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WW2 posters

Last week, I visited an exhibition of WW2 objects: uniforms, weapons, vehicles.

Unexpectedly, the most striking memorabilia were the propaganda posters put on display.

Their somber background aside, I couldn’t help noticing just how beautiful they are.

And they’re visually efficient, too: even after almost a century, within a completely different context, they don’t fail to get their point across.

So much so that it I’m a bit surprised by how dull the average billboard has become in comparison.

While browsing through them, two additional observations struck me.

First, the willingness of the government to be very frank with their citizens about the sacrifices they expect them to make for the greater good. A good example is this motive by Harold Von Schmidt:

A WW2 Poster encouraging citizens to save gas.
Harold Von Schmidt, 1944

Secondly, the sense of common purpose the government appealed to in posters like this one:

Another WW2 Poster promoting ride sharing.
Weimer Pursell, 1943

Intrigued to see more?

For US posters, there’s an online exhibition, maintained by the National Archives.

I also found this massive, community-curated collection on Flickr, spanning both WW1 & WW2 across all powers.

If you’d be rather browse through curated selections of WW2 posters by the different powers, here are some books that offer just that: