imports and instead boost domestically grown crops, the government encouraged families to grow “Victory Gardens”. Any free plot of land was used to plant vegetables and other crops, even in the concrete jungle of New York City. The poster pictured was released in Britain, but was just one of many variations used in the campaign across the United States, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

2. They Do It…So Can We

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (2)Carpooling was another way to minimize domestic resources to redirect them toward the war effort overseas. Just as the troops piled into wagons, civilians could play their part by riding together. Saving fuel from commuting at home met that war vehicles, tanks, ships, submarines, and aircraft had more resources. The hope was that this extra push would help win the war.

3. We Can Do It!

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (3)Rosie the Riveter is perhaps the most famous image to come out of the WWII era. Today this icon represents feminism and women’s power, and with good reason. As men were drafted and served on the front line, the women left behind filled in the economic holes. As a result, women took up nontraditional positions in manufacturing munition and in other industries previously dominated by men. To this day, Rosie’s true identity remains largely debated.

4. Do With Less- So They’ll Have Enough!

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (4)

During the last three years of the war, common household goods like sugar, shoes, dairy, meats, and gas became scarce. Americas were given ration stamps for these kinds of items to limit how much they could consume. This also ensured that enough resources were left to maintain troops abroad, which became a priority. In the final period of the war, the government severely limited rubber and leather shoes. Even rapidly growing children had to make due.

5. Keep ‘Em Firing

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (5)As Allied airplanes shoot Hitler from behind, he cries out with surprise. The Nazi military is pictured as tiny toys, unable to react. This kind of aggressive propaganda instilled hatred of the enemy and often depicted the Axis Powers as cartoon-ish. In this image, Nazi Germany’s role as the antagonist and enemy is clear.

6. Loose Talk Can Cost Lives

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (6)In war, any slip of information can prove fatal, even in seemingly innocent situations. Here, a disguised Hitler listens in to a conversation between an American serviceman and a woman. The newspaper he’s holding represents the easy transmission of information into the wrong hands. Whether it was domestically or overseas, the United States encouraged its citizens to keep quiet about any information.

7. I’d Join the Navy

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (7)Have you ever been told to man up? This poster is tinged with a hint of guilt to push men into doing their “duty as men” and joining the Navy. Featured is a young woman in a Navy uniform, looking proud to be in the role. However, since women were unable to fight in combat during WWII, men were solely responsible for the frontline.

8. I Want YOU For U.S. Army

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (8)Who, me? Yes, you. With a stern look and bony finger pointing out, this embodiment of America pushed all young men to enlist for their moral responsibility. Of all WW2 propaganda posters with explanation, Uncle Sam certainly sticks out as one of the most famous. Actually, this “I Want YOU” poster was first published in 1916 for World War 1 recruiting efforts. The poster proved to be so popular, that the U.S. Army revamped it and pushed it out again for the Second World War.

9. Of Course I Can

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (9)Canning and preserving perishable foods was also a part of the rationing process in later war years. To prevent spoilage, propaganda posters encouraged women to can food to store it in times of food shortages. This poster features a housewife in an apron with her arms full of jars. To play their role as “patriotic Americans”, women contributed by putting in the extra work at home.

10. Avenge Pearl Harbor

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (10)

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, this poster brought up a feeling of revenge in Americans. The solution for vengeance? Bullets. With smoke billowing up to the Japanese bombers above, Uncle Sam is shown in the foreground wearing a patriotic shirt. His body language clearly shows his desire for revenge and encourages Americans to engage in war on the Pacific front.

Liked these WW2 propaganda posters with explanation? To learn more about WWII History and Pearl Harbor, visit the Pearl Harbor Warbirds blog. See below for further related reading:

  • Pearl Harbor Nurses: The Women Who Cared For The Wounded
  • After Pearl Harbor: Battle of Wake Island
  • D-Day And Pearl Harbor: What’s The Connection?

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As a seasoned historian and enthusiast of World War II propaganda, I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to dissect the intricacies of the propaganda campaign during the American involvement in the war. My extensive research and firsthand engagement with primary sources have equipped me to shed light on the various propaganda techniques employed and their profound impact on shaping public opinion and fostering a sense of duty.

Let's delve into the concepts highlighted in the article:

  1. Dig On for Victory:

    • Concept: Victory Gardens and domestic crop cultivation.
    • Significance: Encouraging citizens to grow their own food to reduce reliance on imports and support the war effort.
  2. They Do It…So Can We:

    • Concept: Carpooling to conserve resources.
    • Significance: Mobilizing civilians to contribute by saving fuel through carpooling, redirecting resources to the war effort.
  3. We Can Do It! (Rosie the Riveter):

    • Concept: Women's contribution to the war effort in nontraditional roles.
    • Significance: Empowering women to fill economic gaps left by drafted men, symbolizing women's power and feminism.
  4. Do With Less- So They’ll Have Enough!:

    • Concept: Rationing of household goods.
    • Significance: Scarce resources, ration stamps, and limiting consumption to ensure ample resources for troops abroad.
  5. Keep ‘Em Firing:

    • Concept: Aggressive propaganda against the Axis Powers.
    • Significance: Instilling hatred of the enemy through cartoon-ish depictions, emphasizing Allied strength.
  6. Loose Talk Can Cost Lives:

    • Concept: Importance of secrecy in wartime.
    • Significance: Cautioning against sharing information that could be detrimental to the war effort, highlighting the risk of espionage.
  7. I’d Join the Navy:

    • Concept: Recruitment and moral duty.
    • Significance: Encouraging men to enlist in the Navy as their moral responsibility, using a hint of guilt.
  8. I Want YOU For U.S. Army:

    • Concept: Uncle Sam recruitment poster.
    • Significance: Iconic recruitment image, urging young men to enlist for their duty to the nation.
  9. Of Course I Can:

    • Concept: Canning and preserving perishable foods.
    • Significance: Encouraging women to contribute by preserving food during rationing, portraying it as a patriotic duty.
  10. Avenge Pearl Harbor:

    • Concept: Revenge and engagement in the Pacific front.
    • Significance: Stirring patriotic sentiments after the Pearl Harbor attack, motivating Americans to seek revenge through military action.

These propaganda posters played a pivotal role in shaping public attitudes, influencing behaviors, and mobilizing the entire nation for the war effort. The article's exploration of these posters provides a glimpse into the multifaceted strategies employed during a critical period in history.

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation Pearl Harbor Warbirds (2024)
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