20 Unnerving American Propaganda Posters From World War II

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Image: Office for Emergency Management, War Production Board

During World War II, Americans faced huge danger in the Pacific and on the battlefields of Europe. One weapon that the U.S. government was quick to deploy was propaganda. Posters exhorted American soldiers and civilians to do everything from joining the armed forces to avoiding waste and working harder. These posters often achieved their objective using shocking messages and disturbing images. Here are 20 posters that are guaranteed to unnerve you.

20. Avenge Pearl Harbor

It was December 7, 1941 when 353 Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor, the U.S. naval base on Hawaii. The surprise attack killed 2,403 Americans and wounded another 1,178. The following day, the U.S. declared war on Japan. This poster reflects America’s anger and the determination to wreak revenge.

Image: Office for Emergency Management. War Production Board

19. Make him pay for that day!

The date of the Pearl Harbor attack became a rallying cry for the American people. The slogan of “Make him pay for that day,” meanwhile, is a call for revenge. And how the Japanese should be made to pay for the surprise attack is in fact illustrated very clearly with the blood flowing from the calendar.

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Image: James Montgomery Flagg

18. I want you for U.S. Army

If ever a poster could be called iconic, then it’s this one. Uncle Sam – U.S. – demands that Americans do their bit by joining the army. This poster was in fact originally used during World War I, but it was revived for the Second World War.

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