September 18, 1931 Japan invades Manchuria

January 30, 1933 Hitler became chancellor of Germany

August 19, 1934 Hitler declared himself Fuhrer - the leader of Germany

October 25-November 1, 1936 Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sign a treaty of cooperation on October 25; on November 1, the Rome-Berlin Axis is announced

July 7, 1937 Japan invades China, initiating World War II in the Pacific

September 29, 1938 Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and France sign the Munich agreement

September 1, 1939 Germany invades Poland, initiating World War II in Europe

June 10, 1940 Italy enters the war

January 6, 1941 Four Freedoms Speech by President Roosevelt 

June 22, 1941-November 1941 Nazi Germany and its Axis partners invade the Soviet Union

December 7, 1941 Japan bombs Pearl Harbor

December 8, 1941 The United States declares war on Japan, entering World War II

December 11-13, 1941 Nazi Germany and its Axis partners declare war on the United States

June 4-7, 1942 US and British navies stop the Japanese naval advance in the central Pacific at Midway

June 13, 1942 The Office of War Information (OWI) was created; “Uncle Sam wants you!” 

November 8, 1942 US and British troops land on the beaches of Algeria and Morocco in French North Africa

July 10, 1943 US and British troops land on Sicily

November 6, 1943 Soviet troops liberate Kiev

June 6, 1944 US and British troops successfully land on the Normandy beaches of France known as D-Day

August 20-25, 1944 Allied troops reach Paris; on August 25, Free French forces, supported by Allied troops, enter the French capital; by September, the Allies reach the German border

October 20, 1944 US troops land in the Philippines 

December 16, 1944 Battle of the Bulge 

January 12, 1945 The Soviets launch a new offensive, liberating Warsaw and Krakow 

February 4-11, 1945 Yalta conference “Crimea Conference”

March 7, 1945 US troops cross the Rhine River at Remagen

April 12, 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies 

April 16, 1945 The Soviets launch their final offensive, encircling Berlin

April 30, 1945 Hitler commits suicide 

May 7, 1945 Germany surrenders to the western Allies

May 8, 1945 known as V-E Day “Victory in Europe”; the formal end to the war against Germany

May 9, 1945 Germany surrenders to the Soviets 

August 6, 1945 US drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima

August 9, 1945 US drops an atomic bomb on Nagasaki

September 2, 1945 Japan formally surrenders, ending World War II; called the V-J Day “Victory Over Japan Day”


During World War II, governments used propaganda to encourage the general population to support the war effort. This message was sent in many ways, with the most important being posters, short films, and placement in popular culture media.



Picture: Donald Duck; What is Propaganda?


     According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, propaganda is the “manipulation of information to influence public opinion.” Although the practice has existed since ancient times, the word propaganda came from the New Latin phrase “Congregatio de Propaganda Fide,” which means Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. This was the name of a missionary organization introduced by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. A person who spreads propaganda is called a propagandist. He or she “emphasize the elements of information that support their position and deemphasize or exclude those that do not. Misleading statements and even lies may be used to create the desired effect in the public audience.” In the mid-20th Century, the most influential means of propaganda were newspaper, radio, theater, and animation such as motion pictures and cartoons.

     During World War II, propaganda was widely employed by both the Allied and Axis nations. Propaganda during this time started to expand, with the help of the media. Propaganda in the US was used mainly against those on the opposite side of the war like Germany and Japan. The media helped this by showing and using popular cartoons such as Popeye, Bugs Bunny, and Donald Duck, to talk down upon Germany, Japan, and to advertise war related items. During this time era they showed to the public, images, cartoons, and ad campaigns, to show support or insult the enemies. Through all this advertising the main point was to send a message to the American society whether they oppose or support the war. 

The Message of Propaganda

           In order to have an effect, the message of the war propaganda was clear, simple and emotional. People who watched the animations, read the newspapers and listened to the radio were persuaded by its messages. Propaganda is based on human emotions such as fear, anxiety, pride, greed and adventure. Depending on the message any of us could be influenced by propaganda. Wartime propaganda focuses on positive themes such as family love, patriotism, courage and hope as well as negative themes such as fear of the enemy and antipathy. Most of the propaganda messages are exaggerated and distort the truth. This did not mean they were lies, but they certainly used strong presentation to creative compelling, if manipulative, narratives.

          Although people were likely aware that they were being influenced, 
propaganda was often highly effective. Despite this, there are limits to 
how far opinion can be shaped using propaganda. According to Lindley 
Fraser, “Hitler’s belief that by propaganda alone one can move mountains 
and convert black into white was an absurd and catastrophic exaggeration of the potency of propaganda alike as an instrument of government and as a weapon of war” (Fraser, Propaganda, p.11). Even so, propaganda was a powerful tool, and was widely employed by both Allied and Axis nations during the war.

These are examples of WWII propaganda posters: 


Poster: We Can Do It!


Poster: UNITED we are strong, UNITED we will win


Poster: AMERICANS will always fight for liberty


Poster: The only way to end it is to END HIM!


Poster: Don’t Be a Sucker! Keep Your Mouth Shut

           All of these posters seem to use bright colors, emotional pictures, strong vocabulary such as “We can do it!” or the word “United”. Interestingly enough, pronouns as you and we are extremely powerful because they speak to us directly as individuals or as a group. To be able to believe these propaganda messages, constant repetition was the key. As one can see, some of these words are even underlined, bold or bigger then the others.

           The message of propaganda in World War II was not only for men or women but for everyone including children and grandparents. Every American was involved in recycling the kitchen waste or educating their children or just saving leftovers for hungry soldiers. The whole nation was united and was prepared to die for freedom. Most of the American women stayed home cooking and taking care of their children while their husbands fight in the war. Nevertheless, some of the women enlisted and did fight against Hitler.

           In case of the animations propaganda, there were not only for children, even though these short films had a strong impact on their growth. Some of these animations such as “Propaganda Donald Duck - WWII (1942)” were directed to women to save kitchen waste. Other animations such as “Walt Disney “Education for Death” (1943)” was showing how Nazi Germany influenced innocent children and turned them into the cold blooded Nazi. As Lindley Fraser nicely describes it: …”let us not forget that propaganda is still emotional in its ultimate appeal even if it conceals this behind a screen of cold passionless reasoning” (Fraser, Propaganda, p.10). 

The Purpose of Propaganda


Propaganda has been around for longer than we have known. Its purpose is to dominate or control outcomes of situations regardless. A world without war is a world thought of having but the desire of want contradicts it. Many nations want a peaceful revolution one that steadily and quietly adjusts itself to changing conditions. Man’s hate war and feel that war will be the end to the human species. Nations will always have different points of views and would never agree with one another. By believing that peace cannot be prevailed unless they take over a large part of the world justice will lose its meaning in the minds of men and that had to change. People are in search for more freedom that most people on earth have enjoyed up to this time. The United States may think that freedom of religion, expression, and fear have nothing revolutionary about it but the fact is that this revolution would not stop until it obtains freedom of want. Such as how economic welfare cannot be preserved without having some sort of military welfare. In the effort of completing the remodeling of the society by adding and improving the machinery nations tend to rely on the new generation to finish what has started. Each of the Nations would stop at nothing to acquire peace. Dr. Karl Mannheim states that “Mankind is tending more and more to regulate the whole of its social life, although it has never attempted to create a second nature.” Freedoms has many meanings in different countries whether it is doing whatever you want or being able say or think otherwise able certain situations. The truth is that a person would not be truly free until the “despotism of physical want” is broken and the “restraints of the economic system’ is not over done. The nation has to place its destiny in the hands, heads, and heart of its free men and women. People fight for what they do not have. The laws and rights might state that everyone is created equal but some are justified because of their race and treated unfairly and that had to change to the better. Propaganda is created from the desire of want and it will not end until what they want is acquired.

The Four freedoms

First freedom: the freedom of speech and expression anywhere in the world

Second freedom: anyone can worship god in his own way

Third freedom: the freedom of want which is an economic understanding which will able every nation a healthy peacetime life.

Fourth freedom: the freedom of fear in which no nation will commit an act of physical aggression to any neighbor in the world.image

How/Where Propaganda Was Used

              During World War II, propaganda was widely used in various locations over the world. Considering how it came in many different forms, from posters to animated short films, you could find some form of propaganda just about anywhere. The few countries that used propaganda during World War II were Germany, Britain, and America. In order to get more people involved with the war, these three countries had to find some way to reach audiences of different ages.

            Germany was one of the major countries that used propaganda during the wartime. According to a site titled, “World War II Propaganda”, Adolf Hitler “established a Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda with Goebbels at its head.” Goebbels “promoted the Nazi message through art, music, theater, films, books, radio, and the press.” With all of these numerous ways of promoting the Nazi message, Hitler and Goebbels were able to reach out to most of Germany, encouraging them to take full pride in their country. All of these various forms of propaganda show how they were able to reach large audiences from all different ages to persuade them to support and participate in the Nazi views of the war.

            The British used propaganda through the form of radio broadcasts. Quoted from the same site about WWII propaganda, it is stated that, “By 1945, the British had established more than 40 clandestine pseudo-German radio stations using powerful American transmitters.” These radio stations were under the management of the British Political Warfare Executive, which was created by Winston Churchill. There was a lot of pressure put on the British from the Germans during the wartime, so creating these radio stations was a way for them to express their opposition against Germany. In addition to the radio stations, The P.W.E had also used what is called “black propaganda” to show rebellion against the Germans. It represented their strength in standing up for themselves during the hardships of the WWII.

            In America, The Office of War Information was the center of all propaganda of the Americans. As stated in the “World War II Propaganda” site, “Roosevelt created the O.W.I. in 1942 to boost wartime production at home and undermine enemy morale in Europe, Asia, and Africa.” Propaganda was found through many different forms as well, posters being one of the simplest versions amongst the rest. “Inexpensive, accessible, and ever-present in schools, factories, and store windows, posters helped to mobilize Americans to war.” For the reason of posters being low-priced and easy to use, it demonstrated how propaganda could easily be publicized from one location to another, all over the community. Adding to the amount of propaganda posters the Americans used, there were many other ways to inform the rest of America about the war. According to a different website titled, “June 13, 1942: The Office of War Information is Created”, The OWI “created and distributed posters, booklets, photographs, radio shows, and films.” In order for there to be only positive messages about the war, there needed to be some control over what should be published and released and what should not. The OWI had “created a propaganda machine that controlled all war-related information given to the public.” Having this type of control over what was shown and not shown to the public proved that the propaganda during the wartime did not completely depict what the war was all about.

            The media played an important role in presenting propaganda for the reason of having these many different outlets that are able to reach and present wartime messages to the audiences of different ages. Considering how the media is everywhere, it was easy to promote these messages to the public. These countries were able to reach places such as, the homes of families and schools as well. Having so many different options to present these messages of propaganda allowed for more acknowledgement of the war amongst a range of various audiences. 

Popular Culture

Pop culture is entertainment, music and sports. It is distributed across many forms of mass communication including newspapers, magazines, radio, television, movies, music, books and cheap novels, comics and cartoons, and advertising. It contrasts with high cultural art forms, such as opera, classical music and artworks, traditional theater and literature. In mass communication, the term popular culture refers to messages that make limited intellectual and creative demands through content that is designed to amuse and entertain audiences.

Where did it come from?  After the Industrial Revolution, people had increased leisure time. This led to demand for amusement and entertainment, which prompted growth of mass media. Also after the Industrial Revolution, the increased supply of goods necessitated advertising to attract consumers. Mass media wanted to reach the largest audience possible. That influenced the content of mass media. 

Using the World War II period as a distant mirror, the panel debated the role of Hollywood and Washington in crafting national discourse and advertising propaganda. Taking the Warner brothers’ efforts in the 1930s and 1940s as a touchstone, panelists explored the contemporary situation in Hollywood and lessons to be learned from the fractious political battles of the last century.

During the World War II period, Hollywood films were considered excellent vehicles for propagandistic messages, but that did not mean those messages were consumed without question, or that they were apparent to the film industry’s widely diverse global audience. The American public, which prided itself in its belief in individual determination, tolerance and free speech, was deeply divided in its attitudes toward the war in Europe, and the American response to any overt political message in a film could be unpredictable at best. Considering all the fighting in war on the production side, including the various political sympathies and economic interests of screenwriters, directors, actors, producers, studio bosses and Production Code Administration (PCA) officials, who were empowered to censor the motion picture industry; it is a wonder that any films were made in the World War II era that addressed contemporary politics in any meaningful fashion whatsoever. While people often assume that propaganda is easy to spot, the films from this period prove otherwise. Now that the motion picture industry is protected by the First Amendment (which did not occur until 1952), many would argue that economic priorities have taken over all else in the industry, and there is no longer room above the bottom line for politics of any kind, let alone for “combining good citizenship with good film making” – the mantra of Harry Warner.

But Hollywood propaganda films from the World War II period have not always fared well with critics and audiences. During the 1930s in particular, Warner Bros. released several films with very oblique propagandistic messages. Swashbucklers, westerns, gangster films, all these popular forms were utilized to provide commentary on the fascist threat without directly requesting it.

The group of children’s propaganda has been rarely discussed, but is an important aspect of American life, over the last sixty years. The animated film has served as a way to introduce the young reader to adult topics, and yet allow them to retain some sort of separation from reality.



The propaganda during World War II emotionally impacted American society as a whole and reached other countries as well. In order to be effective, the message of propaganda had to be clear, simple, and moving. There were various forms of propaganda that influenced everyone including women, men, children, and elders. This was done through different types of media such as films, radio, animation, and also through posters and newspapers.

"Propaganda, to be effective, must be believed. To be believed, it must be credible. To be credible, it must be true."

Hubert H. Humphrey

"Propaganda consists of the planned use of any form of public of mass-produced communication designed to affect the minds and emotions of a given group for a specific purpose, whether military, economic, or political."

Linebarger, Paul Myron Anthony