A Horrifying History: Pictures Of Propaganda From Hitler’s Germany

When a certain ideology or political movement wants to garner more support from the public one strategy they often elect to use is propaganda. Propaganda involves spreading biased (and often false) information about a particular cause in order to manipulate, influence or alter the mindset of a person or a group of people. While propaganda has been used all over the world throughout history, perhaps no one has used it more effectively than the socialist and communist parties and Hitler’s army.

Here are some of the most astounding examples of the propaganda they used — the tenth one down is truly terrifying on so many levels.

“Every Child Belongs to Us”

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Source: master-of-education

This poster was all about instilling the values of Hitler’s culture into young women. Little girls and boys were among the most popular targets of propaganda as most schools and teachers would try to influence Hitler’s ways through their teachings. While women were not fighting in Hitler’s Army, his regime realized that their support was crucial for the success of Germany in the years to come, especially as the country fought to develop a eugenics program for selective breeding.

The next entry is also a poster aimed at helping young girls, although it was a ruthless lie created for military fundraising.

Hitler Recruited Young Children For His War

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Source: master-of-education

This poster shows a young Aryan boy who is looking up to an authoritative imprint of Hitler, who seems to be in an almost God-like state. The message of this poster is that children as young as ten years old should serve their leader by joining the Nazis. Hitler believed they should get in as early as possible — hence the formation of the Hitler Youth. Children entered with all of the innocence in the world but were soon brainwashed by Hitler’s devout followers. The propaganda was a huge success. In January 1933, the Hitler Youth had only 50,000 members and by the end of the year, that figure had increased to more than 2 million. Joining the Hitler Youth became mandatory in 1939, at which point it already had 5.4 million members.

Threatening Scare Tactics

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Source: master-of-education

This is an instructional poster that showed Hitler’s beliefs about Germany going downhill. It was displayed alongside a series of posters to teach kids about eugenics. The title reads People’s Degeneration = People’s Death, which is a pseudoscientific idea that theorized that Germany was weakened by people moving to the countryside. Under the practice of eugenics, controlled breeding of the population helps reduce undesirable heritable characteristics. If people moved to the country, Hitler couldn’t control their actions as easily. Under the Nazi party, complete control of every citizen was absolutely necessary to maintain order and breed a massive Aryan Army for Hitler’s control of the free world.

Children Love Hitler…?

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Source: master-of-education

This poster shows Hitler interacting with a group of children in a very happy and cheerful manner. This was meant to show that Hitler was approachable, despite the fact he was usually portrayed as a stern dictator. This was a blatant attempt to get more children and their parents to back his ideologies.The propaganda worked and by 1939 parents all over Germany were required to send their kids to the Hitler’s Youth. The dictator realized that he needed to convince his citizen’s things would get much better if he could drive out evil forces that he believed had destroyed his country’s reputation and power around the world.

Caricatured Jewish Teachers and Students Being Expelled

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Source: master-of-education

This was a poster released in the 1930’s that sadly showed Jewish kids and teachers being expelled from their schools. At first, the Nazi party claimed Jewish children were being expelled from schools due to apparent overcrowding. Over the years it became apparent that the expulsion of these Jewish children was the result of the Nazi Party attempting to purge the country of the Jewish heritage altogether. In this poster, we clearly see a ton of negative stereotypes in the Jewish characters including large noses and bent postures. Jewish propaganda would become outwardly more negative as World War II progressed.

Hateful Headlines

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Source: ushmm

We all know that the Jewish people were the first and biggest priority target of the Nazis. Illustrations like this one in the book, Trust No Fox in the Green Meadow and No Jew on His Oath, claimed that all Jews were cheaters and generally bad people. The headlines in the photo are translated to “Jews are Our Misfortune” and “How Jews Cheat.” Hitler needed to convince millions of Germans, and the rest of the world, that Jewish people were responsible for their own economic struggles. The Nazi party focused on Jewish control of many banks while asserting that the financial hardships in Germany were all at the fault of these people.

Nazis Raised Money for “Youth Hostels”

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Source: master-of-education

Not only was this propaganda aimed at recruiting young people into the Nazi culture, it was a horribe lie. This poster directly asked for German citizens to donate money, claiming it would be used to build youth hostels and homes. The Nazi’s built some youth hotels but typically the money was used for much more nefarious reasons. Most of the time, donations were used for weapons and other military needs. As World War II drug on and Hitler found himself battling much of the free world, the staggering costs of his efforts weighed heavy on many German families who were scrapping to get by.

The German Student Fights

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Source: master-of-education

This poster was all about convincing students to support and fight for the Nazis and their vision of the world’s future. The poster shows a young Aryan man showing his support to Nazis while flying a flag. Nazis wanted their supporters to be stark, strong, and educated, all qualities which the man in this poster represents. With the Hitler Youth brainwashing millions of German children, it wasn’t a hard sell for them to join Hitler’s Army once they reached maturity. Images of blonde haired and blue eyed men and women were typical components of many pieces of German propaganda.

Wait until you see how the German’s convinced children to join the labor force!

Relying On Children for Labor

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Source: master-of-education

This poster was created to encourage Nazi children to take part in a paper drive to collect material for the German war effort. The poster was published in 1943 when WWII had already taken a turn for the worse. The German’s lost the Battle of Stalingrad and the ensuing Russian counter-offensives. The country was preparing for “total war” so conserving material such as paper was considered a very important part of keeping the war effort moving forward. The smiling faces of the children in this poster were a stark difference to the general attitude of many German citizens who recognized the grave situation their country was facing.

Nazis Taught Girls About Motherhood

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Source: master-of-education

Not only were boys brought into the Nazi culture at a young age, so were girls. In addition to learning about Nazi ideologies, they also learned about motherhood, and how to prepare themselves for a future in which their main job would be creating massive families. Young women were encouraged to have as many children as possible, to help increase the German population. Hitler’s followers believed they needed to quickly breed out any weak members of their population and they would stop at nothing to make that dream a reality. Thankfully, Hitler and his evil regime were defeated before forced eugenics could become a widespread epidemic.

Spreading Misinformation

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Source: master-of-education

This illustration came from a children’s book in the 1930s that was aimed at spreading rumors and misinformation about Jewish people to German children. This picture shows children in a classroom learning the ways to recognize the supposed physical characteristics of Jewish people, most notably, a large nose which they say in the picture resembles the number 6. With a focus on creating a “perfect” culture of Aryan brothers and sisters, the focus on “flawed” Jewish characteristics was important for establishing what type of “flaws” would not be accepted when Hitler eventually ruled the world. Thankfully this never came to pass.

Interracial Friendships Were Banned

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Source: master-of-education

While Nazis were most known for hating the Jewish population, they were also not fond of any other religions or races. This poster depicts a German girl befriending a Black girl, and it looks like a pretty nice picture. However, the caption states that this type of friendship causes a loss in racial pride. The German’s would often use a juxtaposition technique that portrayed one ideal in the image and then a completely different message in the written word. This practice is common in propaganda as it elicits an emotional response visually and then explains why that response is dangerous.

Nazis Called Jews Subhuman

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Source: ushmm

During World War II, the Germans were enemies with nearly anyone who wasn’t of German or Aryn descent. They had posters and propaganda attacking almost every different race and religion. This poster warns Germans about the danger of other European “subhumans” of the East. Definitely not a pleasant place to live for several decades. It was the country’s insistence that every other culture must be annihilated that ultimately helped fuel the Allied Army. Many countries and millions of young men and women came together to fight against the very propaganda that was supposed to help Hitler and his Army win the war.

The Nazis Practiced and Endorsed Euthanasia

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Source: ushmm

The origin of this photo comes to us from a German propaganda film. The image shows two doctors in an asylum and the description says “life only as a burden.” This was propaganda that looked to gain sympathy for the euthanasia program as a better option than letting patients die on their own. The Nazi Party, in reality, didn’t want to maintain the costs associated with carrying for the mentally ill, sick, and disabled. Such people didn’t fit into Hitler’s vision for a physically perfect German population.

The next entry also comes from a similar movie and it’s just as disgusting.

And Mass Sterilization

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Source: ushmm

This is another image that comes from a propaganda film from the same company as our last entry. This photo is captioned: “A moral and religious conception of life demand’s the prevention of hereditary ill offspring.” This is basically a call for people to support the Nazi sterilization effort, which they figured would eliminate “lesser” people. Eugenics was given many names during Hitler’s reign of terror. Many people agreed to such atrocities out of fear for their own lives. Others, brainwashed by Hitler’s years of propaganda, actually believed they were serving the greater good by giving up their ability to produce offspring.

The “Kings” of Communism

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Source: huffingtonpost

This poster looked to instill confidence in those who supported the communists in the 1960s. The caption read “Forward, to the victory of communism.” Featured on the poster are Lenin, Engels, and Marx as they were among the most popular communists of the time and looked to be good representations of the movement. Despite the party’s best efforts, communism continued to falter as German citizens feared another uprising would occur and World War III would finally destroy what was left of the country following a humiliating defeat during Worl War II. Today, Germany is a constitutional, parliamentary democracy where citizens choose their representatives periodically in free and fair multi-party elections.

A Deathly Message: “Capitalism Kills”

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Source: huffingtonpost

This photo sought to show people that they had only two options. Either get rid of capitalism or die beneath it. Propaganda pictures like these are awful as they offer up a very simple and direct solution for a problem that can’t be dealt with so simply. At the heart of Hitler’s biggest argument against the Jews was the idea that Germany was falling under the weight of their capitalistic ambitions. Hitler also had to convince millions of German’s that they must put the state before themselves, a key tenant to Communism that needed 100% support if it was going to successfully move forward.

“Have You Joined The Volunteers?”

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Source: huffingtonpost

This is a poster straight out of the Russian revolution. It is a message that urges people to join the volunteers. The menacing character on this power doesn’t look to be making a suggestion as much as an order. That’s no friendly Uncle Sam! This poster was regularly seen during the Russian revolution. The “volunteer army” in South Russia became the most prominent and the largest of the various and disparate White forces in the country. These men were typically lawless and disordered, although they had propaganda down to an art form in the 1900s. It was definitely a scary and uncertain time in Russia.

Peaceful Families Pictured With Warheads

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Source: huffingtonpost

This poster is from the 1950s and it plays well to the juxtaposition that many pieces of propaganda over the years have mastered. On one hand, it shows peaceful and happy people, but on the other, it features a giant missile that looks like it could destroy our planet. The caption says “we are peaceful people, yet our armored train stands at the ready.” This type of sentiment fed itself into the cold war and would remain a constant piece of messaging for more than three decades. In many ways, this poster was a piece of propaganda meant to prep the Russian population for future messaging that could draw them into serving the country during a time of war. This is a good but scary reminder that you don’t need to be in direct conflict to start recruiting the masses.

Anti-American Propaganda

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Source: huffingtonpost

While Russia and the USA worked together during World War II, it was a very different story in the 1970s. In this Soviet propaganda poster, they depict the US Air Force brutally killing and bombing people and the caption reads “stop the murders.” This poster was used to create a sense of hate for America within the general public. Anti-American propaganda still exists in Russia today but is typically portrayed through state-run news media and other outlets controlled by Vladimir Putin and his followers. The type of media may have changed but there are always political parties around the world who are attempting to control their population through very calculated messaging.

Nazis Preached That Violence Would Achieve Freedom

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The imagery here is very telling. We see a worker, shirt off with pile-driver in his hand about to destroy a building. The message is that Germany had to take their fate into their own hands even through violent action to free themselves from foreign banks. As the country’s efforts to win the war faltered, Hitler and his advisors attempted to convince the German people that they needed to become complete isolationists from the entire world. It’s not uncommon for a dictator to use this methodology to avoid a growing resistance to their plans. Sometimes a very direct message was the best way to get people’s attention.

“Kill The Lies”

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The image of a snake in many cultures symbolizes danger and evil. This piece of Nazi propaganda was meant to show that the party was willing to take evil on and defeat it by any means necessary. The worlds “capitalism” and “Marxism” are written on the snake’s body. The Nazi party wanted all of its followers to know that both of those principles posed real threats to Germany and its people. Nazi leaders told their followers that an unholy alliance of capitalism and Marxism were on a mission to exploit the German economy and shackle its people. Hitler never offered up any real proof but his message was constant.

Just a Disguise

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This propaganda poster seems harmless at first sight but analyzing further it gives up its true meaning. The tags labeled on the armor and weapons represent positive messages that the Jewish people are trying to convey. The Nazi propaganda tells it another way. They believed they used these positive messages to carry out their own evil plans. Just like in the proselytizing of religions, the German’s realized that one of their greatest strengths was the ability to take messages that already existed and twist it. They used the beliefs of other cultures to convince their followers that everyone was out to get them.

Appeal to Emotions

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This poster is strictly an appeal to the emotions of mothers during the depression.The power shows two scared children who are embracing their mother during an apparent time of need. The words at the bottom of the poster tell women to vote for Hitler. This was an incredibly effective piece of material which led to women voting for the dictator in very large numbers. If Hitler knew how to do one thing very well, it was playing off the emotions of his country’s people during a time of economic and political strife. It was these early pieces of propaganda that would help Hitler quickly rise to power.

Just a Fist

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In this poster, someone is getting the fist straight to the face. It is a political opponent and in clear Nazi fashion, it is implying that only a fist can solve the problems brought to German by people of other nationalities. The person receiving the fist is meant to be Jewish, as symbolized by their big nose. Hitler focused on showing his followers that the Jewish are subordinates and disposable. He would later focus on eliminating any cultures or people who fought against his ideas of a new world order. The German’s most certainly have had some of the most violent propaganda to date.

“Say No To The Young Plan!”

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This was the final poster that was made to gain more votes to help fight against the Young Plan. The picture shows German slaves chained up and being ordered to work by a crazed watcher. The notice on the poster reads, “Defend Yourselves Participate in the Referendum.” The Young Plan was a program for settling German reparations debts after World War I. It was written in 1929 and formally adopted in Germany in 1930. The program was expensive and Hitler was concerned that it would slow his efforts to build up a massive military that could eventually rule the world.

Economic Uncertainty

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As the Depression marched on, Hitler insisted that reparations were the main contributing factor to his country’s inability to move forward and prosper. This poster shows a ward boss or union organizer holding a bag of money that says two billion a year. This was the amount the Young Plan needed to pay in reparations. The caption on the poster urges Germany to halt those payments and give the money those who needed it to survive. Economic uncertainty was a driving force behind Hitler’s rise to power. He may have lost World War II but Hitler proved to be a master manipulator who turned millions of people against the rest of the world in a very short period of time.

“Smash the Opponents”

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A reoccurring theme for Hitler’s posters was a German pummeling something. In this poster, you see opponents who were called Parties of the Young Plan. The masculine and strong Nazi towers over their opponents and puts them in fear as they hide in the corner. A common theme in German propaganda under Hitler’s leadership was to show that other races were weak and unable to stand up for themselves when the German people faced them. Hitler’s rise to power was largely based on his ability to quickly dismantle groups that were likely to oppose the Nazi party and its own twisted views of a new world order.

Small Businesses In Danger

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Under Hitler’s view of the world, Jewish department stores and discount houses were evil! According to this poster, they were a threat to small businesses and needed to be destroyed as quickly as possible. This propaganda was helped along by the fact that many of the largest retail and banking businesses in Germany were owned by people of Jewish descent. The tentacles of the large creature are destroying the smaller businesses while people flock to the bigger store. In a capitalistic society, the rise of a big business still poses many challenges but we have yet to see this poster manifest itself because of Walmart or Amazon.

Clever Tactics

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This poster was considered an innovation. It shows a soldier looking sadly into the viewer’s eyes. It bears the same resemblance of war-time posters that would have had the caption “Subscribe to War Bonds”. On this poster, the inscription implies that the men in the war were really Nazis or they were fighting for the same thing. The best propagandists in the world realize that you must continually come up with creative ways to engage with your audience. Rely on the same tired techniques for too long and people start to gloss over your posters and other messaging without a second glance.

Know Your Work

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Here we have another anti-Young Plan poster. A farmer is shown on the field with his family and a fragile horse. In the background, you can see a factory at full production. Lording over the farmer is a scary looking man with a whip in his hand. This poster implies that all the work performed by the German people for the next 69 years will go towards reparations. By the end of World War II, the Germany people were in a much worse situation, having surrendered to the Allies, many of their biggest cities were completely destroyed. The Nazi party continued to fight for relevance but was eventually defeated by the country’s focus on a federal parliamentary republic.

Four Years

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This poster appeared after Hitler gave one of his better-received speeches. In that speech, he promised he would not cheat or lie to the public like other politicians. He ended it by asking to have four years to turn around the fortunes of Germany and its people. The poster shows him larger than life with the factories behind emitting smoke as a sign that he would get things running again. Sadly, when those factories started mass production again, they were being utilized almost solely to build the military machine that Hitler and his Nazi generals would use in an attempt to take over the world.

“Work!”

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The polls came back and the Nazi party did not get the results they were hoping for during the Reichstag Elections. To help win over the German population they developed this basic poster with a single word “Work!” The message implied that the government would shift their attention toward a job creation program. The uncertainty of Germany’s financial future was a huge driving force behind Hitler’s rise to power. This was one of the most uplifting pieces of propaganda to come out of the Nazi party during the dictators rise to power. The next poster on our list shows just how much Hitler’s messaging shifted after he started consolidating power.

Nazis Censored Books

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The Nazi youth and student organizations were on the prowl in this disturbing piece of Nazi propaganda. In 1933 the Nazi youth compiled a list of books they believed went against the teaching of their party. In a public demonstration, they took those books from a local library and burned them. The books were “un-German” and the burnings happened in a ceremonial fashion. This poster depicts that event and reminds the German people that they must put the values of the Nazi party ahead of the ramblings of authors from around the world and even those who were local but whose principles didn’t agree with Hitler’s own views.

The Jewish Invade

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This poster is read starting from the top right and goes clockwise. You see Jewish people in each square, with the first one depicting impoverished Jewish people entering Germany for the first time, another one with cattle, and another staring out from behind a pane of glass. The images are meant to symbolize Jews coming into Germany poor and getting rich by overtaking farmers, urban populations, and small businesses. Not every piece of propaganda needed to feature strongly worded messages as Hitler attempted to subtly at times remind his followers of the economic disadvantages he believed they faced because of immigrants.

Nazis Tried to Convince Germans of a New Military Power

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The Nazi’s didn’t need to use the country’s loss in World War I to incite people to join a new and growing Nazi party. However, there was at least one poster that tried to convince German citizens that a new military superpower was available to replace a system that failed the people. Images of soldiers standing strong behind the Nazi flag were meant to show citizens in the country that they could rebuild a new world order and make their enemies pay for humiliating the country during the first world war. Future messaging quickly shifted towards removing individuality from the picture and focusing on country first.

“Sacrifice”

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The word that runs along the bottom of this poster is “sacrifice.” That word is pictured just below an open hand and two coins falling directly onto the word. The meaning of this poster was to convince Germans to not waste their money on frivolous things but instead to give generously to the community in need. The Nazis wanted the Germans to make a personal sacrifice to push forward the common good. Typically, when those sacrifices were made, the donations were used to fuel the military complex which would ultimately attempt to take over the world. For many years the German people ignored their worsening economic situation which was led by Hitler.

Hilter Tried to Appeal to Women

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Hitler wanted women in Germany to believe he had their best interests at heart and wanted them to succeed. This poster was considered one of his least successful and was aimed at convincing women that they would be given the opportunity to participate in sports programs under Hitler’s rule. In reality, Hitler believed the main job of women was to give birth to many genetically perfect boys and girls who would join the Hitler Youth and eventually fight to conquer the world. Under Hitler’s rule, there was a lot of propaganda that seemed to contradict other messages that were previously put out by Hitler’s strategists.

Proven Protection

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In this piece of German propaganda, we see a stereotyped Jewish man who is overweight sitting in the background eating chicken and sipping on a beverage. He is being protected by a union official from a mad German worker. The Jewish man is sitting on a bag filled with millions of dollars. The bags markings suggest it that is marked to be from revolutions, inflation, and other nefarious means. The poster is saying that the Socialist Party is, in fact, protecting Jewish capitalists who are making too much money from Germany’s troubles. This theme would remain central to Hitler’s messaging throughout all of World War II.

It’s a Trap!

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This poster unleashes one of the oldest tricks in the book. It puts on display Hitler alongside a trusted figure by the name of Paul von Hindenburg who was the Reichs President. The purpose was to attract those who believed that the Nazis were only out to form a dictatorship. They may not have trusted Hitler, but with support from Hindenburg, they were very much duped into believing he actually had their best interests at heart. It’s a juxtaposition that we know today was nothing but another trick that Hitler had up his sleeve while quickly consolidating his power and becoming Germany’s most ruthless dictator.