Types of Propaganda in WWII

Written by andrew cowie
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World War II was fought not only with bullets and bombs, but with words and images. Several methods of propaganda were used in an effort to capture and conquer the imaginations of citizens, with each nation having types of propaganda that they used.

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German Propaganda

German propaganda came in the form of visual attachments, such as flyers and photos, and also through speeches and writings by Nazi leaders. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, German citizens were constantly reminded of the threat of foreign enemies, and bombarded with antisemitic warnings against Jewish citizens. Film was used as a way to demonstrate antisemitic ideals, promote the idea of Aryan superiority and demonstrate wartime victories.

Japanese Propaganda

Japan used radio as a method to manipulate enemy morale. The code name Tokyo Rose was a group of English-speaking women used in a World War II Japanese radio program that was designed to lessen morale among U.S. troops in the Pacific theatre. Japan also used pamphlets and papers to spread its message during the war, especially in China.

American Propaganda

Before the outbreak of World War II, most Americans were apprehensive about joining the potential conflict. The economy was recovering, and the painful memories of World War I were still fresh. After Pearl Harbor, posters were created to emphasise the "closeness" of the war. Posters depicted Nazi and Japanese forces being able to reach, and harm, American citizens. Later in the war, American propaganda focused on increased production and labour, and posters begun to reflect this image, addressing the merits of hard work and "fighting for the boys."

Soviet Propaganda

The Soviet Union also used radio, pamphlets, and flyers as means to distribute messages to the enemy. Propaganda showed workers uniting to combat the enemy at the gates as German forces drove deep into Soviet territory. The Soviets also used a propaganda train, called "agit-trains" that toured the Soviet regions, spreading a pro-war and pro-Soviet message. All of the Soviet propaganda fell under a section known as the "Agitprop," part of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

Great Britian Propaganda

The British Ministry of Information was formed at the onset of war, and its primary cause was to help ease anxieties with messages of increased production, victories of battle, and other messages that would tamper the passions of people. Leaflets were dropped in enemy-controlled areas and posters and pamphlets were distributed. A theme specific to Britain was one of resistance against the constant bombardments by German forces.

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