World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945, was fought on three continents, and claimed the lives of tens of millions of civilians and soldiers from around the world. Those that fought in it and the civilians who survived through it, battled some of the harshest conditions ever seen by man and endured what others could only dream of. Yet, this war that ended nearly 75 years ago, still has lasting life lessons to be learned from and significant effects that can be felt today. Among the lasting effects that still impact us today, was the use of propaganda by the United States. While propaganda was used in Germany for the purpose of gaining followers and spreading the Nazi ideology throughout Europe, the U.S. used propaganda during World War II for military supplies, gaining more soldiers to fight in war, and getting civilians to contribute to the war effort in any way they could.
This aspect of total war by the United States using propaganda helped shift the tide of the war. And eventually lead to the defeat of fascism and nazism across Europe and beyond. The use of propaganda also contributed to a cultural shift in the United States during and after the war related to women becoming more involved in aspects of society outside of the home. Given the news that local veterans are in the process of developing an exhibit for a World War II museum, an exhibit they should include is one related to the role propaganda played during the war by the United States because it helped win the war and change American culture.
Propaganda by definition is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view (Dictionary.com). It can be used for negative or positive gains, with many different types of propaganda used to achieve the goal of persuasion. The United States used different types of propaganda as part of their total war effort, utilizing all a nation’s resources for the purpose of winning a war, which included radio broadcasts, posters, leaflets, comic book, books, movies, magazines, and newspapers. (www.hisotryonline.com) Writers, illustrators, cartoonists, filmmakers, and other artists used their skills to keep the public informed about the war and persuade people to cooperate with the government’s Home Front programs using the various types of propaganda. After Pearl Harbor was attacked several organizations started in the entertainment industry. Such as Hollywood’s War Activities Committee. This committee helped smooth the way for cooperation between the federal government, major film studios, and thousands of theaters across the United States.
Even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration recognized the powerful influence of the entertainment industry early on in the war and looked for ways to use the media of the day to the government’s advantage and encourage public support for the war effort. What came out of this idea, was the Office of War Information (OWI) which worked with film studios, screenwriters, radio stations, newspapers, cartoonists, and artists across the United States to produce films, posters, songs, and radio broadcasts urging everyday Americans to cooperate with the government’s wartime programs and restrictions. One propaganda type was used more than all others by the United States and that was the use of posters with more than 200,000 posters designs created and printed during the war. (warhistoryonline.com)
The United States wanted to avenge those that died at Pearl Harbor and to do so they needed more soldiers than just the draft could supply. In order to accomplish this goal, the US. used propaganda such as posters to get young men to volunteer to fight in the war. These posters used the emotion of hatred, revenge, and fear to get nearly 6 million men and women to enlist in the army or serve their country in other ways. One such poster that used the emotion of revenge shows Uncle Sam shaking his fist at Japanese planes flying over Pearl Harbor after they just attacked it with smoke and destruction. Words on the poster say Avenge Pearl Harbor, and this form of propaganda made millions of people want revenge for what Japan did to the United States.
Another poster that plays on the emotion of fear depicts a Nazi boot stepping on and destroying a church with the words, we’re fighting to prevent this. This sending the message that if we don’t fight and you don’t help the cause, then there will be more death and we could be taken over by the Germans and all of our freedoms destroyed. These propaganda posters did a great job of getting more soldiers to fight which is one key to winning the war.
Another important part to winning the war was getting and maintaining civilian support, Propaganda asked the average American to donate supplies and to also ration supplies used at home that were needed for the soldiers. Some examples were saving gas, steel and food (“Victory Gardens”). Saving these things were important because they were needed for the military. In 1942, roughly 15 million families planted victory gardens and by 1944, an estimated 20 million victory gardens produced roughly 8 million tons of food, which was the equal of more than 40 percent of all the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States. This food helped feed the millions of soldiers fighting overseas and supplies wouldn’t have been possible without propaganda posters. Urging americans to do their part on the homefront to plant gardens, or carpool to save gas that could be used in vehicles in Europe and Asia, or ration your meat for the week, or for women to donate their stockings for parachutes. One such poster persuaded its civilians too carpool so their military can save fuel for war. America would also guilt people into carpooling with their propaganda posters claiming that “when you ride alone you ride with Hitler! Join a car sharing club today!” If you rode alone during this time you were considered to be helping Hitler by wasting fuel that was needed for America.
As more men were being shipped overseas, woman increasingly became the target of the government’s publicity campaigns. More women, were needed on factory floors to fill the open jobs that fed the industrial war machine supplying the U.S. army. Over six million women accepted jobs during World War II, making up 65 percent of the labor force by 1943. Women were responsible for the production of 296,429 airplanes, 102,351 tanks and guns, 87,620 warships, 47 tons of artillery ammunition, and 44 billion rounds of small arms ammunition. An infamous propaganda poster campaign used was that of Rosie the Riveter, which is still used today. While Rosie the Riveter was fictional, she helped get nearly six million to help with the war efforts and created an atmosphere of independence and freedom among women that they never had before. They were able to get out of the house, work, earn a pay, and feel a sense of accomplishment that before the war was limited to mostly men. Rosie the Riveter propaganda created a culture shift that lasted after the war with more women going to college, entering the workforce. And gaining that sense of independence that has lasted to even this day and can still be felt today.
In conclusion, a World War II museum would not be complete without an exhibit for propaganda used by the United States during the war. Because it helped them win by convincing Americans to follow their plan and see it through to the end of the war. The United States used propaganda as another weapon to win the war by getting the whole country behind the war effort. And help in any way they could, which proved to be as important and effective as any tank, plane, or gun produced by the Allies or Axis powers. Not only should propaganda, be displayed as an exhibit for the role it played then, but also for the impact and significance it still has today in regards to improving the role of women in our society.
Our writers can help you with any type of essay. For any subject
Get your price