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WWI: The Propaganda Poster is Born

WWI Propaganda (composite image)

[DATE POSTED: November 9, 2018]—This November marks the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I, when Germany signed the Armistice that ended the war on November 11, 1918. This war was unlike any before it. It was the first war in a century that involved all of Europe's great powers. It also featured several advances in military technology, including armored vehicles, field telephones, submarines, and aircraft. But one innovation of this time would forever change how we understand media and its role in public opinion: propaganda. World War I ushered in a new era of centralized war propagandathe war film, the leaflet, and the propaganda poster.

This was the first war in history in which the creation and targeted distribution of propaganda played an important role, and considered a war effort that reflected individual nations' goals. Across the globe, illustrators and writers created propaganda posters and leaflets, newspapers printed articles, and filmmakers wrote and directed pro-war films starring well-known actors. These engaging, larger-than-life visuals were designed to boost recruitment and morale at home and abroad, as well as to encourage popular support by idealizing a nation's motivations for joining the war. Propaganda could also be used to incite hatred for enemy forces, and demoralize or stir up unrest among the opposition's home front.

Deepen your library research or classroom discussion into World War I with these propaganda posters. Examine the examples of World War I propaganda efforts through the actual posters mass produced and published by British, French, German, and U.S. governments. Use the Background Essay to help students contextualize the war and the various national efforts at propaganda. Apply the Instruction in your library or classroom to guide student research and deepen primary source analysis.

Fatima Policarpo
Fatima Policarpo is a senior writer and editor at ABC-CLIO. She received her MA in Literature from New York University and her BA in Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has taught college-level literature and writing with an emphasis on human rights education, and edited several academic literary journals, including Spectrum and Anamesa. She writes on history topics as well as on literature.

MLA Citation

"Wwi: the Propaganda Poster Is Born." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2181987. Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.

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Entry ID: 2181987

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